Versus Verses, 2019
Silkscreen, soft cover Japanese stab binding
Words by Leah Sandals
Images by Shirley Mpagi
Artist Book made as part of Poetry inPrint Residency.
Poetry inPrint was a writer’s residency in a printmaker’s studio in 2019. In collaboration with local author Jacqueline Valencia, organizer of the Toronto Poetry Talks Symposium, this program paired eight local visual artists, including members of the inPrint Collective, with eight local poets. Artists and poets were at various stages in their career, and spent several months working together to create a series of hand-printed, and hand-bound chapbooks.
This project created new bodies of bookworks, taking its cues from recent and on-going conversations of systemic oppression as experienced in the CanLit world and twinned in the visual arts. We took the position with this residency that art is not made in a vacuum, that social and historical contexts shape what stories we tell and hear, what images we make and see, mirroring back not just aesthetics but identities and paradigms that impact lived realities. It is not meaningless when CanLit heavyweights in major university programs proclaim that there are no good modern women writers worth teaching, or when other authors quit due to anti-black racism. This is mirrored in the art world, where not too long ago a spate of women-identified curators and directors were fired for being ‘too political’ and ‘too demanding’. These are but just a few examples, as we see our newsfeeds reflect even more attacks on reproductive access, LGBTQ rights, immigration, Indigenous land treaties, and more. This project is timely, and we are excited to share what this group of artists had to say back.