Skip To Content

Write On Ottawa: Sylvie Hill launches poet-meets-artist collaboration on Kickstarter

By Catherine Brunelle on October 20, 2014

Questions linger in a world of online relationships formed tweet by tweet and like for like: Who is the person behind the avatar? What are they promising? Why are we engaging and where is this all going?

Sylvie Hill, spoken word poet, lover of James Joyce, and in-your-face ex-Ottawa XPress Shotgun columnist can tell you a few things about online flirtations turned real world encounters. Meshing her tell-all, sexually explicit poems with full colour Juan Carlos Noria ‘dixon’ art, she’s banking on crowdfunding to launch this poet-meets-artist collaboration.

Sylvie Hill_colour chair_David Irvine Photo“This is not a kids’ book,” Sylvie warns in her Kickstarter video. Russell Square Station: mine the trash is a story of a fated reunion between a women and her British male muse. When their online connection doesn’t match her real-life expectations, their relationship quickly takes a dark and dramatic turn.

“The book is about crossing physical borders,” explains Sylvie, “going from internet to person, to geographical borders going from Ottawa to London, crossing friendship borders in going from pen pal friendship, to all of a sudden, lover.

My only way out of the explosive situation with the Muse was to write these poems. Bad shit happens, and aren’t we lucky that some of us have the ability to transform that explosive situation into something beautiful?”

And in writing her way out of that relationship, Sylvie, in a sense, happened upon a new source of inspiration: a partnership that would lift her up through the art and generosity of well known Ottawa artist, Juan Carlos Noria, aka dixon.

“It’s a destined collaboration – it’s fated, it’s magical, it’s serendipitous, it’s coincidental,” gushes Sylvie as she explains her collaboration with Juan Carlos for Russell Square Station.

“I was compelled to write these poems. The early ones I was paring with general images, but then I was looking for something that was less generic and off the internet. I asked Juan, ‘can I use some of your art?’ and he said, ‘yes, absolutely, my collection is open to you.’

I started matching some images that just happened to go so well. But then something happened […] I would be half way through a poem, and I’d be looking through Juan’s tumblr, and all of a sudden, my eye would zone in on a piece of art. It would be called a name that was the exact same theme as my poem. But it also carried visual cues that would allow me to wrap up my poem.

pag 80

So if people say, ‘I don’t get poetry,’ in this case, you don’t need to because the artist is telling a visual story.”

Flipping through the proof pages of this artistic collaboration, I’m taken off guard and yet pulled into the story. Poems are layered both alongside and on top of the artwork, which will be printed in full colour. Together, Sylvie’s words and Juan’s art beautifully convey the tumultuous exploration of women musing men.

They’re now on a mission to crowdfund the printing costs and are selling copies through Kickstarter, hoping to meet their goal  by October 30th. With 9 days to go, they’ve just reached 60% of their goal.

“It’s an amazing invitation for people to take part in a collective project. It’s not just tales of one night stands, it contributes to a conversation around women writing about men. It’s bigger than a book, it’s an invitation to take part.”

Sylvie Hill and Juan Carlos Noria’s collaboration, Russell Square Station: mine the trash is on sale now via their Kickstater campaign until October 30th, 2014.