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Contributions by Ira Joel Haber:

“island sided”

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Collaborators’ Q&A: Poet Abi Pollokoff: Ira’s use of border (the fixed and the shifting) captured the hesitation in the poem’s breath and motion. At the same time, it also made me reconsider the poem’s sight and the place itself, which became much more uncertain.  Artist Ira Joel Haber: …The borders make the image look like a frame of film which I think is kind of nice, as film especially in home movies recall memories which this poem seems to bring up. Black and red are favorite color combinations for me going back to my childhood when I was a precocious kid.

Poet Abi Pollokoff received her MFA from the University of Washington. She lives and writes in Seattle. Artist Ira Joel Haber was born and lives in Brooklyn, New York. He is a sculptor, painter, book dealer and teacher who sometimes writes poetry and movie reviews.

 

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“Tallying Up”

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Collaborators’ Q&A: What do you think is the role of art in regards to real-world, real-time events? In other words, what makes a “successful” occasional or political piece of writing or art? Artist Ira Joel Haber: The artist and the world is a tricky propitiation. I think that artists should and must be careful not to be seen as opportunists with regards to the miserable situations taking place all over the world.  Poet Amy Young: It is easy to react. The impulse is there, but I think for political art or art of witness to be successful, it is important for the artist or poet to not let the message sabotage the art. A measure of restraint, beauty and kindness can go a long way.

Artist Ira Joel Haber was born and lives in Brooklyn, New York. Currently he teaches art at the United Federation of Teachers Retiree Program in Brooklyn. Poet Amy Young is finishing her MFA with the Rainier Writing Workshop. She is a former poet laureate of Alexandria, VA and teaches writing at The Lab School of Washington, an arts-focused school for kids with learning disabilities.

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

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Collaborators’ Q&A: Writer Nick Almeida: Whether an artist likes it or not, their work is politically contextualized. What makes successful political art, I can’t say. But direct engagement is brave and, from an artist’s perspective, less likely to create accidental or unintended political wrongdoing. It might feel nice to pretend one’s work is in a political vacuum and in conversation with nothing else, but that kind of isolationism is a destructive force in life and art.

Artist Ira Joel Haber’s work has been seen in numerous group shows both in the USA and Europe. His work is in the collections of New York University, The Guggenheim Museum, The Whitney Museum, The Hirshhorn Museum & The Albright-Knox Art Gallery. Writer Nick Almeida is an MFA candidate at the James A. Michener Center for Writers at the University of Texas, where he studies fiction. He is the fiction editor for Bat City Review.

 

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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: 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. Poet Robbi Nester: A meaningful response to real-world events in art does more than just retell the story. It delves into its meaning, comments on it, connects with it on a personal level. That’s what makes it worthy of surviving beyond the immediate event.

Artist Ira Joel Haber was born and lives in Brooklyn, New York. Currently he teaches art at the United Federation of Teachers Retiree Program in Brooklyn. Poet Robbi Nester is the author of a chapbook, Balance (White Violet, 2012) and a collection of poems, A Likely Story (Moon Tide, 2014).

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“Dear Atom Bomb”

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Collaborators’ Q&A: 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. Artist Ira Joel Haber: I liked the bluntness of it, and the shortness of it and the references to a particular time that I also lived through. I can’t believe that this is my 13th broadside and I love each one of the collaborations and how different each one is.

Poet Catherine Pierce is the author of The Girls of Peculiar (Saturnalia, 2012), winner of the 2013 Mississippi Institute of Arts and Letters Prize for Poetry. She lives in Starkville, Mississippi, where she co-directs the creative writing program at Mississippi State University. Artist Ira Joel Haber was born and lives in Brooklyn, New York. Currently he teaches art at the United Federation of Teachers Retiree Program in Brooklyn.

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“Glass Walls Do Not a Barrier Make”

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Collaborators’ Q&A: What do you think is the role of art in regards to real-world, real-time events? In other words, what makes a “successful” occasional or political piece of writing or art? Artist Ira Joel Haber: I’m not a political artist but sometimes I do respond when asked to give a response to some action good or bad happening in our world. This was very bad, and I’m glad that my piece of sculpture inspired the poet. This piece was made by me in 1970 with no regards to world events then or now. Poet Martin Willits Jr.: As a Quaker, I must “speak truth to power” about political and social issues. The problem with some protest poems is that they lose their “power” due to time, writing and publishing, the event has gone and forgotten. It is a writer’s task to make the event “remembered.”

