2017 Contest Winner

Rembrandt’s Nose

Charles Wyatt

When Rembrandt von Rijn went bankrupt in 1656 he had to sell his large collection of antiquities along with a great many of his drawings and paintings. Charles Wyatt used the long list of Rembrandt’s possessions as a window into the world of one of the greatest painters who ever lived. These poems show us Rembrandt, the ordinary, disorganized man, with a “nose always there in the middle but not quite,” and the brilliant artist whose simplest of drawings are so lifelike that they are begging to exist.

From Rembrandt’s Nose

Farmhouse in Sunlight

If a tree can gather the sun,
this house is a forest,
and the light’s a treasure
hidden already.

Bright shadows hold up
four chimneys,
and we’re close enough
to be inside.

where sharp lines
from the guarded windows
bind armies of morning dust
escaping an angry broom.


Rembrandt’s Nose combines ekphrastic and lyric poetry to reveal what’s beneath the surface of the painter’s work and behind the eyes of those self-portraits, including smells, sounds, tastes and tactility. Wonders and mysteries are found in the humblest of places: in chairs, brooms, feathers, dust motes, ‘cows pissing.’ And there, like a refrain: the nose, ‘that sackbut, that viol, that harmonious bagpipe’ – herald of imperfection, irony, appetite and mortality.”

William Trowbridge

Author of Vanishing Points

About the Author

Charles Wyatt

We honor the passing of Charles Wyatt by continuing to read his poems.

Charles Wyatt was the author of two collections of short fiction, Listening to Mozart, (University of Iowa Press) and Swan of Tuonela, (Hanging Loose Press); a novella, Falling Stones: The Spirit Autobiography of S.M. Jones (Texas Review Press); and three poetry chapbooks, A Girl Sleeping (Sow’s Ear Poetry Review Chapbook Series,) Myomancy (Finishing Line Press,) and Angelicus ex Machina (Finishing Line Press.)