artist’s statement

Cassandra Smith

As a poet and visual artist, I have found in my work a tendency to stray from the forwardly linear, relying on the space within the page as often as the words upon it. Lots of page-space, lots of pause; lots of reference without meaning to refer. A sensation of image and a silent disparate. In combining these (seemingly) variable elements of thought and illustration, I work to create an impression that can then be refocused into a solid whole. A book. A narration. A thing to hold and open.
Beginning my undergraduate studies at Mills College, I was exposed to the contemporary avant-garde (oh!) in poetry that I had not previously known to be in existence. While very excited to learn I was not alone in experimental literary techniques (much as a young child feels when she discovers that if she can move faster than the light from a faraway star, and then return even faster to her origin, she will have come to a place of before-leaving, thusly achieving time travel. And the thrilling disappointment upon discovering that this had been theorized long before), there is a lexis within the traditional structure that I feel went missing in my education, an axis of language I was shown from only one plane. One might say that I was never properly schooled in poetic relativity, believing still in the myth of lightspeed through language.
I am certain that there is still something tangible yet undiscovered in thought and language that I strive to explore: a science of poetry. In the evolution of psychological theory, the sociocultural perspective is based on an intricate study of the multiple voices and meanings in language and communication, and the effect that the comprehension of these voices can have on one’s further understanding of language: “[H]uman beings are viewed as coming into contact with, and creating, their surroundings as well as themselves through the actions in which they engage,” (Lev Vygotsky). I consider this idea to be an important foundation in general practice, as well as in the workshop setting.
A writing workshop, as an environment of creative arbitraries and the piecing together of these small, peopled entropies, allows for an ideal study of the languages of singular invention. By this, I mean that each poem; each person; each interaction of poetry and person is made of an individual voice that is in conversation with the whole of poetry and persons. Examining how these languages are created in the context of a small setting not only nurtures the ingenuity of the poet, but also creates a communal space where the poet is questioned and can question her/himself, giving way to a context of form and community.
Lately I have been studying notions of myth and how these translate into our current psyches. If we can allow ourselves to outgrow our cultural/religious myths (primitive, Greek, Nordic, African, Asian, Native American, Christian, Islamic, Judaic, ad infinitum) what remains to explain our histories and progressions? I speak of myths not as impossible conceptions of creation (such as the influence of Ceres on seasons), but instead as an idiom of invention: a discrete sensation of the one in connection with the whole. My current work has been an exploration of these ideas, focusing on the poet as recluse. I have been investigating the difference between an imagined reality and the perceived “outside” of the existing world, as well as how an insistence in the imaginary is necessary for the organization of creating a literature of the isolate. I believe (solid, triumphantly) in the importance of discovering the voice of the individual in relation to the world by which s/he may be surrounded, as well as the matrices of communication within these structures of infinite singular languages.
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One comment on “artist’s statement

  1. T ORourke
    February 6, 2013

    Do you ever make those discoveries?

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