“A poem begins as a lump in the throat, a sense of wrong, a homesickness, a lovesickness.” ~Robert Frost
My cousin, Cecilia, is an artist who creates visual poetry out of vast sheets of copper and other metals. Using various patinas, she texturizes and colors the base, then twists and warps it to add even greater depth and dimension. The results are stunning on their own, but she isn’t satisfied with the solitary work of an artist. She believes that collaboration with other artists—sculptors and painters, yes, but also scientists and writers and musicians and woodworkers—is what gives her work meaning. She believes that this alchemical blending of talents creates art that is far greater than the sum of the initial reactants.
So I was honored that she asked me to co-create something with her. The sculpture she began with is a long sheet of copper, oxidized an oceanic green and then texturized to resemble the magnified surface of a canvas. She created three gentle swells, which look like waves. Taking my cousin’s life journey into consideration—after loss, she followed love halfway across the globe to find her joy—I wrote a poem that I hoped would reflect her story and enhance in some small way her piece of art.
“The Journey” is twelve lines long, and can be read either starting at the first line or in reverse, starting at the last, with the meaning slightly altered depending on the direction. To incorporate it into the piece, I stamped the lines using letter stamps and a hammer, alternating the direction of each line to encourage viewers to begin reading at either end. I was quite moved by the process of physically transcribing my verse onto Cecilia’s piece. It was the first time I had ever collaborated with another artist in such a way. I hope it won’t be the last.
Their art collaborative, Fe29—which is both a workshop and a concept—will officially launch at their new gallery in Austin this May, and I’ll post information about their inaugural event, along with photos of this and other completed pieces in the exhibition. Meantime, in honor of this being National Poetry Month, I submit to you:
To get where I thought I most wanted to be
Away from all the incongruities and absurdities
I pressed myself
I lashed and thrummed my way
Pulsing through torpor and even, sometimes, joy
I lolled and swam and slipped
Crossing that predatory ocean of loss
Between What-was and What-might-have-been
And, despite spending so much time thusly
I ended up exactly where I am