Monday, August 14, 2023

of poems and pictures


I was making up some poetry postcard graphics for Instagram this morning and a path out of the current quagmire of poems appeared. Maybe not so much of a path, but an untangling of branches, a clearing through the trees.  I had been stuck, with about a dozen poems in the hopper that were loosely thematically related, but I was unsure of where to go with them. Or maybe more where they were trying to take me.  Not one to blindly follow along (the Taurus in me), I froze up and refused to work on them or even really think about them. Instead, I devoted time to making more collages.

The irony of course, is that those collages, at least some of them, may have offered up my solution, though I scarcely knew it when I was making them, coming off the heels of the Persephone collages and fiddling with extra images I had saved in a folder. The wild things series, which felt really random and just for kicks when I made them, may be something I can use to guide the focus of this particular text series and help propel me toward actually finishing them.

The dynamics between visual and written work have shifted over time in my work and practice.  I always say I came to visual art much later, spurred by press-related graphic design exploits and making collages and stuff for library art exhibits. They were actually related in the very early days--through the installations spawned by poems, or visual poem projects for classes, one-off book projects for exhibitions and collabs with other artists.  A couple years in, however, they were wholly separate, particularly in the couple years, post-MFA, where I was writing very little at all and making a whole lot of art for the etsy shop.  The first zines I made were completely visual, and only around 2012, did writing and art start to marry up with each other again, though not always created in tandem.  The first visual/text project I released was shipwrecks of lake michigan, for which the poems had been written before the collages added. Others followed, but usually one medium came before the other.  ghost landscapes, for example, was a huge batch of postcard watercolors before there were poems to go with them. Ditto radio oclularia.  The opposite with taurus and exquisite damage / the terrible place, with the poems created to accompany the collagesI flip-flopped back and forth, with one or the other guiding the process. 

Very rarely did they occur at the same time, writing as I was working on the visuals, which has always felt like a better, more intentional way to work. But I can only remember it occurring with a couple different projects, usually because there were firm deadlines for one reason or another for a zine project (usually for library-related exhibits.)  I have numerous art exploits with no text component, though less and less text without some sort of visual accompaniment--collages, prints, and now, video. I worked on GRANATA all last summer thinking it would just be a written thing, but only as I started making collages this summer did it feel complete.