Collaborations: Art and Prose

“Tubs o’ Fun”

Recently I’ve been really into the work of Paul Madonna, an artist whose series of drawings and prints, ‘All Over Coffee,’ has incorporated short, stunning fiction and nonfiction by a number of writers I happen to love.

It’s got me thinking about collaboration. “[Each writer and I] make at least two pieces,” Madonna writes in his statement. “One where I make an image then present it to them to write for, the second where they write a story and I respond with a drawing. …The relationship between text and image is not meant to be literal, and so I asked that the writers think about the images as visual metaphors rather than direct illustrations.” The result? The narrative in each piece of writing is given a visual space to live that changes its context, elicits a different kind of feeling from the reader than it would on its own; meanwhile, each image becomes more complex too, as the site of a thought or memory.

In working on assembling IR’s winter issue, we’ve looked over a number of artists’ work. Although none of what we’ve seen has contained words within the actual image, the juxtaposition of visual art beside the poems and stories we publish inevitably gives both the image and the writing beside it new meaning. It’s an inspiring thing about literary journals, I think: The whole will always be greater than the sum of its parts because it contains the links between them.

Do you have a favorite collaborative team? Have you ever collaborated with another writer, an artist, a musician?

Gathering Radiance

Dear Poetry People,

This weekend here in Indiana was glorious–a positively tropical 75!–and as a result I decided to take a drive through Brown County State Park to marvel at the magnificent reds and golds. I had forgotten, however, about wind and rain the previous week, and upon passing through the gate was devastated to see many of the turned leaves fallen, or hanging brown. I forgot how fast autumn goes, how easy it is to miss a season, or let life drain by. As I drove back, cider in hand, I couldn’t help long for a copy of  Louise Gluck’s chapbook October. It is a lyric beauty that both rails against and welcomes, questions and illuminates, the coming darkness that October foreshadows. Each year her words somehow prepare me for an impending winter, all the while reminding me of the wonder in a flagrant fall that announces its arrival. May you too enjoy October, for:

“This is the light of autumn; it has turned on us.
Surely it is a privilege to approach the end
still believing in something.”


Michael Martone

Last week, Michael Martone lunched with us and gave a wonderful, hilarious, compelling reading. We’re excited to present some video from that event! Here he reads a contributor’s note from Michael Martone and the Musée de Bob Ross entry from The Blue Guide to Indiana.

He also read from his latest collection, Four for a Quarter, which explores and challenges and plays with the theme of four.