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“Outbuildings”

Posted on • Words by • Art by

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Collaborators’ Q&A

What made you think of Broadsided for this poem?
Poet Dargie Anderson: I love how Broadsided creates an avenue for poems to go out in the world, apart from ordinary routes of literary publication. As a poem about barns, “Outbuildings” similarly gives its attention to a place outside traditional locations for literary activities. Barns, outbuildings, are sprinkled through the landscape just like Broadsided poems. 

What inspires you in this poem? What drew you to it?
Artist Kate Baird: I’m from and still live in Springfield, MO.  Springfield itself is a small city, but the surrounding areas are rural.  Even as a kid, I was aware of and interested in the differences between life in town and outside of town.  I’ve never been able, on my own, to effectively imagine what it would have been like to grow up 10 or 15 minutes further down the road, so I’m drawn to writing that helps me imagine it.

Describe your dream “vectorization”—where, in your wildest dreams, would you most like to see this broadside posted in the world?
Artist Kate Baird: In a barn!
Poet Dargie Anderson: At a baseball game! 

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 Dargie Anderson: I am simultaneously surprised by how the art turned out and surprised that I’m surprised, since I didn’t think I had any specific expectations. Seeing the art makes me realize how accustomed I am to seeing my poems as just the type on the page; the visual effect created entirely by the lines, the stanzas, the font, etc. But Kate used color and curve and pattern–so refreshing and enlivening! I feel like her work beautifully brings out the fragmentary/ moment-by-moment nature of the poem. 

Did anything shift for you or come into new light once you saw the poem and art together on the page?
Artist Kate Baird: The visual elements that I had been thinking of in relation to the work right now seem to suggest a road, which in turn suggests movement.  When I was working on it, I was thinking of the stanzas of the poem and the rectangles of the image as being related to the divisions of the physical space of the barn, but the way it’s put together now feels more dynamic and almost like an aerial view– less the point of view of the narrator, more the point of view of the wind, or God.

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 Dargie Anderson: I am constantly motivated by other forms of art, visual and musical especially. We’re all out here trying to do similar things. I have a few poems that specifically respond to visual work. But I don’t find the process of moving across, or pairing, different media to be easy. It seems to me that visual and literary art sometimes resist working together even when it seems like they should–it’s too easy for a poem next to a painting to get read as trying to summarize the visual work, or a visual work to be seen as illustrating a poem. Each medium on its own has the right to be greedy and get its own attention. With that said, when the writing and the art can each comment in their own way, the effect can be thrilling. 

If this broadside were a type of weather, what would it be?
Poet Dargie Anderson: I was going to say great big midwestern thunderstorm, but I like Kate’s idea better.
Artist Kate Baird:
It would be the weird green restless stillness that means a storm is approaching.

Do you have a favorite, generative prompt to inspire bold work?
Poet Dargie Anderson: Just driving around America looking out the window. Gas stations and mini-malls as much as anything more pristine or monumental. 
Artist Kate Baird:
I like limits involving numbers: I’ll mix x number of colors before starting to paint or make x number of tiny drawings today or spend x number of hours on this one drawing…

Read any good books lately?
Poet Dargie Anderson: Recently revisited some childhood favorites, the series written by Arthur Ransome about a bunch of English kids sailing around in small boats with their friends. As much as it’s an almost unbelievable idyll to drop into in current times, there’s also a realness to the writing. There are real tensions between characters and nuance to their communication. No matter the context, characters deftly observed are a gift. 
Artist Kate Baird:
Nomadland, by Jessica Bruder; Lost in Summerland, by Barrett Swanson; Composing a Life, by Mary Catherine Bateson

Seen any good art lately?
Poet Dargie Anderson: Just to tell it like it is, I’ve been living a low-art existence lately–COVID, work, living in a small town, and parenting young kids. Trying to make art out of journeys around the greater Yellowstone ecosystem where I live and out of the rough balance of my days. 
Artist Kate Baird:
I haven’t been out and about in the world too much lately, so I haven’t seen a lot of art in person–can I choose a movie?  I recently saw Midnight Cowboy for the first time, and it has stuck with me…

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