Rabbit Island logomark
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Elias Sorich & Lucas Rossi
August 15 – September 2, 2019
Artist Statement

Elias’ work focuses largely on internal states of being, on the flux of emotions, and the instability of thoughts as they stew in the midst of living. I write to these questions with external gestures, I blend the borders between perceiving and being. The world inside is tied inexorably to the world of salamanders under rocks, toads overlooking the backyard stream. In this soup of internal-external figuring, I am a presence, a present figure–not a primary actor.

Lucas’ poetry involves both traditional formal aesthetics and a more contemporary green poetics, emanating from vegetarian upbringing as well as latent guilt in certain childhood experiences: failing to keep moths that I brought home from class alive, or carelessly flushing hundreds of ants out of our house’s concrete patio with a garden hose. Those microcosmic images, coupled with a larger awareness of impending climate catastrophes, define the focus of my work.

Residency Proposal

Through a series of engagements with the bug life natural to the ecosystem of Rabbit Island, the two poets in this collaborative group will write towards the biomass that exists in, around, and beneath the ground they walk on.

From John Donne’s “The Flea,” to Heide Erdrich’s “Stung,” to Michael Dickman’s “Flies” there is something of a history in poetry of using insects to represent the human soul, its vices and virtues, and human thought processes, its pits and heights. Present in our work to date is a respect for, and embrace of, this relationship, and paramount to our aims for the Rabbit Island residency is the desire to embrace it further. We will explore new complexities of this literary relationship, particularly those brought on by the threat of global climate change, and the possibility of mass insect extinction. Through the opportunity to write in and around an environment at least mostly unadulterated, but that is in some larger sense threatened, we will explore how the subtle things in the natural world that make it function, impact the process of internal human undercurrents. What changes between the human and the nonhuman when the hyperobject of global warming casts a long shadow?

Our work during this residency will inspect the notion of the ecological catalogue. How do you make a living register? Account for the vitality of a species? What is lost when data does not retain the felt sense of inter-species contact? As two poets who write in harmony and conflict with one another, we will make a prismatic exploration of a freshly threatened population. Through our words, written on paper and expressed in other mediums, we will go after those elements of living left uncaptured in the environmental accounting of insect life. This will not be a simple chronicling of the insect population, but an attempt to create work that engages with these vital creatures in a more holistic sense. We will write towards them and away from them, a hum in the background, a bite on the skin, a leftover wing.

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