Diary Forms: Intimacy of Thought

In every class that I am taking that is not Diary Forms I am working with poetry. I am taking a writing class in which I am generating a lot of poetry and I am taking a class on queer archives in which I am writing a paper analyzing an archive of trans poetry. When coming up with my idea for my conference project in this class it only felt right to create a piece about poetry so as to have it consume my whole semester. Intimacy of Thought is my attempt to visually pay tribute to my poetic process and represent the thesis of my paper about trans poetry: poetry and transness are deeply intertwined, if not the same thing. 

I write most of my poetry at my desk and even when I am stuck with inspiration somewhere else, I thought the symbol of the writer’s desk was a good starting point/symbol for the poetic/writing process. Initially I sought to create a cardboard replica of my desk as accurately as possible. I was planning to replicate all of the little items that live on my desk, but through trial & error and critiques I decided to abstract the process a bit more. The cardboard replica of my desk is still the center of my project, but I ultimately fleshed out the project in other ways. In the back of my poetry notebook I write down every line from books, papers, etc that I read that really strikes and inspires me. Flipping through these quotes is almost always where I start when I sit down to write a new poem. I copied down my favorites onto a new page and ripped them out of my notebook. I pinned these to the walls surrounding the desk in order to represent the way that they are always at the forefront of my mind when I am writing. I placed my favorite books on the corners of the desk to further represent my inspirations. Another key element of my writing process is the contents of my notebook. My notebook is very very private, so to represent it without exposing it I copied down all the labels and dates that act as headers to all of the pages in my notebook(s). They are all from the past year and a half . My notebook is where I write spill pages (attempts to word-vomit on the page to get everything out before I begin being precise via poetry), drafting, etc and I would not be able to write my poetry without it. I pinned these alongside the quotes, as both elements are equally important as my first steps in my writing process. Feedback and revision is another key element of my process so I decorated the top of my desk with all of the feedback given to me by my peers over the last year (made by tracing all of their notes onto blank pieces of paper). I added my first testosterone prescription on top of these to tie in transness. It is at the very center of the desk because I believe that my identity as a poet and my identity as a trans person are very connected. It is also a bit of a silly joke about hormone therapy as an act of revision. Transness is the undercurrent to all of my poetry (even if it doesn’t deal with it explicitly), so I wanted to represent that by adding a clear symbol of my trans identity to the center of the project. My final poems live in envelopes pinned to the wall off to the side of the desk, although these felt like the least important aspect, as the process of poetry was much more important to this piece than the final poems. 

This project was honestly really frustrating to create. I made a bad choice constructing the desk and then painting it with acrylic paint, which caused the cardboard to shrink in some areas and be really weighed down. It started out pretty structurally sound but as I added more and more paint it became a lot more unstable. Figuring out how to stabilize it was a major challenge and I was really tempted to start over but ultimately decided it was more efficient to try and solve the existing problem versus starting anew and creating new ones. I experimented with creating crossbars out of more cardboard, chicken wire, etc to create stability. Finally, I ended up adding wooden supports to the insides of the legs and I chose to display it in a corner so I would have a wall to lean on for support. It was also originally going to have a working drawer but that ended up completely falling off and I felt like it cluttered the project. It still is not perfectly stable, but it all worked out in the end. I also just got really frustrated with the project idea as a whole about half way through working it and was having a really hard time visualizing the final product. It was only in the last few days before open studios that I began to understand what I was going for and what I was really trying to say in the project. I am, however, pleased with my ability to follow through even though I was rather upset by it and I am ultimately proud of the final product. 

I believe that poetry is the basis of my identity and this work attempts to put that into installation/sculpture. I hope that, if nothing else, my love of poetry (and the way transness relates to it) is easy to see when you look at the work. 

Author: Ellen Rogers