Process Note on my Poem "Aspic Lipstick Fabric District Prayer" Natasha Dennerstein
I have been collaborating with LA painter, Kaye Freeman. A detail of her large painting “The Emperor’s Twit” was used as the cover of my last book from Norfolk Press in San Francisco, a novella-in-verse “About a Girl.”
I have also read poems at one of Kaye’s art exhibitions that she did with sculptor Cybele Rowe in LA at Castelli Gallery. So Kaye and I have decided to work together on a side-project with the working title “Around This Planet.” We have both lived in a variety of continents and places in our lives, so decided to write and paint about place. Kaye has already been on a painting trip in LA, obsessed with the city, so I wrote a few poems about the city. Sometimes she has been taken with one of my poems and painted/drawn to it and other times I have written poems inspired by her works. Also, at times, we will suggest a place, then go away separately and write/draw to the theme.
With my poem in the NAR, I wanted to visit the fabric district as Kaye has painted huge, bright, abstract canvases of scenes in DTLA. I simply walked through the fabric district and then made lists of things I had seen: bolts of bronze, sequined fabric, rolls of lime tulle, et cetera. With the list on the left side of the page I tend to write on the right, dipping into the list. I make choices often for sonic reasons. The themes or narrative in the poem were unplanned but just presented themselves during writing. What I had were the fabrics or words for them. The “revenge dress” and the “slaying” aspect made the narrative a Hollywood Awards night theme, and the narrator needed a cheap dress that looked expensive. The prayer aspect just inveigled its way in there. So what I ended up with was a micro-narrative, full of very visual fabric choices. My initial intent was just to fashion a poem set on that street with garish fabric visuals inspired by Kaye’s highly colored palette.