Today’s post is from the archives: a Poetry Portrait of Ray, taken at the Staten Island Museum during the Betty Bressi “Typewriter Lovefest” exhibit.

A new idea I’ve been toying around with is the concept of a Poetry Portrait. It’s simple, really: take a photograph of people I type Free Poetry for. I don’t know why it took so long to manifest in this project, but I’m grateful looking back at the times photographs were taken. For all my love of transience, there’s something to be said about memories being captured–whether on camera, or audio, or even through a silly poem.

For the most recent Poetry Portraits, you can read the story behind each by visiting these posts: “Poem for Evelyn” and “Poem for Rebekah.”

As mentioned before, outside of the new photo captures is another shift in the Free Poetry creative process: I now use carbon paper to create copies of each poem–finally!

Here are a few Poetry Portraits of Ray, taken by Kathryn Carse for the Staten Island Advance during the Betty Bressi “Typewriter Lovefest” at the Staten Island Museum. The event, held in 2015, was one of my favorites. You can read about it at the original post: Goodnight, Royal.

While I don’t remember much of our conversation, I do remember that Ray had incredibly positive energy. A creative himself, we talked about art and painting and music and writing, and all the strings that flow between those mediums, the incredible potential for boundless conversation. Reflecting on my memories of that day, it’s incredible to think of how it all passed by so fast. Rereading this poem and thinking back to sitting with Ray reminds me of the lessons I am currently learning and re-learning while care-taking for my dad: we give it all back, eventually. Why not celebrate for having it in the first place?

My favorite part about this day was feeling encouraged by Betty Bressi’s typewriter art to experiment with red ink, placement, and letters as abstraction. It’s something I do unconsciously in my paintings and drawings, but rarely in poems due to my perceived restrictions between visual poetry and literature. Always the ringing: Free Poetry! From what? From whatever a poem is “supposed” to be.

Poetry Portrait: "Poem for Ray" - Typewriter Poetry Staten Island Museum Betty Bressi Billimarie Art
Poetry Portrait: "Poem for Ray" - Typewriter Poetry Staten Island Museum Betty Bressi Billimarie Exhibit
Poetry Portrait: "Poem for Ray" - Typewriter Poetry Staten Island Museum Betty Bressi Billimarie

Poem for Ray

in and over
we flow numerous
canvas letters and marks
a ride or a lesson

–billimarie
february 14th 2015


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