Each month, PR displays the efforts of a writer working in digital forms. To start off the new (school) year, we’re featuring a collaborative work created by Susan Naomi Bernstein and her partner, Steve Cormany. Below the poem, you’ll find their explanation for the genesis of the work, as well as for their process.
For this multimedia collaboration, Steve offered Susan several of his poems and Susan took a photo of one of Steve’s drawings, so that Susan could create a multimedia piece. Using Steve’s original words, Susan cut and pasted lines from the poems until she had refashioned a sonnet, a form that Steve often uses for his poetry. To create the background, Susan enlarged the photograph of Steve’s drawing, re-colored the photograph using photo-shopping elements from Word, then super-imposed the reshaped stanzas on the screen.
We have collaborated on a joint effort once before, in May 2000, for a commentary on the 30th anniversary of the Kent State Killings. Steve was a first-year student at Kent State, and on May 4th, 1970, bore witness to the gunfire by Ohio National Guard troops that resulted in the deaths of four students, and injuries to nine others. Susan was a twelve-year old living in Illinois, and she remembers the catastrophe vividly. Steve’s time at Kent inspired him to become a writer—and his writings about Kent inspired Susan to widen her horizons as a writer. We met and fell in love in 1983, and our thoughts have lived together ever since. Our writing has taken different directions over the years, yet we have always taken each other’s thoughts and actions and words and images and ideas very seriously.
Steve Cormany is a retired teacher of college writing, and also worked for several years as a civil servant. He met Susan Naomi Bernstein in San Francisco, and we have lived and worked in Ohio, Pennsylvania, Texas, and New York. We currently live near Phoenix, Arizona, where Susan teaches at Arizona State University, Tempe, and co-coordinates the Stretch Writing Program. She also writes a blog, “Beyond the Basics,” for Bedford/St. Martin’s Bits website.