New Westminster Residency Blog

A collection of thoughts and photos to document the process of working as an artist in residence for the city of New Wesminster's solid waste and recycling program.

Poetry City


I am excited to be working on a sculpture that will be incorporated into New Westminster's Lit. Fest 2018! Check out the project description on their website here:

This is an opportunity to work within both disciplines of sculpture and writing, and see how the crowd of writers attending the Lit. Fest reacts to that too. In preparation for this sculpture, I met with the city's poet laureate Alan Hill to talk. He gave me insight into the perspective of a writer looking at found-words for inspiration. For me, meaning of this piece is derived from the act of finding words and re-using them. It is a metaphor for re-use on a city scale. More meaning is created as a community of people using the same body of words creates unique, individual poems and continually changes the landscape of the sculpture.  Alan Hill looked at my sketches for the project and said he naturally looks to see narrative as a product of this piece. He suggested that I could offer a unifying prompt to the participants to create phrases that answer something like, "how does it feel to wake up?" and therefore give everyone a sort of unifying purpose in putting words together.  I suppose that is a very natural reaction from a writer, who comes up with words to create a scene, a character, and a story that are very detailed and calculated.  For me, this sculpture asks participants intentionally to do sort-of the opposite; to come without a calculated narrative in mind, to be inspired by the words in front of them at the moment, to act in an automatic way instead of a preconceived way.  The inspiration for this comes from Dadaist ideas of automatism. I think humans seek to find a unifying narrative because it calms our minds and that is productive in its own ways, but there is truth in chaos too. Dadaists looked at human nature as chaotic and unpredictable and without a strength in morality (following the events of WW1) and therefore sought to express themselves through art that reflected this nature. Even though the Dada movement was short-lived and based upon historic events a century ago, I believe their way of thought still applies to our fast-paced, globalized world where people are expected to make decisions based more on time and money than morals, health and welfare.

Despite my own perspective thus-far on this piece, I am open and excited to hear how other's feel about their interaction with it and what it means to them. Because I think Alan Hill's perspective is totally valid and cool, we also talked about collaborating together on creating some written pieces that are inspired by the products of the sculpture. For example, taking photos of sentences people write, and then using them as inspiration for writing new poetry and narratives.

Molly Marineau