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Teach: Use the Broadsided Anthology

Broadsided Press: Fifteen Years of Poetic/ Artistic Collaboration, 2005 – 2020
Elizabeth Bradfield, Alexandra Teague, Miller Oberman, Eds.

Provincetown Arts Press, 2022
216 pages, $35 list (discount for educators)
ISBN: 978-0-944854-26-6
Order at: www.provincetownarts.org,
or at your local independent bookstore
Get the Press Kit (sample pages & more)

…a rich body of work that transcends the bounds of individual authorship by presenting cooperation, dialog, the blending of sensibilities, the profound combination of image and word.
    — Mark Wunderlich, author of God of Nothingness

This anthology, published in 2022 by Provincetown Arts Press and holding 50 unique collaborations as well as photos and interviews, can be used in any classroom and is priced to offer access to educators.

Consider the broadsides as examples of ekphrasis or design. Observe how writers and artists talk about their own creative process–and about the work of others through the Q&A (and get great recommendations for reading and art).  Challenge yourself and your class to enliven your community by going out and “Vectorizing” (that is, posting broadsides on  utility poles, notice boards, or other creative public spaces).

RESOURCES for TEACHERS, WRITERS, ARTISTS

At Broadsided, teachers have shared lesson plans in a continually evolving “Teach” section, which holds valuable resources for classes in universities, prisons, K-12 schools, community workshops, and more.  Now, we have an analog, ready-to-use companion to our rich website.  The anthology holds broadsides, Q&A from collaborators, and images of broadsides out in the world as public, grassroots art.

Read on for specific discussion questions and lesson suggestions.  Contact info@provincetownarts.org to ask about the educator’s discount.

on COLLABORATION

At Broadsided, we publish work made in what we call “blind collaboration.”  The writer sends in work; the artist creates a response; the designer pulls them together as a singular broadside…. and then we step back to ask writer and artist how they feel about the finished product.  There is no back-and-forth beyond that.

Wanting to know what was going on behind the scenes, we asked writers and artists about their experience in the “Collaborators’ Q&A.”  The anthology Q&A that accompany broadsides, offers a rich resource for discussions of inspiration, creative interpretation, collaboration, and more. Artists and writers engage with questions like:

  • How does a person understand their own art or writing after it has been made public…. what new insights emerge?
  • As an artist, what draws you to this poem?
  • Did the visual artist’s response make you think about your poem differently?
  • If this broadside were a piece of music/weather, what would it be?
  • Where would you most like to see this broadside posted in the world?
  • Read any good books/seen any good art lately?

The answers are insights can open classroom discussions.

toward ART-ACTIVISM

Broadside posted on an interpretive sign of water birds with lake in background.Choose broadsides to print and post in your communities.  Discuss with your students/peers:

  • Where will they go?
  • Who will they reach?
  • Who might love (or not love) them?
  • How can placement/broadside comment on one another?

Have students go out in pairs to post broadsides together and create a visual story (photos and captions) about that experience.

(Bonus: have students linger or return the next day/week to see what’s happened to their broadside. Do they ever see anyone “in the act” of reading?)

for ARTISTS/ART TEACHERS

At Broadsided, a group of 30+ visual artists respond regularly to writing editors have selected from open submissions.  Once selected, the writing is sent to the artists, and one (or two!) “dibs” it and create visual responses for a broadside.  (Once a year, we reverse that process in “The Switcheroo”).

  • Discussion Questions:
    • Why might responding to literature be an inspiring part of your artistic practice?
    • In a few cases, there are two broadsides for the same poem (“Semblance” (p. 14) “Landing Under Water, I See Roots” (p. 159), “As Any Approaching Might Smile and Stop” (p. 87)).  How do you respond to the two different broadsides?  What different entries/responses do they prompt?
    • How can art be more than “illustration” when it responds to and rests alongside a poem or story?
    • When writers respond to visual art, what’s frustrating to you, as an artist?
    • In “Critique of Pure Reason” (p. 38) artist Gabriel Travis first created a goat (shown) and then decided to go in a very different direction.  Discuss.
  • Creative Prompts:
    • In 2021, we added a question to our monthly Q&A:  Do you have a favorite, generative prompt? The suggestions, which can be found on our website, are a rich source.  We hope you’ll use them.
    • The Witch Ruminates in Her Woodland Grove” (p. 26) is a poem about a fairy tale that artist Amy Meissner chose to respond to abstractly and sculpturally.  Take a fairy tale and create a non-narrative sculpture that channels its essence.
    • In 2020, we created a folio of broadsides in response to the COVID pandemic.  First, we offered intensely specific prompts to writers. Then, having selected writing, we shared the poems with artists and invited them to respond with their own assignments (below).  Share the poems with students and invite them to respond with specific guidelines.
      • Inspired by the poem “Sickness” (p. 150), your visual response must not use any imagery common to this moment (masks, gloves, etc.) and must address sickness without using the word “sickness” or any of its letters individually. Take a look around your workspace: what is the most pervasive color there? Whatever that is, please use at least 8 colors (the same number as the letters in the word “Sickness”), but never that one.
      • Inspired by the poem “Cisoria: The Scissors” (online only):
        • Use scissors as a central part of making your art (but don’t include an image of scissors)
        • Include an image that suggests something in your immediate home or studio environment
        • Include an image/ color / etc. that suggests something fantastical, historical, mythical, or otherwise impossible to have in your home but you wish were there with you
        • Include an image that refers to some sentence or image from a page opened to at random in some book you love and which is in your home or in your studio
      • Inspired by the poem “I’m not sure why I decided” (online only): Your image must use only 14 colors (one for each line of the poem).  The colors must be taken from objects in the room around you (please write down your sources and send  them along with your image).  You may NOT depict the following, which were the poet’s “found” words from their home: equal, night, moon, collision, planet, sun, smooshed, hear me, listen, axle, escape, ripening, lily.

