Unpredictable Whisper: Collage Inspired Poems

As I began to write the first poems of my new poetry collection, Blue Suitcase, I struggled to find a writing approach that would allow them to emerge in a unique and authentic manner. No matter how hard I tried the characters of the poems wouldn’t surface nor would the answers to the questions I was asking. Metaphors were evasive and there wasn’t a musical note or stanza to be found. An overwhelming and persistent feeling of doubt was interfering with my ability to get out of my head and allow the poems to surface on the page.

One morning, on an intuition, I started to cut out seemingly random pictures from old magazines, children’s books, and newspaper articles that spoke to me about my current state of mind. I placed them on a large sheet of watercolour paper and didn’t judge where the images landed or question their relationship to other images on the paper. Much to my delight after a couple of hours of cutting and pasting my first collage appeared to be completed – I called it “Lostness”. I then followed this collage with words that spoke to the images in the art. I didn’t judge or edit. I trusted my intuition and was blown away by how expansive the creative process had become. I began to integrate collages into my morning writing practice and in no time I was in a new zone of poetry that was different from any I had experienced to date.

Building off Vicki Nerino’s drawings, I created “Rooster’s Bleeding Heart” and “Dog’s Shadow” as tributes to my new poetry collection Rooster, Dog, Crow. “Aristocracy of the Spirit World” is an eulogy for American poet, John Ashbery. Cutting out pictures, colouring, painting, gluing – playing with images re-stimulated my sense of wonder and my curiosity about the world around me in a whole new way. Making visual art has moved me beyond the oppressive rules of logic into the “unpredictable whisper against the skin” that Don Domanski writes about in his essay “Flying Over Language.” Inspired by collage, I am emerged in image and metaphor as well as a new appreciation of language and the creative process. New poems arrive each day. I am full of writing energy and much gratitude for collage, for the surprise and uniqueness of each cluster of images, and for where these images have prompted me to go with words.

Don’t Touch

DOG’S SHADOW

SPIRIT OF LIFE

Lostness

Rooster’s Bleeding HearT

Cat and Mouse, Andy Warhol’s House

Reign of Frog

ARISTOCRACY OF THE SPIRIT WORLD

Jimmy’s Dream of Horses, Rabbits, and Snakes