Presently living in Toronto, jes sachse is an artist, writer and performer whose work addresses the negotiations of bodies moving in public/private space and the work of their care. Their work and writing has appeared in NOW Magazine, The Peak, CV2: The Canadian Journal of Poetry and Critical Writing, Mobilizing Metaphor: Art, Culture and Disability Activism in Canada, and the 40th Anniversary Edition of Our Bodies, Ourselves.
jes joined us for an interview ahead of their appearance on Wednesday!
BWS: You’re appearing at Brockton Writers Series as a poet, but you work in all kinds of other media, too. Tell us about your current projects in dance and in visual arts.
jes: First of all, I was so thrilled to receive an invitation to read at the Brockton Writer’s Series, joined by this amazing line up of writers.
Presently, I have two solo large scale sculptural installation shows up, both cutely (and accessibly!) across Lansdowne Ave. from each other, in my neighbourhood of Parkdale, and just north of.
At Xpace Cultural Centre, in the Project Room, you will locate Freedom Tube Lost in X Space, for which I am deeply grateful to critical writer Vince Rozario for penning such a superbly poetic curatorial essay to accompany the piece’s current imagining (which you can read here), on until July 18th.
Down the street, at The Public Studio, viewable from the Lansdowne bus as it stops at Seaforth, is the window gallery diptych found, which is part of a larger series I’m currently producing called Signs, which employs large, commercially made aluminum signage with personal messages, on view until early August. I see the diptych in sculpture as this object/ive opportunity to destruct the myth of dichotomy, so obsessively turned to in colonial Western society and the English language, to make a moment for the truer notion of conversation; ‘two things can be true at once’.
Alongside all this assemblage & metal making, I have been in residence since April of this year as one of eight emerging choreographers at Dancemakers, through an inaugural program called the Peer Learning Network, where I will be sweating it out in their old industrial, floor to ceiling windowed studios a la Flash Dance until our group showcase for friends & family at the end of August.
BWS: How does what you do in non-written media intersect with what you do in your poetry?
jes: I must confess that poetry and dance are both timid points of return. We all have languages that speak to us. The first that spoke to me as a kid was poetry. Many of the themes and motifs evaded perhaps, but the way Being Alive was told in poems landed. Later, I would understand why.
In that way I feel as though I have never not been a poet. Though perhaps a shitty one at first. But who doesn’t love a good rhyming couplet when they’re ten?
I think what I understood early on in life was that poetry was to tell the truth. And this soothed me, growing up in a small farming town in a silent house occupied by my father’s European postwar trauma. The truth became a thing I did alone but for the halcyon fields of waist high brome grass. It was idyllic space for the quiet of my gender fluidity.
I was a dancer then too, studying at the dance school my mother taught at. Though relating to my body in front of a mirror and not a field would become more wrought than the rusted metal tracks of the abandoned train where I often played.
It is both exciting and terrifying to build in these mediums again, as a visible artist in performance & sculpture, as they are places I haven’t stopped building but have nurtured in private realms, like letters to lovers & alleyway body traces toward home.
I think a choreographer and a poet and a sculptor are not so different things. In each case there is a stage, a page, or a pause; & the audience-approach a mutable, shifting efficacy.
BWS: How can your poetry influence what you do in dance or in visual art?
jes: We’re at an interesting time of cultural production and process, undeniably influenced by the hyper-democratic space of the Internet. Archive is far elusory to the current carrying of words than our sites of conversation. This has influenced deeply how I act as both artist-maker and poet. We are al/so curators.
I am a bit more afraid of poetry than dance, in the absence of the visual, and the places of its hiding. So many winters. So many dive bars writing alone to ease an ache. It’s starting to spill out though. You’ll see traces in the gentle maroon typography lining the south wall at Xpace. & in the metered metal sign diptychs. It’s an inevitability I suppose, when you’re finally able to put some of your suffering back in the ground. You begin to remember how to speak the way you first did. And that time travel is scary.
One thing that quietly broke my heart was the overheard discussion of the maybe 2010 notion that poetry was over. Ah, what a silly moment in time… I’m looking forward to being a poet again.
BWS: What can we expect on July 12?
jes: You can expect a new chapbook! & a very shy jes. I’ve called the collection of new works ‘in kind’, as it reflects the rather humbling journey of working through intergenerational trauma and suffering with/alongside queer community, and my deep gratitude for friendship and writers brave enough to share their gifts of naming pain.
BWS: We’re looking forward to it, jes, thanks!
jes sachse visits Brockton Writers Series on Wednesday, July 12, 2017 (Queer Night!) in our new home, Glad Day Bookshop, 499 Church St., Toronto, at 6:30pm (PWYC) alongside Terence A. Go, Ron Schafrick, Kai Cheng Thom and a special guest talk, “Five Things You Should Know Before You Do Anything About Your Children’s Book Idea”, by S. Bear Bergman!