Poet & Illustrator Presentation: Ann Bardens-McClellan & Eileen Paul Millard
Ann Bardens-McClellan and Eileen Paul Millard in their Journey to the Centre have created a conversation between artist and poet. Here the poems never merely extend the artwork and the artwork never illustrates the poems. Each is its own experience and when we encounter them in tandem we create a third artwork, one that merges two sensibilities, two visions. We discover realizations that could be there in the works, are perhaps brought into being by the works, or maybe they are being created by the viewer/reader.
In Bardens-McClellan’s poems we hear a voice that makes us feel that we can be safely vulnerable. We hunker down with these poems and trust that they will not leave our side no matter what we are asked to face. This is a voice of a wanderer who, while searching for a deeper “home,” is yet never lost. In fact we wonder if she herself is the very home she is looking for. There is poignancy in the world of these poems, a tonally wide poignancy, one that is discovered not only in a little girl’s drawings but also in a discarded model airplane. In Bardens- McClellan’s poem “Illusion Master,” the narrator says, “Welcome to my house of mirrors.” Yes, we are welcomed and we are richly hosted in this hall and we leave knowing we too can wander and not be lost. —Jack Ridl, author of Broken Symmetry, Losing Season, and Practicing to Walk like a Heron