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“Be Aware”

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Collaborators’ Q&A

What is behind your choice of this piece of art in response to Flint, Michigan’s contaminated drinking water?
Artist Stacy Isenbarger: Being Michigan born & having family in the area, the idea of a place no longer being “Home, Sweet, Home” struck me. The idea of being stuck made the material collision of concrete and embroidery a necessary response.

Why did this piece of art resonate for you or seem like it would give you an avenue into writing about Flint?
Poet Rachel Carle: “Be Aware” is incredibly compelling. It discusses warning, domesticity, clarity, and weight in a haunting way. The piece is powerful without any accompanying text, but it was an honor to collaborate with Ms. Isenbarger.

What do you think is the role of art in regards to real-world, real-time events? In other words, what makes a “successful” occasional or political piece of writing or art?
Artist Stacy Isenbarger: So much will stir us, but a creative voice in response shouldn’t be universal—and that’s its power. I appreciate political reactions that aren’t humongous. Successful work will chip away at an issue from a unique edge and allow others to make their cracks too.

Poet Rachel Carle: In our daily lives, we embody, perpetuate, and redesign what it means to be human. Some of those processes have been put in an officially political arena, like the Flint water crisis, but I don’t believe that poems on love or nature are any less vital to our construction of self and culture. In this sense, all poems are political. Poetry is perhaps most “successful” when it troubles our traditional constructions. I think poetry is positioned to do so in ways that other modes of politics and communication are not.

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