Lily Iona MacKenzie's Blog for Writers & Readers


Where Inner and Outer Worlds Meet

I didn’t fall asleep till 1 AM this morning. I got involved in a fascinating article about Joseph Cornell, the American artist and sculptor who made such mysterious and gorgeous assemblages in various found and constructed boxes. It makes me want to haunt junk shops for interesting memorabilia that I can make things with, to start a collection I can draw from.

Before going to sleep, I had an image of turning an old radio into a Joseph Cornell box. I even thought of taking over our room in the garage for artwork so I could spread out more, cataloguing items I find.

That way of working is still very appealing to me. Poet Charles Simic, who wrote the article I read, described Cornell’s boxes as stages where inner and outer worlds met. I would like such a place to give concrete expression to my dialogue with the unconscious. Of course, I already do some of that in my watercolors and collages. And my writing does it to a certain degree. But I believe the visual arts draw on another facet. It’s just so difficult finding enough time to do everything!

I also felt inspired by what Cornell did with 16 mm film, cutting up old ones and taking from them what he wanted in order to make a new statement. It’s what I’ve been doing with appropriating certain things from books in some of my poems. I’d like to do more—and be more conscious of the act. It also seems time to get back to poetry, to let go of the prose for a while. Let poetry feed me.


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