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Download “Roulade”

Collaborators’ Q&A

Did the visual artist refract any element of the poem that made you see the poem differently?
Poet Dilruba Ahmed: Because of the way I initially opened the file, I saw only the drops at first. I slowly scrolled down the page as I reread the poem and was struck by the way Eva’s drops emphasized the longing and alienation of the piece.

Eva’s detailed illustration at the bottom of the page was a lovely surprise—what I might have taken as teardrops at first are transformed into raindrops that nourish a blossom.

What inspired you to “dibs” this poem?
Artist Eva Barash: The words of this poem have a quiet rhythm that is so strong. I also liked the way the word, “roulade,” felt on my tongue as I read the poem.

If your poem were a weather pattern, what would it be?
Poet Dilruba Ahmed: A summer shower.

If the broadside collaboration were a land formation, what would it be?
Poet Dilruba Ahmed: A ravine with a handful of calla lilies.
Artist Eva Barash: A delta.

In what sense did the poem first present itself as a collaboration with a visual medium? Did it come to you first as image? As an idea? Music? Narrative?
Artist Eva Barash: The poem first came as a feeling of a memory, almost as if I could have had that memory. I had a hard time making the drawing after that

What surprised you about this collaborative piece?
Poet Dilruba Ahmed: I enjoyed this collaboration very much—especially the feeling that the poem took on a life beyond me or beyond what I had intended in the original writing. Unlike musicians or muralists, poets tend to work in isolation so I was happy to have this chance to collaborate with Eva.
Artist Eva Barash: It was harder than I thought it would be. It was like the feeling of able to sing a song perfectly to yourself in your own head; it’s on key and everything like that, but then to open your mouth and have the same sound come out is a whole different thing. My drawing was very complicated in the beginning, and then I erased most of it and felt much better.

Read any good books lately?
Poet Dilruba Ahmed: Blue Colonial by David Roderick and Gabrielle Calvocoressi’s The Last Time I Saw Amelia Earhart. And I just got a copy of Licorice, a great chapbook by Ellen Bush, from Bull City Press.
Artist Eva Barash: Yes! A book of short stories called Break it Down by Lydia Davis. I can’t believe it has taken me so long to read her work. She is amazing! Her words are so clear and simple and direct. Reading her stories feels like an injection of her thoughts. I read it poolside in Las Vegas which could seem like an odd combination, but it was really great.

Seen any good art exhibits lately?
Poet Dilruba Ahmed: Unfortunately, no… but now that I’ve relocated to the Philadelphia area from the West Coast, I’m looking forward to visiting the Philly Museum of Art.
Artist Eva Barash: Well, Las Vegas could be considered art. It is very constructed and colorful.

Anything else?
Poet Dilruba Ahmed: My gratitude to Eva for creating a new life for my poem!

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