Collaborative Art: Poetry & Photography by Elisabeth Horan and Robert Frederic Kenter

Collaborative Art: Poetry & Photography by Elisabeth Horan and Robert Frederic Kenter
| Opinion > Your Fiction

I am fascinated by collaborative artists. It’s always a treat to see two or more talents come together with their individual vision and create something unique through unity. Recently, I had the pleasure of reading some poetry from Elisabeth Horan and viewing photography from Robert Frederic Kenter that was part of such a collaboration.

Art often begets art, which is the case here. The connective tissue between nature and the human spirit is powerful. These poems are not simply about trees. These verses illuminate the resilience of the soul beyond difficult circumstances. As is generally the case with Horan’s poetry, she plunges us into heartache and pain only to pull us breathless to the other side and give us hope.

Kenter’s photos are no less explicit than the poetry they inspired. Trees weather storms and elements with no protection. When viewing the photographs I was particularly struck by the idea that I was viewing them as an outsider; I cannot imagine what the perspective of a tree might be like. Kenter uses lighting and shutter speed to alter our perception of trees much in the way the mind alters our perception of life around us when we experience trauma and extreme emotions.

I look forward to seeing where further collaboration takes these two talented artists!


Photograph by Robert Frederic Kenter

Some Trees

Next to nothing
is a pillowed place

talked into one’s
heart, by way of vein–
and when Ashbery

wooed me with the trees
they were like
people: tall and dumb;

falling for each other
except on linen—after making
love—Do you love me?

She asks a finger—As if this—

…is any kind of way to
live—this,,,
to put your face

near mine and not kiss—
or intertwine,
or bleed out like

—an orgasm on the
tomato vine.
Impossibly succulent

ripe, and clear—
heed retreat.
Let’s ask some trees

how they do it—
how they fall for
each other—

or even meet.


Photograph by Robert Frederic Kenter

Snow Specimen

I feel like the trees know
of punctures

The way roots could
be cordoned off

and placed in stirrups, in order to
accommodate an easy entry, it’s

a blessing, some say, less
distressing, and

Some trees
understand

the taping shut of her
eyes, why they might

bind a wrapping
or adhesive

over
two holes

midway to
Crown,

we really
can’t have

Owls flying in // flying out,
All willy // nilly,

whilst the drill tap, speculum
is put into place

It’s better for pulp, muscular tissue
to settle downward,

better for sap, blood products
to drain southward, better for

Mum’s peeping
owlets // Eli’s eyelets,

to remain
under elixir of sedative,

control the spasmodic
flutter, better yet

Obliterate &
Missing;

the trajectory of
the snowshoehare;

Surgeon’s silver
scapel,

trace the happy
red smile

on the snow, being
careful with ones’

metallics & all along—crow’s
fingers’ll go taptaping

Far below
No hide//no death

Surgeon’s shunt’ll
have it’s go

At peckpecking
Relax, It’s easy,

some like to say
for in the deep Midwinter

we are only
specimen collecting.


About the Collaboration

Photograph by Robert Frederic Kenter

from Robert Frederic Kenter…

“When I first met Elisabeth, I recognized something – a mirror – to my own work, life, voice – a shared aesthetic. Elisabeth (I think) saw something as well, in me. She came by to view some of my photo images, and proposed we do some collaborating. I have been drawn to hybrids, breaking apart texts and image systems as long ago as when I was studying with the Wooster Group in the late 1970s. Recently, I have been exploring reinvesting in fragmentary image blocs via texts.

Eli and I decided to start a project emerging from Ashbery’s  “some trees”, & incorporate a visual element, drawn to the beautiful gestures of Cy Twombly.  When Elisabeth was in hospital, I took it upon myself to watch over her, and using magicks, help her to heal from a distance, with line, energy, word, visual gifts, yes – I sent her a photo-based art work (a shimmering tree) as healing emblem. It proved to be first fruit of our Ashbery project. She wrote a poem inspired by it when she returned home. We are developing a sequence of these collaborative pieces, exploring various facets, visceral kinetic ruptures of melancholy, beauty, joy, Eros,  pain, an anthropomorphic mythos. Raw and melodious ‘tree’ imagery meets poetic voices using an jagged opulence of form. A goal — creating a book-length manuscript of poem-tree intersectional weaves. “

from Elisabeth Horan…

“I was laying in a hospital bed January 25th unable to sleep in the night, post-hysterectomy, anxious, alone, and in pain. Robert was with me during much of this time, helping me with my incessant anxiety about the surgery and stayed watching over me in the hospital, as I worked through that difficult and painful night and following days and weeks of recovery.

Robert sent me a picture that night. Of a yellow tree glowing. That’s how I remembered it to be anyway. It was alive. It was a survivor, alone and windblown and aflame, aglow in pain and stark beauty. It touched me. It gave me something to hold onto. A branch, a hand, a tree, a tether, a lifeline.

When I went home I wrote Robert “Snow Specimen” and “When I was 17 and 43”, inspired by that picture. Both reflected my pain, my fears, my anxiety, but also the quiet grace of connecting deeply with someone during a time of enduring the fear of deep mental and physical wounds.

Robert sends me pictures of trees. They all make poems in my head. Robert sends me love. And I make it into poems, and send it back to him.”

About the Artists

Elisabeth Horan is an imperfect creature advocating for animals, children and those suffering alone and in pain – especially those ostracized by disability and mental illness. Elisabeth is EIC of Animal Heart Press and Poetry Editor at Anti-Heroin Chic Magazine and Press. Elisabeth also glides along as Co-Editor with Robert Frederic Kenter of IceFloe Press, Toronto.

She recently earned her MFA from Lindenwood University and received a 2018 Best of the Net Nomination from Midnight Lane Boutique and a 2018 Pushcart Nomination from Cease Cows. She has books coming out in 2019 with Fly on the Wall Poetry Press, Twist in Time Press, Rhythm & Bones Press, Flypaper Magazine, Hedgehog Poetry Press, and Cephalo Press.

Follow her @ehoranpoet  & ehoranpoet.com

Robert Frederic Kenter is a writer & visual artist. Poems, theatre work, essays, art and prose pieces published widely including: Burning House Press, Anti Heroin Chic, Paragraph, Cough, Arc, Grain, New Quarterly. He is editor/founder of IceFloePress, based in Toronto co/edits with Elisabeth Horan. Tweets @frede_kenter

Robert Frederic Kenter and Elisabeth Horan are co-editors of IcefloePress and collaborators in various projects. Their individual and combined work shows a marked affinity – like a chorus of the marginal and the beautifully abject – that when built upon, can manifest in, that ‘third or more’ thing; a poetics of individual and social ruptures. Interrogative extremes suggest, and devise, a delightful momentum of intuitive anticipatory forensics.

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