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“My Father’s Hearing Aid”

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Collaborators’ Q&A

What inspires you in this poem?
Artist Cheryl Gross: It was the title. My father didn’t wear a hearing aid but we had a very special relationship. I was feeling nostalgic so I read on.

What did you think an artist would pick up on from your poem?
Poet Adam Chiles: I was hoping to see the artist capture both the interior and exterior aspects of the poem; the aching of the ear as it leans towards sound. I think Cheryl does a terrific job of bringing these two elements together in her art. My wife took one look at the piece and told me I had to have it tattooed on my arm!

When you began this piece, was it color, shape, or some other aspect that you followed? Did that change?
Artist Cheryl Gross: I was influenced by the description of the father’s ear. I particularly like to incorporate faucets and industrial oddities into my work.

What surprised you when you saw the poem and art together?
Artist Cheryl Gross: Being a visual person working in a design school, it was the page layout. Not really a surprise because Broadsided always does a good job layouting out the work.
Poet Adam Chiles: I love Cheryl’s emphasis on the birds. They play a crucial role in her interpretation of the poem. Here they appear as dark heralds; urgent and prophetic in their calling.

How does literature fit into your creative life as a visual artist?
Artist Cheryl Gross: I work with a lot of poets and writers. On Sundays I look forward to reading They review all types of literature including children’s books, poetry, theory, etc.

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 Adam Chiles: Yes. In my first book Evening Land I have a series of poems entitled “Variations on a Landscape” inspired by David Hockney’s Yorkshire Wold paintings. I grew up in the same landscape so I was immediately drawn to the detail and color of his pieces. He would plant his easel on the side of the road and begin sketching! This open air approach adds immediacy and focus to his work. You can feel, smell each field, each blade of wheat. I wanted to translate that sensorial vision into language.

Describe the collaboration in one word.
Artist Cheryl Gross: Longing
Poet Adam Chiles: Thirst

If the Broadsided collaboration were a piece of music, what would it be?
Artist Cheryl Gross: “The Last Thing on My Mind,” by Tom Paxton. Tom Paxton was a favorite of mine back in the 60’s growing up in Brooklyn. It’s about separation and regret. A goodbye until we meet again.
Poet Adam Chiles: Brian Eno meets Johann Sebastian Bach!

Read any good books lately?
Artist Cheryl Gross: Starting to read Alone in Berlin by Hans Fallada.
Poet Adam Chiles: Robert McFarlane’s most recent book Landmarks is exceptional. He travels through a variety of landscapes (moorland, desert, marsh, etc) and examines its typography and the language we use to name and define these places. Each chapter ends with a fascinating glossary of UK terms, a reminder of the essential role colloquial and regional dialects have played over the centuries. Here’s one: “glocken,” a Yorkshire word for thaw. Another: “clock-ice” which refers to ice cracked and fissured.

Seen any good art lately?
Artist Cheryl Gross: Whitney Biennial of which I am included. I also belong to a community of artists here in Jersey City. I recently was in a group exhibition called “Superwoman at 107” Bowers Gallery, Jersey City. Lots of great art in the show.
Poet Adam Chiles: My father-in-law introduced my 10 year old son Noah to the work of Vivian Maier recently and he is now a self-proclaimed street photographer! I Love Maier’s work, her eye for pathos and design, and I think my son does a remarkable job of locating beauty in the everyday.


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