As part of our new “Fellows Friday” web feature, we focus on the artistic lives of our Pew Fellows: their aspirations, influences, and creative challenges. This week, we speak to 2013 Pew Fellow, poet, and ampersand lover Jenn McCreary, author of the new collection & now my feet are maps, recently published by Dusie Press, and co-founder and editor of Philadelphia’s ixnay press.
What images or things keep you company in the space where you work?
A Black Canary Barbie, from the DC superhero collection. A Blythe doll from 1972, whose enormous eyes change color when you pull the string in the back of her head. A few small zombie figures. Stacks & piles of books & articles, research material for whatever project I’m currently composting—so, currently, a heap of material about fairy tales & folklore concerned with weaving & hair; & another heap of material about the Cold War, nuclear shots the United States conducted in the early 1950s, Masters & Johnson’s early studies, & Freud’s On the Universal Tendency to Debasement in the Sphere of Love.
What is your favorite title of an art work?
Summer Hart’s drawing, That night she fell asleep in a tangle of roots. She dreamt there were more girls nestled in the trees, which I fell in love with (both title & drawing) & now hangs in my house & is the cover image of my new poetry book, & now my feet are maps.
If you could collaborate with anyone alive today (someone you don’t know personally), who would it be?
Jenny Holzer. I love her use of text in public space & her thingification of text. Her benches.
How does residing in this region contribute to your artistic practice?
The poetry community here has absolutely contributed to my practice—Philadelphia has so many amazing poets and it’s a genuinely warm & supportive community: the many reading series, the presses, the publications. Living in Philadelphia since 1991, when I came to study at Temple (a poetry workshop of Toby Olson’s I took at Temple in 1992, with [2013 Pew Fellow] Frank Sherlock, Chris McCreary & Tom Devaney), and meeting so many poets who are still living, working & writing here—I feel incredibly fortunate. It helps cultivate my work & keeps me on my toes. There’s always so much happening.