Artist Ira Joel Haber was born and lives in Brooklyn, New York. Currently he teaches art at the United Federation of Teachers Retiree Program in Brooklyn. Poet Martin Willits Jr. has 5 full-length and 20 chapbooks of poetry, including national contest winner, Searching for What Is Not There.

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“The Seahorse Motel”

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Collaborators’ Q&A: 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. 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.

Poet Rachel Marie Patterson is an editor at Four Way Review and the author of the chapbook If I Am Burning (Main Street Rag, 2011). Artist Ira Joel Haber was born and lives in Brooklyn, New York. Currently he teaches art at the United Federation of Teachers Retiree Program in Brooklyn. Designer Debbie Nadoleny is an artist and production designer based in New York City and Provincetown, MA.

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“Watching Sandy on the Weather Channel, October 2012”

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Collaborators’ Q&A: What do you think is the role of art in regards to real-world, real-time events? In other words, what makes a “successful” occasional or political piece of writing or art? Poet Robbi Nester: Art cannot change or undo tragedy, but it can create empathy among people who were not affected by it personally, like those out here in Southern California. It can teach and it can connect us all emotionally, as well as healing emotional scars. To read or to write about a traumatic event can purge a person of pain and allow her to go on with life. Somehow, making this pain public can relieve one of its burdens. Artist Ira Joel Haber: This depends totally on the artist…That doesn’t mean that these artists are not interested in the real world, real time events or politics, and they may separate their art reality from their real world reality and can even occasionally do a work of art that is related to an actual event. They can also be very political and socially aware and liberal (most artists are) who do not hesitate to sign petitions or take part in political actions. Then there are artists who are totally socially conscious and whose work is political both visually and conceptually. So then the question on what makes a successful political piece of art or writing like all art depends on the quality of the work itself, no ands ifs or buts.

Artist Ira Joel Haber was born and lives in Brooklyn, New York. Currently he teaches art at the United Federation of Teachers Retiree Program in Brooklyn. Poet Robbi Nester is the author of a chapbook, Balance (White Violet, 2012) and a collection of poems, A Likely Story (Moon Tide, 2014).

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“Delivering to the Client”

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Collaborators’ Q&A: Poet Paul Dickey: That the artist depicted quite accurately, I think, many other farm poems I have written and a theme in which I thought I had tired of and had avoided in this poem. Somehow perhaps he saw beyond the images of this particular poem to the unconscious essence in many of my earlier farm poems and which still informs the current one. Artist Ira Joel Haber: This is the first broadside that I’ve done that was a completely new work. For previous collaborations I’ve worked with existing art works and then played with them in Photoshop, changing them. But with this one I began by doing a series of collages based on the images that I picked up and out of the poem, and farms and nature stood out for me, so I based my collages on that.

Poet Paul Dickey’s They Say This is How Death Came Into the World was published by Mayapple Press in January, 2011. Paul Dickey holds a Master of Arts degree from Indiana University, Bloomington in the History and Philosophy of Science. Artist Ira Joel Haber was born and lives in Brooklyn, New York. Currently he teaches art at the United Federation of Teachers Retiree Program in Brooklyn.

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“Sliding House/Meditation for After an Earthquake”

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Collaborators’ Q&A: 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 bloodless subtitles: “I am relieved to see him, of course. But there are so many others still missing.” Those words sounded so measured but the woman looked so distraught and desperate….not “relieved” at all. Those words and their inadequacy and what might be behind them rattled around in my brain for a few weeks and were called back to mind when I saw Ira Joel Haber’s piece “Sliding House.” Artist Ira Joel Haber: I did this drawing in a notebook when I was living in San Diego teaching Art at UCSD. I lived in a very small apartment which was on a high hill and had a patio overlooking the valley below. This drawing is of course about hanging, literally and figuratively. Some of my work, especially the work from 1969 to 1975 have a strong dose of catastrophe and destruction so this latest environmental disaster hit home.

Artist Ira Joel Haber was born and lives in Brooklyn, New York. Currently he teaches art at the United Federation of Teachers Retiree Program in Brooklyn. After working as an arts journalist, Writer Lisa L. Moore went into academia and since 1991 has been teaching English and Women’s and Gender Studies at The University of Texas at Austin.

 

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“In the Company of Weeds”

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Collaborators’ Q&A: 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 wander in the woods often enough, the images were laid out unsuccessfully a few times until I saw this visual, and then something clicked.Artist Ira Joel Haber: Well it’s certainly a nice honor to have a poet write a poem inspired by my art, so the whole thing more or less is a surprise. It goes to show how art can inspire.

