Ignite in from Inspiration

The piece “Escape” by Maya Halko, which appears in the 2017 print edition, always strikes me. Every time I come across it, I find something new that I hadn’t noticed before. I am mesmerized by the flow of the lines and the simplistic black and grey coloring. The fish placed in the bowl rather than another astronaut pulls the whole piece together.

When I look at the piece through my writer’s lens I don’t just see art; I see the story that is being told and I understand it. The intricate detail put into this piece is like every detail I do and do not choose to put in to my poems. I think to myself, “What will really say what I mean?” That is, in my opinion, what makes a piece strong: the details used to add another layer of complexity to the concepts or ideas being represented. What will strike an emotion action out of my readers? Although I am not exactly sure what I feel when I look at this piece, it is so awing that I feel a lot, particularly in my chest.

When I look at this piece, all I want to do is write.

It is ironic because there are often times when I feel like I need to escape or get away and I turn to writing, but I never know what to do when I need to escape or get away from writing. This piece reminds me of moments like those. When the words are not coming how I want them to and when the emotions are so powerful that my poem turns out emotionless. I did not clearly understand this the first time I flipped through the 2017 print book and saw this piece of art. I was mesmerized but I did not understand. The emotion came sometime after I was able to swallow and take in what was going on. Writing is the same in that sense. We want our readers to feel first. Then, after that, they are allowed to understand what they feel and how we were able to make them feel it. As artist, we like to twist our audience’s emotions. We say, “I get to make you feel and there is nothing you can do about it.”

In connection to Elan, “Escape” represents the power art holds. Whether it is a paint brush or a pen, we own the right to mark our place on this earth. When I think about the work and purpose Elan stands for, I always think of the same thing first: we are here to give artist a voice. We open up our doors for artist and offer a home for their work that allows, not only for others to be able to acknowledge their gift but also, for someone to look at their art or read their piece and be changed by it. That is our power as artist.

Lex Hamilton, Co-Marketing/Social Media Editor

Teri Grimm

Teri Grimm is a local writer, residing in Jacksonville, Florida, with her family. She received her BFA in poetry at the University of Omaha and her MFA at Vermont College. Grimm has two collections of poetry published as well as having her writing appear in other literary magazines, journals, and anthologies.

Personally, I was not all too acquainted with her writing before coming to Douglas Anderson and being introduced to her by the writing teachers. From the get go, the fact that she was a local writer made her more accessible to me because she was here in my town. She didn’t live in New York City or Chicago or in a remote cabin in the woods; she is where I am.

Out of the poems that I have read of hers, the one that has continued to stick with me is Magic Lantern. The progression of her images is so natural and the language is attainable. I don’t like to read poems where the language is so over my head that I don’t know what on earth is going on because it takes away any connection that I could have made with the work and the speaker of the poem itself. Grimm’s language allows for me delve into the poem itself.

Magic Lantern, specifically, poses philosophical ideas and questions of identity and the significance of life, but not in the way that is too overwhelming. The images themselves are grounded, so that the poem isn’t this abstract piece that I couldn’t grasp onto. Images like “he’d show glass slides of the Taj Mahal / or lovers kissing in a Venetian gondola. Familiar / scenes too and after flickering black and grey.” These are some of my favorite lines from this poem solely because I can see what the speaker is talking about. I can feel the awe of the Taj Mahal and I can feel the romance of the lovers kissing in a gondola. I am with the speaker.

How she ends this poem is what stayed with me the most. The poem is structured as a single longer stanza with long lines and then the ending line is on its own and is shorter than the rest. “But that was before I knew better.” Through the latter half of the poem, Grimm explores ideas of being this almost ethereal person and having this kind of light to her, so that “the world could see me better.” The language, again, is beautiful and captivating in itself, but the last line is what got me. It switches the speaker’s tone into something more reluctant and questioning of the world and themselves. Before the speaker is hopeful, maybe even a little jovial, but then the last line allows for the speaker to become someone more cautious and scared almost.

Grimm’s writing has allowed for myself to be okay with taking these turns that aren’t entirely expected because typically, I am careful with my writing, I am in my defined comfort zone. But with Grimm, she turns the poem, like all good poets, so that it isn’t what you expect.

Read Magic Lantern here: http://teriyoumansgrimm.com/poems.html

Winne Blay, Junior Managing Editor

Grounding Myself in Art

Whenever I feel like I have come to a point where I have “run out” of things, ideas, themes, I turn to visual art to try and find inspiration. I do this thing where I am constantly writing about myself and what is happening in my life and, in turn, feel as if I am continuously writing about the same things over and over again in the same exact ways with the same exact language. It feels like I am stuck in my own writing.

Going to visual art allows me to disconnect my personal life from my writing and take on the voice of the subject or artist or to interact with something other than myself in my writing. I will write pieces that I would have never thought about writing or even thought of in general because of pulling my inspiration from something else, something intended to make the consumer feel some sort of visceral reaction.

Both writing and visual art make their consumers think and go further into each piece than what is first seen. It’s amazing. I can look at the same piece of art endlessly, but still continue to find something else about the it. There is always more.

Élan takes both art and writing and uses them so that a kind of symbiotic relationship occurs within the book itself. There is writing that has to do with the art and art that has to do with the writing. Each feed off the other.

In the 2017 Fall edition, an art piece titled, Fruit on Wheels III, is one that I find myself going back to consistently and doing nothing more than just looking at it and trying to piece together a semblance of the story of what is happening in it. Who are the two men? What are they doing? Where is it? Why was the artist drawn to capturing this moment in time? What did the artist want people to get out of it?

In all honesty, I am not entirely sure as to why I am drawn to this piece. There’s a story or something deeper lying in every piece of artwork, and I will most likely never truly know what the artist intended to say with this piece, but I can piece together what the art is telling me.

It tells me anguish and hard work and determination and exasperation and aspiration and just-getting-by and this-is-life-and-it-is-okay. I think it is partly because I am who I am and that I write what I write. I don’t do super crazy fiction stories or fantasy or abstract. I do grounded and realistic and in your face and there is more to what I am saying. That’s what I felt from this artwork. On the surface, you understand what is most likely happening, but you keep going further and further into the work itself and the smallest aspect of the art means something.

Writing from this piece would be me removing myself in the sense that maybe it isn’t a personal narrative that I am telling, but instead, someone else’s narrative that I am telling with personal conviction and connection.

Winnie Blay, Junior Managing Editor