by 婕 Venus Cohen.
Rowena Joy Newman (she/they) has created a beautiful, self-contained universe within short poem and visual art piece, "The Dancer". Immediately, the reader is treated to a fantastical sensory experience, resulting from the array of colors and textures settled behind the simple black and white wording. The use of a warm color gradient background provides serenity for the eye to settle on, while the cooler and more bold colors in the center of the piece show both chaos and individuality. Within the swirling vortex of colors are representational objects—stars, constellations, falling petals, and perhaps flowing dark hair to the right side of the painting.
The writing is equally captivating; it's the story of a dancer… or is the story of a dream? Could it both, or neither? With only 10 lines, Newman manages to craft poetry that is both full to bursting with descriptive language for readers interested in a purely aesthetic experience, while also providing a platform for analysis and critical thinking that benefits those who like being challenged by their poetry. I am personally of both camps, and have read this short piece over and over, each time discovering new things to see, and new connections to make.
The poem evokes the image of a twisting spine, a fluid body, and the visual element follows suit, with the blue-green ribbon through the center exemplifying a spine for the poem itself. After spending quite a bit of time with this work, I cannot wait to see what else Rowena Joy Newman has in store for the art and literary world.
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