Tuesday, October 9, 2012
Carolyn Srygley-Moore: Trauma and the Unified Vision
Fans of Carolyn Srygley-Moore already questioning her mere mortality no doubt had more reasons to believe in her superhero status in September, as she began posting impressive pencil works even as she expanded her posting of shorter fragmentary poetic works. If we assemble the text and visual jigsaw puzzle pieces scattered over Facebook pages, a fairly coherent picture emerges. Nevertheless, I chased Carolyn down to find out if she sees the same complex Mandelbrot patterns in her memories that seem to be left in her wake, bread crumbs for the lost children.
Many people who suffer significant trauma in childhood years, or in post-college crashes, preserve blank pages in the internal mental narrative, if only as a form of self-preservation. Srygley-Moore will have none of that. Extended hospital trips might leave hazy vapor trails at times, but the life story linearity is there, just under the surface. Experiencing the violence of a father who lived through World War 2 atrocities did not cancel out the memories of older brothers and treehouses during childhood, nor the images of a kind mother who remained an ally to the present day. CSM said she even has clear memories of first finding her visual-arts voice at age 7, though after five years of drawing and painting in her younger childhood, she gave it up at adolescence. She returned through later teen years, but abandoned art at 18 when she discovered her intense love for language, and did not return to the voice of the charcoal and colored pencil drawing until the 21st century.
“I started visual art again because I looked through a magazine my poetry was published in, and realized the visual art published there was something I was capable of doing,” she said. “I went from there, and verbally contracted with A Razor, the editor/publisher of my upcoming book on the Miracle series of poems, to do the cover of the book. It was baby steps from there. I bought a sketchbook, charcoal, and colored pencil, and went at it. It feeds into my writing, very much so. It is a more relaxed form of art, for me, and I just have an absolute blast going after the mix of dream and realism that comes to me.”
Srygley-Moore’s poems carry the most bite when she addresses the betrayal of family and others, because she considers the transgression of trust a critical issue. She often asks herself, would the perpetrator of violence, the betrayer of trust, act the same if forced to confront the long-term effects on victims and others of the violent act? At the same time, there are no blank pages allowed in the processing of memory. Does that bring an element of catharsis to her poetry? She said that her work is achieved under a conscious discipline that leaves pure catharsis “a little strained.”
Recent fragment-poems have arisen in order to accommodate the need to write while at work, since a longer form would be too difficult to bring to fruition, while her own handwriting, Srygley-Moore said, is illegible. Because the fragments are delivered directly online, they have attracted the attention of outsiders, including online publishers Bone Orchard, and Srygley-Moore’s friend Lee Tromboudin, who would like to set some of the fragments to music.
Seeing the audience grow for art and fragmentary poems, as well as her more traditional work, has left Srygley-Moore feeling more confident that she is expanding the definition of translator. More and more fans seem to expect a daily poem or two with their morning coffee, which helps drive a sense of obligation to a fervent, if modest, fan base.
Broadening her genres and base of expression has made Srygley-Moore a happier person, she freely admitted. The addition of visual art in recent months "opens apertures, wormholes, distances that otherwise are inaccessible," she said. "I believe that to show how far I have come, in various avenues as a woman with bipolar disorder, who has managed to overcome PTSD, is something good for those still stuck in the trenches.”