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“The Seahorse Motel”

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Collaborators’ Q&A

What did you think an artist would pick up on from your poem?
Poet Rachel Marie Patterson: I expected the artist to pick up on the imagery of the poem—the literal places and things that populate it.

What inspires you in this poem?
Artist Ira Joel Haber: I liked the shortness of breath that the poet used, it was brief and strong, autobiographical but with enough room for me to freely move about in. I also liked the way she used objects such as newport cigarettes, and the wonderful seahorse motel. I began to isolate these images and then started to do the collages. I could have taken many approaches to the poem in terms of my imagination.

Did the visual artist refract any element of the poem that made you see the poem differently? What surprised you about this collaborative piece?
Poet Rachel Marie Patterson: I was surprised and excited to see these bright colors. For me, the poem comes from a place of memory and imagination—a grayscale place, or maybe a place with muted colors—distant. But the neon colors bring the poem new life and dimension and take it from the more abstract world of memory to a very immediate, electric space.

When you began this piece, was it color, shape, or some other aspect that you followed? Did that change?
Artist Ira Joel Haber: I started by doing 5 pieces incorporating collage and paint. I then started to use photoshop on the pieces changing colors and adding details and textures. I wound up with about 25 different works.

What surprised you when you saw the poem and art together?
Artist Ira Joel Haber: Well I had no idea how it would look so that is always a surprise when an artist leaves his work to be interpreted by others. At first I thought it looked too busy, but the more I looked at it the more I liked it.

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 Rachel Marie Patterson: I’ve written a few ekphrastic poems, and always in response to pieces of art that particularly moved me. I think it’s natural for visual and language artists to respond to one another’s work and an artist in general to feel drawn to other kinds of art. I’m certainly not able to create visual art, but I hope that my creative sensibility allows me to understand and interpret what other artists are trying to communicate abstractly—much the way I am trying to communicate in my poems.

The act of writing about visual artwork is an act of gratitude for the art—appreciating it, celebrating it, feeling identified with it—and also an act of exploration and inquiry—working to understand and re-articulate it, or even to respond to it, to add to it. It’s humbling and, when it works, it enriches both artists’ work.

Describe the collaboration in one word.
Artist Ira Joel Haber: I always find the collaborations that I’ve done with poets here at broadsided to be enjoyable and have led to me doing more collaboration with several of the poets. So the one word I would use enjoyable.
Designer Debbie Nadolny: Inspiring

If the Broadsided collaboration were a piece of music, what would it be?
Artist Ira Joel Haber: Definitely rock and roll.
Designer Debbie Nadolny: “Knockin’ On Heaven’s Door” by Bob Dylan.

Read any good books lately?
Artist Ira Joel Haber: Just finished a book of short stories by James Purdy.
Designer Debbie Nadolny: Art On Fire by Hilary Sloin.

Seen any good art lately?
Artist Ira Joel Haber: I see a lot of art, after all I live in New York City so I take advantage of all the museums and galleries. I thought the Magritte Show at the Museum Of Modern Art superb, and also liked the big Textile show at the Met.
Designer Debbie Nadolny: ‘Architexture’, the current show at AMP Gallery in Provincetown.

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