In this super rad interview, conducted by Madeleine Wattenberg, we hear from Oliver Baez Bendorf about his collection of poetry The Spectral Wilderness, zines, library usage, and book recommendations.
Robin Richardson is the author of two collections of poetry, including Sit How You Want forthcoming with Vehicule Press. She is also Editor-in-Chief at Minola Review. In this post, assistant blog editor, Madeleine Wattenberg, speaks with her about unsympathetic poetry, the value of ugliness, and the relationship between written and visual art.
Beyond imagination, I also firmly believe in magic as a tool for subversion, of imagining not only other worlds but other possibilities for our own world. Magic questions and destabilizes our sense of the real, and tells a different story from the one we’ve been told.
While not every show will be for or about women or “women’s issues” or for or about diversity and diverse expression, Olly Olly shows are more likely than most in Northern Virginia to include art that represents varied perspectives, a wide variety of cultures, a wide variety of mediums, and a multiplicity of backgrounds and experiences. We think that this diversity results in better shows, in better conversations, and ultimately in the creation of a better art scene and a better community.
My work is often concerned with the everyday, calling to mind the familiar artifacts and ephemera of the mundane and reimagining and transforming them into fantastical dreamlike elements of magical worlds that are just below, above, or somehow beyond our reach. I’m continuously building an ongoing narrative exploring the concept of being a stranger in a strange land. I put myself or a persona or avatar of myself into a variety of situations and environments in order to play with or question a variety of assumptions about embodiment, decolonization, race, sexuality, gender, identity, space, and place.
JCR: It’s really important for me to work not just with Feminist ideas, but within the structure of the arts community and art ecology. In DC I’m super lucky to be able to work almost exclusively with other people who also identify as women, non-binary, and queer people. I’m very very lucky I think. It’s not “cool” in this century to be militant, but I’m pretty militant—if I know a gallery is showing 80% cis male white men, I don’t want to go there, I don’t want to work with them. I’m trying to figure out professionally when or if it’s worth it to make those compromises.
In this interview, Julie Marie Wade speaks with us about writing Catechism: A Love Story, and Kristina Marie Darling discusses the book’s design and layout decisions.
Wade: My guiding question for the project was: What happens after you reach adulthood? What next? Of course I was only seeking to answer this question in light of my own experience, but it seemed an important one to probe given how much emphasis had been placed in my youth on becoming the “right” kind of adult—successful, accomplished, and desirable to the right kind of men. My parents had wished for me a life of greater certainties, fiscal and otherwise, than they imagined were possible with a vocation in the Humanities and literary arts. They had always wanted me to be a medical doctor of some kind, but I had chosen to go a different way. The real deal-breaker, from their perspective, though, was that I had also chosen to give up the prospect of a heterosexual life once I fell indisputably in love with Angie Griffin during that first year of graduate school.
Darling: I try to design books that are beautiful as objects in themselves, enacting and communicating the kind of beauty found in the work. There’s a reason Julie’s work has gotten so much well-deserved recognition. She’s a gifted prose stylist who also addresses ambitious and compelling philosophical questions in her work.
When I’ve read this poem at events or workshops, most folks think of it as a take on Bishop’s “The Fish.” And, of course, Bishop is well known for her fishing imagery, being from Nova Scotia, etc. My favorite poem of hers is “At the Fishhouses,” which provides the epigraph for my full-length collection, Confluence. All of this to say, the driving force behind “Imagination” is Bishop’s “The Riverman,” a poem that is less well-known. It is rough-hewn, very narrative, and based in Brazilian myth. Bishop lets her hair down in this piece.
Al-Mutanabbi Street is Baghdad’s bookselling street, a place where, for hundreds of years, people could gather to read, find books in translation, swap subversive ideas, argue unpopular positions. In 2007, the street was destroyed in a car bomb; though no one took responsibility, it felt like a direct attack upon this freedom of thought, this essential humanism.
In preparation for this particular exhibit, I found myself exploring a hidden chest of feelings about that very far away world, a place from which I’ve been bitterly estranged. Here, I have attempted to piece together or transcribe my personal truths through the appropriation of whimsical imagery and natural elements, juxtaposed against heavier, and often autobiographical themes. Each piece harbors a life of its own, one that is fragile and mortal, just like ours.