Working on a collection of poems
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.