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Wednesday, January 5, 2011

Word and Image Projects: Beth Shadur

In collaborations with visual artists on several ekphrasis projects—most recently with visual artist and curator Beth Shadur—my poems have been exhibited nationally and internationally.

It will be my pleasure to share with you some of that work here.

Beth Shadur and I have worked together on a number of poetry/visual art projects since 2003.  We met at Ragdale when we were residency fellows.  Beth and I don't sleep well so we would meet each other in the Ragdale kitchen around 5:30 am. There, over coffee and bagels, we talked about art, about being women artists, about poetics, about our families, our husbands, we talked about make-up, politics, aesthetic theory and where to buy really good jewelery.  We had a immediate sense of each other--both as women, artists and friends.

It was at Ragdale where Beth first conceived of the Poetic Dialogue projects--pairings of visual artist and poets which result in a true collaboration of word and image.  Later, as the projects grew into being, I served as  "curator" for the poetry. 

While working primarily with Beth's visual art, I also wrote poems to the work of other visual artists--or had other visual artists create work in response to my poems. In addition, Beth created a entire series based on response to my work.

In November of 2004 and 2005, I was one of several featured poets participating in the interdisciplinary project called "A Poetic Dialogue: Poetry: Women: Art," a Chicago Humanities Festival event. The poetry/​visual art collaboration project has toured nationally, including at the Transconference at the University of Wisconsin, as well as internationally.

Here is Beth's work "Witness" which she created in response to my anti-war poem "Bougainvillea and TV" (published in northSight, 2006), both of which were featured at the Chicago Humanities Festival as a panel discussion titled "Poetic Dialogues: Poetry:Women:Art."  Our event preceded a reading by Sharon Olds--who was terrific. If you look closely at this painting and you can see part of my poem and my name embedded on the palms, upper left hand corner. Notice all Beth's multi-cultural symbols of peace.

Working with Beth on the third Poetic Dialogue project "Collaborative Vision " was a thrill.  This pairing of 31 poets and visual artists was a featured show at the Chicago Cultural Center from January through April 2009. This event was a big success and, even now, is one many remember and talk about. The Huffington Post even gave us a mention. Wonderful poets such as Micheal Ryan, Greg Pape, Martha Collins, Beckian Fritz Goldberg, Steve Orlen, Micheal Burkard and so many others participated.

Further, one of my poems was featured on Beth Shadur's work as part of the "Cool Globes" project in Chicago, an innovative public art project of 124 globes designed to create awareness and inspire solutions to global warming. Cool Globes was on display along Chicago's lakefront from June to September, 2007. (I create the poem you see on this five-foot globe specifically for Beth's project. )

For more information on Beth Shadur, visit


Poetic License, Inc. said...

I found out about this from artist and friend, Pat Otto. What a wonderful collaboration! I am a poet and poetry teacher myself and very inspired by your work with Beth!

Arlyn Miller

Lois Roma-Deeley said...

Thank you so much for your comment! Yes, our collaboration has been a true meeting of minds and hearts. Tell Pat Otto I said hi!