Creating connections through the arts and across cultures

Melding Poetry & Visual Art: Gaye Gambell-Peterson

I met Gaye Gambell-Peterson through a women's poetry group known as "Loosely Identified." She merges visual art with her poetry. Natually, I'm attracted to the creative connection between art forms. After I attended her passionately vivid exhibit at the University City Library, I asked her to talk to us about how she does that. Here is what Gaye says about the process of melding visual art and written word. --JGR

My process? Maybe it’s like a spider building its web. A mostly invisible yet super-strong thread, cast out into a void. A catch-hold to something and from there an intricate design spirals, wanders. It’s all magic. Edges. Empty spaces.

Or maybe it’s like my cat crawling under the comforter I keep draped on my sofa. First, a nosing-about followed by a hesitant entry. A sneeze. Then, complete commitment with its obligatory turning-around before the final settling.

For sure, my process of melding word and art is all pure play. Words line up. Images layer up. Either can be my invitation. Once I start, it’s one hand doing the one thing, the other hand the other. Back and forth, my imagination the link–the zigzagged thread, the warm spot.

Once a pair, or series, is done I am compelled to move them to a new life, beyond my personal satisfaction. So I read poems in public every chance I get (coming: 5/17/10 with Loosely Identified for River Styx Series at Duff’s). I exhibit the collage series. I do books and hawk them.

But always, I go back and forth between my poetry chair and my studio worktable. Make more.

Read a compelling conversation between Catherine Rakovic and Gaye on Catherine's blog The Confident Writer. (October 29, 2009)

Poet and artist Gaye Gambell-Peterson earned her art degree back in the sixties. Gaye received awards in painting, sculpture, and weaving. Her passion for poetry evolved in the nineties leading to more awards. In the 1990s she first put words on paintings, an acrylic series, “Portraits of Rocking Chairs”. Now it‘s a new century and Gaye makes collage and poetry paired.

See her two chapbooks: pale leaf floating (Cherry Pie Press) and MYnd mAp (Agog Press). The second one has a full color illustration for each poem.

You can learn more about Gaye and her work at her website.

Read more about Pale Leaf Floating her first art + poetry book.

Her second book MYnd mAp.


check "older posts" on (Oct. 29, '09)

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6 Responses »

  1. Dear Riehl Life,

    As a colleague and friend of Gaye Gambell-Peterson, I have had many occasions to read her poetry and to view her art. Always, whether the poem is wonderfully compressed, or sprinkled with delicate images and play on words, or uniquely formatted--her creativity and energy are a delight to read and experience. One of my favorites--collage as well as and poem, is "rivYr," especialy the lines in the last stanza: wait / till the salt tast / of tear-tide barges / in Let me sink in /to the sweet ebb / of your swift / meander / let me let /go.

  2. These poems, the way they play, reflecting how gaye perceives what is out there in the world, as filtered through geographic whorls, the earth of her mind, in the world, watching, observing from edged membranes, shapes of shore and sea, rivers, boulders and buildings, stone, marble, papered walls, infinitely re-visioned doorways, waved meetings of outside, inside, exact in their inexactness, their flaws undone, mended by folds engendered, followed, curving repetitions, sometimes muted, sometimes the roar of waves on rocks, torrential currents, soft drops, rhythmical colors... It takes bravery and a love of joy to create in what is essentially volumes of empty space, bare canvas, blank paper. Gaye does that repeatedly. She collages her art and poetry; distinct words, colors, shapes meet, gestallt a reality. You can see the work itself is loved. She repeats newness, and gives me courage. Here is my current favorite line:* "My optimism/ red /
    its flying/ up-ness / small/ Repeated / until seen"

    The quote is taken from the poem TerrORtory in her book MYnd mAp. The word "red" is in red ink.

  3. p.s. The line quoted above (March 1st, 2010 at 3:46 p.m.) does not show the spacing that gaye used in her book. I spaced it as she did, but it did not survive the transmission to this blog site. I guess you can only see how gaye uses space in the book itself.

  4. Well, since Gaye is my sister I suspect you would think I blindly admire her artistic endeavours. Get real ! Do you remember growing up with a brother or sister ? But I am, in fact, a fan. The latest happening of my sister's poetic influence was this past week. I'm part of a large group in the East [of the U.S.of A.] of people who protect endangered sea turtles. They saw two poems Gaye had given me and with weepy eyes asked to include them in our three state turtle booklet for newcomers. Eventhough she IS my sister, her work moves me and my turtle-loving friends.

  5. Well, I've been a fan of Gaye's for some time... Her vibrant poetic images are influenced by her strong connection with visual art, and her thematic treatments are informed by a life that has witnessed and experienced much. And, moreover, I find her poetry fresh and fun, and often with a sweet surprise contained therein. Do yourself a favor and pick up a couple of copies of her books, one to read, one to give. Get 'em quick, and she might even sign them for you!

  6. Reading this, what strikes me is movement and energy. gaye moves between her worktable and writing desk, she moves her art from her studio into the world, she moves her poems from the page into the air, to say nothing of the movement of an idea that becomes art. What an inspiration, that constant movement! And it comes out in all her work; even the still moments, captured, are part of the larger motion of the world. It is enough to remind me that life is precious and shouldn't be wasted, to get up off my duff and start moving myself.

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