Collaboration of Writer and Artist

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As National Poetry Month winds down, collaborative work between artist and poet comes to mind.

Thinking of Billy Collins, whom I wrote about last year in my June 3rd post, I like how the artist combined his words into the visual realm.

Another collaborative piece that combines musician and artist is Tom Petty’s “Runnin’ Down A Dream,” which was co-written by Tom Petty, Jeff Lynne (ELO) and Mike Campbell. The video was inspired by the “Little Nemo in Slumberland” comic strip by Winsor McCay.

In both of these instances, the words came first.

Recently, I worked on a collaborative piece with artist Jamie Kent. The way we did it was different than what the artistic collaborations of Billy Collins and Tom Petty had done.

Jamie told me what she wanted, and it was from what she described that I began to write, while her descriptions rolled off of her tongue.

I realize this is not typical when working collaboratively. I have found more often than not that either the words come first or the image does. Take for example, animation — the words were written first before the image came.

Jamie’s artistic influence came from South African artists, The Blackheart Gang, most specifically “Postcards from Molotia.”

What she was seeking was something off the beaten path, which contained a duality, both fantastical and weird. I took that information and made a struggle between two — child and adult, Jewish and Christian, pop-art and holy water.

That collaborative piece, Condiment Bible Verse, was recently published in Symbiosis by Kelly Writers House at the University of Pennsylvania.

Please note: the online version doesn’t properly show the correct format of the written word. You can get a copy of Symbiosis at Kelly Writers House on the University of Pennsylvania’s campus.

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