More poetry…


I’ve been thinking about poetry a lot recently; after decades of making highly literal 9and at times didactic) work, I’ve been seeing my practice shift more and more into the land of metaphor. While a lot of fabric and quilting is very direct in its references, much of my favorite work in this realm is filled with secret little metaphors, references to be teased out carefully. Designers like Denyse Schmidt and Anna Maria Horner do this beautifully with such regularity.

For a little while now I’ve been reading and re-reading this poem by Jane Springer, a friend and colleague of my wife’s. It is from her book Dear Blackbird

Why Bother Resurrecting the Dead

When their multitudes of affliction may better serve
a second earth,

that needs more haunting through its branches—
needs more briar, less water &
more apology. Even

the weeping cherry seems less romantic, now,
having blossomed tiny handkerchiefs
& cast them down—

it belongs to the realm of barn-born kings & the first-
born sons of Herod
(whose springs were silenced underground).

I have to believe that what I love is not wrapped up in
the finite magic of a discourse,
already drawn.

& that the first place is moving on, so that the
first word is not, finally, spoken, but
stays on the palate—

just as the sparrow stays among the palmetto fronds.
Not still,

or having any thought we think it should—
but warbling in ways we
have not known.

I’ve also been thinking about enjambment a lot, the breaking up of phase over more than one line. I remember when I first learned about that concept in poetry. It completely changed my life as an artist and designer; it was at that moment that I first saw the light of making things well.

Poetry is really how I see fabric, each design a unique piece of verse, carefully managed and shaped just so to resonate on level after level. And that is why I get upset when fabric doesn’t come out just right. It is like excising words and phrases from a poem. It is like taking enjambment away from Jane Springer…


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