Crease (5) by Annelyse Gelman & Livien Yin

A Process Note

Liv and I made this work during a 2016 residency with our friends in the high desert of New Mexico’s Gila National Forest. At the time I was thinking a lot about isolation and repetition—social, ecological—and reading Mark Miodownik’s wonderful book Stuff Matters. We were careful not to set any explicit rules for our collaboration other than simply taking turns making texts and images, drawing on traditions like the exquisite corpse; the idea was to allow each medium to influence the other, rather than the poems merely ‘captioning’ the paintings or the paintings merely ‘illustrating’ the poems.




If four electrons make the difference between a diamond and a pencil.

Can you feel me putting this thought into your geometry.

It can be said to be an indisputable fact of nature.

Some ants are on a mission and some simply are.

Drawing circles is one kind of productive activity.

Circling in the dirt until they find something more productive to do.

To focus can be said to be a productive activity.

Moiré of rain dizzies in the thunderstorm.

For example I am focusing now on the crease beside your mouth.

With my eyes I am drawing the crease onto your mouth again and again.

First there was a crease in the earth and then there was a story.

A crease fell into saltwater and was preserved forever in the muck.

Can you feel me putting this crease into your head.

Can you feel the space where the absence of the crease used to be.

Was there anything sadder than the silence following the announcement.

A man finally held a piece of sky in his hands.





Livien Yin is an artist working in sculptural assemblage, fiber, and photo-based practices. Her work examines interdependency between humans and non-humans. Currently, she is researching colonial botany with a focus on imperial trade in nineteenth-century China. Livien is a 2019 MFA candidate in the Department of Art and Art History at Stanford University. She’s a first generation Chinese American originally from various towns in the Greater Boston Area, MA and currently living in the Bay Area. For more information see:

Annelyse Gelman’s work has appeared in The New Yorker, BOMB Magazine, Verse Daily, the PEN Poetry Series, and elsewhere, and she is the author of the poetry collection Everyone I Love Is a Stranger to Someone (2014). She was the inaugural poet-in-residence at UCSD’s Brain Observatory and a Fulbright grantee in Berlin for her work at the intersection of poetry, music, and film, and currently holds a fellowship at the Michener Center for Writers in Austin, TX.