Our Thang

TOur Thanged Joans
Drawings by Laura Corsiglia
Ekstasis Editions ($15.95)

by John Olson

As Buckminster Fuller once noted, one ball cannot zoom around alone in the Universe. Without otherness, there is no consciousness and no direction. If there were only one entity-say it is a sphere called "me"—there would be no Universe: no otherness: no awareness: no consciousness: no direction. When one otherness complements another we have synergy: dollops of morning light bedazzling us all with hope and coral. Poet Ted Joans and artist Laura Corsiglia have pooled their respective resources to create a synergistic garden of words and illustrations, a magnetic field of surrealist energies mingling lines of visual fascination with lines of exuberant be-bop quincaillerie.

Quincaillerie is French for hardware. I find it not only richly onomatopoetic but redolent of Joans's work in general: quirky and jubilantly oral, keyed to the jingle-jangle jambalaya of speech. It is also the title of one of the poems in this collection. Joans's influences are as multifarious and multicultural as he is; his work is a conflation of jazz and surrealism. Laura Corsiglia, Joans's partner and sometime collaborator, is Canadian. She says she was "raised in northern British Columbia's Nass Valley surrounded by grizzly bears." Her drawings are a curious blend of the surrealist exquisite corpse and the totemic figures of west coast Native American design. Surprise and the quest for the marvelous are hallmarks of the surrealist enterprise, and Corsiglia's drawings are full of that: a woman whose shoulder and hair merge into birds, a totemic bear with human legs and pubis, her feet booted in upside down curtains, a man with the head of an eagle, solid legs delineated with heavily inked lines, one foot human, the other a bear claw, the long beak of a bird in the groin with its beak pointing up like an erection. The bizarre metamorphism resulting from the surrealist exquisite corpse is synergized by the inherent metamorphism of Northwest Indian art, then given an added boost with Joans's quincaillerie.

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Rain Taxi Online Edition, Fall 2002 | © Rain Taxi, Inc. 2002