“Semblance” (Bailey & Becker)
What inspires you in this poem?
Artist Bailey Bob Bailey: As fate would have it, I’ve been dealing a lot lately with my aging father and dog. The poem felt like a television episode in which I’d been living.
What did you think an artist would pick up on from your poem?
Poet Robin Becker: I hoped an artist would find a way to integrate the human and canine imagery I conjure.
When you began this piece, was it color, shape, or some other aspect that you followed? Did that change?
Artist Bailey Bob Bailey: My impetus in the poem was the straightforward image. I’ve been working with street signs and wanted to pursue a public art that is more than explanatory, something more open-ended, even exploratory.
Did either visual artist refract any element of the poem that made you see the poem differently?
Poet Robin Becker: Yes, Bailey used repeating design elements in a way I hadn’t envisioned! And then, by doubling the image and turning it upside down, he emphasized a sense of fracture within wholeness.
What surprised you about this piece, once you saw the artwork and poem together?
Artist Bailey Bob Bailey: It reminded me how similar life’s experiences are and how specific a universal moment can feel.
Does anything surprising rise to the surface when you consider the two pieces of art and your poem together?
Poet Robin Becker: Looking at both visual depictions of my poem, I’m amazed at how words invite people to “see.” The single image of the curled dog conveys containment of the “many” inside the singular. The twelve-paneled, silhouetted “window” routes characters and feelings in a living continuum.
In looking at the poem and the two visual responses together, what connections or associations rise to the surface?
Poet Robin Becker: I’m struck by the rich response we all have to bodies: human, canine, otherwise.
Have you ever written work that has been inspired by visual art?
Poet Robin Becker: Yes, I’ve written poems in responses to paintings, photographs, drawings, and prints.
Describe the collaboration in one word.
Artist Bailey Bob Bailey: Strata.
Poet Robin Becker: Emotional.
If the Broadsided collaboration were a piece of music, what would it be?
Artist Bailey Bob Bailey: “Lily-0” by Sam Amidon, mainly because how the song builds and narrates… also, because I can’t help becoming transfixed.
Poet Robin Becker: Bach’s “Partita for Solo Violin in D Minor.”
Read any good books lately?
Poet Robin Becker: I just read all of Kent Haruf’s novels. I read Andre Aciman’s Call Me By Your Name after I saw the film. And now I’m reading Jane Mayer’s Dark Money and Stephen Mitchell’s Can Love Last?
Artist Bailey Bob Bailey: Sophokles’s ANTIGONICK translated by Anne Carson.
Seen any good art lately?
Artist Bailey Bob Bailey: Just finished a world wind tour of Europe. It was probably a sort of work by Paolo Veronese.
Poet Robin Becker: Mark Rothko at the MFA in Boston.
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 Robin Becker: Thank you, Liz, and other Broadsiders, for this inventive approach to sharing the literary and visual arts.