Words, art, and nature combined for a very special event last week, In the Shadow of a Pine: Black Poets from Maine Respond to David Driskell. On a warm summer evening, visitors to Gilsland Farm Audubon Center were treated to a selection of poetry as five poets gave readings at three locations around the sanctuary.
David Driskell (1931-2020) was a revered American artist whose work is being celebrated at the Portland Museum of Art with an exhibition titled David Driskell: Icons of Nature and History, on view through September 12, 2021. Driskell, who purchased a home in Falmouth in 1961, found inspiration in the Maine landscape, as well as in the people and experiences of the African diaspora.
The poets—Ian-Khara Ellasante, Arisa White, Samaa Abdurraqib (pictured at top), Myronn Hardy, and Maya Williams—shared work that demonstrates how Driskell’s legacy lives on in the current moment.
To learn more about each poet and read one poem from each of them, click here to download the program from the event.
David Driskell said “As an artist of African ancestry, I have had to learn to live with racism, sexism, and all of the prejudices. I often find refuge and, indeed, solace in the creative process. In the quiet of my small studio nestled in the majestic pines and white birches in Maine, two worlds merge in my work, one of sight, the other of vision.”
A selection of Driskell’s paintings is currently mounted along a trail in the West Meadow at Gilsland Farm Audubon Center, and the public is invited to walk through the meadow, view the art, and think about Driskell’s legacy, the relationship between art and nature, and how the creative process might bring us all refuge and solace.
This event was made possible by the partnership of Maine Audubon, the Maine Writers & Publishers Alliance, and the Portland Museum of Art. Huge thanks to the five poets for their time, attention, and poetic responses to David Driskell’s works.