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Exquisite Fantastic

For many years, I’ve dreamed of using the TLE space to create an original exquisite corpse-inspired collection. So, in honor of our 10th year, we’re doing it! Every couple of weeks, from November 2019 through March of 2020, we’ll feature the work a new Baltimore-area writer or artist has created in response to the one before them. Follow this page to see them all in one place, and see what happens!


Contributor 6: Anthony Moll, January 17, 2020

Untitled

Nothing shimmers in the city
winter, and December reveals
the abandoned homes of birds

I’m feeling dysphoric
in a peacoat on an abbreviated
parking lot dusted with salt

trying to imagine a Casa Susanna
a colony of hidden wigs in the chilled
Catskills among eastern hemlock

I hesitate to imagine the woods
as safety— though they are
abandoned or empty

of expectation, and queer bodies
hold a history of exposed knees
in state parks and hideaways

The wilds should be a sort
of home, but I can’t imagine
a dress hem higher than my heavy

thighs outdoors, and the forest
floor reminds me that it’s not

always about you. I guess

Queen Mab’s arrival shouldn’t
surprise me, but I’ve never known
the first name of the wilderness.

Anthony’s Inspiration: I watched and responded to Jim’s animation the week I left Baltimore for a writing retreat in the woods of West Virginia, and it had me thinking about the history of Queer folks in the wilderness—cruising, trysts in cabins, queer communes, etc. When those ideas were paired with Jim’s robed figure revealing a muscular femme, I found myself contemplating perspectives on gender, the goddess, and concealing oneself.

Anthony Moll is a queer poet, essayist and educator. Their work has appeared in Hobart, Little Patuxent Review, Assaracus, jubilat and more. Anthony holds an MFA in creative writing & publishing arts and is completing a PhD in English. Their debut memoir, Out of Step, won a 2019 Lambda Literary Award and the 2017 Non/Fiction Prize. It is now available from The Ohio State University Press.


Contributor 5: Jim Doran, January 3, 2020

Shimmer

Title: Shimmer

Jim’s Inspiration:  I was inspired by Shirley’s Goddess imagery. With animation, I usually begin with audio, and harps are pretty shimmery to me. Once I had to sounds assembled, I did a stream-of-consciousness drawing animation to accompany it. I used a black light to highlight the Goddess.

Jim Doran is a cut paper artist and animator that likes to begin with sound files and music to inspire his animated stories. He also loves working on library websites.

Contributor 4: Shirley J. Brewer, December 13, 2019

All the Fine Golden Threads

Born a sequin, baptized in glitter,
I blossomed in childhood light.
Tender arms wrapped me in filigree.
Grace gave me wings, assured flight.

I wear my changes like an ornament.
Gauzy yellow. Beads of sun in rows.
How to measure the luminous
wires of the heart? Even pain glows.

My favorite color is Gem.
I am Shimmering Goddess Energy.

Title:  All the Fine Golden Threads

Shirley’s Inspiration:  I was awed by Melissa Cormier’s title – Changing and Changed – as well as her beautiful art. (One of the favorite poems I’ve written is called “Making Change.”) Her image of the gold sequins feels so in sync with who I am. My poem evolved from the sequins. What surprised me was my choice to rhyme. Although I usually write in free verse, I always listen to the Muse! “I am Shimmering Goddess Energy” is – and has been – my personal self-definition.

Baltimore poet, Shirley J. Brewer, lives in Charles Village near the Baltimore Museum of Art. She credits the BMA with nurturing her growth as a writer, as well as her kaleidoscopic sense of style. And the gift shop is everything!


Contributor 3: Melissa Penley Cormier, November 29, 2019

Changing & Changed

Title: Changing & Changed

Melissa’s Inspiration:  Much like the original parlour game (exquisite corpse), I tried to collect and build an image that played off of Meredith’s video and prose and while keeping in mind Gina’s painting to create a dreamy addition as if attempting to finish someone’s sentence, but not knowing exactly where the story is going.

Melissa Penley Cormier enjoys looking and listening to things and inviting others to also look and listen closely. An artist originally from Appalachia, she now can most often be found in or near Baltimore, Maryland.


Contributor 2: Meredith Purvis, November 16, 2019

Campfires and Canyons

“You’re doing it wrong, dissecting the bird, trying to find the song.” ~John Craigie, Dissect the Bird

Sometimes I feel like we are small, eclipsed by a world of incredible scale. Our edges blur, atoms and impulses pinging into and across one another. Our hearts and lungs and feet are full of birds. They sing our souls. My heart is elastic. It contracts to fill a campfire spark and expands to fill canyons. We are shaped by elements, within and without; changing and changed. We are enormity. Carbon. Hydrogen. Knit together like feathers on a wing. We soar.

a travelogue prose poem written on a journey from baltimore to missouri, las vegas, the grand canyon, bryce canyon, zion national park. and back again.


Title:
Campfires and Canyons

Meredith’s Inspiration:  Gina’s painting / America’s spaces both man-made and natural / National Parks, especially Zion, Bryce, and the Grand Canyon / The way you blend into nature when you sit around a campfire.

I created this poem while wandering westward. It’s a travelogue but also a mini exquisite corpse of its own — each day I wrote a new line in as much isolation as I could, although still innately aware of what had come before. I challenged myself to not only take inspiration from the incredible painting Gina created, which is full of the stuff of life and the whisper of bird wings, but also the scenery I was passing through, which included my parent’s farm in rural Missouri, Caesers Palace in Las Vegas, and the Grand Canyon, Bryce Canyon, and Zion National Parks.

Meredith Purvis is a writer, a book artist, and a traveler. Her heart and her writing are happiest when they’re exploring.


Contributor 1: Gina Pierleoni, November 1, 2019

Title:  Navigating Tendrils

Gina’s Inspiration:  The stuff of life: hydrogen, oxygen, nitrogen, carbon, beauty  /  The words we say to ourselves and others  /  Birds nesting, fledging, holding on, letting go

Gina Pierleoni is a Baltimore based artist using portraiture to spark conversations about empathy and our common humanity.  Portrait painting demands curiosity, stillness and deep observation. Pierleoni’s mixed media portraits push past label and judgments, attempting to “de-separate” us.  These are real people, alive, changing, genuine and vulnerable.

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