Last night I read at the author reception for Kris Sanford's photo show at The Kitchenette, a downtown Phoenix art collective of which she is a member. Kris and I have been collaborating on a found-photo/text project, and during the month of June she showed a few pieces from that series as well as related works. Prior to working with me, Kris worked with the fabulous poet Matt Heil on the same project as she and I, and so last night, Matt and I regaled her crowd of guests with our poems.
Collaborating with Kris (as well as Tracy, another photographer with whom I collaborated in the fall) has been an amazingly generative experience. I credit working with Kris and Tracy as the spurs that set in motion the writing of my entire last manuscript, which occurred quickly over a few months. I learned to see through them, or, rather, a new way to see.
Matt's poems are beautiful always, but his poems in collaboration with Kris's photos are especially beautiful and powerful.
And I love reading. Never joke about inviting me to read somewhere because I will show up in my favorite shirt with a sheaf of poems ready. I believe reading is intrinsically a part of the writing process—I hear things differently when I read them to a crowd. I notice things about my work. And, in practicing the poems at home before the reading, I figure out where the problems I hadn't recognized wait in each little poem.
On the way home, I talked with my boyfriend about my poems. He's become especially insightful about my work, and his opinion is invaluable. He said he noticed that, for a while, my poems were more about their form than what they were actually "about." And now the form is more invisible, more embedded. This, I think, bodes well. And it's a nice compliment, too, I think.