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“The Old Guitarist” Pablo Picasso, 1903-04, Art Institute of Chicago

Good evening, poets. It’s Amaya here and tonight we’ll find inspiration in the pentimento. I’m fascinated by this concept, which in art is an alteration to a work as evidenced by traces of a previous work, showing that the artist has changed his/her mind. Below is a famous example of the hidden woman’s face in the bent neck of Pablo Picasso’s ‘The Old Guitarist’.

What is of even more interest than the changes themselves is why we dissect the art so assiduously that perhaps we’re trying to find and contrive answers where none lie, going down a rabbit hole looking for a non-existent meaning in what the artist was concealing. But couldn’t the artist have just changed his/her mind? Can we be fluid and forgiving enough to allow repentance in our rigidly constructed world? 

Ours is a world in which a person’s life legacy can be oversimplified to a single accomplishment, or scandal, or position, or quote, or piece of art, etc. The great nineteenth century Russian novelist, Leo Tolstoy, was best known for his works, War and Peace and Anna Karenina, but few know about or give credence to his later denunciation in his essay, What is Art, that both novels were “aristocratic art” and “worldly trash.” So I ask you, fellow poets and creators of art, how would you feel to be known for a rough draft or a creation you later look at and cringe at how much distance lies between it and your convictions? Perhaps it’s in vain to attempt to influence the effect of one’s creation, but we also must acknowledge the inherent responsibility of the writer or artist. 

In tonight’s prompt, write a poem in any form about a time (specifically or abstractly) you changed your mind. Keep in mind that pentimento in Italian means ‘repentance’, so a change for the greater good is what we’re going for, not one resulting in regret or even greater remorse. One method of doing so may be to go back and read something you wrote years ago and see if it is something you would be ready to publish today.

Here’s how to link up your work:

• Write a poem based on the prompt.

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