Julia Bouwsma is an off-the-grid homesteader, poet, librarian, and editor and was recently appointed the sixth Poet Laureate of Maine. Bouwsma is the author of two poetry collections, Midden (Fordham University Press, 2018) and Work by Bloodlight (Cider Press Review, 2017). She serves as the Library Director for Webster Library in Kingfield, Maine, and is currently teaching in the Creative Writing department at the University of Maine at Farmington.
You will see from her description how these marvelous poems came about. It is interesting to note all the play of the language, all the poetic devices of repetition and image and syntax, of association and music all given to us in the columns and boxes of the poems, presents ready to reveal their lovely secrets. Julia’s statement is below.
Betsy Sholl, Maine Arts Journal Poetry Editor
These poem and visual art pairings are selected from the pieces we created in collaboration for the 2021 Belfast Poetry Festival. After initially meeting as residents at Annex Arts in Castine, we began our creative collaboration as an extended epistolary exchange via a Word document set to a black screen, our words appearing in greens, violets, blues, and yellows. In these often streams of consciousness letters, our topics ranged from topics such as falling to outer space to dreams to the trauma of history to grief to parasitic wasps to fire. Letter by letter, we delved our own minds while also developing an increasingly intimate understanding of one another. It is out of this process of dialogue, this “interview—self-view,” that Julia’s poems and Asata’s paintings emerged and merged—a way of looking that encompasses page, canvas, and the spaces beyond; a collaboration born of both introspection and the breaking open that occurs when one offers their own experience up to another’s.
Asata Radcliffe is a writer and multimedia artist. Her practices include a fusion of Black-Indigenous and Buddhist cultural cosmologies that often amplify a futurist vision of ecology. Concerned about the planet, her research includes topics of land ethics, futurism, and the nonlinear narratives of human existence.
Image at top: Asata Radcliffe, The Thing About Fire, acrylic on canvas,10 x 10 in., 2021.