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“I Put My Fingers In”

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Collaborators’ Q&A

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 Darren Demaree: I think what caught my attention was that a dialogue emerged, which is wild because these pieces began independently, but combined into the folio I thought they all built towards a cohesive theme.
Artist David Bernardy: I am struck by how often the poems and the art both draw us back to the body—whether it is through food or touch or the sound of our voices—as a way to recognize ourselves in new ways.

What inspired you to bring your poem to Broadsided?
Poet Darren Demaree: I love turning art into artifact.

What drew you to create a visual response to this poem, in particular?
Artist David Bernardy: I think what drew me was the visceral language of Daniel’s poem, particularly the descriptions of tracing the nostril of the horse. I remember an old plastic horse outside a Woolworth’s when I was a kid–the kind you can put a quarter in and ride for a minute or so. I remember, too, running my hands over its face and dreaming about it on those days when my mom didn’t have or didn’t want to give up a quarter.

How did this poem come to be?
Poet Darren Demaree: I wrote it about my youngest daughter’s toy horse. Playing with one of your children always carries on even after they’re done with the toy, it stays with you—you project and imagine the same way they do, and I carried it into this poem.

How did this image come to be?
Artist David Bernardy: I knew when I took on the project that I wanted to use a carousel horse as a reference. Something about their frozen-in-time, ecstatic, terrifying faces always pulls me in. After I did the drawing, I was playing around with several different textures for the background, and I came upon a photo I had taken of the rusty hood of an old car. I just love the patina of rust and paint and hoped it would be a good fit.

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 Daniel Demaree: I hoped they would find the same energy and music in the piece that I did, and I think our sensibilities lined up well.

Poet to Artist: How did you choose the color palette for the art? It was a tad darker than I expected, but I really like it.
Artist David Bernardy:
I think the original color of the rusty old car—which was a kind of blue-black—influenced it a lot. I wanted that orange of the rust to really stand out, so placing it on blue was a way to do that.

Artist to Poet: I am thinking about the “triggering subject” for this poem—and above you mention it came from playing with your daughter. As a dad myself, I find myself really inspired by those times when my daughter and I can play together. Do you think being around your child helps you to connect with your imagination in a different way?
Poet Darren Demaree: I think play is important. I think playing with my kids helps me write poetry, Being lithe in mind and heart always feeds imagination.

Did anything shift for you or come into new light as you began working on your visual response?
Artist David Bernardy: I think, reading over it again and again, I began to feel something of that care that parents have for their children, the tenderness and fragility we feel when we are allowed into their dreams and try our hardest not to blemish them.

Have you ever written work that has been inspired by visual art? 
Poet Darren Demaree: I had a book come out called Bombing the Thinker that was about when the Weather Underground blew up one of the original casts of Rodin’s The Thinker.

Describe your dream “Vectorization”—where, in your wildest dreams, would you most like to see this broadside posted in the world?
Poet Darren Demaree: I love poetry used in murals and in graffiti. It would be cool to see it up on various walls around the city.
Artist David Bernardy: Maybe if all the Best Buys and all the Costcos and all other places where there are thirty TVs all playing the same thing at the same time were suddenly to project OUR broadside. Imagine all the bored dads who might get a nice shot of poetry.

If this Broadsided collaboration were a type of weather, what would it be?
Poet Darren Demaree: Rainy.
Artist David Bernardy: A good kind of rainy day, the kind where you stay inside and make stuff or read a great book under the covers.

Do you have a favorite, generative prompt for artists or writers you’d like to share?
Poet Darren Demaree: Eat some pie and write a poem.
Artist David Bernardy: I like to make a bunch of blotches on some paper—usually with runny watercolor paint, something I intentionally cannot control. Then I walk away for a bit. When I come back, I look to see what shapes emerge—kind of like seeing pictures in the clouds. After that, it is just a process of drawing out the image that is already there.

Read any good books lately?
Poet Darren Demaree: Right now my favorite book to read and re-read is Blood Snow, by dg nanouk okpik.
Artist David Bernardy: I am deeply into The Committed, by Viet Thanh Nguyen now, and I am really enjoying it. I really liked his previous novel, The Sympathizer.

Seen any good art lately?
Poet Darren Demaree: Just visited the Chicago Art Institute, and had a wonderful day there.
Artist David Bernardy: I am looking forward to an upcoming trip to the Eric Carle Museum of Picture Book Art later this year. Should be fantastic!

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