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“Visitation”

Posted on • Words by • Art by

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Collaborators’ Q&A

Did the visual artist refract any element of the poem that made you see the poem differently?
Poet Noel Sloboda: The striking blue backdrop and billowy smoke make me think of the heavens; they powerfully open up the room I originally imagined for this poem.

In what sense did the poem first present itself as a collaboration with a visual medium? Did it come to you as an image? An idea? Music? Narrative? What inspired you to “dibs” this poem?
Artist Kate Baird: The smoke imagery attracted me to the poem—I thought it would be fun to try to draw smoke, which is a substance that is there and not there at the same time and is always reconfiguring.

If your poem were a type of bird, what would it be?
Poet Noel Sloboda: I can think of about thirteen ways to respond to this question. How about an albino crow?

If your art were a bird, what would it be? If the collaboration were a bird, what would it be?
Artist Kate Baird: A blue heron.

If the broadside collaboration were a type of bird, what would it be?
Poet Noel Sloboda: A sooty dove.

What did you think an artist would pick up on from your poem?
Poet Noel Sloboda: I anticipated the smoke would be attractive to a visual artist. I had no idea, though, how animated and powerful the smoke could become!

What surprised you about this collaborative piece?
Poet Noel Sloboda: The fact that there’s more than one plume of smoke. (There might be more ghosts in this bedroom than I’d thought.) I also really like how the ascending smoke runs against the text, slowing down the read and teasing out different moods from the poem.
Artist Kate Baird: I had an image in my head when I read the poem of what the bedroom/house looked like, but my drawing ended up not being of a real, inhabitable space.

Read any good books lately?
Poet Noel Sloboda: A great ghost book: Heart-Shaped Box by Joe Hill. I’ve also recently enjoyed O Paradise and The Complete Book of Kong by William Trowbridge.
Artist Kate Baird: Lives of Girls and Women, by Alice Munro.

Seen any good art exhibits lately?
Poet Noel Sloboda: Drawings by Fred Haag, mostly featuring cats and monkeys. Also haunting: Zak Smith’s 100 girls and 100 octopi.
Artist Kate Baird: Martin Puryear show at MoMA.

Anything else?
Poet Noel Sloboda: Thank you for allowing me to be part of this rewarding collaboration.

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