Self-Portrait (Time Flies) (1929): Frida Kahlo Painting

     Those drop earrings (doubtless pre-Colombian). Jade certainly. In any case a green stone Standard issue metal alarm clock, two bells on top. Hairstyle parted in the middle. Seriously heavy drapery restrained by twisted cords. A small one propeller airplane hovers above her head. This is an odd alcove. Her sharp-eyed concentration. Her nose bumps against the restriction of the masonite panel.

Greta Pullen

What is the significance of this work to you? 

This painting beguiles me with a formal setting (curtains held by tie backs and a wooden pedestal for the alarm clock). These props often appeared in two 19th to early 20th century traditions in Mexico; those of photography studios and backdrops and the painted portraits on wood or tin that depicted saints in domestic settings or are works commissioned to celebrate a recovery aided by a saint or aspect of Mary or Jesus. I was fortunate to spend part of my childhood in central Mexico. Mexican culture has been foundational in my daily life and in my work in the public sphere as well as in my creative writing. 

What is the significance of the form you chose for this work?

This poem went through many drafts as free verse. It was the stance of Kahlo practically at the edge of the frame that led me to recast the poem as a prose poem with the thought that the poem itself needed more tension and compression.

What was your process for creating this work?

I have written a series of a dozen poems on Kahlo's paintings. I specifically wanted to enter the landscapes and geographies of the paintings themselves. I remain interested in Kahlo as a painter above all else.

Greta Pullen is from California and was educated at San Francisco State University and at San Jose State University. Now retired, she works in her public life as a teacher of English as a Second Language to children and adults, as a law librarían for multinational law firms, and in New Mexico as a librarian in the History & Literary Arts program at the National Hispanic Cultural Center. She is currently editing a poetry manuscript. Her prose and poetry has been published in such literary magazines as About Place Journal, Pirene’s Fountain, the Mas Tequila Review, and SLAB journal among others.

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