Nightjar by Laura Frare & Mary Kathryn Jablonski


A Process Note

As with many of our creative projects, the unfolding of “Nightjar” was completely unexpected. We began with Mary Kathryn’s original poem and the folksong she chose, “Dear O Dear.” Mary was sure, as noted by the poem’s title, that she did not want to reveal the whippoorwill. She loves a mystery, and felt the bird’s association with heartbreak and loneliness, thanks to Hank Williams and all those who followed him, might overpower the poem. But this withholding can also be a fatal flaw in poetry. Always the wiser, Laura surprised Mary by including the birdsong from the onset, pure and resonant. The silhouette imagery, too, is as primal as the heartbeat Mary wished to convey. Laura went to the source, opening and informing the poem, overstepping Hank and all others. She also chose to leave out the refrain of the folksong that is most recognizable, “Johnny’s so long at the fair,” heightening the tension in the piece, then emphasizing it with the dramatic keyboard improvisation.





Collaborative video/poems by Mary Kathryn Jablonski & Laura Frare have appeared at Atticus Review, Poetry Film Live (UK), and Quarterly West, among other literary sites and have been screened at the 9th & 10th Annual Peoples Pixel Project Film Festival and screened and shortlisted for the 2018 O’Bheal Prize in Cork, IRE. Their video/poems have recently been exhibited at the Arts Center Gallery, Saratoga Springs, NY; the Hyde Collection, Glens Falls, NY; and the University at Albany, SUNY Albany, NY, where they are held in the permanent collection. Jablonski is author of Sugar Maker Moon, (Dos Madres Press, 2019).