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“Absconditum”

Posted on • Words by • Art by

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Collaborators’ Q&A

What made you think of Broadsided for this poem?
Poet Traci Brimhall:
I didn’t know this poem would be right for Broadsided, though I’ve always liked Broadsided’s publishing mission and was thrilled that you all took this piece!

What inspires you in this poem? What drew you to it?
Artist Amy Meissner: First, the title. I knew what it meant to abscond with something, but didn’t realize “absconditum” was the thing(s) one might abscond with or to. The spent matches embedded in the accompanying textile piece were squirreled away by my son after his first grade teacher lit a candle each day in the classroom. Then I stole them all from him for my own work.

Describe your dream “Vectorization”—where, in your wildest dreams, would you most like to see this broadside posted in the world?
Artist Amy Meissner: On a bulletin board in the art handler break room at the Victoria and Albert Museum.
Poet Traci Brimhall:
 Gosh, I don’t think I’ve ever been good at imagining how poems find their way in the world. Rather than a place that it could appear, I think I hope more that a person who needs it finds it.

What did you think an artist would pick up on from your poem? Did the visual artist refract any element of the poem that made you see the poem differently?
Poet Traci Brimhall: I’m so bad at these questions! Once again, I don’t have a lot of expectations. I liked the surprise of opening the preview and seeing the gorgeous work that Amy Meissner created around the poem.

Did anything shift for you or come into new light once you saw the poem and art together on the page?
Artist Amy Meissner: I love how the words sit between the two sides of the diptych, as if the edges widen to reveal a hidden place for language.

Have you ever written work that has been inspired by visual art? What was that experience like for you? Why were you inspired to do so?
Poet Traci Brimhall:
Oh quite often! I love going to galleries and looking at work. I like to walk into a room and let myself get the emotional temperature of the work in the room and then move towards the piece that makes me the most afraid or bewildered. I like to spend time in front of that piece and think and feel. I almost never write something that describes someone else’s art, but it’s more about my emotional response and where my imagination took me from there.

If this broadside were a type of weather, what would it be?
Artist Amy Meissner: Heavy mist beginning to settle and bead on all surfaces an hour before the sun rises.
Poet Traci Brimhall:
Sunny but windy!

Read any good books lately?
Artist Amy Meissner: I just finished Glenn Adamson’s Craft: An American History and am wrapping up William Finnegan’s Barbarian Days: A Surfing Life. I love histories told through the lens of objects and/or time-intensive practices.
Poet Traci Brimhall:
Diana Khoi Nguyen’s Ghost Of was fabulous, and I really liked Linda Hogan’s The Radiant Lives of Animals.

Seen any good art lately?
Artist Amy Meissner: I’m always inspired and excited to delve into the unfolding historical craftwork on the Black Craftspeople Digital Archive (www.blackcraftspeople.org) which features histories told through extensive mapping and the researched craft objects made by enslaved and/or formerly enslaved people in the American South. 
Poet Traci Brimhall:
I haven’t been to a lot of galleries given COVID, but I love that my town has installed sculptures down one of the streets in town and painted murals down an alley. I appreciate when art can be public, and these days I appreciate when it’s in the open air.

Anything else? (Here, we invite the collaborators to invent a question, add a comment, or otherwise speak to what the questions so far have not tapped about their Broadsided experience).
Artist Amy Meissner: I appreciated the “I” in Traci’s poem…In a parallel life, I think I might be that “I.”

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