"By embracing the beauties and brutalities of parenthood, these finely crafted poems transcend their milieu and become poems about co-existing here on earth. " —Chris Dombrowski
The chapbook Hatch was published by Salon Refu in Olympia, Washington in conjunction with a gallery show of my poetry and installations.
It was designed and printed by the Sherwood Press. The letterpress cover features a hand lettered title by Jami Heinricher and a mesmerizing illustration by Theo Ellsworth.
"Ballet with Boy and Wheelchair," The Remembered Arts
"The Gods," Sensitive Skin
"Hatch," "Marrying In," Bright Bones: Contemporary Montana Writing (Open Country Press)
"Elegy for the Total Amount of Happiness," Barrow Street
"Lament," Tar River
"Proofed," Finalist, Gas Station Prize judged by Sarah Minor, Thin Air
"Your Layers," Hamilton Arts & Letters
"In Passing," Ink & Letters
"The Privative Alpha," Finalist, Kay Murphy Poetry Prize judged by Myung Mi Kim, Bayou
"The Returns," Cleaver
"16 Rooms," Unsplendid
"The Mountain's Child," Spectrum
"A Few Pointers," Switched-on Gutenberg
Hatch, Chapbook, Salon Refu, 2016
On "Truth," Reflections West, Montana Public Radio
"XI," Peau Sensible/Sensitive Skin
“ Hatch” was an experiment in poetry, memoir, and installation. It began as a chapbook of poems exploring a devastating birth experience and the eventual delights of parenting an uncommon child. At the invitation of Susan Christian, owner of Salon Refu gallery, it became a collection of large-scale text and installation pieces shown in May 2016. It was presented again at Radius Gallery's Sidecar during the Montana Book Festival in September 2016.
Though "Hatch" contained images of grief, it was delivered in the spirit of praise and play.
Our son, Heath, had no signs of life at birth. Skilled nurses revived him, and he has since thrived while encountering life with a physical disability. This show was my attempt to re-document our experience in ways that stretch beyond the medical. Images related to the poems were extended into the gallery space, using materials which reach back to touch prehistoric ritual traditions surrounding death and the afterlife (red ochre, stone mounds, shroud wrappings, etc.), objects from a romantic, idealized nursery, religious trinkets, and medical flotsam and pharmaceuticals. Visual jokes sought to free us to lighten up about death and disability, even as we confront their mysteries.
While creating the poems and installations, I tried to share the deep pleasures of being invited into the world of childhood play, a primal theater where archetypal forces are met. As kids work to find their place in a mysterious world, themes of struggle, mortality, safety, rescue, absurdity, magic, and the limits of our agency are acted out with pleasure again and again. Heath has taught me that art is similar to deep play—a highly charged field of action in which our relationship to forces beyond our control can shift and re-form wonderfully. I loved collaborating with him on some of the pieces and incorporating his responses.
Heath’s brush with death has shaped his observant and exuberant outlook and our family’s happy sense of itself. His developing identity—as a survivor, a comedian, an adaptive athlete, and a member of the disability rights movement—mingles with his ordinary, 21st century American childhood to form a perspective grounded in pride, resilience and fun. In other eras, such a life would not have been possible.