These two go together in that they they both grew out of my engagement with the amazing art of Adam Martinakis. I found his art by randomly clicking from Facebook page to Facebook page within the still image online art community (which seems to be enormous – exponentially larger than the online poetry community). Some of the trails led frustratingly nowhere – an artist might post a single picture at a place like the Facebook group An Art a Day. You’d get all excited, go to their Facebook page and find… nothing. No website, no email address, no way to find out anything further about them.
With Adam, I was lucky. I loved his weird and wonderful images as soon as I saw them. His website pictures are downloadable (not everyone is so open, even though the files for online viewing are necessarily quite small), so I was able to download the ones I liked and privately get a good sense of how I might work with them before I asked Adam for permission. He gave it at once, and went so far as to say there was no need for me to clear the final version with him. (I did, though – things work better if you keep folks posted all the way, I find).
Because I upload all the Storehouse poems and also voice a few of them as I upload them, I have lots of them rattling around in my head at any one time. As I looked at Adam’s images, two came quickly to mind – Robert Peake’s Postcards from the War Hospital and Diane Lockward’s Orchids.
I very much liked the audio version Robert had sent along with his meditative poem and wanted to use it. Because so many of Adam’s images are of couples, some very romantic and quite tender, I got the idea of presenting Robert’s poem as a duet – weaving a story in my mind of a nurse and a soldier at the same war hospital perhaps, both deeply familiar with pain, meditating on their situation, perhaps even involved with each other. After I had made the ‘duet’ soundtrack, the images fell into place easily behind it, as did the soundscape – sort of big and hollow and space-ish behind the dialogue, for a mixture of wistfulness and resignation, but without bitterness. Adam’s dramatic ‘Love for Light‘ image was the perfect intro into this piece.
A subset of Adam’s images were more rawly sexual, almost predatory, and these came together in my mind as a great backdrop for Diane’s lush, voluptuous poem about orchids, but not about orchids. The poem is couched as a warning to the predator against obsessive pursuit of the object, and I thought I could present the corollary of that – the vulnerability to exploitation of the object, whether a woman or an orchid in the wild. Adam’s image of the falling girl in a fetal position wrapped in gold foil struck me as exquisitely vulnerable and a wonderful way to wrap up this ‘story’.
I was happy with both pieces and after running them by Adam, published them this weekend. And now here’s an interesting tale about the relative online size/reach of the still image art community as compared to the online poetry community:
I had had some experience of how wide-reaching the still image art community’s networks are the previous week, when I had published a still image remix featuring a poem by Traci Brimhall (‘The Blessing’) and wonderful artwork by the generous Steven DaLuz. I am used to the most popular of my poetry videos capturing maybe 40 or 50 views on their first day (and that is pretty rare). Over time – months, sometimes years – a video may end up with 200 to 300 total views, and continue picking up the odd additional view here and there over time.
After both Steven and Adam linked to their respective videos, however, views for both went through the roof. ‘The Blessing’ got 220 views on its first day, and ‘Postcards’ got 248. After two days, ‘Postcards’ is at 334 views and ‘The Blessing’, after a week, is at 320 views. In just a few days they have overtaken all of my other videos in terms of views, with the sole exception of the most-viewed favorite, William Carlos Williams’ ‘This is just to say‘. I uploaded that one a year ago and it now stands just barely ahead at 352 total views.
Make of all that what you will…