SWITCHEROO IV: NOVEMBER, 2008
Turnabout is fair play. The best way we can think to repay the pool of artists who have been creating work for Broadsided is to offer them an opportunity to see how writers might respond to their work.
In a Switcheroo, we invite writers to submit poetry and prose in response to a piece of visual work created by one of the Broasdided artists.
Click below to see former Switcheroos.
"Homeless," published May, 2016 with art by Jennifer Bevill & poetry by Sheila Kelly.
"Rules for Cave Diving," published May, 2016 with art by Jennifer Bevill & poetry by Maureen Seaton.
"Beginning Moon," published May, 2015 with art by Michele L'Heureux & poetry by Markie Babbott.
"Disappear," published May, 2014 with art by Maura Cunningham & poetry by Philip Schaefer.
"Matthew 7," published May, 2013 with art by Kara Searcy & poetry by Catherine R Cryan.
"Mixed Media," published May, 2013 with art by Gabriel Travis & poetry by Laura Lee Washburn.
"Cost Benefit," published April, 2012 with art by Cheryl Gross & poetry by Lisa Allen Ortiz.
"The Company of Weeds," published April, 2011 with art by Ira Joel Haber & poetry by Catherine Swanson.
"Ex Ovo Omnia," published April, 2010 with art by Julie Evanoff & poetry by Jennifer Perrine.
"Interstate," published November, 2009 with art by Kate Baird & poetry by Brian Hendrickson.
"Collective Origins as Ulysses/Uxoria," published April, 2009 with art by Kevin Morrow & poetry by Pamela Johnson Parker.
"Empire," published November, 2008 with art by Helen Beckman Kaplan & poetry by KA Lynch.
"Among Trees (or) The Heart is a Bee Hive," published April, 2008 with art by Elizabeth Terhune & poetry by Cindy St. John.
"Bird's Eye," published November, 2007 with art by Kate Baird & poetry by Amanda Warren.
"Dishes," published April, 2007 with art by Anya Ermak-Bower & prose by Anna Mueller.
Get involved! Become a Vector and put literature & art on the streets. Easy, fun, and cheap... we promise.
Crow or raven or vulture? Allegory or apocalypse or dream? Disastrous end or a new beginning? These questions ranged through the writing we received in response to Helen Beckman Kaplan's "Empire." The queries make sense. There's dark and powerful work at play in Kaplan's watercolor. As Switcheroo curator Elizabeth Terhune wrote, "It is simultaneously peaceful while also being unsettling. The overwhelming feeling is one of remoteness, and it is within this remoteness that I thought a poem might be found."
It's interesting to see the commonalities that tie together diverse artistic responses. While we marveled at the wide range of subjects and stances writers chose, one thing that many of the poems sent in had in common was a strong sense of play in their language. Words bounced against each other, rhyming and rubbing their meanings, creating from their chaos new associations, perhaps mimicking the swirl of smoke behind the dark figure of the bird.
K.A. Lynch, whose poem "Canned Food Drive" was Broadsided in January, 2008 (click to view | click to download), sent us a poem that knocked our socks off. Titled "The Hard Season," Lynch's poem explores on the balance of hope and despair. There's an urgency to the lines that feels like the fierce yellow of Kaplan's painting, a darkness to its sense of temporality that echoes Kaplan's clouded and dark scene, a strange tenderness that relates to the delicacy of the watercolor. We hope it resonates for you.
Another poem we received opened new and strange horizons in Kaplan's painting—Jason Fraley's "Self-Portrait With a Brand New God." A dark meditation on fatherhood, the wry humor of the poem's opening and the way its final image intersects with the brilliant yellow of Kaplan's watercolor sang for us. It's a spooky, spooky vision Fraley creates, and we admired how the creation-myth conversed with Kaplan's watercolor while also existing alongside it, picking up on the emotion of the painting to create a written response that is completely other and yet completely aligned. Read on to see Fraley's "Self-Portrait With A Brand New God."
