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posted on 2017-06-01, 00:00 authored by Cassandra AthertonCassandra Atherton
Johann Wolfgang von Goethe believed that yellow was
the first colour transmitted from light (150). Discussing
the psychology of colour and emotion, he identified
yellow as a ‘plus’ colour, emphasizing its ‘serene, gay, softly
exciting character [and] warm and agreeable impression’
(306). However, he also acknowledged that yellow can
be contaminated easily and when it is sullied, it has a very
disagreeable effect:
By a slight and scarcely perceptible change, the beautiful
impression of fire and gold is transformed into one not
undeserving the epithet foul; and the color of honour and
joy reversed to that of ignominy and aversion. (308)
The prose poems in this chapbook address this yellow
dualism: the ‘softly exciting’ and the ‘disagreeable’. They
prioritise light and equally explore the absence of it. They
also refer to J. W. M. Turner’s innovations around yellow,
which he used in both his oil and watercolour paintings.
Between 1814 and 1815, Turner moved from using Indian
Yellow to Chrome Yellow. While Chrome Yellow was a
bright, opaque yellow pigment, it darkened upon exposure
to light. Renoir called this a ‘nasty trick’ (André, 22).
Analogically, many of the prose poems in this chapbook explore disappointment and transience – perhaps even
the Frostian sentiment that ‘nothing gold can stay’.
They include allusions to classic literature that prioritises
yellow (most notably Stevie Smith’s, Aldous Huxley’s and
Charlotte Perkins Gilman’s novels).
These prose poems also make reference to contemporary
studies into the psychology of colour, which have
demonstrated that yellow increases appetite, respiration
rate and is often connected with food (Rikard, n.p).
In this chapbook, yellow is the colour of hunger and



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Recent Work Press

Place of publication

Canberra, A.C.T.





Publication classification

J3 Poems

Copyright notice

2017, Recent Work Press



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