art start 101
why i made my 1st collage, 1965
19 may 2005

You know, you've told me a great deal about how you got into poetry
but nothing about how you got into art
(the other white meat)...?

kevin eberhardt - the mad poet - June 18, 2005

how i got into art?

bad attitude. resenting authority. disliking rules & the man.
wily mind. love of words. disdain for organized religion.
sheer stubbornness. again birthed thru the u.s. navy.

there - that answer your question?

being plebe at u.s.naval academy 1965, and being young poet obsessed
with the sound as well as meaning and mis-meaning of words
and old organized religions,
i began cutting out phrases from magazines and newspapers,
taping them together into sardonic anti-religious god word collage.
deep streaks of dark dark humor.
upperclassman came in said not nice, don't do, against regs.

regs said don't do. so i don't. but regs also say i may have a -
heck - what do you call them ... desk top protector - desk blotter -
regs say i can put fotos and personal mementos under its clear
plastic cover. so i do - my memento being derisive anti-god word collage.
the upperclassman sort of thot that was cool
(i can say anything i want cuz he died in helicopter crash in viet nam),
but each year my military grade point diminished.

once out 1968, i made big word collage. added couple cutout images.
hung it on wall. liked it. still do. (mom owns it - Voodoo Lounge).

poet in me made me cut out words and recombine them slyly...
but on the next collage, i added a cut out image of an old skeleton key
- then found a real key same size & shape and glued it on top.
it really tickled the poet me this real key over symbol key.
heck with magritte - this both IS and IS NOT a pipe.

iced my existential cake with real frosting.

since then, forget it. anything goes. dead things, broken things,
old things, beautiful things, sad things,
cheap tawdry no one for a friend but me things
(seems to be a lot of those),
even no things.
go to sleep around me at right time,
you might wake up part wall sculpture.

eventually started reading and found first robert rauschenburg,
kurt schwitters, man ray, my hero marcel duchamp -
and finally soul mate edward kienholtz.
less mentors, more reassurers my path a valid one they broke.

and broke pretty much is what art has left me -
money-wise, that is, cuz
life-wise mind-wise heart-wise friend-wise and just for plain old adventure,
art and poetry have been very very good to me.

i mean, how many can say
they've run from the cops seven times,
and got away six?

(of course i've run from good a zillion times and ain't got away yet)

steven bruce smith 19 june 2005


why I wrote my 1st poem, 1964

collage / assemblage

poetry / non-fiction


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