On visual poetry and vivisecting language

Last month I finished my second series of six poem-collages. The first were paired with my Silence of the Lambs poems. These are paired with my Alien poems. 

I used the same source materials for these as I did for the previous series, which are primarily The MacMillan Wild Flower Book and Gray's Anatomy. Using the same sources helps to connect both series, make them part of a greater narrative that is explored in my full-length manuscript, Catechesis

These are the six poem and collage pairings of this series:

What's the story, Mother?
+ round-leaved sundew & venus flytrap / plate 74

Wait a minute, there's movement. It seems to have lifeorganic life.
+ jack-in-the-pulpit / plate 2

You still don't understand what you're dealing with, do you?
+ false dragonhead / plate 170

I can't lie to you about your chances, but you have my sympathies.
+ swamp pink / plate 35

We've got this farwe must go on. We have to go on. 
+ scarious blazing star & blazing star / plate 227

You are my lucky star.
+ shooting star / plate 142

With these last poem-collages wrapped up, I finally decided to take a new leap: I've submitted them for publication to a number of literary magazines as visual poetry. I sent a batch of them to Poetry Magazine, The Journal, A Bad Penny Review, DIAGRAM, Duende, and Maudlin House. Fingers crossed! 

Visual poetry is such a vague and open category of creative work. It's so hard to determine what makes a visual work "poetry," except that a poet made it. It must intersect with a poem or a text in some way. Dissect a poem or text or experience. Vivisect it with the scalpel of a visual, mixed-media language. Cut open words and living, breathing images spill out. I've shared here slices of my six new Alien poem-collages.

I feel strangely vulnerable having finally sent these experimental works out into the literary world to be considered by editors. I've never thought of myself as a visual artist, but I guess I'll need to broaden my self definition now. 


I'm on an interactive panel discussion next week at the Poetry by the Sea Conference in Madison, Connecticut. I will be talking with Jehanne Dubrow and Moira Egan about the intersection of poetry and perfume, which will end with a writing prompt and Q&A. If you're planning to attend the conference, please come to our panel on Friday, May 26 at 8:30 a.m.!


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