What did you think an artist would pick up on from your poem?
Poet Stacie Cassarino: a landscape that reflects the internal state of the speaker; the capture of loss
What inspires you in this poem?
Artist Caleb Brown: This poem just grabbed me right away, or I felt myself grabbing toward it. It has a blank, bright all-over illumination like a winter day with wan sun, and there’s a lot of space around. The quiet and solitude in between the words is something I appreciate, and the solemnity and sadness of the story I see in myself. I liked the way the images ricochet around—emptiness to erasure to “nothing to confide in”.
Did the visual artist refract any element of the poem that made you see the poem differently?
Poet Stacie Cassarino: the air, even breathing, has weight
What surprised you about this collaborative piece?
Poet Stacie Cassarino: that the visual articulation of a poem that for me feels so abstract was rendered in a non-abstract, more realist way, yet still contains all of the mood of the poemscape
Artist Caleb Brown: From the first reading I knew I wanted my accompanying artwork to be narrative, to match the way the poem struck me, and how we endure loss and grief and winter generally—with a sense of time passing without duration. It’s funny, there’s definitely stasis here, but decision, motion, and I wanted to respond in kind. I decided that the comic had to be read “up” (after reading the poem “down”) and was worried that that wouldn’t make sense. I’m surprised that it does, or it doesn’t matter. You could even read back and forth, there are real events on each side. And if you do read it in a circle, there’s a parallel to the circles in the text. The diagonals are important too, I found the physicality of the poem fun to interpret.
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 Stacie Cassarino: yes, i’ve written poems that were in some way a direct response to visual art; i’ve turned to visual art that in some way articulated an idea i was working towards in words; i’ve collaborated in “dialogues” of images & words exchanged cyclically with visual artists. i’ve always loved the experience for how it’s pushed me to develop words into images & images into words.
How do/did you begin?
Artist Caleb Brown: For this piece I settled on a few words and phrases that hit me hard. The first was the sensation of being a stranger in your own life, the second was the sensation of a difficult Sunday—I know that feeling well! I did a bunch of sketches of footsteps next, a drawing where the footprints are actually in the squares of a calendar, as though the narrator was walking the time that had passed. I then did some snowshoe research, and found some interesting material in National Geographic. It occurred to me to do colored exhalations/hearts last, and I feel great about how they work on several levels. I think of them as the progress of this love, or words, like visible substance of Carver’s “What We Talk About When We Talk About Love”, although that story is quite different. The conventions of comics, what floating hearts are supposed to mean, for instance was helpful.
If you had to represent the Broadsided collaboration with one word, what would it be?
Poet Stacie Cassarino: quiet
Artist Caleb Brown: Amassing
Read any good books lately?
Poet Stacie Cassarino: richard wright’s native son
Artist Caleb Brown: It may be obvious, but I am loosing my inner comic artist, and Scott McCloud is my guide. I am blown away by Understanding Comics, I really know so little. As an artist and as a person making a living improving web interfaces this is an influential work. I love what he says about sequence, perception, and classifying action. Darn, I had to return the book to the library today to avoid a fine… No more renewals!
Seen any good art lately?
Poet Stacie Cassarino: a butoh theatre performance of beckett. papershapers – an installation of works of art with paper
Artist Caleb Brown: I saw a fantastic Wayne McDowell show at Chase Gallery in Boston in November 2008, was captivated by his pleasant and fractured paintings of totemic trees against buttery skies. There’s something very generous about his landscapes.
Any upcoming readings for your new book that people should know about?
Poet Stacie Cassarino: june 13th at skylight books, 5pm (in the los feliz neighborhood of los angeles)
Poet Stacie Cassarino: thanks for this experience
Artist Caleb Brown: No, not really. I do want to say again what a privilege it is to work with such talented writers who feel so clearly. It is always so helpful for me to step out of my routine and connect with poetry this way, it’s like one deep breath after 100 shallow ones. Thanks to the incredible Broadsided staff for bringing us into proximity.