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Two Visual Poems

by Burgi Zenhaeusern

English Ivy

House on Nacotchtank and Piscataway Land


Artist Statement

Both of these collage poems are part of a series for my current book project about the patch of land I've been living on for the past twenty years. I hadn’t originally planned to work with collage. It simply ended up being the most appealing medium at the time. Collage implies play and serendipity, both of which have always guided my creative process. It is also a means to disrupt unidirectional writing/reading. It was Sarah J. Sloat’s Hotel Almighty with its erasure collages that first inspired me to combine words with visual materials. Others followed. And before that, Tyehimba Jess, Solmaz Sharif, Laily Long Soldier, and Leila Chatti burst the boundaries of my idea of poetry. I’ve come to feel that with each book I read, the reservoir of possibilities expands.


All photographic materials are my own. For “House on Nacotchtank and Piscataway Land” I took pictures from the exterior of our house, while for “English Ivy” I recycled an image from an old Instagram post. An erasure of H. W. Longfellow’s poem “Haunted Houses” (accessed on is superimposed on the recombined house. “English ivy” is a found poem and gathers fragments from various sources: Felicia Hemans’s (1793–1835) handwritten and illustrated poem “On the Ivy” (accessed on the internet); an old Maryland plant nursery catalogue and the monograph “The Ivy” by Shirley Hibberd (Groombridge & Sons,1872), both accessed on; and online bulletins on the invasiveness of the English ivy. I used scissors and glue to assemble the pieces.

Burgi Zenhaeusern (she/her) is the author of the chapbook Behind Normalcy (CityLit Press, 2020), winner of the Harriss Poetry Prize. She co-edited the translations of the anthology Knocking on The Door of The White House (zozobra publishing, 2017). Her work appeared, most recently, in Little Patuxent Review, Moist Poetry Journal, and as broadside (Ashland Poetry Press Poetry Broadside Contest, runner-up). She lives in Maryland.

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