Two poets muse over their collaboration, the need to create, and of being “seduced into an Eden of language”…
by: Janet R. Kirchheimer & Jaclyn Piudik
In the beginning there was a void: the poets saw a need to create. Not the way God did, but the way humans do, the way we imitate God, in the best sense. And though a border kept them apart, though each dwelled in a different country, they knew it was possible. So, they turned to the Hebrew bible, to the beginning.
Everything was tohu bohu. They peered into the depths. And they recognized that chaos is necessary for creation, that darkness is the locus of germination, chaos the source of inspiration. *Letters, incoherent, waited to be divided and multiplied. Words swept over the waters. Each pared down a reed and began. Hewn from a quarry, words were birthed, separated from darkness. With that, the breath of generation entered them; pen took to paper, fingers to keyboards, and poems began to take shape. It was evening and it was morning, the genesis of their collaboration.
As they composed, what was wild opened to form, animated by the biblical text and by exegesis, ancient and contemporary. Verse by verse, couplet by couplet, stanza by stanza, across the distance the authors constructed their poems. Email was their medium, their means of communication. One would draft a line or two and send it to the other, and quickly, unexpectedly, they fell into an easy pattern of writing. A modern midrash started to crystallize, word by wing by whirr.
The poets wrote with helter-skelter imagination, searched for sounds and utterances from one end of heaven to the other. They filled themselves with language as they created six days a week, fashioned garments of words. They were seduced into an Eden of language.
Into the shimmering firmament they reached, into the dark and rich soil of the Garden they dug. Dirt on their palms and under their fingernails – this was their paradise. They labored for six years, each a midwife of lyric.
A collaboration of two voices, egos subsumed, each poet brought her own gifts to create new meaning. Surrendering their own voices to the words, they offered poetry to make biblical language resonate in new ways in a modern world.
The poets added their voices to the text, to the thousands of years of midrash, and Seduction: Out of Eden was born. They knew that to stay in Eden was impossible, that paradise could not remain. Each poem invites the reader to find new paths after Eden, to re-experience and reassemble creation and expulsion, as the poets did. And it was good.
*Italicized phrases are drawn from the poems in Seduction: Out of Eden — buy a copy here!
Read Two Poems by Janet R. Kirchheimer on Across The Margin here!