"Unlike Renaissance advice-to-painter poems, this one is gentler and more inclined to the aesthetic than to the political. Or, to put it differently, our 'Advice to a Painter' is not angry satire, but (it seems to me) anti-satire. It’s an intelligent meditation on matters both inside and outside the painter’s control and necessary focus. In this, it’s an old-fashioned poem, I guess, openly unwilling to sacrifice the aesthetic for the narrowly partisan. I’ll bet some will feel its form is old-fashioned, too, though it’s a variation on Venus & Adonis stanza that I can’t recall seeing before, tetrameter lines instead of pentameter ones — and it is beautifully executed (though one strategically enjambed stanza might have improved the effect). The form is handled with pleasure and confidence, as if to say, Let’s remember the best things about the Renaissance, the incomparable verbal and visual arts – rather than the wars, the torture, and the persecutions. Our 'Advice to a Painter' is aware of such things, in the past and the present, but chooses art over remonstration. Is it possible I’m missing some of the poem’s irony? Maybe. This fine poem, lush with detail and rich with sound, can savor its thematic cake and still have it later, as far as I’m concerned. Don’t we, too, prefer the 'impeccably impure' in art over the righteous dogmatism of even a Waller or a Marvell?"
Look for the Poetry Contest finalists and winning poem in our Summer 2016 issue.