| still-life collages
Vernon Street Studios
6 Vernon Street 6A
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I pored over Greek mythology, discovering the Trojan War and the story of Kassandra at the age of 10. In Aeschylus’s Agamemnon, the queen, Klytaimestra, questions whether Kassandra can speak Greek. The Trojan princess Kassandra is the concubine of King Agamemnon, the husband of Klytaimestra, and one of the spoils of war. Kassandra remains silent for the next 270 lines.
In my Kassandra Text+Image poem collages, Kassandra is represented by birds, fire, and as a bride. Trees often are backdrops for the collaged images. I use pastels to color her skin green, and red is the color of the skin of her “destroyer” Apollo and her “murderer” Klytaimestra.
These small-format collages are based on the Classics Scholar and Poet Anne Carson’s translations of Aeschylus Tragedy.
I find that when Kassandra does finally speak, her words articulate the roots of Western thought on madness. The chorus compares her to a nightingale and Kassandra says that the “clear” nightingale has “a life with no sting,” but for her, a prophetess stung by Apollo so that no one finds clarity in her words, her self-clarity is agonizingly inspired. She feels reduced to an existential scream: “I am just this sound.”
but for me waits
of the double-edged sword: schismos
a cleaving a cutting a splitting a
chopping in two
Thus, over time in Western thinking madness stopped being thought as a curse of the Gods, and began to be seen as a split mind. My experience of childhood depression led me to identify with Kassandra.
Kassandra predicts that “back and forth on the banks of the river of hell” she “will walk with” her “song torn open”. She continues the theme by describing herself as “I with my thermonous", her "hot soul, burning mind, brain on fire".