for WRITERS/WRITING TEACHERS

The writing we publish at Broadsided is drawn from open submissions.  We seek poems that might sing for both lovers of poetry and people who don’t hold literature in their lives.  That’s to say: we want smart, interesting, challenging, and accessible poems.  Beyond that foundation, the questions of how images and writing can interact is endlessly inspiring.

  • Discussion Questions:
    • Consider three consecutive broadsides in the anthology as a suite. What do the pieces add to each other in conversation? What does the order do to the way you understand the pieces? What would be gained or lost by thinking of these same pieces in a different order? What does this tell you about the nature of a curated collection?
    • Choose two broadsides in the anthology. First, the easy part, decide what the art adds to the poem and the poem adds to the art in each case. Now the hard part, switch the pairings. How do the poems and art interact with pieces noot purposefully matched to them? What is gained? What is lost? What is surprising? Below are two suggested pairings:
    • When a writer responds to visual art, how might that work move beyond description or caption?
    • When you look at an image, what color rises for you?  What story?
    • Several broadsides in the anthology come from our annual Translation feature, and offer a poem in two languages, side by side (“Kadushxeet/Writing” (p. 34), “Mammaraq (Innuŋŋuuraq) / The Doll (A Pretend Person)” (p. 134), “Lexiconography 1 / Aabjito’ikidowinan 1 / Used Words 1” (p. 154)). Is language, in these cases, a visual or a literary art?  How does it feel to experience a language you can’t read?  What is the benefit of keeping both languages on the page, if the primary reader is assumed to be an English-speaking one?
    • Broadsides appeal to our reading selves and our seeing selves. Choose a broadside in the anthology and make a rational to pair it with another sense: What might the theme song of this broadside be? What would be its signature dish? If it were a fragrance, what would it be?
  • Writing Prompts:
    • In 2021, we added a question to our monthly Q&A:  Do you have a favorite, generative prompt? The suggestions, which can be found on our website, are a rich source.  We hope you’ll use them.
    • Two broadsides in the anthology are “Switcheroos” (“Como Una Vela” (p. 202) and “The Complicated Thing” (p. 90)).  For these, writers were invited to submit responses to a specific image.  Share the image with your students, ask them to write in response, and discuss.  In the case of “Como Una Vela,” a second broadside was published; it offers rich opportunities for discussion because the two writers took very different approaches.
    • In 2021, we added a question to our monthly Q&A:  Do you have a favorite, generative prompt? The suggestions, which can be found on our website, are a rich source.  We hope you’ll use them.
    • Write a “photographic poem,” that is: a poem based on a photograph.  Use “At the Christmas Party for the Infectious Diseases” (p. 102) and “And Day Brought Back My Night” (p. 114) as examples.
    • Poetic “telephone:” “The Liberation of the Peon” (p. 82) is a poem based on a painting by Diego Rivera.  Millian Pham Lein Giang then responded to the poem.  Try responding to Millian’s art and see what new twist you can make.
    • Sickness” (p. 150) was created by a prompt: the “Beautiful Outlaw.”  Try one of your own:
      • Begin with a word as your title. This creates the scaffolding for your poem. It could be “shelter,” or “health,” or it could be someone’s name who you can’t be with in person right now, or somewhere you can’t be: “Louisiana,” “Grandmother,” “subway,” etc. Anything will work.
      • You will have one stanza for each letter in your word. If your word is “Shelter,” your first stanza will be the “s” stanza, the second will be the “h” stanza, and so forth (NOTE: we only accept poems of 25 lines or less, so your stanzas need to be planned accordingly!)
      • Each stanza must use every letter of the alphabet, except the one it refers to.
      • So: your “s” stanza will use every letter but “s,” your “h” stanza will use every letter but “h,” your “e” stanza will use every letter but “e,” etc. Achieve this however you see fit.
      • This is a great form for pushing your use of language and grammar, as you won’t be able to say things in the way you’re used to. Cozy up to that dictionary.

 

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