Award: Research & Development Grant

Discipline: Multidisciplinary Arts

Project Collaborator(s):  

City/Town: Tucson

Year: 2019

Artist Website: https://www.margareelittle.com/

In my work, I want to refute the idea that the sharp insights of craft and the process of healing are mutually exclusive; rather, the manuscript tracks a kind of inquiry into how poems and visual art might be part of this process, how art can help us remember, survive, and be returned to ourselves.

Excerpt from Margaree Little’s R&D Grant application

The Insular Manuscripts were religious manuscripts produced in monasteries in Ireland and Great Britain between the 6th and 9th centuries. These manuscripts record religious texts, but they are also richly visual; influenced by Celtic art, they include colorful calligraphy, complex interlace patterns, and an iconography of animals and other images whose meanings are sometimes overlapping or unknown.

Margaree Little’s book of poems in progress, The Interior Castle, borrows and adapts some elements from these manuscripts, including their underlying devotional impulse and their use of images. The collection uses fragments, lyrics, and experimental forms to trace the experiences of childhood sexual abuse, of remembering, and of living with the effects of abuse over time, while looking toward the possibilities of recovery, intimacy, and love.

According to the artist, “the poems are equally informed by a sense of belonging and community with other survivors of sexual violence, including all those who struggle with Complex PTSD every day, and those who in recent years have spoken out with such courage about what they have endured.”

With the support of the Research and Development grant, Little will write 8-10 new poems for the third and final section of the manuscript, complete 5-6 images for the second and third sections, and work on ordering and revising the book as a whole.

FLIGHT

6 x 9”, ink and watercolor on paper

This image depicts a fox in flight from a constricting, bare environment to a peaceful landscape. The image conveys continuity and change, as the horizon line can be traced through all three windows, and the three moons, half in and half out of the frames,
suggest the arc of a moon in a single night.

MOTH

This poem, from the middle section of the manuscript, uses short lines and enjambment to enact the difficulty of speaking about trauma, and to describe the feeling of being alienated from oneself or “stamped” by abuse.

Margaree Little is a poet, translator, and visual artist whose first collection, REST (Four Way Books, 2018), won the 2018 Balcones Poetry Prize and the Publishing Triangle’s Audre Lorde Award for Lesbian Poetry. Little is the recipient of a Rona Jaffe Foundation Writers’ Award, a Kenyon Review Fellowship, and a Bread Loaf Bakeless Camargo Fellowship, among other awards. Her poems and criticism appear in journals including American Poetry Review, the Kenyon Review Online, New England Review, and The Southern Review; her translations from the Russian of the poet Marina Tsvetaeva appear in Asymptote and InTranslation (The Brooklyn Rail). With Jaquira Díaz, she co-edited Resistance, Change, Survival, a six-month special feature in the Kenyon Review Online on issues of art, resistance, and the current political climate. She lives in Tucson and teaches at Pima Community College.