What could happen if you put yourself aside as a poet and became willing to funnel your creative talents into a wholly other art form that bends two practices into one?
Poets: A Colouring Book by Melanie Janisse-Barlow attempts to answer this question. As a poet, painter, and proper 'Jacqueline of All Trades,' Janisse offers readers and art-enthusiasts a core sample of the larger archive of living poets that began with her Poets Series of paintings in 2015. In turn, those poets have been asked to contribute a 'self-portrait' text to accompany their likeness.
Originally developed as a send-up of the individuals that comprise the North American poetry community of our time, Poets: A Colouring Book honours and celebrates the writing community, at the same time as it opens up a dialogue into what contemporary poetry is and does for the larger arts community. And it is a cheeky send up to the current trend in adult colouring books.
Fans of contemporary poetry and especially, writers from across the pantheon of Canadian large and small presses, will marvel at this veritable round robin of writing talent, where portraits from Janisse-Barlow's Poets Series face off against themselves and give the reader an opportunity to brush up against image and ego alike. An added bonus: readers can use each self-portrait text as "inspiration" to colour the poets.
About the author
Melanie Janisse-Barlow is a poet and artist. Her first collection of poetry, Orioles in the Oranges (Guernica, 2009), was listed for the Relit Award, and her essay poems, entitled Detroit, were listed in Best American Essays in 2013. Between a busy private commission schedule and the execution of larger projects such as the Ship of Fools Project (a painting installation on a sailboat), Guided (an installation in an abandoned apartment) and the Poets Series, Janisse works full time as a painter and installation artist in her hometown of Windsor, Ontario, and is completing her second poetry manuscript, Thicket. 26 Canadian Poets, which stems from her Poets Series project, is forthcoming from BookThug in the fall of 2016.