Artist Ira Joel Haber was born and lives in Brooklyn, New York. Currently he teaches art at the United Federation of Teachers Retiree Program in Brooklyn. Poet Catherine Swanson has had the opportunity to observe human interaction in its diversity and connectedness for many years as a social worker, refugee advocate and ethnographer, her poems have been published in a variety of literary journals in North America and other countries.

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“Botanical Garden”

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Collaborators’ Q&A: Poet J.D. Smith: …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 begin…A less insightful artist than Mr. Haber might have rendered the poem as a primarily decorative, perhaps Impressionist-inspired scene rather than taking into account the poem’s movement. His approach, though, has turned this broadside into a kind of diptych. Artist Ira Joel Haber: I liked the image of a home, of returning home and the soft recollections of nature.

Poet J.D. Smith has published two collections, Settling for Beauty (2005) and The Hypothetical Landscape, and in 2007 he was awarded a Fellowship in Poetry from the National Endowment for the Arts. Artist Ira Joel Haber was born and lives in Brooklyn, New York. Currently he teaches art at the United Federation of Teachers Retiree Program in Brooklyn.

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“Dear Body”

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Collaborators’ Q&A: 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. Artist Ira Joel Haber: For the last few years I’ve been working on collages with body and anatomy elements in them. When I read the poem, I jumped at it because of the title Dear Body, which could be read as a letter to the body or as an endearment for the body. I thought this is a perfect poem for my recent work.

Poet Dan Rosenberg teaches at Augustana College. His poems have appeared in Conduit, CutBank, 6X6, and elsewhere. This poem was an attempt to exorcise the word “body,” which kept cropping up, from his poems. It failed. Artist Ira Joel Haber is a sculptor, painter, book dealer and teacher who sometimes writes poetry and movie reviews. Currently he teaches art at the United Federation of Teachers Retiree Program in Brooklyn.

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“Under Construction”

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Collaborators’ Q&A: Poet Leah Browning: Ira Joel Haber’s artwork picked up on the passion of the moment described in the poem. It embarrasses me a little to say that. There was something restrained about the wording, or at least my intention was to have a certain restraint, but in the moment, yes, there was just a crash of emotion, all these hopes and dreams and expectations spinning out all at once. I think he captured that element of it. Artist Ira Joel Haber: I liked the title under construction. Aren’t we all still construction?

Poet Leah Browning is the author of two nonfiction books for teens and pre-teens (Capstone Press, 2006). A slightly different version of “Under Construction” first appeared in Blood Orange Review, October 2006. Artist Ira Joel Haber is a sculptor, painter, book dealer and teacher who sometimes writes poetry and movie reviews.

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“January Elegy”

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Collaborators’ Q&A: Artist Ira Joel Haber: I guess I liked the winter imagery and since I was born in February I was also taken with that. I’m a winter person, I hate the summer, the humidity, the heat. Poet Mary Jo Bang: I didn’t have any preconceived notions about what an artist would take from the poem. In fact I rather adamantly tried not to imagine it. I wanted to be surprised. And I am surprised in the most pleasant way possible, especially by the use of color. By the drama of the colors against the deep black of the nether-sky. By the odd shapes the colors fall into. By how active the colors are. By how well they demonstrate the mind’s endless ticking as it tries to give voice to a chaotic interior landscape. I love the combination of restraint and chaos. Of form and formlessness.

Poet Mary Jo Bang is the author of four books of poetry. A graduate of the Columbia University MFA program, she is currently an Associate Professor of English and Director of the Creative Writing Program at Washington University in St. Louis. Artist Ira Joel Haber is a sculptor, painter, book dealer and teacher who sometimes writes poetry and movie reviews.

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“Circus: Spotlight on the Ring”

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Writer Christine Byl lives and writes in Healy, Alaska, a major-league stone’s throw from Denali National Park, where she shares a cabin with her husband, an artist, and her sled dog, a bodhisattva.

Artist Ira Joel Haber is a sculptor, painter, book dealer and teacher who sometimes writes poetry and movie reviews. His work is in the collections of New York University, The Guggenheim Museum, The Hirshhorn Museum & The Albright-Knox Art Gallery.

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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. Artist Ira Joel Haber is a sculptor, painter, book dealer and teacher who sometimes writes poetry and movie reviews.

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