Never miss a post
Your email address:*
Please enter all required fields
Correct invalid entries


« Tonight at KGB: Craig Morgan Teicher + Alex Dimitrov | Main | Voulez-vous vous joindre à moi? »

November 11, 2013


Dear Molly,
Personally, I love being in conversation with my "selves." I love that you are addressing the collaborative and creatively volcanic relationship. And I'm here to mention that sometimes the literary volcano can and does live in the same body. So it does for me. Poet /collagist/tale-teller/ photographer-- I have found the most exciting collaborator to be myself. Just as paintings in a gallery, if they are well curated, speak to each other, so do my many exploding and interacting lines and images and selves - and as often as possible, I try to find publishers who are willing to let me play with me - and bring that work to light. One example: My latest word & image collage, "Letter from Paris, autumn 2013" has been published at Poetry International : (

In multiplicity...and With kindest regards, Margo Berdeshevsky

Dear Margo,

You bring up the fascinating notion of self-collaboration, and it interests me that you write from Paris. The Pick-One-Art-And-Stick-To-It ethos in the US can be as confining as a whalebone corset. As children we often "converse" with our "selves" through the various arts we employ, from a recorder to crayons to dress up clothes. It takes a mental magic cape to protect this impulse as one grows into society, and you seem to have done it. Another poet who is also a professional musician and dancer is Kate Light. I wonder at the unique conservation of energy required to practice many arts. Whew! Merci beaucoup for your comment.

All the best, Molly P.

Love this - you are exactly spot on about the energy and possibility collaboration generates! I am a lucky member of a terrific team that has just launched The Poetry Storehouse ( Our motto is 'great contemporary poems for creative remix', and our dream, exactly, is to investigate, understand, promote and leverage the energy that is born when poets step back from a focus on control and individual creation and open themselves up to the broader, deeper universe of collaboration. Thanks for articulating the issue so well! Best, Nic

Yes, I am just beginning a collaboration with the wonderful Mississippi photographer Maude Schuyler Clay. It's way too early to know what will develop, but I love her work -- one of her photographs is the cover image for my 2012 book Dream Cabinet -- and I am really excited to be exchanging work with her.

Dear Molly,
Magic cape, perhaps, indeed, here on the banks of the Seine. (But I've long harbored this notion...that it's not about being "jack of all trades, master/mistress of none"..,but rather, that becoming an artist is a lifetime path and work with more branches than a single trunk.) And so, although one may deeply grow into one form, it blesses the so-called chosen art to practice the others, and sometimes, to master more than one. (The music in poetry, the poetry in dance, the movement or color in language, etc. )

And, that perhaps at the end of a lifetime, one might earn the word 'artist" in a large sense. That does appeal to me. It's a bit like speaking more than one language--good for stretching the mind, so they say. And the energies seem to nurture the next in line. So I hope!

My best back to you, Margo

P.S. The link I offered to the Poetry international site above didn't seem to like my parentheses. So, as just one word & image collage, if I may,here it is again:‪

Hi Molly from snowy London ON...

Have you seen "From Dream Sequins", with my poems and illustrations by Toronto artist Steven McCabe (Lyrical Myrical Press, Nov. 2012) He took lines from my poems that he could 'see'. So page by page, there's a sensory match of visions:

My father, Jim Kemp, was a painter in London, so his work has been a source of long collaboration between art and poetry. My latest is a play to be mounted in the London Fringe in June:"When the Heart P'Arts".

I've recommended "The Paper Garden: Mrs. Delany Begins Her Life’s Work at 72" to The Next Chapter's "If you like that, you'll love this", comparing it to Elizabeth Gilbert’s "The Signature of All Things". Both books are a celebration of women who passionately persevere in their field through old age. The fictional Alma Whittaker, born in 1800, is also dedicated to her botany. Both books celebrate the singular beauty of flowers depicted in art.


Molly, I love collaborations...this spring I curated a show called Soul Retrieval: poetry on fabric scrolls created by myself and another poet hung amongst paintings by two distinctively different artists, one with oil landscapes and the other with metaphorical digital prints. We had a sacred dancer on opening night. The other poet Athena Kildegaard and I gave a reading, one artist and myself taught workshops and participated in a panel discussion (including another writer not in the show) about how art heals. The idea for the exhibition came to me from a collaboration of a broadside, his image to illustrate my poem. The show was magical, engaging and transformative. But I suspect it was a moment in time. It took considerable work on my part (someone has to be deeply invested in making it happen) to get everyone's commitment, collect artist statements, hang the show, create publicity, and organize the schedule (even with help of the small non-profit gallery). But it was a wonderful feeling when we had workshops in tandem and felt the energy blossom. You can see some of Soul Retrieval on my website:

Dear Nic Sebastian,

Thanks so much for letting us know about The Poetry Storehouse ( The fun thing -- the playful thing -- about posting these blogs is that we get to find out about people like you. Merci!

All the best,

Dear Penn Kemp,

Oh to be the daughter of a visual artist! How interesting that you mention Steve McCabe on this 50th anniversary of JFK's assassination. McCabe, an ex-pat American in Canada, did a compelling poetry-visual art collage about that day. So glad you have connected with him.

All best,

PS Elizabeth Gilbert was kind enough to send me a copy of her book. Long live botany, the woman's science...

Verify your Comment

Previewing your Comment

This is only a preview. Your comment has not yet been posted.

Your comment could not be posted. Error type:
Your comment has been posted. Post another comment

The letters and numbers you entered did not match the image. Please try again.

As a final step before posting your comment, enter the letters and numbers you see in the image below. This prevents automated programs from posting comments.

Having trouble reading this image? View an alternate.


Post a comment

Your Information

(Name and email address are required. Email address will not be displayed with the comment.)

Best American Poetry Web ad3
click image to order your copy
BAP ad
"Lively and affectionate" Publishers Weekly


I left it
on when I
left the house
for the pleasure
of coming back
ten hours later
to the greatness
of Teddy Wilson
"After You've Gone"
on the piano
in the corner
of the bedroom
as I enter
in the dark

from New and Selected Poems by David Lehman

Click image to order


  • StatCounter