Unfinished Michelangelo

Poem: Unfinished Michelangelo Human Voices Wake Us

An episode from 9/28/21: Tonight, I read a poem called “Unfinished Michelangelo.” The entire poem takes up Michelangelo’s many unfinished works, but it begins, specifically, talking about his unfinished slave sculptures. You can read the poem here.

I introduce the poem by mentioning how, very often poets and writers (and sculptors and painters) don’t choose their subjects. Holding the two big Italian Renaissance artists in my mind, Michelangelo is far more interesting to me, as human being and an artist, than Leonardo da Vinci. But it’s da Vinci’s life, not Michelangelo’s, that got a ten page poem out of me.

I should mention here that this poem has a special meaning for me. After starting to write poetry again in 2013, for a long time I was set on writing poems in some form of my own making – whether in merely counting the syllables in each line, or in using my approximation of iambic pentameter. And I can still remember sitting on the porch one summer, trying to fit this poem about Michelangelo into any of those formal structures, but in the end, it became the first truly “free verse” poem I had written after my 2013 restart. Allowing the line “its maker showing our true form, unfinished and flowing and perpetually Protean” to go on for so long was quite a revelation.

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Any comments, or suggestions for readings I should make in later episodes, can be emailed to humanvoiceswakeus1@gmail.com.

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