Your Questions Answered
Where did the name of the book come from?
Our initial 2019 collaboration in Jacksonville was for an exhibit called Birds. Yet, Emma's art had long since featured birds as had my poetry. To us, birds are women. They nest, nurture, migrate, fledge, and fly. They do all of these things regardless of the forecast—often in the midst of terrifying storms. It made sense to carry this idea of 'flight despite the odds' forward. She's been through so much, But Still She Flies. Isn't that all of us?
How did you approach your collaboration?
When Emma and I were paired for the Birds exhibition in 2019, we met over lunch to brainstorm. Emma shared photos of her paintings-in-progress, all of which centered on her recent cancer journey. While my personal healing experiences were tied to my sobriety, we immediately noted synchronicities in how we approached our crafts as well as the themes we tended to embody. Immediately, those initial poems (two of which are featured in the book) began to take shape in my head.
For a first meeting, the vulnerability level was high, and we both shared truths typically reserved for close friends and family. But we believe that our open-heartedness that day set the tone for our book. But Still She Flies became, in many ways, an unconventional memoir. Emma painted her truths and I wrote mine. During our two year collaboration (much of which took place over the phone and internet thanks to the pandemic) we passed along our works-in-progress.
It was the type of art we'd always made—poems and paintings centered on strong yet vulnerable women with nature as a healing backdrop. While many of the pairings in the book were derivitive (Renewal and Woman to Bird among them), others simply found eachother as the project evolved. There was much excitement whenever we realized we'd created another "perfect match."
While countless hurdles surfaced during the creation of this book, our faith in one another's talent never wavered. We felt this collaboration was meant to be, and like so many women before us, we persisted.
What comes next?
Good question! They aren't kidding when they say publishing a book is like childbirth. Following our 2021 launch and the events that followed, we both needed a few months to catch our breath.
With the new year in full swing, we continue to channel our energies into marketing, book contests, and broadening the reach of our collection. Emma is busy creating new work for her upcoming art shows and I'm steadily writing and reworking my latest pile of poems with the help of my talented critique group.
As for future collaborations—we just don't know yet. There have been daydreams of a beautiful children's book, an art/poetry collection featuring the stories of inspirational local women, and perhaps a sequel to our "firstborn."
What we do know is this—we both need to be making things, meeting other creators, and pushing fearlessly through the walls of our respective comfort zones. We're listening to your stories too. They keep my ink flowing and Emma's brush dancing. Thank you for your endless inspiration.