Thursday, October 29, 2009

Talking with Gaye Gambell-Peterson: Wine from Creative Juices

Poet/artist Gaye Gambell-Peterson answered my questions about her new book, MYnd mAp, from Agog Press ($15). It's a very unusual collection: 14 poems paired with full-color collages.

Catherine: Is this a collection of individual poems or was it conceived as a book? When did you know you had a book?

Gaye: MYnd mAp, the book of collage + poetry, was just that, from the very moment the seed got planted. Years and years ago I had clipped out the title words when stockpiling snippets for collage-making. I lost that scrap, but the book idea stayed in a corner of my mind. I let it just be. It ripened.

This book includes 14 full-color collages. Which came first, the poems or collages? Were the poems inspired by the collages? For example, in "otHYR waters" the "baby raspberry" appears in the collage as well as the poem.

Gaye: When it was time to harvest, I listed geographic terms as titles. After that, I piled graphic bits to fit those categories. Then I wrote poems, with the appropriate collage collection spread before me. As each poem became infused with new layers of word images, I would fortify the art with more visuals. When the words written were taste-perfect, I glued down the amassed paper elements. So, you see, the process for each poetry + art set was a back-and-forth one.

Look for many repetitive components within each set. I let seven sets age for quite a while, and then quickly doubled the book as I approached my self-imposed "get real" deadline.

Catherine: In this book you make inventive use of white space, and invented variant spellings for individual words, such as "eddge," and combine them sometimes with "eccentric" capitalization such as in the poem titled "rivYr". You even use some red type along with the usual black type in "TerrORtory", my favorite poem in the book.

Gaye: One of my goals was to create a book that was unique. I am ALWAYS driven to be outside-the-box. How many ways could I do that? Spelling, space, color - one idea leads to another: wine made from my creative juices. It poured freely.

Catherine: Tell about putting this book together and printing it.

I knew I had to publish the book myself - illustrations in color would double the cost. Who, but me, would be that brave/foolhardy? Making MYnd mAp real was, and is, a complex satisfaction - beyond profit considerations.

My first poetry & art book, pale leaf floating, was so easy with editor Rebecca Ellis to guide me. Her Cherry Pie Press used Hobblebush Books to make real a lovely (if I may say so myself) volume. I queried Hobblebush and found Sid quite willing to produce this 2nd book. He was amenable about all aspects, and creative in his own right. He always found a way to do what I envisioned, and even allowed me to change my mind a couple of times. We did it all by email.

Catherine: Anything you want to add?

Gaye: Of course. Three things.

1. As a poet I often make my writings universal in their spin, but MYnd mAp is completely autobiographical. Images are very specific to my story. I make no apology for that.

2. In 2008, my mom died of a sudden illness; she was almost 99. Her death was also just weeks before Cherry Pie Press invited me to be ninth in its Midwest Women Poets Series. Since Mom ALWAYS believed I'd author a book someday, I was impelled to do two things. I dedicated my 1st book, pale leaf floating, to her. I named my publishing imprint for this 2nd book in
honor of her. Agog Press. A Grand Ole Girl she was.

3. Marketing is a whole 'nother thing - pushes me outside my comfort zone more than making a book does. For instance, it was a push (ultimately rewarded) for me to ask admired poets to write blurbs for either book.

~I will be reading from MYnd mAp at Left Bank Books, 399 N. Euclid, on Wednesday, December 2, 2009 (with Rebecca Ellis as co-reader). Please, do be there - 7 p.m.

~During January 2010 I will exhibit the original collages used in both books - in the Gallery of the University City Public Library. Tentative date for opening reception: Friday, January 8th, 6 p.m. Check for updates.

Catherine: Want to order Gaye's book? Here's where to write.

1 comment:

  1. This is wonderful! What a fun idea! And a fun idea to put this interview with Gaye up, too. Love it.