|Self Portrait by Carol Sawyer|
And Carol did know quite a bit about women photographers in British Colombia. In fact, she was also generous with her knowledge. And so a year later, when I surely was meant to be doing something else, I googled photography and Carol Sawyer. The images I found fixed me in their gaze. I felt more connected to this piece in particular than anything I had ever seen on a computer screen.
Carol is a performance artist, a singer in an avant-garde jazz band, professor, and stellar photographer. I wrote my first fan letter to Carol asking if she would consider a collaboration with me. We wrote back and forth for a few months until we could finally clear our calendars to meet.
When Carol's husband asked her about me, their guest for the next few nights, Carol told him the truth, "I met her on the internet."
|You can see the poet and the photographer in the gazing ball|
We did a fair amount of asking and answering questions about what our collaboration might look like. As the writer, I wanted to make sure that the collaboration went both ways. In other words, I wanted for us both to create art inspired by the other's work. And it worked. In fact, during my visit to Vancouver we created a still life together and realized that collaboration was possible.
Carol took a line from my poem "Try to be Done Now with Words," a line I particularly liked:
"Double note of window and world" and created this photograph.
Looking back over the Powerpoint we created, some of the elements we said made for a successful collaboration included: a sense of humor, willing to go into the unknown, and generosity. This week two of our collaborations were published at the wonderful resource Ekphrastic.Net and another one is coming in September from the LA Review.
My hope is that we will continue this collaboration for a long time to come. And one of the things no one tells you about collaboration: in the best of circumstances you find a new friend. A friend that "gets" your art --- a friend that becomes your friend because of the art that you do.