Art. What a revered word. It’s silly to give that much power to three letters: A-R-T. However, I think it’s completely natural. The next step, at least for me, would be to define what art is. And how many books, articles, lectures have been spent debating what “art” is? Moving past that, I would venture that this fear is rooted in adoration and wanting to create fine works of art myself. So what a treat it is when artists can meld their mediums together!
How I admire those craftswomen and men who know their art on a first name basis. Folks who were at the ART OUT LOUD: POETRY IN THE MUSEUM GALLERIES event tonight at the Scottsdale Museum of Contemporary Arts (SMoCA).
Per SMOCA’s website:
“Poets Sally Ball, Allyson Boggess, Cynthia Schwartzberg Edlow, Logan Phillips, Mark Haunschild, Pinna Joseph and Myrlin Hepworth perform new work inspired by art found in the SMOCA Fall exhibitions Narrow Road to the Interior: Contemporary Japanese Artists and Julianne Swartz: How Deep Is Your.”
What follows is my personal recollection of the evening. An evening with poets.
After being introduced to us as poet and event coordinator at Changing Hands bookstore (among other things), Pinna Joseph opened the evening for our intimate group of, perhaps, 30 of us, in front of a serene painting of translucent black leaves and white abstract flower petals. She started with a chant, which startled me. I expected the spoken word. Her confidence was inspiring and put us all to ease. Consider this: some folks are terrified of public speaking and this was public chanting. However, had I caught it earlier from the curator’s introduction, I would have known (but I quickly caught on) that Pinna is a chantress. Her chanting, and perhaps it was her intention, paired with her spoken words rippled through me like the hydrangea petals falling on a smooth pond.
Petite, almost miniature, photos of swans craning their necks, a dolphin in a tank looking at a woman as if she were the exhibit, stars and other black and white photos of almost supernatural scenes were the inspiration and backdrop for Allyson as she read. Afterwards, she shared with us how the small photographs and their whimsical images called out to her as they echoed her preferred style of writing poetry.
Bite-size lines that don’t feel fragmented. Staccato.
While it seems she hasn’t updated her blog in awhile, Allyson does have some poems online that I encourage you to check out.
Cynthia Schwartzberg Edlow
Cynthia Schwartzberg Edlow stood in front of a box that, as she pointed out in her poem, we would have overlooked. Considered it a place to sit for a moment. While there were elaborate pieces of artwork that snaked throughout the museum this box was unassuming and yet she made it sing for us.
What I’ve come to admire about Cynthia is her deliberate way. She doesn’t put a word down if it is not important. This can also be said of how she performs. When she shares her poetry — whether it be at SMoCA, at Changing Hands or in a boutique store where women are trying to get some shopping in — she is deliberate. And it is a good thing. Articulating clearly so that we leave knowing that the box before us is filled with love, other secrets and ideas. Holding a pause but keeping her eyes locked so we know there is more to be said and to hold our applause. And, oh boy, did we applaud.
Should you have the opportunity to hear Cynthia share her works, go. While we’re at it, visit her blog to learn of any upcoming events or new work being published.
The curator introduced us to Logan Phillips as the slam poet from Tucson. Or at least that’s what I recalled. This was at the end of the event as things were getting jumbled. Logan’s poem was tied to Julianne Swartz’s “Loop” which was kept in a separate room and we all couldn’t fit in at once.
I was a part of the second group and I followed Logan’s instructions to get as close to the red, yellow, green, pink, blue tangled wires with speaker cones exposed at eye- and ear- level with me. His poem was hypnotic and from the speaker cones came the sounds of insects chirping, footsteps, children laughing and bits and spoken words from languages I couldn’t identify. Combing the elements together was, in my opinion, like trip hop meets poetry. His words, sometimes loud and clear and others times hushed like a whisper, meshed with the sounds from the “Loop” and my mind wandered. It was delightful.
Be sure to check out Logan at his website or DJing at Palabra in Phoenix mañana.
Ask Forgiveness Now And Giving Thanks
The poets went out for Mexican food after. Mostly to escape the cold and because we couldn’t find the new location of the Cornish Pasty Co. in Scottsdale. No, we mostly went to commemorate the event. I planted myself in the middle and considered myself very lucky to be in the company of poets with different thoughts, styles and approaches.
To Mark Haunschild, Sally Ball, and Myrlin Hepworth, I apologize for not having included you in this post. I’ve just run out of time and brain juice. But please, my beloved reader, check these talented poets out too.
And thanks to all the poets for sharing your art with us. With me.