Collaborating in the Netherlands: Day 3

Today began with a writer photo shoot this morning – Erna took pictures of me

photo shoot

Photo Shoot Set

in her neighbor’s studio. We set the scene up like a writer’s desk, and Erna chose to take most of the pictures with a black backdrop and low lighting, which made for an effect that I found extremely moving and that I’ve not seen before – just one of the many ways Erna is immensely creative.

We also worked in her studio this evening, and I got to see a bit of the early stages of Erna’s process creating her linocuts. At the same time, I worked to revise a couple of poems for the collaboration that needed a tweak or two.

End of Love museum

Erna sketches an image based on a new poem

I showed Erna a new poem called “Law of Love,” and she liked the idea so much that she spontaneously sketched the scene that came to her mind based on the scope of the poem. It was amazing to watch her mind work that fast and to see her imagination come to life.

After a hearty dinner with wine, we have been left alone in the kitchen for a final moment of collaboration as Erna’s husband and son have gone to bed. Tonight, she is revising one of her images, and I am working on the title poem for the collection, which I am composing based on the collaborative board of images and words that we completed on the first night.

Tonight, as we listen to the Amelie soundtrack (which has so many lovely memories for me) and work

erna and me 2

Erna and I work on her kitchen table tonight

at our respective and yet shared arts, I can’t help but reflect on the journey that got me to this moment. On Sunday, Erna told me that she’s never had a booth at the Christmas Market where I met her in 2016 except for that one day in which I just happened to be in Amsterdam with my friend Lauren. Lauren and I only just happened on that market after leaving the Van Gogh museum. Erna only set up at that same market one time because her other market had become overcrowded. We met by chance or did we? So much in my life had to line up just right; one turn of the dial and none of this (including my move to Cardiff) would have happened. All those failures, those heartbreaks, those despairing moments I thought would never pass lead me to this incredible new life ❤ So, I think there’s always purpose in pain, always. Feel it deeply, journey through it, and then keep on going…

“You strode deeper and deeper / into the world, / determined to do / the only thing you could do – / determined to save / the only life you could save.” – Mary Oliver

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