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Contributions by Stacy Isenbarger:


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Collaborators’ Q&A

Artist Stacy Isenbarger: I was drawn to its light and tangled noting of absence, how it brought out those warm edges of crumbling, breaking and disconnection.  Poet Tyler Mills: I was thinking about absence but didn’t have any ideas about what an artist might decide to portray. I love what the artwork does with movement–the artwork is swirling around something that isn’t there, and I think it’s beautiful.

Artist Stacy Isenbarger is an artist, professor, mover, and shaker. She teaches Art + Design at the University of Idaho in Moscow, ID. Poet Tyler Mills is the author of City Scattered, Hawk Parable, Tongue Lyre, as well as Low Budget Movie, co-authored with Kendra DeColo. She teaches for Sarah Lawrence College’s Writing Institute and lives in Brooklyn.

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“Firm Hands”

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Teaching Writer George Franklin: I just want people to know how important it is to writers on the inside that their poems are out there being read, each one a communication from one person to another. On the outside, we take this for granted; people on the inside do not.

Artist Stacy Isenbarger: I connected quickly with that Wilson mitt and the feel of it encasing my left hand. I learned how to catch, awkwardly, from my dad when I was younger. There were always shapes to remember in the strategy of learning the game. The C formation of where to put my glove and all the places among the lines of the diamond that were best for fielding; these visual lessons stick with me. He was a good coach. In regards to catching a football, that diamond shape you make with your hands, I understood it conceptually but never quite connected with it. Reading how Emilio did while crashing into water triggered a visual of hands opening and waiting. His words are both refreshing and bittersweet due to the connections he makes, and I wanted to create a piece highlighting some back and forth tensions and connections with the diamond form—both seen through hands straining to catch and from someone viewing a neighborhood ball field who is maybe just outside the fence line.

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“Moonlight as Liason” (Vizsolyi & Isenbarger)

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Collaborators’ Q&A: Poet M. A. Vizsolyi: It wasn’t until I saw it so clearly with my own poem that I really felt just how much a particular piece of visual art can influence the piece from the start. It’s akin to the way a piece of background music can influence the way we interpret a scene in a movie. Artist Stacy Isenbarger: I was drawn to the sense of sparse yet weighted space and possibility surrounding a simple walk towards something else.

Poet M. A. Vizsolyi is the author of two books of poetry, Anthem for the Wounded and The Lamp with Wings: Love Sonnets, winner of the National Poetry Series, selected by Ilya Kaminsky. He teaches Creative Writing at Goddard College. Artist Stacy Isenbarger is an artist, professor, mover, and shaker whose creative pursuits include sculpture, installation, & mixed-media drawings. She teaches Art + Design at the University of Idaho in Moscow, ID.

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“The Fox”

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Did the visual artist refract any element of the poem that made you see the poem differently? Poet Amy Newman: After salivating over the image of the fox, who is everything one could hope for (his ghost-y shape and his manner, his susceptibility, his interest in the wildness of that space in the floor, and his vulnerability as well), I became very interested in the hand and string images….

When you began this piece, was it color, shape, or some other aspect that you followed? Did that change? Artist Stacy Isenbarger: My first sketches explored teeth and fur, but this response seemed too literal. As I began blind contour drawings of my hands offering and receiving, I felt like I was better connecting to the gesture of the poem…

Collaborators: Amy Newman is the author of five poetry collections, most recently On This Day in Poetry History. She teaches at Northern Illinois University. Stacy Isenbarger creates mixed-media drawings, sculpture, and installations. She teaches at the University of Idaho.

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“Be Aware”

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Collaborators’ Q&A: Artist Stacy Isenbarger: Being Michigan born & having family in the area, the idea of a place no longer being “Home, Sweet, Home” struck me. The idea of being stuck made the material collision of concrete and embroidery a necessary response. Poet Rachel Carle: In our daily lives, we embody, perpetuate, and redesign what it means to be human. Some of those processes have been put in an officially political arena, like the Flint water crisis, but I don’t believe that poems on love or nature are any less vital to our construction of self and culture.

Artist Stacy Isenbarger is an artist, professor, mover, and shaker.Poet Rachel Carle is a senior in the University of Virginia’s undergraduate Area Program in Poetry Writing. She is pursuing a career at the intersection of politics and storytelling.

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“Another Elegy”

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Collaborators’ Q&A: Artist Stacy Isenbarger: I was struck by the rigor and weight of both letting go & holding on. While responding I considered a stain in reflection of a used vessel waiting in expectation. Poet Jericho Brown: I think the visual helps me to see sadness as more of a prison than a weight.

Poet Jericho Brown‘s poems have appeared in The Best American Poetry 2013, The Best American Poetry 2014, The New Republic, and The New Yorker. Artist Stacy Isenbarger‘s creative pursuits include sculpture, installation, & mixed-media drawings.

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“Spring Is Here” (Wrigley & Isenbarger)

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Collaborators’ Q&A: Poet Robert Wrigley: I confess to being fairly awestruck by the work of visual artists, especially in response to poems, and what these two artists produced pleases and delights me. The way one brings in the great menacing clouds, the other the rain—well, every time I look at either broadside, I just sit and grin like an idiot. Artist Stacy Isenbarger: Contrasting sensations set a pace and rhythm in the poem and visually it builds into a field of sharp diagonals for me—hot to cold, sharp to soft, harsh to calm, irreverent to spiritual, etc. The collision of rhythms, once stacked in my mind, linger with the potential to impact again, so when sketching out my initial response, lines built upward into something foundational, then fell away softly before another aggressive line could be added.

Artist Stacy Isenbarger is an Assistant Professor in the Department of Art + Design at University of Idaho. Poet Robert Wrigley has published ten books of poems, most recently The Church of Omnivorous Light: Selected Poems and Anatomy of Melancholy & Other Poems. He teaches at the University of Idaho and lives on Moscow Mountain with his wife, the writer Kim Barnes.

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“Landing Under Water, I See Roots”

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Collaborators’ Q&A: Artist Stacy Isenbarger: The color royal blue had a strong impact in my sketching process but also the idea of limbs being both human and tree. I found myself counting and creating itemized lists of thoughts during my design process too. These ideas progressed and danced their way into my depicted response. Poet Annie Finch: It surprises me to be reminded that “Landing Under Water, I See Roots” is, after all, a poem about the possibility of connecting with people, about the spectrum of human connection.

Poet Annie Finch has published many books of poetry; her newest book, Spells: New and Selected Poems, is just out from Wesleyan University Press. Artist Stacy Isenbarger’s creative pursuits include sculpture, installation, & mixed-media drawings.

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