What made you think of Broadsided for this poem?
Poet Rogan Kelly: Ron Mohring turned me on to your site and what you were doing with poetry out in the world. I had a good feeling about my ode for an artwork treatment. It feels like a poem that belongs on the street.
What inspires you in this poem? What drew you to it?
Artist Zehra Khan: I was immediately drawn to the poem’s directness. Love can be direct and matter of fact. Being a witness and appreciating everyday moments deepens our understanding of the other person, and can deepen our love. With time comes further understanding, we are provided with hundreds more moments to love.
I created the photograph by placing a textile ‘quilt’ on top of my very patient and wonderful Beloved. I’ve been working on this quilt for years, and decided to pick it up again during Covid-19 quarantine and try to finish it. I’m almost done.
Describe your dream “vectorization”—where, in your wildest dreams, would you most like to see this broadside posted in the world?
Poet Rogan Kelly: I’m thinking of a certain person’s elbows. A windshield in Weehawken.
Artist Zehra Khan: In all my old neighborhoods! Start in Jakarta, Indonesia. A couple places in Paris. Outside my elementary school in Switzerland. My high school in Lexington, MA. My college in Saratoga Springs, NY. All around Boston and Provincetown, MA. I currently live in Chicago so I can do that.
What did you think an artist would pick up on from your poem? Did the visual artist refract any element of the poem that made you see the poem differently?
Poet Rogan Kelly: I love Zehra’s use of color. It changes the tones of light I draw up with the mind’s eye. I think seeing Zehra’s treatment of elbow of her beloved took a poem that was more personal and private confession and created more connection for me.
Did anything shift for you or come into new light once you saw the poem and art together on the page?
Artist Zehra Khan: With the poem and art on the same page I found my eye bouncing to the elbow after every stanza, looking for answers. I feel like both works speak under veils, showing glimpses of the Beloved.
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 Rogan Kelly: I’ve done a few poems from postcards and paintings. It’s challenging when you consider the reader first. I think there can be a natural connection between visual artists and poets. We’re both in the image business, perhaps envious of the other form’s more direct leaning. Poets long for pictures and visual artists long for words.
If this broadside were a type of weather, what would it be?
Poet Rogan Kelly: For me, it will always be a second date, summer night.
Artist Zehra Khan: A rainy day that breaks in the afternoon for sunshine.
Read any good books lately?
Poet Rogan Kelly: Oliverio Girondo, Decals, Gris Muñoz, Coatlicue Girl, Mark Ward, Carcass.
Artist Zehra Khan: Just started The Division Street Princess by Elaine Soloway, which is her memoir of growing up in Chicago in the 1940s.
Seen any good art lately?
Poet Rogan Kelly: Hannah Vargas is a young upcoming visual artist. You can’t fake real.
Artist Zehra Khan: I was very moved by the Black Lives Matter murals painted in giant letters on the pavements across the country. Since quarantine, there has been lots of chalk writing and art on the streets of my neighborhood, written by adults and children. Words of encouragement, political slogans, hashtags, drawings, scribbles, hopscotch, games… People getting involved and learning how to give voice to what they are feeling.
Anything else? (Here, we invite the collaborators to invent a question, add a comment, or otherwise speak to what the questions so far have not tapped about their Broadsided experience).
Poet Rogan Kelly: I’m grateful to Zehra and Liz for the collaboration.
Artist Zehra Khan: Thanks Liz!