Posted 03.09.12 in Features
Image by yuki-ona
‘Cyan, Chocolate, Cadetblue, Camisole / Fallen Grey Flecked, Lost Blue, Amaretto, Shrubbery…’ George Szirtes plays with the very language of colour in his poem ‘Colours’, which lists real and invented names for shades for paint (from his forthcoming collection, ‘Bad Machine’). For this edition of YM, you are invited to consider colour and all of its rich associations. Perhaps follow Szirtes and take a look at a box of pencils, tubes of paint or Dulux sample cards, and consider the consequences of the phrase ‘raw sienna’ or ‘crimson lake’. Or you could write about the colours in our lives: we associate it with landscapes, memories, moods, people and clothes… blue airmail paper, the grey of the sand, purple velvet, the jade of a snake’s eye… You could write about why a colour matters, its story, the place – real or imaginary – it comes from, or the person it relates to.
Or you could think about contrasts. Take this startling line by the French poet Paul Eluard: ‘la terre est bleue comme une orange’ (‘the earth is blue like an orange’). Somehow, doesn’t the sense of the other colour heighten the intensity of the Earth’s blueness? An absence of colour can also be interesting – are people in black and white photographs made to seem ghostly and unreal? Perhaps deep-sea creatures are more frightening because they are colourless. White is odd – a blank page to be filled, or blazing with all the spectrum? You might also like to think about tinted lenses, crystals and stained glass, the mysterious rainbows in spilled petrol, ultraviolet light, kaleidoscopes, or synaesthesia – which can include the ability to ‘hear’ colours… Paintings and photographs could also be a good place to start.
For this issue, you are invited see with your pen and paint with words. As well as poems, we are looking to illuminate YM with flashes of artwork: Technicolor, sepia, monochrome and otherwise.
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