When I was reading chapbook manuscripts for Toadlily Press awhile back, I came upon the word, bricolage. Immediately I turned to my dictionary. Later I would check in with Google, but the definition first came from the well-thumbed and very substantial Webster’s Third New International edition, a gift from my parents on my twenty-fifth birthday.
Webster revealed that bricolage is the construction—of art or a structure of ideas—using whatever comes to hand. “Whatever comes to hand” –how lovely! the verbal equivalent of an image or memory coming to mind. One who practices bricolage is a bricoleur.
Certainly this is how a poet or an artist works, especially one who specializes in the use of a chance overheard fragment of language or assorted found objects. Later that phrase will assert itself as a poem. At some point that scrap of crumpled paper, piece of driftwood, or wheelbarrow frame becomes collage or assemblage. I have incorporated my own X-rays into my work and have been inspired by the patina of sardine cans. Once friends know about my need for something, I become the happy recipient of their X-rays and sardine (and recently anchovy ) cans.
I collect stuff, consciously and not. When I find myself telling a story or anecdote for the third time, I know it must be the instigator of a forthcoming poem. Often I come across an object whose shape or color appeals to me for some reason I can’t yet define. I hold on to it until I do understand, which can take as long as a year or so, perhaps no time at all.
My darling, supportive husband always asks about the larger objects. “How long are we keeping this?” By now my answer is as predictable as his question. “Until it tells me what it wants to be.”
Is it necessary to report that my workspace is a tangle (One hesitates to say the more orderly sounding collection.) of such ephemera? Need I confess that many attempts to tidy up are confounded if I come across some item that beguiles me anew or that recognizably belongs to a piece I’ve already been working on? To paraphrase an old axiom, one person’s junk is this woman’s artifact.
My penchant not to equate broken with useless has been a delightful way to survey the world’s derring-do, to receive life’s quotidian. I don’tscavenge (though there’s no shame to that term) so much as salvage, an artful repurposing, which is no more and no less than its own shade of green. Via Bricolage: the blog I want to pass on other, possibly quirky news and distinctions, not to mention vocabulary. Ripieno anyone? Quire?Palimpsest?
I welcome your response to these blog postings, but please—no more sardine cans, not just yet.