Two down, eight more to go. I've never asked myself to work in sequence this way. It's is an interesting challenge, putting painting into conversation with one another. I've used Alphonse Mucha's work as a jumping off point for each of the 8 x 10's because his figures are beautiful and I love the repeated circle motif, but beyond the common ancestry, I'm scared they won't read as a series once they're up on the wall at the galelry. It probably won't matter to whomever is looking at them, but its interesting to think about unity in imagery for a project that has nothing to do with poems.
I've been sharpening language and playing with the order of poems for a chapbook manuscript these past few weeks, and the anxieties are similar, if not the same. A lot of the poems deal with my father's passing, which seems to be one of the few things I'm capable of putting in verse since his death. I don't talk about him much in everyday life (dead dad is a surefire party conversation killer, even if making distasteful jokes about it is totally his style), but he comes up again and again in my poems.
Arranging them as a continuous narrative has proven difficult. When it coems to death, I obsess over water imagery, the lottery, children's games, the ways in which reality bends so that we can make space for loss. To have too many lines written about the same cruel stroke of fate is one of my biggest fears. I don't want to milk a tragedy dry of its meaning. But I do believe my father being gone is a very important outline that I want to trace. The space in my life where he was present is an odd one--we hadn't lived in the same place in years, we didn't know each other as well as I would've liked--but his absence is something I think on often. Being that I rarely saw him at the end of his life, the ways in which he is gone are more metaphorical than anything. The possibilities for writing the tension between this presence and absence are likely why I keep circling it, and coming back to dip my toes in the same water poem after poem.
Alongside the verses about loss, there are others. The tone seems consistent throughout the manuscript, which is satisfying. The poems match each other in quality. If I had to say something about how the arc of the book works, I'd say that it is about the loss and discovery of many homes. Which is a constant journey of the self. We can't be people if we don't own up to the discomfort of feeling out of place, of not being ready for something, of being disconnected from what is meant to be closest to us. There's a lot of distance in the book. I want the echoed images to make it clear that even across greats spans, there are things that remain consistent. That grief is not the only universal in death.
I've not been writing much, but when I sit down to paint, I'm still thinking all of the echoes through. Mucha's circles help with this. First layer, they look like the moon. With each added color, they become menacing or alien or warm or obscured. They keep being the moon by drawing your focus to them like a tide. But beyond how they look, they're a meditation for me. I keep painting circles and the ripples in women's bodies and hair because I need to be reminded that the most complete way to see something is to surround it with your eyes, to keep walking around and around the same scene until some small detail draws you in.