Poet, artists share "Lessons from an Oklahoma Girlhood"
Cheyenne poet Dorothy Alexander reads from her new poetry collection “Lessons from an Oklahoma Girlhood” last week. (Photo by Steve Gooch/The Oklahoman)
Oklahoma City artist Gayle Curry’s painting “Cock of the Walk” illustrates Dorothy Alexander’s poem “The Dominecker.”
From Friday’s Weekend Look section of The Oklahoman.
State poet, artists unite around ‘Girlhood’
The universal themes of growing up, growing old and dealing with loss are binding 18 Oklahoma women artists and one of the state’s female poets.
“Lessons from an Oklahoma Girlhood,” Cheyenne writer Dorothy Alexander’s new collection of poetry, is illustrated with paintings, photographs, sculptures and fiber artwork from artists inspired by her written recollections.
An exhibit featuring the original artworks in the book is on display through Nov. 29 at Adelante! Gallery in the Paseo Arts District.
“The art has really made my poetry come alive,” Alexander, 74, said at a recent book launch and art opening at the gallery. “When I walked in there … and saw all of those paintings, I thought, ‘My life is passing before my eyes.’ It really was kind of touching to see, like, someone’s interpretation of my grandmother.”
Adelante! owner Cynthia Wolf suggested the idea of Oklahoma women giving an artistic interpretation of Alexander’s fourth poetry collection. They selected the artists through a jury process.
Each participant was given about 65 of Alexander’s poems and allowed to choose two or three to illustrate in their chosen artistic medium. Wolf contributed three photographs for the book, and Alexander designed the cover and provided some photos.
“There’s a lot ekphrastic poetry, which means they look at art and then make a poem, but we did it backward. We took the poetry and asked artists to make a visual response,” Alexander said.
Wolf, who was raised in Dallas and moved to Oklahoma about five years ago, said even women who didn’t grow up in Oklahoma can relate to Alexander’s work.
“It’s about being a girl and how you grow up and how you take the lessons you learned forward,” Wolf said. “It really just touches you because Dorothy just has such a straightforward way of expressing herself through poetry. The poetry really made the artwork more meaningful.”
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