I'm a visual artist and writer in St. John's, Newfoundland, Canada.

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Posts tagged “Poetry”

Working on a collection of poems

Helping a bug write a poem.

I’ve written poems for years and had a few published here and there, most recently in the Newfoundland Quarterly. A few years ago I started cobbling together poems I’d written over the years and trying to make something book-shaped out of them. Since then I’ve put together a couple of artist’s books of photography and writing, Small Landmarks and Field Notes. But most of the poems haven’t found a home yet.

A few months ago I put together new Professional Project Grant application for the Newfoundland & Labrador Arts Council, this time to work on a book of poems. I found out recently that I was awarded the grant! So I’ll spend this spring finishing my first book of poems, tentatively titled The Colour of White Paper. The poems I am working on will draw from firsthand observation, offering a way of looking at landscapes and language that is sometimes sharply focussed, sometimes oblique, but always curious. My camera is present in every poem.

I found my tentative title, The Colour of White Paper, in a passage spoken by David Byrne’s character in the film True Stories:

“I really enjoy forgetting. When I first come to a place, I notice all the little details. I notice the way the sky looks. The colour of white paper. The way people walk. Doorknobs. Everything. Then I get used to the place and I don’t notice those things anymore. So only by forgetting can I see the place again as it really is.”

This passage is perhaps a reinterpretation of Paul Valéry’s famous remark, “To see is to forget the name of the thing one sees.” My work often investigates the tension between seeing and remembering, as well as the themes of walking and revisiting a landscape.

The Newfoundland & Labrador Arts Council has previously supported my projects Make No Wonder and Field Notes. These Professional Project grants have really helped shape the past few years for me, allowing me to focus on my art and writing practice in a more serious way.

field notes project

why am i not surprised

A few years ago, walking in Point Pleasant Park, I found a seagull feather. I dipped it in seawater and wrote with it on a rock, the first phrase that came to mind: i miss you more on cloudy days. I photographed the words as they evaporated. Later I made another of these, spelling out with fragments of seaweed: why am i not surprised. I left it for the wind to disassemble. I called these field notes and wrote a poem to accompany each.

I’m happy to report that I’ve received a Professional Projects grant from the Newfoundland & Labrador Arts Council to continue this series of gestures. So I’ll be posting progress and research notes here as I go.

Hieroglyphs

Reading Paul Muldoon’s Quoof. Poetry makes for encouraging reading in the mornings; the pages pass quickly and I feel I’ve accomplished something before I’ve even finished my tea. Poems make me feel like trying things, they stretch my brain a bit. Sometimes I read a little aloud, stretching my tongue as well. Muldoon provides wonderful mouthfuls of Irishness: his three mooley heifers. It’s all much of a muchness.

I love these lines:

She turns from the sink
potato in hand. A Kerr’s Pink,
its water-dark
port-wine birthmark
that will answer her knife
with a hieroglyph.

The Complete Works (after bpNichol) on Lemon Hound

My digital image / poem The Complete Works (after bpNichol) is featured on Lemon Hound today. I originally posted the work on my previous blog, oughtful. Thought I’d post the work and statement here as well.

As a visual artist who is interested in poetry and experimental literature, bpNichol has long been a source of inspiration. The Complete Works from An H In the Heart is one of my favourite poems; I love the way it epitomizes bp’s playful exploration of combinatorics, meta-literature, typography, and visual systems.

In The Complete Works (after bpNichol), I sought to translate bp’s poem into the realm of digital imaging; in the same way that bp’s poem consists of every character on his keyboard, my image proposes every possible pixel colour. Wanting to echo the aesthetic of bp’s typewritten text, I displayed the image as if in an old Mac OS window.

I made The Complete Works (after bpNichol) in 2006. At the time I was working on “index of first lines”, a digital artwork in which I used PHP code to compile the first line of pixels from thousands of my digital photos. Much of my digital artwork involves mashing systems together, applying the rules or elements of one system to another to see what new systems emerge.

bpNichol’s The Complete Works, from An H In the Heart:

Content ©  2017 Matthew Hollett. RSS