Tina Garvin Curtis, "The Hierarchy of Expression" August 9, 2016


What is my portfolio but an example of the urgency in which I operate? I am the meticulous surgeon that grafts my English, my own flesh, onto the page. However, in so doing, I realize the necessity for new skin. This new skin comes in acrylic on canvas, watercolor on paper, or pixels in print. Truthfully, the narrow path, the mastery of a single art form terrifies me, perhaps that driving force for me is fear. Fear of being one big misunderstanding. Without this turning into a full blown confessional essay, there seems to be an inherent necessity to articulate, by any means or medium: urge. The process in which I approach the poem begins with the tactile. My poem “Savannah” reconciles the relationship of rhetoric and palpable pain.

Savannah
Embedded in the bulrush and cliff brakes some
better left unsaid things some better
left to die things taste like warm brass
feels cool peach on bee sting some better left
unrung rings purpling round her eyes embedded in
her comb’s finer teeth a better
song nestled in her namesake

With my poetry a piece often begins with the tactile while my visual art begins with a word or title first, the name of a city for example, a mixed media abstract painting featured in The Empty Mirror Literary and Arts Magazine entitled, “Chicago” has the image of a wild onion bursting from the complex underearth. The word “Chicago” is a variation of the word “Chigagou,”an Algonquin word for “onion field”. It is with this urge to create, and a quiverful of boundless internet resources, that I can transcribe a poem into Gaelic or I can skillfully render a photograph and make it into something uncomfortably close to magic. However it seems freedictionary.com cannot define the force which culls the interdisciplinary arts in me. I can access the annals of the poet/painter via WIFI séance to aid in the articulation of, “why?” Yet, why am I not content to express myself in words alone? Why in an America where MFA programs churn out unemployable algorithms for “good poetry” do I get to call myself a poet? Of course, these insecurities are growth hormone for my creative endeavors. For I am always the salmon bowing and capering upstream toward an extinction of one, making my work in this lifetime especially URGENT. I jot down all those words, synonyms for: urge. Even now as I write this and near my word count, I am thinking I should include article references or influences but that would imply that someone had previously said it best. I am a poet, painter, and photographer because words alone cannot convey my mortal urgency, because the Hierarchy of Expression implies that there is an ascension required to arrive at truth. 

“Boxelder Boughs" Photograph

“Boxelder Boughs" Photograph

Sound. The sound of small bells being struck. The resonance being felt on a cellular level. So that as our ears listen every cilia sways to the rhythmic ting of our own hearts. That ever present ting. Can words reverberate in our eardrums? Can words effectively mimic the ting? As a writer, I type the word “bell”. Imagine the metallic ting of the clapper striking the bell itself and reverberating through the hollow. 

“Robert’s Blossom” 16” x 20” print on archival paper

“Robert’s Blossom” 16” x 20” print on archival paper

Tina Garvin Curtis is a creative force that emits poetry, essays, paintings, and photography. In addition to these emissions she is Art Editor of The Tishman Review. Her work has been published in Bird's Thumb, The Offing, The Tishman Review, and others. She tweets @TinaMGarv.

Read Tina's poem Savannah.