Tuesday, October 4, 2011

Coming to That: Dorothea Tanning @ 101

Dorothea Tanning in her studio, Sedona, Arizona. Photograph by Lee Miller (1946)

Dorothea Tanning had her eureka moment as a young woman while attending an early surrealist exhibit at the Museum of Modern Art in 1936. Following a life shared with fellow artist Max Ernst, Dorothea returned to New York City in the 1980s and embarked on a new chapter in her life — poet. Richard Howard, Brenda Shaughnessy and Mark Strand read from Dorothea’s latest, Coming to That at a reception last night in her honor noting Dorothea's remarkable life and the publication of her latest collection of poems.

Coming to That

"If it comes to that," he said, "there'll be no
preventing it."
He uttered it as I listened. Had I got it right,
hearing him?
"If it comes to that," is what he said, and,
as if talking
to himself, went on about how there'd be no
preventing it.
He came to that conclusion, saying it in a
slow way of
coming to that, whatever that was it might
come to before
not being prevented -- and as if such a thing
were for him
the unthinkable, and would prevail, if it
came to that.

And while listening more closely now to
what he said,
I realized if no one paid him heed, it would
be as if he
hadn't said it -- if it came to that -- and would
then not be
prevented from falling to forces known to
care little for
what he said, even if they heard it, their
being wily
and forceful enough to make sure it would
come to that.
  - Dorothea Tanning

Coming to That is the latest volume of poetry by Dorothea Tanning and is available from Graywolf Press. Her published works include two memoirs, Birthday and Between Lives, a collection of poems, A Table of Content, and a novel, Chasm. The above image is copyright dorotheatanning.org

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