About Art, D+D

Dawn Lundy Martin

We must make language of all forms of art together.

What art produces is a different language—untranslatable.

But then why want to ask questions when looking at art?

Language happens to be how we know ourselves to exist.

Or how we know we are unknowable.

I am not sure if art, produces.

Is it lonely then? Art?

It’s both lonely, and a calling into the possibilities of shared.

Art can’t ever be done.

Then it must produce. It makes babies.

Between the persons and the art I’m saying is something other

made possible by that interaction between persons and art.

For so many reasons I wish I could have seen these works with you.

Yes, to me art is, relationships.

I think we’re saying something different this time.

Tell me.

Another way toward this is that art casts a spell. Not on no one.

And material or substance is produced inside of the interaction.

The engagement makes. Even if it is one solo soul staring upon and feeling.

Suddenly the artwork is not lonely. It’s a mother.

And when the artist is making?

I rarely think about that.

I know.


But is the artwork lonely here?

No because it is uneasy in becoming. Maybe this unease approximates pain.

How did this poem begin for you?
This piece is a transcription of a conversation over text messaging. It became a poem because of its intimacies in speaking and its performance of how written utterance can be disjunctive like a poem. The question, really, for me is, “Is ‘About Art, D+D’ a poem, and if it is, in what way?” The poem is a question about when a poem becomes, and if utterances like the ones here can both compromise the poem qua poem and be a poem.

Dawn Lundy Martin is the author of four books of poems including Good Stock Strange Blood, winner of the 2019 Kingsley Tufts Award for Poetry, and Life in a Box Is a Pretty Life, winner of the 2016 Lambda Literary Award for Lesbian Poetry. Her nonfiction can be found in n+1, The New Yorker, Ploughshares, The Believer, and The Best American Essays 2019 and 2021. She is a professor and Distinguished Writer in Residence at Bard College.
Originally published:
May 29, 2024


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