Quarter After Eight is an annual literary journal devoted to the exploration of experimental writing in all its permutations. We celebrate work that directly challenges the conventions of language, style, voice, or idea in literary form. This blog is a place to engage in conversations about the work we publish, as well as the work that inspires us.

Thursday, March 3, 2011

Silkscreen+Poetry: Ben Chlapek+Rich Smith

The premise: Ben draws/prints images based on my poems. We were hoping Ben's childish aesthetic and we'll say "youthful" script would play well with my jumpy, excited voice.

What happened: Lots of late night promises. Lots of me decrying the state of poetry. Lots of saying things like "we have to make artifacts!” Lots of burritos in the late afternoon the day after. But mostly lots of living in Ben's head, lots of Ben living in my head, lots of not worrying about our “work,” lots of being happy about doing something for the fun of it, lots of relief from the solitude and pressure that often accompany the composition process of both arts.

Question: Do the different fonts undercut the poem? Would the poem be incredibly uninteresting without the fonts? Do both mediums work in tandem to create an interesting artifact? Does one art add prestige to the other? My friend "Jassie Bowles" says, "child's play."

Ben spends hours (yes, hours) on InDesign meticulously choosing which scribbly "y" to use out of a mess of scribbly ys. He would write a poem down on the sheet of paper, and then he would repeat letters he deemed unsatisfactory. A page might look like this:


This is my poem about you.
I like you.

P p P T T T m m m mm

Playing with motifs! We thought that the images could resonate not just with each poem, but with themselves. Risk: playing "find the button" on every page, could set off Where's Waldo impulse in reader, might not "work."


  1. I'm glad you asked about the undercutting issue -- a lot of times in artist-poet projects it seems like one member of the duo is superior and the other is getting in the way of the real art experience. Here, though, the carefully casual, comic-bookish style of the visuals reverberates in a very cool way with the poetic language. I'm very excited about how you guys are opening up the genre of lyrical comic book.

    Question: What is Ben looking for in a letter? I mean, it's weird and intriguing that only the p's and m's would plague him, out of all the letters on the page.

  2. I wish I could see this in larger form. Hard to judge what I think from the little jpgs, honestly.