We look forward to seeing what art and literature come into conversation in our next Switcheroo. Our great thanks to all writers who sent us work. We hope the act of collaboration fired a new and surprising spark.
You can read what Lynch and Kaplan thought about their Switcheroo experience in the Collaborator's Q&A.
Download the pdf of the Switcheroo
Liz Bradfield and Mark Temelko
"Self-Portrait With A Brand New God" by Jason Fraley
Wait—where's the turbid splatter of afterbirth, the thunderous chorus
of storm clouds, or, at the very least, copious amounts of fire?
Yes, a fatty lump in a blue shirt damp with drool is underwhelming.
But here you are, enrapt with fingers you can't yet count.
In time, they'll become wands, seals over pursed lips, gesture
machines, ten flailing swords. Let's not discuss violence
or the need for blood just yet. Your fingers are just chewy
and tasty for now. You can preach the difference between gold
and pyrite, a wrinkled hand plucking hair and harpsong later.
There is a test: in the highway underpass, I lift you into its liquor
shimmer so you can imagine a halo, something brighter than Sunday
morning cartoons. Your shadow spreads over the walls like ink.
This is good. This guarantees nothing. But if you couldn't whimsically
blot out the world and choose to do otherwise, what would stop me
from heaving you into the night as high as I could?
Jason Fraley works at an investment firm in West Virginia. He is currently seeking a publisher for his first full length collection, Palsy Aria. His work has appeared or is forthcoming in Forklift Ohio, 42opus, The Hat, Pebble Lake Review, Caketrain, and No Tell Motel. His poem "Collected Fragments Detailing Your Journey" was Broadsided in July, 2007. (click to view | click to download)
Notes on the Curatorial Process
All Broadsided artists were invited to submit up to three pieces of work for the Switcheroo. We then asked Elizabeth Terhune, Broadsided artist and our last Switcheroo artist, to review the submissions, choosing two that she thought would be open to literary response and would work in the Broadsided format. She selected Helen Beckman Kaplan's piece and one by Kevin Morrow (to be Switcheroo-ed in April, 2009).
Of her decision, Terhune had this to say:
Helen Beckman Kaplan's watercolor painting, "Empire," of a rather strange bird in an unusual—if not sad—landscape was selected for the Switcheroo because it repeatedly drew my attention even after many viewings. It kept pulling at me.
The bird embodies complex emotions. It is a quizzical creature in a landscape that appears a bit of a shambles, part balustrade, part fog, part rock face. There is an after-the-flood quality that is offset by the quirkiness of the piece. It is simultaneously peaceful while also being unsettling. The overwhelming feeling is one of remoteness, and it is within this remoteness that I thought a poem might be found.
I like what can't be answered about this image. There is a Rorschach quality of swirling forms within the atmosphere that the bird contemplates. "Memory is a strange Bell—Jubilee, and Knell." I came across that line from one of Emily Dickinson's letters in Richard B. Sewall's wonderful biography of Emily Dickinson. It made me think of this watercolor and then that other American literary treasure, Edgar Allan Poe and his . . . raven.
In the interest of full disclosure I would like to say that I know Helen and have been a fan of her work for a number of years. The Switcheroo selection process is blind. I selected this piece for the Switcheroo because of its complex emotions and painterly qualities.
Elizabeth Terhune received her MFA from Hunter College and her BA
from Oberlin College. She was the recipient of a Yaddo Fellowship in 1998. She has exhibited widely throughout the United States and recently had a one-person exhibition at the Lake George Arts Project, Lake George, NY (www.lakegeorgearts.org). You can view some of her work online at www.elizabethterhune.com, and selected works in the Pierogi Gallery Flat Files, Brooklyn, NY. She teaches painting and drawing at the 92nd Street Y and at NYU's School of Continuing and Professional Studies in New York City. She lives in upper Manhattan with her husband.
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