Last Thursday evening, Sanna and I took to our the Pink of the Seams Facebook group chat to discuss the upcoming book from Penrose Press. This is the way we and Natalie communicate more than any other and in a strange way, our colour coded bubbles have become as comfortable and welcoming as a coffee shop, though we all have to prepare our own tea. Interspersed with our conversation are some snapshots of digital works in progress for the TPOTS illustrative element which have been previously only shared on the aforementioned group chat.
Creative Director at Penrose Press
Poet of The Pink of the Seams
I think the main reason I want to dive into this is so that I can pitch TPOTS comfortably and eloquently to potential readers. Are you familiar with the "elevator pitch" and do you have an idea of what that might look like for TPOTS?
I am not familiar, no!
Aha! An "elevator pitch" is the presentation of an idea or project in such a way that it wouldn't take more than the length of time you spend on an elevator with your boss, for example.
It's a back cover explanation, a hook... a compelling concept.
I seee okay very cool. Hmmm, for TPOTS, I think I would start by thinking about its 'undoneness' so to speak
Like, the collection is a work in progress?
More like the central metaphor of the entire collection is how I wanted it to feel raw almost?
Like a thought before you say it, never mind write it down? I think a lot about that in terms of creative potential. A project is most exciting to me while it is unformed and it can still be anything, or at least the best version of itself.
Yes! This entire collection feels sometimes a bit like its still somewhere in motion rolling away from me... but that's good. That makes me feel like the work is still alive.
Like birthing an independent child, haha
The title itself is an allusion to me opening up my flesh? The pink of the seams aka veins, insides, an opening.
When I came up with the title I had a very real image of how pulling apart a beige-ish fabric to see inner stitches? and they were pink? and that was how I felt about my work.
Hmmmm... I'm going to keep trying to interpret this metaphorical imagery.
I wonder if the pulling apart is key? You can't see anything unless you look closely. You need more than to have your eyes open?
It is! I think writing all of these poems felt like stitching something together, like piles of clothes or blankets or hats, and then putting them altogether didn't made one huge quilt, instead i actually felt like each work came together and revealed what thread was inside all of them? And that manifested very bodily for me? where the thread, if I had to make sense of it in any way, would be a pink vein, an inner seam etc etc
okay, as a seamstress, here's what I'm seeing
You have a bunch of textile objects and you're sewing them all together. There is a lot of stuff and you have to keep cutting your thread when it gets to short and threading a new piece to keep going. After hours or days at this work, you have on one side of you a massive pile of frankenstein textile: mittens on jeans on socks on dresses on tea towels, and on the other side of you, you have a tiny pile of short pink thread, all the trimmed off remnants of this colossal work. And the tiny pile is the art. The thread--the point is the artifact of the action, not the result
Yes!!! and you can see that pink thread in the frankenstein textile too so you pivot back and forth wondering where there's more thread anything the thread touches is the result!! and the art!! and the action!!
...maybe it's not even in a little pile. Maybe it's scattered around the room and you have to collect it
Sure! The central feeling of it should be the undoneness, the scatteredness and noncoherence of the art that's the heart of TPOTS, as i can best see it !
Can you tell me some of the things you were thinking about while you were writing? I guess, what questions you were asking?
well I wrote most of these poems in between my second and third year of university. I was actually really not focused on poetry at the time as much as a job and I didn't actually expect these poems to go anywhere at all? So they try mostly to capture moments when I feel my emotions are the most heightened- almost to the point of where I need some place to put that feeling down. So I use poems!!
You translate feeling much better than I do. i have to be calm to create, otherwise its full of cliche.
Haha thank you! Sometimes I think the only time I feel clarity of thought is when I'm writing poems because. it doesn't have to make any kind of sense but its own.
What about "Bells"? It's a poem that I've spent some time with since I type-set it a few weeks ago (it's the most complicated thanks to the two columns) and I love the vulnerability in it.
Ahhhh yeah that's a special one! I think that's the oldest poem in the collection!
It's very physical? And of the body, like the title. (TPOTS I mean)
Yes! And its own title too is something more about ears than eyes because I felt like the form was engaging eyes more than enough.
Who is the recipient of the poem? or is it an inwardly directed "you"?
