Words and images are completely knotted up in my imagination, and I’ve given up trying to disentangle them. It used to be a reciprocal relationship where the images spawned words that would become poems, and the words would give birth to image. I suppose that may still be the case in some parallel universe, but over the past five to six years, the images have gotten greedy and devoured most of the poems. Occasionally I can still eek the poems out if I’m challenged, however, studio time for me now primarily consists of scissors, glue and paintbrush as opposed to a computer or paper and pen.
I certainly haven’t given up on the poems; in fact, through
the observations and comments of my contemporaries and fellow poets, I’ve come to recognize the visual art I create as poems in and of themselves: visual poems. It comforts me to think of them that way.
Over the past six years several poets have honored my visual experiments by commissioning me to create the artwork for their book covers, and in that sense there is always this on-going dialogue that is happening in my visual work between poetry and I.
The images in the poems spill out from the page into my mind and back out again as new images, but since I’ve always considered myself an Imagist poet it’s all the same thing, just happening in the reverse.
The work that I’ve been engaging in most recently involves incorporating hand papermaking, letterpress and bookbinding into my creative practice at Columbia College Chicago’s Center for Book & Paper Arts. It’s just one more gesture toward figuring out how to integrate the language and visual art more thoroughly, and to figure out even more innovative ways to bring the words to life, whether those words come from me or from other writers. Much of my focus of late has turned to my preoccupation with science-fiction novels and films, speculative and Afrofuturist themes of African Diaspora folklore, mythmaking, retro-(Afro)futurist slave narratives, fugitive androids, and
It’s some Harriet Jacobs meets Marie Laveau meets Octavia E. Butler ish. Poet Bianca Spriggs told me after seeing one of my new pieces that I was getting swamp. I enjoyed that. Hopefully the poems will come back to visit soon, but in the meantime I’ll happily take their pictures.
Krista Franklin is a poet and visual artist from Dayton, OH who lives and works in Chicago. Her poetry and mixed medium collages have been published in lifestyle and literary journals such as Copper Nickel, RATTLE, Indiana Review, Ecotone, Clam and Callaloo, and in the anthologies Encyclopedia Vol. II, F-K and Gathering Ground. Her visual art has been featured on the covers of award-winning books, and exhibited nationally in solo and group exhibitions. Franklin is a Cave Canem Fellow, and a co- founder of 2nd Sun Salon, a community meeting space for writers, visual and performanceartists, musicians and scholars.