The idea behind the Poets Series is to paint portraits of living poets and that this archive build itself. I began this work by crowd sourcing poets to begin each branch. I asked the poets who were picked if I could paint a portrait of them, and if they wouldn't mind selecting the next poet to add to the series. The response has been astounding. As the beginning poets included other poets, and the archive began to grow, branch by branch into an amazing narrative of contemporary poetry. The Poets Series is a celebration of the complex tangle of living poets that belong to a loose archive.
Here is a list of poets in the project with paintings already underway:
Dani Couture, David Seymour, Paul Vermeersch, Bob Stewart, Ken Babstock, Damian Rogers, Christian Bok, Stuart Ross, Joe Rosenblatt, Hoa Nguyen, Kate Hargraves, Bruce Meyer, Marty Gervais, John B Lee, Catherine Graham, Linda Besner, Jacob Mooney, Jeff Latosik, Lisa Robertson, Leigh Kotsilidis, Claudia Rankine, Suzanna Showler, Jeramy Dodds, Susan Holbrook, Adrienne Gruber, Linda Rogers, Ian Burgham, Derek Beaulieu, Jenny Sampirisi, Alex Leslie, Kerry Lee Powell, Liz Howard, Nelson Ball, Brecken Hancock, Karen Correa Di Silva, Mike Lista, Ali Blythe, Meaghan Strimas, Sachiko Murakami, David O'Meara, Sandy Pool, Helen Guri, Frances Barber, Leanne Simpson, Steve Heighton, Jordan Abel, Jason Hereaux, Ken Mikolowski.
There are many more who have committed and are waiting for their painting to commence.
The Poets Series project was inspired by a Detroit based painter's work Ann Mikolowski, who took to documenting the poets who passed through the Alternative Press in Detroit. Here is a link to her work: http://www.detroitartistsworkshop.com/mikolowski-ann/. These tender portraits locate this project in a beautiful tradition of encomium, which is further articulated in Robert Creeley's poem to Eddy Lindon found here:(https://media.sas.upenn.edu/pennsound/authors/Creeley/Naropa_7-84/Creeley-Robert_23_Thanks_Naropa_7-84.mp3).
The tenderness of this poem and Mikolowski's miniatures as major inspirations, aims this project in the direction of kindness and celebration, and dedicates my skills as a painter to a project that is collective and civic.
As a poet myself, I have nothing but respect for the beautiful and challenging work of making poetry. When I envisioned a body of work that focussed on encomium, my mind went straight to the poets. Who better to celebrate than those who dedicate themselves to the reachings of language and ideas? And what better way than a portrait in paint?
Writing and publishing poetry takes dedication and courage. It is often unpaid work and many moments of questioning the value of continuing. And yet, everyone continues to work with the words in order to progress to the edges and boundaries of language. Everyone beacons and creates varieties of conceptual and real communities who work in their own way to further an understanding of our times. This process of gathering and collaborating means so much to me, and in this sense, the Poets Series makes me terribly excited, as it maps itself into existence, because I am presented with my community as it articulates itself right in front of me. My job becomes one which channels an archive of these formations in all of their complex and beautiful manifestations. It also gives me an opportunity to spend time with each individual poet as I paint them. A pause in the flow. A quiet afternoon. A living dialogue. A reverse ekphrasis as i work to capture the essence of each person who makes the poems.
I just wanted to take a moment to thank everyone who has worked to make this campaign possible.
To Joy deBruyn for helping to make many spreadsheets for promoting this project.
To Syx Langemann at for photographing and building this projects visual component
To Glass Monkey Studios for design support
To I hear Things for music used in the video
To Mary Popovitch for intel on button production
To the poets, all y'all.
The project is underway, and this Kickstarter campaign hopes to foster the making of the artwork, the administration of the information that comprises the archive, and preparing a beginning collection of this work for showings and a reading tour. Thus far, this project had been self-funded and it is hoped that with your support, this work can extend even further. Please consider helping to make this archive real and tangible.
As with any large undertaking, there are risks and challenges that come up that can hamper the longevity of a project. I consider this project one which will continue on indefinitely, and can only imagine that there will be many road blocks along the way that stop and start the flow of the project. The biggest question becomes how to continue to fund the project. I have started with a modest amount of money - one that can see the initial portraits to fruition. The next challenge will be to find ways to continue to fund the project, ways that sustain the work in the studio, and the eventual touring and publication of the results of the project as it makes its way. I welcome your feedback and ideas in this arena.
Risks and challenges
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