Grande Plage (Big Beach)

By Jo Langdon

30 November, 2022

Jo Langdon is Running Dog’s poet in residence for October and November 2022.

Each month, a poet produces new work, which is distributed via Running Dog’s monthly newsletter—Stray. If you haven’t already, sign up to our newsletter.

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you say nothing about yourself, but you expose yourself
—Jean-Marie Drot to Alina Szapocznikow


Lippy bivalves, these creases
encrust in clusters
some surface

upon which things
might surface—I know

their kind, happily
calling up midriffs

into which I might plant
a new consonant—teeth

meeting where they’re not
meant to—& in this construe
matters amiss, transposing

flotsam and jetsam
like analogous eels
in animation.

The artist pictured
below her sculptural expression
‘liked to be photographed

and often appears
laughing and charming
the camera.’

Between them they make a pair
of bawdy silhouettes, clump
and upthrust

where Alina leans into knees,
spine, torso to shoulders
in a scoop

of light, pixel, pigment: the artist
unreachable. I say everything

erroneously, I think
I have it wrong, having

seen them elsewhere
designated belly cushions, ‘soft

opening like H.D.’s
‘hepaticas, wide-spread’. Alina’s
toes, too, curl tilted, heel to tip,

pebbles collecting
on no certain shore—

these beached bodies
viscerally existing, sure as rocks.


Author’s notes:
The lines “‘liked to be photographed // and often appears / laughing and charming / the camera”’ are drawn from Joanna Mytkowska’s essay ‘From Sculptures to Awkward Objects: A Short History of the Changing Reception of the Work of Alina Szapocznikow’, in Alina Szapocznikow: Sculpture Undone: 1955 – 1972 , edited by Filipovic and Joanna Mytkowska, (New York: The Museum of Modern Art, 2012), p. 124.
The line “hepaticas, wide-spread” is from H.D.’s poem ‘Evening’, H.D. Collected Poems 1912~1944, edited by Louis L Martz, (New York, New Directions, 1983), p. 18.
The final words of the poem misquote Frank O’Hara’s poem ‘Today’: “They / do have meaning. They’re strong as rocks.” From The Collected Poems of Frank O’Hara, edited by Donald Allen, (Berkeley: University of California Press), 1995, p. 15.