New York City, 1978 © Alex Razbash

Cecilia Pavón

Poetry For Keith Haring

We asked fellow New Yorker Chris Kraus (Love Dick) to commission original pieces by 5 poets in response to iconic artist Keith Haring and his work. You can read all 5 poems in the free visitor guide which you can pick up at our Keith Haring exhibition. Or read them right here...

Cecilia Pavón

The way art affects you always goes back to your childhood
I was born in a farming province without museums next to the Andes.
In my childhood, art existed only in books,
And those books had only European art
(The great European art produced in early-20th-century Paris).
When, at 13, for the first time, I saw a Keith Haring drawing
On a postcard at a friend’s house, I didn’t think it was art.
Art that isn’t art:
Now I think that may be every artist’s great fantasy,
To make art that isn’t art.
Or at least that’s my dream as a poet:
To make poetry that isn’t poetry.
I’m working at home and need to go collect
A wire transfer sent all the way from Belgium
For writing a poem inspired by Keith Haring.
I’ve never been paid to write a poem before.
I live in Oncé, a neighborhood that feels like 1983 Brooklyn.
I step out in the afternoon; the sun is beaming in the air.
There’s a van double parked on Alberti Street,
All covered in tags; my neighborhood has lots of graffiti.
The black lines drawn by markers are nests for taking shelter
Or irregular pentagrams—graffiti are pentagrams for dancing without music.
I go to the supermarket on Alberti Street.
Several thousand kilometers north, the Amazon is on fire.
The cost of food is rising at an alarming rate since the elections,
But people smile. It’s a big mystery. They meet up for coffee, kiss, converse, smile, hug—it’s a big mystery how they can still smile.
I think about art that isn’t art, art that isn’t art, art that isn’t art,
Poetry that isn’t poetry,
I’m sure if he were alive, Keith Haring would call his art religion.


Cecilia Pavón © Rights reserved
Cecilia Pavón © Rights reserved

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