Henri MatisseThe Swimming Pool, Maquette for ceramic (realized 1999 and 2005)Nice-Cimiez, Hôtel Régina, late summer 1952

In lê thị diễm thúy’s, sans papiers, she responds to Henri Matisse’s The Swimming Pool. She closes her poem with, “weigh the seas you swallowed to swim here.” (lines 14–15). These lasting words hold a deep meaning that corresponds with Matisse’s artwork.

I believe that ê thị diễm thúy refers to immigrants in these lines and their journey across seas. She insists that immigrants consider the vast waters and the path they had to undergo in order to “swim” in the United States. Her use of swim indicates that immigrants feel that they are floating since they were born across seas.

ê thị diễm thúy titles her poem sans papiers as it correlates with Matisses’s paper cut out art piece. This meaningful title also resonates with immigrants and their lack of papers and what it means to be without papers in the United States.

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Courtesy of Flickr by Neeka

In Nathaniel Mary Quinn’s art piece “Mend,” the use of numerous materials brought together help create this image of a person. Notice how through the use of borrowing, adapting, deconstructing and reconstructing sources, Quinn creates this collage. His art piece embodies this idea of taking what’s around you and making it your own.

This collage strategy reminded me of another form of art that deconstructs writing to form a new story. Quinn’s art piece “Mend” can be united with black out poetry. The same way Quinn took various existing photographs, drawings, materials and placed them cohesively, blackout poetry allows individuals to take existing written work and create their own message. I like to think of black out poetry as a written collage. When borrowing, adapting, deconstructing, and reconstructing an author’s words, blackout poetry emerges. Something new is created from something that already existed.

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