What made you think of Broadsided for this poem?
Poet James Ellenberger: It’s got familiar characters and lots of concrete imagery. It ended up being quite apropos, considering what the past year has been like. It has, unlike many of my poems, distinct actors (The Minotaur and Lucy), and it takes place in a tangible, albeit flummoxing, locale. Even in walking the open streets it’s hard not to think of the labyrinth and its endless constraint.
What inspires you in this poem? What drew you to it?
Artist David Bernardy: On first reading the poem, I was struck by the image of the minotaur, which we so often think of as a kind of rage-machine, but here we see him as a figure of loneliness, of heartbreak. And though the poem tells us he does not have a TV, I saw him washed in the blue light of a TV, some of the lonliest light I can think of. That did not make it to the final image, but it is what pulled me to the poem to begin with.
Describe your dream “vectorization”—where, in your wildest dreams, would you most like to see this broadside posted in the world?
Poet James Ellenberger: The labyrinth, of course, wherever that may be.
Did anything shift for you or come into new light once you saw the poem and art together on the page?
Artist David Bernardy: As I looked for images of Lucille Ball that I could use in the collage, I also came across images of dresses. Through the magic of internet rabbit holes, these dresses begat more dresses, and eventually dress forms. And I began to see a kind of stylized form of the minotaur within those dresses, as the straps morphed into horns. Now that the poem reads across the dress/torso, I feel like the image reads more immediately as a being, staring out with a kind of owl-like intensity.
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 James Ellenberger: I find myself writing more and more ekphrastic pieces lately. Art is all about choosing your limitation. It’s an alchemical process, one that requires the breakdown and reconstitution of component materials. Writing about artwork is the best. It’s like doing a translation between two languages that nobody knows.
If this broadside were a type of weather, what would it be?
Poet James Ellenberger: An autumn day in January.
Artist David Bernardy: Maybe a low, dense fog. The kind that can hide your feet as you walk through it, the kind that can get you lost in places you thought you knew.
Read any good books lately?
Poet James Ellenberger: I’ve been revisiting Michael Hamburger’s The Poems of Paul Celan, which is certainly my favorite book of translations and is increasingly my favorite book of poems.
Artist David Bernardy: I recently spent a winter week at the beach, re-reading All the Light We Cannot See by Anthony Doerr. It is such a gorgeous book, full of wonderful descriptions of shells and jewels and undersea worlds, bombs of the Second World War, and the magic of voices traveling through space on radio waves.
Seen any good art lately?
Poet James Ellenberger: Phannapast Taychamaythakool’s work is marvelous. I can’t get enough of it. Arthur Ganson’s kinetic sculptures have also been an endless source of inspiration.
Artist David Bernardy: As an aspiring picture book illustrator, I follow a lot of kidlit artists. One of my favorites is Australian author illustrator, Gus Gordon (www.gusgordon.com). His book Herman and Rosie is one of my favorites, and his newest book Finding Francois is heartbreaking and lovely. His instagram handle: @gusgordonbooks
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).
Artist David Bernardy: Thanks so much to James for letting me live in the world of his poem for a bit. And thanks to all the Broadsided folks for sharing this with all our vectors out there.