The Process & Bios
Notes on "Summer / Winter"
by Michelle Elvy and Walter Bjorkman
When we set out to create this piece, we had a vague notion that we'd like to experiment with opposites -- hemispheres, seasons, age and youth, etc. Walt had been documenting his Maryland winter in photographs, so it occurred to us to use one of those and answer it with a picture from Michelle's summer in New Zealand. That was the beginning: the visuals kicked off the ideas, and the rest followed. Michelle took on the task of writing a 'winter' poem, and Walt tackled 'summer'. We first shared our poems in email, then set up a webpage as our working space so we could each view and edit in our own time. Interestingly, both poems turned out to be about memory, a place, a relationship. There was no discussion about the contents of the poems beforehand.
There were, however, discussions of form, sequence, and rhythm once we got started. Walt wrote his sand-sequence first, so Michelle created a diamond-shaped landscape to play off of Walt's and advance her winter tale. Meanwhile, Walt edited his poem down from a collection of memories to concentrate solely on the evolution of a single memory, as Michelle had done. Mostly we worked on trimming syllables and creating visual harmony on the page.
Turns out, sand and snow mirror each better than we expected when we started out.
Michelle Elvy and Walter Bjorkman first collaborated at Fictionaut and VOICES, then plunged into the world of flash at 52|250: A Year of Flash, along with John Wentworth Chapin.
Michelle lives and writes in the watery world of New Zealand. Her work can be found in various online venues, and her poems and stories are forthcoming at Ramshackle Review, Thunderclap!, ROOM Magazine, and Poets and Artists. You can also find her reading at Blue Five Notebook and playing on Momo.
Walter is a writer, poet and beginning photographer from Brooklyn, NY now residing in Maryland. His poems have appeared in various issues of Poets & Artists (O&S), and stories and poems in issuses of OCHO and MiPoesias magazines. His new collection of stories, Elsie's World, has just been released by GOSS:183 CASA MENENDEZ publishing and is available on Amazon here.
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