THAW Artist Statement


Artist Statement

I’ve written poems about the Connecticut since college, when I lived in a legendary off-campus house built into its banks, my bedroom overhanging the water. An intimacy with the river grew out of that year and entered my consciousness as a writer. When I moved to Brattleboro two decades later, I explored the river anew— rowing on it, swimming in it, skiing (foolishly) over its rough ice while pregnant with my first baby. After my father died, I scattered some of his ashes into the current, watched their gray trail dissolve into the channel moving towards the sea.

Witnessing the river’s changing moods and seasons has been a source of imagery, consolation, and insight for me. Its presence surfaces frequently in my poems, even those that begin in the woods or the kitchen. During the Baby Cave of early motherhood when I essentially stopped writing, a single river poem emerged. Somehow I gave a draft to my friend Evie Lovett, although neither of us can remember how or why. I abandoned that poem as too raw and sentimental, but it became a touchpoint for her.

Last winter, Evie re-sent me my own poem, long forgotten, and sparked a conversation about our creative projects. Her encaustic paintings stunned me with their beauty, their haunting figures and fragments of language. That work so evocative and layered had grown in part from my abandoned poem gave the piece new life. I reconsidered that voice and reconsidered the river.

Inspired by Evie’s encaustics, I began to revise old poems, seeing their patterns of freeze, thaw, and moving water. I followed the sense of ease and peril that Evie had captured on canvas. Our conversation in words and imagery moves back and forth like states of matter. The poems contain images and the paintings contain words. We honor our shared muse as we work.

-Diana Whitney