VVP: Art 434 & Engl. 410

Website for Vision Voice and Practice: An Interdisciplinary Course in Art and Creative Writing

Sunday, May 5, 2013

Text Under the Influence of Andy Goldsworthy

The following pieces were made and/or performed by the writers in the class, as part of a cross-genre conversation with artist Andy Goldsworthy.


- Message and photograph by Spencer Cullum


The Redefinition

The water-nest peels from the shore's safety,
the rising tide dislodges stones,
my hand drops to the ground.

This is not destruction.
Destruction is

the culmination of protective reflexes,
eyes that see only death on the dark end of the stick,
hands that form fists instead of stars.

Spring doesn't begin on the surface
but at the tips of my
fingers as I shake
hands with the rocks
and redraw the line of their collapse.

And what is destruction,
if not the denial of beauty
in potential collapse?

- Poem by Becca Johnson


- Poem made out of text cut from food boxes, by Charlotte Foland


This thread of life draws us in.

We have no choice but to got.

Time does not stop for anyone.

Listen to the birds while they sing,
For their song will not last forever.

Upside down,
We swirl into the story of the world.

Our place is not permanent,
We're here for a vapor, then gone again.

The wind of the world will not stop going.

Make your mark before the paint fades,
And the set clay turns to stone.

- Poem by Matt Glass


- Poem on leaves by Hannah Perry


- Poem by Jonathan Diaz


- Nick Maurer, reading a poem he lit on fire before it burns up


No sugar added
Champagne glasses
Sit upright on white table clothes
in the morning sun, like soldiers
at the brink of dawn. Awaiting the
arrival of the bride and groom.
Two hands interlocked
Your hands in my hands
Why did you let go?
Your arm around me
My arm around you
Why did you let go?
Smilling at the sight of me,
Me smiling back at you
I would have understood
Two hands interlocked

- Poem by Julius Thompson


- Poem written then "worded" onto individual tiles for reader interaction, by Sarah O'Donnell


In the beginning,
those that cannot be explained,
infants and children
scarcely entertained,
will have to wait,
but with the field moving as fast as it is today
the wait
will not be long,
and it will be worthwhile,
because we will finally obtain
what Freud could only dream

We must admit
that staying up all night,
observing other people sleeping,
is not everyone’s idea of

But in reality,
it’s even easier than that.

It can be done in the summertime,
when the hillock of the Cornea
can be seen in the early dawn light
to glide
to and fro
under the closed
or perhaps half-opened

You can observe your big sister’s baby
or anyone’s pet cat or
and have the same thrill of discovery.

The Eye-Lids themselves
dance and twitch sporadically
and when they do
one has only to give a light tap on the shoulder
and ask,
“What is going on in the Mind?”

We tend to forget
how simple the early devices were.
How many other breakthrough discoveries
now elude us
because we are conceptually boxed-in
by gratuitous assumptions
that there is nothing to observe
via intuition or

- Sound collage and poem by Justin Potesta


Something Else Natural

“He would get lost,” I remarked.

We were staying in the biggest campground I’ve ever stayed in — 200+ sites. Disgusting, really. You go out into nature to be alone and mind your own business, but they gather everyone together at night like a bunch of chicks. Luckily, we’d gotten a group site distanced from the rest by a small, winding trail . . . Apparently not “luckily” since Jacob had gotten lost.

Why they couldn’t give everyone some space out here was beyond me.

Jacob, my older brother, left to brush his teeth over a half hour ago and had yet to reappear. It was getting close to midnight. All four of us had been drinking throughout the evening. Not a ton but enough. Jacob’s a lightweight, so at this point it wasn’t hard to imagine him getting mixed up in the dark.

We let another 15 minutes pass before Ryan, Matthias, and I talked about looking for him. They volunteered to be the search party while I stayed watch. I would have gone—obviously, I was his brother—but I had drank a little more than either of them. Inwardly, I blamed myself for not going with him in the first place.

They had been gone for a half hour, when I began debating whether I should get in the car and look for all of them. I sat on the bench of the picnic table facing the fire and the trail beyond it—my head slumped in my chin.

This is typical Jacob. What a bum. I tried to be pissed at him, but mostly I was just impatient to go to sleep.