There's something about love that feels almost-- tinkling-- to me sometimes. I feel like this poem sings a bit about my relationship with all my loved ones who choose to stay, parents and friends and siblings. There is so much trust and warmth in just staying together and growing together. And this poem is a commemorating the happy surprise of that, the joy of what love means when it just stays.
It's very easy to give your heart to someone who holds their hands open to catch it basically!!! Wow, I'm a gusher!!
I feel like there is a lot of internet based discussion about separating yourself from anyone who doesn't do something for you, like make you a better person, or support you or make time for you regularly enough. I think it's harder somehow to work through a relationship than to condemn it for all that its not and start over.
(especially at our age) The adage that we're all the average of the five people we spend the most time with rings with some truth but also it's kind of a mercenary way to think about friendship.
Yes! But also a kind of wonderfully communal one like we're all sharing one big heart and personality with our friends, which is kind of cute.
Haha! I usually identify as optimistic! I'm going to have to monitor that. I like your interpretation better.
And I'm usually a pessimist!! its good to switch things up every so often.
Another one that I particularly like is "Lagoon" from the epilogue I love the words and the vague idea they call up but also that the title seems separate? Can you speak to that?
Oooooh that one! That's a big one! The ending!
Maybe we shouldn't give it away?
Although, the idea is that it is orderless, right? Unbound and all that. They are all endings.
Right! But that one will stay pretty plastered in my brain as an ending especially to the larger poem it speaks to? The "on how to become a bird" !
Aha, yes. Funny, I hadn't considered it to be three parts of one story as much as three alternative strategies.
That's very cool!!!
I think I'm thinking about "Making a Man" by Margaret Atwood
Well I guess if "lagoon", regardless of placement or order, is thinking about the heart and, well, how do you start a heart? And I imagined, in the process of becoming a bird, you definitely have to dip your heart in something new
The pure idea of a bird, not as flight, but as newnesss?
The bird as all the things a bird can be: flight and newness and maybe even constant fear.
Aaand we're back to potential. ...constant fear?
Did you know a hummingbird's heart beats 1200 beats per minute? I thought about that a lot when I wrote "Lagoon". I think there's a rawness and a newness of living that we'd have to go back to if we all became birds, and sometimes that rawness and newness feels like fear.
With a human, the space between beats is scary because it's hard to know if its stopped. With a hummingbird, I feel like it would almost be difficult to tell when it's started? Less beating, more, well humming, but so softly it might be imaginary? Like sometimes when you think you phone has gone off and it hasn't.
Yes! A consistency but very quiet. And that image of this wildly fast heart latched to the surface of very fragile skin was, of course, pink.
I'm not sure why pink is so important, rather than red, but it is.
I may craft some personal interpretations, though. You should feel no pressure to confirm or deny.
Feel free! I love those
Right now I'm thinking about not being a bird, being trapped in human skin, pink and raw. I'm also thinking about being... not trapped, but rooted in whatever stage of life we're currently at, and how much the world is different for our generation than for some others... millenial pink and all: optimism, without evidence is more exciting than reasonable expectations, but also scarier.
Wait, are you even a millenial? The cut off is right after Natalie and I, I think.
1996!! I'm a cusp millenial!!
Aha! You count.
Hmmm I don't know if this has to do with pinkness but I'm very much anti-evidence.
I study a lot of anthropology of religion and I've just gotten to a point in my life where I don't think anyone can ever hand you anything that is objectively reasonable or identifiable. Maybe I'm also anti-reason but I think this is me digressing.
Haha, remind me what your university transition was?
Physics to Religion Truthfully though, I liked physics I just couldn't hang with all the multivariable calc.
And the coding! Yikes don't get me started.
You're preaching (pardon the pun) to an artist who is obsessed with math. I'm with you,
Math is so cool!!! Oof, all of these categorization between art/science and religion/science they make me so mad. I've been reading a lot of Foucault lately also so I am just raring to go probably.
They should rearrange the educational divisions like thy're rearranged the Canadian Food guide: dairy is now just protein and science art and religion just ARE.
Beautiful amorphous utopia...
And our conversation spun out from there, into post-secondary rearrangement strategies and away from The Pink of the Seams. Follow us on social media or subscribe to our mailing list to stay informed about release dates this Spring.