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Contributions by Ira Joel Haber:

“island sided”

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Collaborators’ Q&A What did you think an artist would pick up on from your poem? Poet Abi Pollokoff: “island sided” contains many situation-based elements of landscape—place was one of the primary inspirations for the poem—so I was guessing that some aspects of the natural world would be present: water, island, boat, stars, etc. What inspires you in this poem? Artist Ira Joel Haber: I liked all the mentions of nature, since most of my art is about …

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“Tallying Up”

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Collaborators’ Q&A What is behind your choice of this piece of art in response to Flint, Michigan’s contaminated drinking water? Artist Ira Joel Haber: The choice of the art used was left up to the editor. I sent quite a few images of my art that I thought might work in terms of relating to this terrible situation. I’m happy with the choice, as it was open to interpretations by the writers, and I thought …

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“Don’t Name Me, Call Me Nothing at All”

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Collaborators’ Q&A Why did this piece of art resonate for you or seem like it would give you an avenue into writing about the Syrian Refugee Crisis? Writer Nick Almeida: Just after I saw Ira Joel Haber’s drawing, I read Nicholas Schmidle’s report on a young law student who fled Syria in The New Yorker. Between Haber’s drawing and Schmidle’s essay, I noticed a cohesion of themes. Taking in those pieces, one becomes aware that …

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“Limits”

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Collaborators’ Q&A What did you think an artist would pick up on from your poem? Poet Aaron Ansett: I’d suspected that the brief catalog “flamingos and volcanoes, avalanches/and lovers’ trembling breaths” might be reflected in the art. What inspires you in this poem? Artist Ira Joel Haber: I liked the location of the poem and what it brought back to me from my childhood. I remember seedy bars especially the ones that were under the elevated trains …

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“Ebola”

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Collaborators’ Q&A What is behind your choice of this piece of art in response to Ebola? Artist Ira Joel Haber: I have fond memories as a kid of making sun prints, and so I went about playing with the paper and the sun. I placed two plastic figures I had on the paper and this was the result. I thought that it was a fitting image—strange, disturbing and figurative. Why did this piece of art …

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“Dear Atom Bomb”

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Collaborators’ Q&A What did you think an artist would pick up on from your poem? Poet Catherine Pierce: I imagined there might be a mushroom cloud, and there is, but it’s so jarring, the way we see it rising above the whole earth, the way it’s so angular and brightly colored…I really appreciate the in-your-face surprise of that. What inspires you in this poem? Artist Ira Joel Haber: I liked the bluntness of it, and the shortness …

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“Glass Walls Do Not a Barrier Make”

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Collaborators’ Q&A Why did this piece of art resonate for you or seem like it would give you an avenue into writing about Typhoon Haiyan? Poet Martin Willits Jr.: The sense of “restriction” that responses are never fast enough or are the things needed to rebuild. Consider that Haiti never recovered, New Orleans never recovered, etc. Yet we never see the need completely, like there is a barrier. In this case, there is nothing hiding …

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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 …

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“Watching Sandy on the Weather Channel, October 2012”

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Collaborators’ Q&A Why did this visual response come to mind when thinking about Superstorm Sandy? Artist Ira Joel Haber: This image was among many that I submitted to the project. Its an old drawing of mine, so it was not specifically done for the hurricane. One of the main themes in my work is nature and architecture. About the destructive forces of nature. For the past 43 years I have made sculptures, drawings, collages that deal …

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“Delivering to the Client”

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Collaborators’ Q&A What did you think an artist would pick up on from your poem? Poet Paul Dickey: Some type of visual suggestion of a computer screen dripping rain and river, mud and fields, beavers, driftwood, a boy going fishing. What inspires you in this poem? Artist Ira Joel Haber: Well, I guess it worked very well for me, as I was inspired to do a series of new collages that came from what I took from the …

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“Sliding House/Meditation for After an Earthquake”

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Collaborators’ Q&A Why did this piece of art resonate for you or seem like it would give you an avenue into writing about Japan’s earthquake and tsunami? Poet Lisa Moore: My poem started from a couple of awkwardly-translated sentences on a news report. A woman whose husband had just been found in the rubble was asked for a reaction and I was struck by the difference between watching her speak (in Japanese) and the rather …

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“In the Company of Weeds”

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Collaborators’ Q&A This poem was chosen in response to Ira Joel Haber’s art—can you talk about the experience of finding words that were in conversation with the image? Poet Catherine Swanson: When I look at the colorful boldness of Ira Joel Haber’s pastel and the cluttered side-of-the-roadness of my poem, I can believe that opposites attract. “The Company of Weeds” began as a moment of fascination recorded in my journal. Because I’m an urbanite who doesn’t …

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“Botanical Garden”

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Collaborators’ Q&A What did you think an artist would pick up on from your poem? Poet J.D. Smith: I’m frankly stumped on this one. Since the poem is based on an actual event, I have my own vivid and disturbing memory, and it has crowded out any specific sense of how the poem would be illustrated. Under these circumstances I am pleased and not a little relieved to let my work end and the visual artist’s work …

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“Dear Body”

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Collaborators’ Q&A What did you think an artist would pick up on from your poem? Poet Dan Rosenberg: I had hoped that Ira would run with the pervasiveness of the body, and the gestures toward duality (Cartesian and otherwise) in the poem—and he has exceeded my hopes! I love the human forms, and the anatomical feel of the landscape—as if we’re inside a beautiful and dangerous stomach. The poem arose from the fact that the …

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“Under Construction”

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Collaborators’ Q&A What inspired you to “dibs” this poem? Artist Ira Joel Haber: Well to be honest I hadn’t done a poem in a while and this one popped up in my email, so I said why not give it a go. Did the visual artist refract any element of the poem that made you see the poem differently? Poet Leah Browning: Ira Joel Haber’s artwork picked up on the passion of the moment described in the …

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“January Elegy”

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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 Mary Jo Bang: The artist wonderfully created the picture behind the picture of the so-called “real” night, which is the picture I wanted the poem to create as well. He took the night view outside the window and replaced it with a distorted mirror image. The same way the mind, when it internalizes the environment, …

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“Circus: Spotlight on the Ring”

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Collaborators’ Q&A Did the visual artist refract any element of the poem that made you see the story differently? Writer Christine Byl: It really made explicit to me the tension in the story between a kind of surficial brightness—the colors and innate weird joy in a circus—and then the dark undertone of violence and dread. I saw that duality in the art, for sure, and it augmented the feel in the story. In what sense …

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“The undeniable desire for physical contact among boys of a certain age”

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Poet Keetje Kuipers has received fellowships from Oregon Literary Arts and the Vermont Studio Center. She is also the recipient of the 2007 Margery Davis Boyden Wilderness Writing Residency which will provide her with a year of solitude in Oregon’s Rogue River Valley. She will use her time there to complete work on her manuscript, Beautiful in the Mouth, which contains poems currently published or forthcoming in Prairie Schooner, West Branch, Parthenon West Review, and …

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