Jeannie Bergmann, a poet, science-fiction writer, artist, and web designer, maintains madpoetry.org, a public-service poetry site for Madison, WI. Journals in which her poems appear include Analog, Asimov’s Science Fiction, North American Review, Riddled with Arrows, Right Hand Pointing, Silver Blade, and Spectral Realms.
She has won the 2017 Gold Line Press poetry chapbook contest, the 2015 Science Fiction & Fantasy Poetry Association’s Rhysling Award for the Long Poem, the WFOP 65th Anniversary Poetry Contest, the 2013 SFPA Elgin Chapbook Award, the 2012 Rannu Fund for Speculative Literature Award for Poetry, Heartland Review’s 2011 Joy Bale Boone Poetry Prize, both the Theme and Poet’s Choice divisions of the 2010 WFOP Triad competition, received an International Publication Prize in the 2010 Atlanta Review contest, won the 2009 Tapestry of Bronze contest, and won the 2008 SFPA Rhysling Award for the Short Poem. She is the poetry editor of Mobius: The Journal of Social Change, the managing editor of MadHat Press, and the former editor of Star*Line, the journal of the Science Fiction & Fantasy Poetry Association. She has judged poetry contests and is available for readings and workshops.
When I started reading this lovely and strange book, my first thought was, These images are complete in themselves and thrive on their mystery. Adding poems is an imposition.
However, I soon relaxed into the fluidity of these painting-poem pairings, and by the time I reached the fifth poem, titled "Emergence," I delightedly read: "In the pink, you still smile / almost graciously at each other, stroke / the bleeding edges of tetraploid flounces, / hold each hellhound's attention with a soft / word. Dangling its lithe whips, a willow / crouches over you, quiet as a recluse / spider."
What I realized is that Bergmann's unrhymed prose sonnets offer a kind of meandering musical harmony to the limned notes of Hoppmann's vividly melodic visuals. From that point on, I was hooked, and I let each pairing resonate rather than seeking some definite discursive or narrative course. Neither artist works in that linear a manner.
This book is less a straightforward collaboration than a curious two-voice chorus—a unity in either case. Well worth tracking down and exploring!
This short book contains twelve paintings by Kelli Hoppmann, accompanied by ekphrastic prose poems by F. J. Bergmann. The paintings are beautiful, fantastical, haunting, evocative, matched perfectly by Bergmann's equally skilled and beautiful words. Behind the beautiful surfaces, there are threatening notes--icy expanses, storm clouds, a horned demonic man, a fire on the horizon. Each prose poem offers a precisely-phrased intepretation of one of the paintings, a partial revelation of an untold story, a union of poetry and art that is more than the sum of its parts. Recommended.