In this week’s Shiny Sparks, we hear from author LeeAnn Olivier. She shares with us a snapshot of her creative process and answers the question What Inspires You?
Art museums and galleries are like churches to me. I think about this as my best friend Keth and I amble through the permanent collection of the MOMA. I visit this sanctuary every time I come to New York, but it never ceases to enthrall me. I stand in front of Magritte’s The Lovers for a long while, the heads and faces of its kissing figures enshrouded in white fabric. I think of Magritte at age fourteen, watching his mother’s body as policemen hoisted it from the Sambre River, her wet nightgown wrapped around her face. I think about love as glamour, as bewitchment. I wonder if we ever really know anyone’s true nature. But it’s the Louise Bourgeois exhibit that pulls me in with its own sort of enchantment. Giant, maternal spiders crouch above metal cages, forever mending their broken webs. Women turn into spirals, pivoting on pointed toes. I feel like each room is a decade in the artist’s long life, and I’m walking through her body, wrapping myself in the fabric of her memories. “If you bash into the web of a spider,” Bourgeois once said, “She doesn’t get mad. She weaves and repairs it.” Bourgeois cut up all the textiles of her childhood—bed linens, towels, tablecloths, handkerchiefs—and spent the rest of her life piecing it all back together again. Just as I attempt to carve worlds out of words, weaving was her way to make things whole.
LeeAnn Olivier is the author of the poetry chapbook Spindle, My Spindle, in which she creates a “world that is vivid, wild and fierce, but is also eager to grapple with the ache of love, loss, and grief that explore and transcend the inventions of the doctrine of the feminine” (Hermeneutic Chaos Press, 2016). Her poem “Leda Revisited” was chosen by Margaret Atwood as a finalist for the 2014 Thomas Morton Memorial Prize in Literary Excellence and appeared in The Puritan. Her poems and essays have also appeared in several literary journals, including Driftwood Press, Biostories, Damselfly Press, and Stone Highway Review. She teaches literature and creative writing at Tarrant County College in Fort Worth, Texas and is currently an MFA candidate in creative writing at the University of Texas at El Paso.