Living a few blocks from one of the most iconic bridges in the world, I often stroll to the harbor’s edge, spot the Sydney Opera House, and watch ferries come and go into the Circular Quay. Add the backdrop of the crisp, blue Australian sky as sun glistens across the water, and a poem should practically write itself each day.
But when the pandemic hit and we were told to self-isolate, going out only for essentials, the last thing I felt was inspired.
MADE: A series of conversations with artists about how they navigate impasses and discover breakthroughs in their work.
To reach Karen Dolmanisth’s studio, I must first navigate a series of stairs, metal doors, and maze-like corridors in an old mill building in Florence, Massachusetts. Then follows a tunnel of books, artwork, costumes, and other ephemera gathered and carefully placed over the twenty years she has worked in this space.
Since meeting her seven years ago, I’ve admired painter Amanda Acker’s ability to tell a story through a single image, as well as her sensitive use of color, which has the effect of teaching me how to see the vibrancy in my own surroundings.
Despite my inexperience, what I made is beautiful to me, in part because it accomplished something I’ve strived for in my poems for a while: radical simplicity, quiet, and room for the reader to think about a single image or idea at a time. I also enjoyed engaging with the visual elements of these spare essences of language, seeing them as art objects as much as I see them as poems.