Interview for Collaborations: Sarah Tourjee and Ren Evans
- In your opinion, what is the best thing about doing collaborations vs. individual work?
As humans, our individual perspective can only get us so far. Sometimes we have to let some air in. We do this through education, through reading, through talking with others, through the news, through being alive in the world. Our artwork is no different. Whether we know it or not, anything we create is a collaboration with a hundred experiences, conversations, memories that we have had. Nothing is made solely from ourselves. Once we realize this, we can collaborate with the world in more intentional ways. It’s exciting to work with another entity (be that an object, artwork, or person) that/who offers us something we could not create on our own. Our work becomes larger than it could have been, and we learn more from it.
- Who would you recommend this class for?
I think anyone could take this class. You need only have an interest in art-making and be open to working with text. The more diversity of perspectives, the better. So please come!
- What are some challenges of collaborating?
Collaborating requires a loosening of control. When you work with another artist, you trust that the thing you create will be different than what you can envision on your own, and you allow that to be OK. You do your part of it, and then trust the process. This is difficult, for sure, and also liberating. The work takes on its own life.
- What is your favorite thing about teaching for Frequency?
The people, absolutely. I love working with this community. It continues to change and grow, and everyone is always so open and willing to try new things, and to support each other. We are lucky.
- Have you two ever collaborated on something together?
I think I have been in a life collaboration with Ren since we met two years ago. We have not collaborated formally on a project but Ren’s work has absolutely influenced my own, and the conversations we’ve had make their way into my projects. We’re in an eternal friendship/artist collaboration.
- If you could have any talent besides writing, what would you want it to be?
I think I’d be a neuroscientist.
- What is the best piece of advice you would give to budding writers?
Take this class! Seriously, we’re going to have so much fun. By the end, art might be an organ inside you.
Interview on The Dreamlife of Objects with Nicholas Rattner
1. How long have you been affiliated with Frequency?
My godmother is a frequent participant in Frequency workshops. I was visiting one time a few years back and went with her to a class. The vibe was good. A few months after that Darcie asked me if I would teach a course, and I was thrilled. The first course, I think, was a year ago and ran for six weeks. I taught another one right after.
2. Who is your favorite poet and how does his/her work affect how you see and teach poetry?
When I was around fourteen and a freshman in high school, a friend of mine who was a sophomore gave me a copy of Allen Ginsburg’s Kaddish, which totally blew me away. I didn’t start writing full-steam ahead until years after that first encounter, but my friend planted the seed. When I teach, I keep in mind the way Ginsburg’s poems made their way to me.
3. What is the most challenging part of writing poetry?
Writing a good poem, not a great poem
4. What advice would you give budding poets?
Find the poets you like and steal from them whatever your conscience and the law allow.
5. Can you explain the meaning of the class: Dreamlife of Objects?
The title comes from an etching by Goya that most people refer to by a paraphrase of the epigraph that accompanies it: “the sleep of reason produces monsters.” In his book Bubbles, German philosopher Peter Sloterdijk does a turn on Goya’s epigraph and writes about “the dreamtime of reason.” This phrase stuck with me. Somehow, one day, maybe I was thinking about the poet George Oppen or maybe I was watching Law & Order, I really don’t remember, the phrase “the dreamlife of objects” came into my head. I became curious about what type of monsters might visit an object in its sleep. Then, I realized objects are always sleeping and always dreaming and that poems might be the monsters that visit. Or maybe we are the monsters. That seemed like an interesting place from which to read poems and to write poems. What poetics we can derive from objects…and also what poetics we can apply to objects? What poets seem particularly obsessed with objects? What can we learn from them?
6. What is your favorite thing about Frequency?
7. What is your biggest poet cliché pet peeve?
I don’t know. Over the last few years, clichés have gotten juicier while my own hang-ups about what is and what is not permissible wither away.
8. What is the best writing advice you’ve ever been given?
If it’s not nailed down, you can take it
9. What do you predict the long-term effects of this course will be for your students?
Perhaps, during the four or five weeks of the course, for the hours a week when students write, they will experience some weird moments when an inanimate object such as a paper clip seems to possess an inner life.