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“Graffiti on Moving Day”

Posted on • Words by • Art by

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Collaborators’ Q&A

What inspired you to bring your work to Broadsided?
Poet H.E. Fisher: “Graffiti on Moving Day” is about the power of language and images and the mysteries they may hold, and the mysteries our own homes may hold. In this case, it‘s about language that is an image that I tried to decipher, decode. I thought how interesting it would be to have a poem about deciphering an image/words as a broadside. I am so grateful and honored that Broadsided accepted the work and thrilled the poem was paired with Jennifer Van’s artwork.

What drew you to create a visual response to this poem, in particular?
Artist Jennifer Van:
This poem really spoke to me of a sense of loss, time, and memory. There are multiple layers to this poem which speak to the self, but also others who have come before us. Many homes have had different families and generations living in them and while we may not know who those individuals were, there is a past that is evident in the wear of the home.

How did this poem come to be?
Poet H.E. Fisher: “Graffiti on Moving Day” is based on an actual experience. The poem is part of my new collection-in-progress which, in part, looks at loss and gaining access to experiences that can be profoundly difficult to understand. The image of graffiti on the door of my old apartment had been with me for over 20 years. One day, the poem pushed itself to the surface and here we are.

How did this image come to be?
Artist Jennifer Van: After reading the poem, I remembered this house I used to pass by that I watched slowly get demolished over the years. I always felt such a sadness for this house that could no longer be a home. It felt discarded and uncared-for. The poem references moving day, and I can imagine a family moving from this home that would never house another family again.

What did you think an artist would pick up on from your poem? Does the artist’s response make you see the poem differently?
Poet H.E. Fisher: I was thinking very literally; I thought the artist would create an image with graffiti. Jennifer’s interpretation underscores the power of our notion of “home” and loss.

Did anything shift for you or come into new light as you began working on your visual response?
Artist Jennifer Van: What shifted for me upon returning to this location was seeing these trees growing around the house towards the sky. The trees created a really beautiful sense of hopefulness that I found touching. The poem looks to the past and the history of the place, and I really wanted to capture that in my photograph. 

What question would you like to ask your collaborator?
Poet to Artist: Did you consider creating a piece that was a kind of visual puzzle? 
Artist Jennifer Van:
For me, creating artwork is deeply rooted in past experiences and memories. I was fascinated by the poem and aimed to highlight those special moments of home and loss through my artwork to create a visual narrative.

Artist to Poet: Can you share a moment or experience that deeply influenced your poetry on themes of place and belonging?
Poet H.E. Fisher:
Thank you for this question. I’m not so sure how often I write about a place and belonging, per se. My poems are often set somewhere that resonates or that serves as a kind of anchor for the heart of the poem. The place might be a field in upstate New York, the yard of the house I grew up in, or a parking lot at a hospital. The places are triggers, in a way, or a backdrop to the “action” of the poem. 

When you consider the full folio of work from this issue (see the “related broadsides” links on the left), what questions, observations, or connections arise for you?  
Poet H.E. Fisher: Longing, loss, death—or the threat of it. I see a connection of where we are in history in relation to survival.
Artist Jennifer Van: I see a connection of history, care, and relationships. Whether it be through the sensations evoked by “Pelt,” the connection to body in “Cytokine,” or the attention to detail felt in “Highlights.”

Describe your ideal “Vectorization”—where, in your wildest dreams, would you most like to see this broadside posted in the world?
Poet H.E. Fisher: On the door in the East Village in New York City that inspired the poem.
Artist Jennifer Van:
Anywhere and everywhere! That is one of the beautiful things about broadsides: they can be shared in any place, at any time. To echo H.E. Fisher, I think it would be great to post this broadside on the street corner near the place where I took the photograph. 

If this Broadsided collaboration were a type of weather, what would it be?
Poet H.E. Fisher: Big white clouds against a stark blue sky, sun breaking through everywhere.
Artist Jennifer Van:
I see this collaboration as a clear blue sky. Hopeful, if not a little sad. A clear blue sky leads to what is to come–the unknown–but a place where options are wide open.

Do you have a favorite, generative prompt for artists or writers you’d like to share?
Poet H.E. Fisher: Choose an object (or location) that is meaningful to you and allow it to speak to you. What does it want to tell you?
Artist Jennifer Van:
My favorite prompt is also the most difficult at times. Make the work that you really want to make. Don’t worry about what other people might think, as some of the best art comes from a place that is personal and open.

Read any good books lately?
Poet H.E. Fisher: Three on rotation: Modern Poetry by Diane Seuss, Road-side Dog by Czesław Miłosz, and The Covenant of Water by Abraham Verghese.
Artist Jennifer Van:
Being in a graduate program, I primarily have been looking at artist books. Artists who I have been looking at include: Julia Margaret Cameron, Louise Bourgeois, Ana Mendieta, and many more.

Seen any good art lately?
Poet H.E. Fisher: I’ve been following Frances Smokowski’s work in galleries and online. She’s incredible.
Artist Jennifer Van:
I currently live in LA, where there are so many wonderful galleries and museums. However, I have been a bit of a homebody lately as I have been working on my thesis for graduate school. Primarily I have been in conversations with many emerging artists in my program who are really challenging their art practices, leading to some meaningful conversations about what art making means for each of us.

Anything else?
Poet H.E. Fisher: Feeling deep gratitude to Broadsided for creating this space and generating these collaborations. Thank you!
Artist Jennifer Van:
First and foremost, I want to say thank you to Broadsided for providing this amazing opportunity for both poets and visual artists. It is such a wonderful way to bring different perspectives together to collaborate on a project. Not only does it result in such a unique experience for us as collaborators, but brings a whole new experience for viewers to both poetry and visual arts.

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