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“Circus: Spotlight on the Ring”

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Collaborators’ Q&A

Did the visual artist refract any element of the poem that made you see the story differently?
Writer Christine Byl: It really made explicit to me the tension in the story between a kind of surficial brightness—the colors and innate weird joy in a circus—and then the dark undertone of violence and dread. I saw that duality in the art, for sure, and it augmented the feel in the story.

In what sense did the poem first present itself as a collaboration with a visual medium? Did it come to you first as image? As an idea? Music? Narrative?
Artist Ira Joel Haber: I was taken by the circus theme and the creepy feeling of the piece. Circuses can be scary places.

If this story were a weather pattern, what would it be?
Artist Ira Joel Haber: Some kind of storm.

If the broadside collaboration were a land formation, what would it be?
Artist Ira Joel Haber: A ditch in a valley.

Let’s say that your broadside collaboration was a first date. How did it go? First base? Second? Nightcap? Would you make plans for a second date?
Writer Christine Byl: Definite second date. I really like Ira’s sensibility, I’d love to see more of his work. This piece feels very “primary” to me—like grade school, like bright colors, like primitive—in all the best senses of those words.
Artist Ira Joel Haber: Well I got an email from Christine in which she told me how much she liked the image used, so I guess this was a real good date.

Read any good books lately?
Writer Christine Byl: I’m about to crack open Alice Munro’s newest collection, can’t wait! Michael Pollan’s The Omnivore’s Dilemma, which is incisive and smart and layered, and David James Duncan’s killer rant, God Laughs & Plays: Churchless Sermons in Response to the Preachments of the Fundamentalist Right.
Artist Ira Joel Haber: I just finished Andrew Holleran’s latest novel Grief which as with all his books was magnificent.

Seen any good art exhibits lately?
Writer Christine Byl: I live in a pretty isolated spot, so exhibitions are rare. I did see the Art Train a few months ago, this amazing gallery train that comes through rural (and urban) areas on the railroad. We drove an hour north to the tiny town of Nenana and entered a railcar to an incredible exhibit of contemporary Native American artists—some world class work. It was a feast for the art-starved. Broadsides are actually one of my consistent favorite art-infusions.

Also, I must pitch Gabe Travis’s website:—collage fine art.
Artist Ira Joel Haber: I made the foolish mistake of going to the Met on a Sunday hoping to see the German portrait show. It was a total mob scene and will never ever go there on a Sunday. From what I could see over the 100’s of heads the show looked good. Wish I could have seen it.

Anything else?
Writer Christine Byl: I love the collaborative idea—it moves the writing beyond the writer, which is what we all hope for, I think. I’m eager to see the results of a switcheroo, when the art comes first.

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