From 20 x 20: A Self-Exphrasis by Sandy Longhorn


A Process Note

Stymied after the publication of my third book, I began to wonder if I would ever have another creative obsession again, if I would ever find a topic that compelled me to write again. I found myself drifting more and more to the visual art of collage, but I knew there were still poems to write. In working with students on ekphrastic poems, I suddenly wondered what I might discover if I wrote ekphrastic poems about my own art, if I opened a dialogue between my two, until then, separate creative voices.

During this project, I first created the collages, all the while actively trying not to think about poetry and trying to let the images beneath my hands drive the work. Then, I began drafting poems based on the collages, and I did find two new obsessions to compliment my long-standing obsession with what it means to be a strong-willed woman in a patriarchal society. These two new areas of exploration surround what debt can do to a family and how ideas of female body image are formed in young girls.

The braiding of collage and exphrasis resulted in this new, hybrid work, in which I see the poems and images as inseparable. My hope is that each informs the other and that the reader only receives the complete message when taking them in together.

Sandy Longhorn is the 2016 recipient of the Porter Fund Literary Prize and the author of three books of poetry, The Alchemy of My Mortal Form (Trio House Press), The Girlhood Book of Prairie Myths (Jacar Press), and Blood Almanac (Anhinga Press). Longhorn teaches in the Arkansas Writers MFA program at the University of Central Arkansas, where she directs The C.D. Wright Women Writers Conference. In addition, she blogs at Myself the only Kangaroo among the Beauty.