Terri Witek

im Bridgford was one of the very first to support my work as a collaborator with visual artist Cyriaco Lopes and to honor my way forward as a teacher and practitioner of visual poetics; I’m therefore especially touched that Anna Evans has asked me back as featured artist in the new summer edition of Mezzo Cammin.

The three groups of work represented here are all from longer series of what I call citizen poetics: phone photos dropped into social media feeds without comment: just something washing by in the day’s various streams. To me, it’s important politically that these are all quick, low res images : they are what any soul with a phone might ‘catch' in the same way we monetarily grasp at what flicks past between ads and news from friends in the corporatate-owned scrolls we now move through.

The materiality: empty mirror series is the oldest of these citizen poetics projects: it began when I suddenly flipped a boudoir mirror inherited from my mother to find it glassless. What happens when one faces an empty mirror (variously refilled) toward a “face” book?

The western civ/slideskies project, begun in 2020, thinks about a moment of sky back-lighting the retro-tech of a slide. Which is older, today’s sky or the fading glass of a slide from an antiquities museum? How is our gaze layered into a media stream’s passing glint now accumulated into the question?

The ladle set began as a narrative tangle between a ladle and various doll wigs. But when Ukraine was invaded, the ladles paired with small hairnets part seemed to clarify into something about breath and foggy talking in our contaminant times and became the we were talking about the war project.

Samples from all three sets have, ironically, been picked up in subsequent print and gallery venues: they’ve had and continue to have other lives. When my work was included as pioneering in 2 recent anthologies of visual poetics by women, I realized with all gratitude that Kim seemed to sense what I was unknowingly already becoming on my own small mezzo cammin.

materiality: empty mirror 1

materiality: empty mirror 2

western civ/slideskies 1

western civ/slideskies 2

western civ/slideskies 3

western civ/slideskies 4

we were talking about the war 1

we were talking about the war 2


Terri Witek is the author of 7 previous books of poems: a new volume, Something’s Missing in This Museum, is forthcoming in 2023. Exit Island was a Florida Book Award medalist; The Rape Kit was the Slope Editions Prize 2018 winner, judged by Dawn Lundy Martin. Martin calls The Rape Kit “ a grand success, the best we’ll get. Fresh, relevant, and heartbreaking” and “a fire in the throat of a culture that has no appropriate language for rape and its aftermath.” Witek’s visual poetics work is featured in JUDITH: Women Making Visual Poetry (2021), and in the WAAVe Global Gallery of Women’s Asemic Writing and Visual Poetry (2021) as well as in arts venues. The poet’s collaborations with Brazilian visual artist Cyriaco Lopes (cyriacolopes.com) have, since 2005, been shown nationally and internationally: in New York, Seoul, Miami, Lisbon, Valencia (Spain) and Rio de Janeiro. The duo are represented by The Liminal gallery in Valencia: their most recent solo gallery show is the imaginary pediment. Since 2011, collaborations with new media artist Matt Roberts (mattroberts.com) often use augmented reality technology and have been featured in Matanza (Colombia), Lisbon, Glasgow, Vancouver, and Miami. Recent collaborative work with poet Amaranth Borsuk loops the pandemic and the eco-crisis as a crisis of rain and smoke between worlds; that with weaver Paula Damm combines text/textile. Individual and collaborative work has been featured in a wide variety of text venues, including Fence, Hampden-Sydney Poetry Review, American Poetry Review, Poetry, Slate, Hudson Review, Lana Turner, The New Republic, and many other journals and anthologies. With Cyriaco Lopes, Witek team-teaches Poetry in the Expanded Field in Stetson University’s low-residency MFA of the Americas; they also run The Fernando Pessoa Game as faculty in the summer Disquiet International Literary Program in Lisbon. Witek directs Stetson’s undergraduate creative writing program, and holds the university’s Sullivan Chair in Creative Writing. She is the recipient of both the McInery Award and the John Hague Award for teaching. terriwitek.com

32 Poems
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