What did you think an artist would pick up on from your poem?
Poet Landon Godfrey: I love what Jim has done. And I’m completely surprised by it. I didn’t realize that I was not participating in an expectation, or a series of expectations, until I actually saw Jim’s version of the poem; then because I was indeed surprised—and pleased—I understood that I hadn’t been expecting anything in particular. This is a rare moment of nonattachment for me! So I had no idea what an artist would pick up on from the poem. Maybe the giving over of the poem in the first place required a kind of vulnerability that manifested as surrender. Which seems interesting because the poem is about surrender.
What inspires you in this poem?
Artist Jim Benning: I first read the poem and was drawn to how it worked. Short and very descriptive language quickly setting a scene that opens the way for the reader to add their own interpretation/experiences to come into the story. I thought it would be interesting to create imagery that worked the same way.
Did the visual artist refract any element of the poem that made you see the poem differently?
Poet Landon Godfrey: Yes, the “view” part of “interview.”
When you began this piece, was it color, shape, or some other aspect that you followed? Did that change?
Artist Jim Benning: I knew I wanted a photo of a bed; to me the voice of the poem is the bed. I had a lot of lead time to work on the image so I started looking at beds to photograph. I searched Craigslist for old beds and took photos of beds from different perspectives to help refine the idea. The image used is of the bed in the apartment my wife and I stayed in our final night in Rome during a two week bicycle trip in Italy this spring.
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 Landon Godfrey: In some ways, because I also work as a visual artist, every poem I make has a great interest in the visual. It’s actually a kind of synaesthetic experience for me as I find it quite difficult to separate one from the other, the visual from the verbal. I am very interested in ekphrastic poetry, for example making poems in response to Dutch still life painting and also specific artists like Eva Hesse. I sometimes make series of ekphrastic poems because I have multi-faceted responses or contradictory ones.
What surprised you about this piece, once you saw the artwork and poem together?
Artist Jim Benning: Whenever I do a Broadsided piece I try to integrate the poem into the artwork. The bed image and the poem had a strong relationship but it needed more for it to come together for me. Themes of time, repetitive instances of a story being played out, the containment of a history within the bed led me to combining the poem and the bed image within the book and page images.
If you had to represent the broadside of “Interview: Antique Iron Bed” with one word, what would it be?
Poet Landon Godfrey: Haptic
Artist Jim Benning: Challenging
Read any good books lately?
Poet Landon Godfrey: Moby-Dick; Everything Ravaged, Everything Burned; Crime and Punishment; Consider the Lobster; The Shadow of Sirius; Native Guard; Against Which.
Artist Jim Benning: Shop Class as Soulcraft by Matthew B. Crawford. The author, educated in philosophy with work experience in motorcycle repair and building trades, looks at the personal rewards of creating/fixing things with one hands. Putting into perspective the value of our work and what goals one’s work sets up to fulfill when they set about their work. The intrinsic value and personal reward of using one’s knowledge and reasoning to create/build/restore something to a highly functioning object of purpose/usefulness and enjoyment.
Seen any good art lately?
Poet Landon Godfrey: Glimpses of a few fantastic Léger paintings in the “Architectural Digest” reporting about the Yves Saint Laurent estate auction. And I just watched Cassavetes’s Opening Night. Incredible.
Artist Jim Benning: The web has incredibly opened up the world of sharing photography both great and not so great. Jörg Colberg’s weblog Conscientious is a constant source of new and inspiring imagery to look at: http://jmcolberg.com/weblog/
Poet Landon Godfrey: My thanks and my gratitude to Liz and Mark for choosing my poem for the always-inspiring Broadsided project and to Jim for choosing to work with my poem to such beautiful effect.