The minutes passed. I don’t know why I’m worried right now. I thought. He’s a big guy, he’s fine . . . The sounds of the owls, of dogs in the distance . . .

More minutes passed.

My eyes started to cross.

~ ~ ~

When Jacob emerged from the bathroom, he confronted a wall of eye-sucking darkness. He put out his hand, and his fingers sunk into the gloom. To this day he’d probably swear that there was no way he could have moved outside.

So, he closed the door and fell asleep sitting behind it.

~ ~ ~

“Hey man.”

Matthias jabbed my ribs with the toe of his shoe. It felt like waking from the dead. The light in the fire pit had gone out

“He’s back,” he muttered. In the bright light of the moon, he looked ready to fall over from exhaustion.

“Jacob’s back?” I managed to say. I could barely think or open my eyes. I just wanted to get to my sleeping bag. I saw the winking of flashlights inside the tent.

“Yeah. Let’s just go to sleep.”

~ ~ ~

Mid-morning, I emerged from the tent flaps to see Matthias and Ryan around the fire holding coffee mugs.

“Where’s Jacob?” I asked as I approached.

“He’s getting stuff from the car,” answered Ryan.

“We found him on the other side of camp last night,” said Matthias. “He was asleep on the camp host’s porch. We probably went past that spot a couple times before we saw him.”


“The weird thing is he swears that he was in the bathroom the entire time,” Ryan added.

“Yeah,” said Matthias. “He thinks we found him asleep in the bathroom. I don’t get it at all. I have no idea what happened with him.”

“That’s crazy,” I shook my head and looked at them. Matthias shrugged.

“Whatever!” Ryan said and drank his coffee.

I heard the car trunk slam, and Jacob came walking back toward the fire, pulling a sweatshirt over his head.

“You good?” I asked.

“I’m fine. Tired,” was all he said. His eyes told me, “Forget it.”

“Hey, it’s okay now,” I said.

I knew he wasn’t over it. He looked stern until we left the campsite for the day. For Jacob to do something like that wasn’t that weird, but in front of our friends, yeah.

~ ~ ~

We reached the last day of our camping trip. I knew it was the last opportunity I would have to ask him about what had happened our first night. By the time we got home it would become one of those things we would forget to talk about.

We’d just finished a hike to Sentinel Dome. The four of us felt very pleased with ourselves. Halfway downhill, I noticed that Ryan and Matthias were far enough ahead of us that now was probably my best chance.

“Hey, I’ve been wanting to ask you about what happened the first night,” I began.

“Don’t worry about it,” he laughed.

“No, really, what happened? You were in the bathroom when they found you?”

“I was fine,” he brushed it off. “I was just going to stay there until morning. They say I was at some campsite, and that’s crazy. But I don’t know. Whatever. It’s done.”

“No, I know, they already told me” I said. “I just really want to know what you thought happened.”

And so, he told me. “It does stuff to your mind—looking at something that dark. It literally feels like it’s sucking your eyes out of your head. I don’t know how to explain it,” he paused. “It’s like when someone or something is literally blocking your way.”

“You didn’t try to go outside at all?”

“Why would I?” he answered. “Even if I could have, what would have been the point? I couldn’t see anything.”


“Yeah, weird is right.”

We walked for a few minutes in silence. I began to think.

~ ~ ~

I remember when we were little, probably from when I was 3 until I was 6 or 7 or something. Countless times I woke in the middle of the night to Mom putting Jacob in his bunk bed above me. This happened probably once or twice a week. Sometimes he never went back to bed at all because no one ever got up to use the bathroom that night, so no one noticed he was out.

Once in awhile, I would wake up. I would sense Jacob’s absence above me and not be able to fall back to sleep. I’d lay there, gradually waking up to where I could get up and look for him. Sometimes, he’d made it into the hallway. Usually, he’d only gone as far as our doorway.

He’d be laying face down with the warm light from the hall lamp glinting off his bed head—his feet still in our room. I’d either shake him, grab his hand, and lead him back to the bunk bed ladder, or sometimes, when I didn’t want to go through the ordeal, I’d get a blanket from one of our beds and lay it over him.

- Story by Alyson Luthi

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