ArtWords 2020: "Real Colorful Creatures" by Samantha Sanvik
Nordfeldt painting

Real Colorful Creatures

I’m reminded of the crisp new pages of my inexperienced youth, quickly turned
into crumpled corners, faded lines, ripped edges. I’m reminded
of the boundless possibilities that arise from a single plot. A plot
that has a rise and a fall, with an ending that comes too soon.

I’m reminded of Where the Wild Things Are and the
creatures that lurk behind each tree. The sharp edges as teeth gleaming
around each corner and the stones and waves from the midnight ocean
glistening when I look back. I’m reminded that this night too has an ending.

I’m constantly reminded of my past through your pictures, framed
and hung where my eyes could not divert. A spinning circle of life that only
ends where it begins. I’m reminded that these same trees, creatures,
and the ‘komorebi’ that surrounds me, directs me home again.

I’m reminded of my drive to leave just as much as I’m reminded
to be grounded, to remember where I came from. I’m reminded of
the chaos of this so-called life and everyone it contains. The way it
could all fit into simple geometric designs while bursting with irregularity.

I’m reminded of the color purple or when I called it “blurple” and you
said that wasn’t a real color. The games we played made it seem real. Real like
those creatures are real. Real like the pictures engraved in my memory. Or
my memory becoming a permanent picture. I am reminded of you, in the night.


Ms. Sanvik's poem is inspired by the landscape above: B.J.O. Nordfeldt, Green Woods, 1950. Oil on canvas, 40 1/4 × 52 in. Collection of the Weisman Art Museum. Gift of Mrs. B. J. O. Nordfeldt.

Read the other 2020 ArtWords winners >>

Read the full 2020 edition of The Tower, in which this year’s winners are published >>

Listen to the 2020 podcast and hear this year’s contributors to The Tower read their submissions >>

ArtWords is an annual writing competition in which students select a piece of art on display from the Weisman Art Museum's permanent collection, and create an original piece of prose or poetry in response to it.

This competition is open to undergraduate and graduate students at the University of Minnesota. Selected authors are awarded prizes, published online, and given the opportunity to present their work in the galleries of the museum. Undergraduate winning writers of ArtWords are published in The Tower.

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ArtWords is held in collaboration with the English Department's Creative Writing Program. A panel including Creative Writing faculty, Weisman Art Museum staff, and editors of The Tower select winning entries. Prizes include a gift certificate to the WAM Gift Shop, as well as two $75, two $50, and two $25 prizes.

Our guest judges: Sam Van Cook, the president, founder, and owner of Button Poetry; award-winning poet and essayist Douglas Kearney, professor in the University of Minnesota's Creative Writing Program; and Michael Curran, the Marketing and Communications Associate at Weisman Art Museum.

Our student judges: Claire Breitenbach, Designer, Fiction Editor, and Copyeditor of The Tower; Afton Kelly, Managing Editor and Chief Poetry Editor of The Tower; Miki Schumacher, Marketing Director and Art Editor of The Tower; and Kimberly Xayaroun, Publicist and Fiction Editor of The Tower.