As someone who writes poetry, I’ve encountered many people who don’t consider it an art form, who think that poets don’t engage in craft like “real” artists who paint, draw, or sculpt. That visual art and the written word are two very different forms of expression goes without saying, and our approach to our work is necessarily dictated by the art we’re attempting to create. All of us, however, know what it means to make something new, something that never existed before we thought it and brought it to life. We also know what it means to create only to rework, or revise, or even destroy the very thing we worked so hard to produce. Our impulse—whether with a canvas, or a notebook and pen—is truly not all that different. Never has this been clearer to me than at the Poetry in Art exhibition at the Riverside Artists Gallery in Marietta, OH, last evening.
The gallery is an intimate, homey space located at 219 Second Street. When I arrived, poets and artists were already mingling, sipping wine, and chatting casually about their work. On walls and pedestals, the poems were displayed alongside the visual art, which included photography, woodwork, glass, ceramics, as well as sculpture and collage.
At 7 p.m., the poetry reading began. Many poetry readings consist of only one or two poets, but because this project included many regional writers, each contributing one or two poems, the reading took on a unique energy with a vast array of voices and perspectives. Each poet said a few words about his or her work before reading the poem, and when finished, the artist who took inspiration from the poem also spoke about what he or she created and why.
Jean Mikhail, for example, who has been featured on this blog, read a beautiful poem titled “In Threes.” The artist, Jennifer Lasko, created three small black trays, and on the edge of each tray she placed a single, tall, ceramic cup. In white lettering, she transcribed Mikhail’s poem directly onto the trays. The following photo of the artwork is by Jean Mikhail.
I was equally happy with the artwork inspired by my poems. Jen McKenna was tasked with creating something for the poem “The Threshold of Can We Do This Now.” The quirkiness of the Goth kids in her painting matches the quirkiness of the grammar I use in the poem. Below is my daughter, Sophie, taking a picture of McKenna’s work.
Bonnie Proudfoot’s glass creation is the featured image on this blog post (photo by the artist). I’ve known Proudfoot for many years, and when I learned she was creating something based on my poem “A Brief Novel with No Interior Doors” (which I include below), I was delighted, because I’ve always admired her work. She told me that at first she wasn’t sure on which image or idea from the poem she should focus, but she settled on the concept of fracturing, because it seemed central to my piece. Below, Sophie takes a photo of Proudfoot’s art.
Overall, my experience with Poetry in Art was an exciting one. Judging from the camaraderie among the artists and poets, many of whom met each other for the first time last night, the project was a big success.
The exhibit will be up until October 31st, so if you find yourself in the southeast Ohio area, please check it out.
[Note: I don’t usually post my own poetry on this blog, but I do so today, so you can see where Bonnie Proudfoot found images for her artwork. “A Brief Novel with No Interior Doors” was originally published in Bellingham Review.]
A Brief Novel with No Interior Doors
I admit I was stuck in the passionate kiss of leaving. My honesty was two hands inside two other hands. Sometimes there were breaks in things & the sky held the lightning’s visible fracture for days. Maybe I should’ve heard the barking as soliloquy to the saddest part of wounding. Maybe I should’ve read disaster in the buzzards’ funnel cloud over the far field. Hooves on the midnight gravel said deer but meant the slow stamp of the horse escaping. My daughter was inside my body then, flourishing her fine hair. What else could I do but hoist her with me into the dismantled night? When the pup was hit & killed, two of his siblings bowed their heads to me, while the other stayed alone in the grass across the road, savoring a deer carcass to bone.