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“To Let the Light In”

Posted on • Words by • Art by

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Collaborators’ Q&A

When you consider the full folio of work from this issue (see the “related broadsides” links on the left), what questions, observations, or connections arise for you? 
Poet Tomas Nieto: As poets, I think we try to define the undefinable. In doing so, we take to this medium for its way to navigate the unspeakable. I think for me this issue isn’t about the connections fostered through the works, but rather the witnessing of one’s rendering of the impossible—however messy, weird, untethered it may be.
Artist Kevin Morrow: Great idea to publish in folios. A wonderful transition of publication for Broadsided. A bit of a return to a past, when time was more on our side to sit and read, to take in art; a meal rather than our incessant appetizers.

What inspired you to bring your poem to Broadsided?
Poet Tomas Nieto: I never really saw my work as visual art. I think Broadsided is a unique opportunity for my work to be seen in a new way. Also, the work that comes out of this publication is top-notch. I am honored to have my poetry appear here.

What drew you to create a visual response to this poem, in particular?
Artist Kevin Morrow: I was taken with Tomas’ poem because of the existence of two points of view taken within the same work, around the same subject; two perspectives of thought, two places to be standing when considering one thing. 

How did this poem come to be?
Poet Tomas Nieto: This poem centers on a lie I told my late grandma way back when. She was always the hardest to fool. Maybe, in this instance, I was trying to fool myself.

How did this image come to be?
Artist Kevin Morrow: I wanted to reflect in form(s) what I saw in the poem’s structure. What I mean by that is, as I described in the question regarding what drew me to create a visual response to the poem, the poem (to me) holds two, or perhaps multiple, perspectives/points of view upon the same matter. I wanted to do just that with form.

Before I began carving the stone(s), it became obvious to me that multiple forms should be cut from the same stone(s). Different forms that work together, forms that are clearly from the same material, that at one time were one thing, and are now two; separated and never able to be put back together as one, but that clearly need each other to function most efficaciously. Which is to say, each form presented can exist on its own; just not as well as it can when married to its partner. So it is, with Tomas’s poem.

What did you think an artist would pick up on from your poem? Does the artist’s response make you see the poem differently?
Poet Tomas Nieto: I really didn’t know what an artist would get from my poem. I do think the division in my poem lends itself to some sort of double-parted artwork.

Poet to Artist: What is the most memorable lie you ever told? Why has this story stuck with you all these years?
Artist Kevin Morrow:
Like all people, I never lie, I only tell the truth. Those truths over time, like remembrances of past events, evolve in their pictorial representation, their colors or seasons, those who are present in said story or hazy recollection, and on and on, wherein you begin to realize, that all truths are more or less false, which is to say; lies, and all lies, truths, and so on and so forth into infinity. So it is, that none of us ever lie, we only ever tell the truth. 

Artist to Poet: To Let the Light In” is such a great example of multiple perspectives of thought simultaneously. It is, as I’ve stated, what drew me to your poem. My education is in art; sculpture in particular, however I also work as a research scientist. Even if I did not work as a scientist, the scientific perspective of thought and the answers it may or may not provide us, which is constantly changing and a certainly exciting manner of seeing and understanding our world, is constantly demanding, it seems, that we only look at the world through scientific eyes. There are good reasons for this, but of course one cannot only be examining a life through only one looking glass; the world is far too multidimensional for that. Every single day, due to my job, I look at the world one way, but desire to see it in another, non-definitive way.

Your last line “Some part of me wanted to crush one science / so another one could begin”–-how do you go about doing this in your life? I know lately I examine some aspect of life, and say the answer is “this,” because rigorous methodology (which is not incorrect) found this to be true; but I also am always saying to myself, but maybe “they” missed something in their experiment, etc. etc. and find myself joyously going down the non-scientific rabbit hole. It’s not always easy and at least with me can create tension that is both fun but also frustrating. I wonder how other folks grapple this, and your poem immediately makes me wonder about your personal perspectives.
Poet Tomas Nieto:
I think the way I “crush science,” or at least the way I intended in the poem, is how I process the world around me—some sort of logic—and my want to change those processes. However, as we all know, all sciences are never complete. Science/logic is always shifting, flexing, and shaded. So, in my eyes, “to crush a science” is something we all do—to change the way we navigate the world—intentional or unintentional. Refined or primal. 

Did anything shift for you or come into new light as you began working on your visual response?
Artist Kevin Morrow: As usual, when I began working, it was all too complex. Too overthought. As I read and re-read the poem, I knew that I needed to simplify the work, to more efficiently get my point across, which is to say, my reaction to what I felt the core of the poem to be.

Have you ever written work that has been inspired by visual art? 
Poet Tomas Nieto: I have not. Although poets have a long tradition of writing ekphrastic poems.

Describe your dream “Vectorization”—where, in your wildest dreams, would you most like to see this broadside posted in the world?
Poet Tomas Nieto: I am not sure I have a Vectorization of a place. Rather, I think my ideal Vectorization is situated in time. I wrote this poem for a younger me. I would like him to see it.
Artist Kevin Morrow: Large scale, permanently outside in a park, or upon a hiking trail. I think the core idea (or rather what I perceive to be the core idea) of the poem, and ultimately the collaboration, lends itself in both word and form to be most effective on an interactive scale.

If this Broadsided collaboration were a type of weather, what would it be?
Poet Tomas Nieto: Slight overcast. Nothing crazy.
Artist Kevin Morrow: Early evening, late summer, after the clearing of a storm, before any light has returned.

Do you have a favorite, generative prompt for artists or writers you’d like to share?
Poet Tomas Nieto: My favorite prompt was given to me in grad school by Troung Tran: “What haunts you? What hunts you? What are you hunting?”
Artist Kevin Morrow: No singular prompt gets me making art. But I am always intrigued by the tension between similar things. The multidimensionality of definition and perspective.

Read any good books lately?
Poet Tomas Nieto: My good friend Simon Shieh just came out with his book Master from Sarabande Press. I remember the bones of this book from our time as undergrads at San Diego State University. It is astonishing to witness how his voice as a poet matured and refined over the years. It’s an incredible collection.
Artist Kevin Morrow: Toilers of the Sea, by Victor Hugo.

Seen any good art lately?
Poet Tomas Nieto: I just went to Odesza concert. Truthfully, I am not really into Odesza, but that was something else.
Artist Kevin Morrow: Chicago Art Institute to see my usual favorites; Henry Moore, Daumier, Brancusi, as well as their great collection of Impressionists and some key Picasso works. And I’m excited to be seeing a performance of L’elisir d’amore this weekend at the Florentine Opera in Milwaukee.

Anything else?
Poet Tomas Nieto: Kevin, thank you for your work. It gave new light to my own.
Artist Kevin Morrow: Was very nice to collaborate with Tomàs. Hopefully it won’t be our last.

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