Activity 3 Home Poem

home poem

Let’s find meaning in found text by exploring the words surrounding us at home. The strange, repetitive phrases that inundate our daily lives can become slogans for our personal realities. For example, think about the endless text on the products in your bathroom and how much this text might say about your daily identity construction. Consider Claire Saffitz joyfully reading long lists of ingredients and how this underscores not only the nearly impossible task of recreating a factory-produced snack food but also our relationship to manufactured food in the 21st century.

hand drawn maps of two apartments
Jordan Cleland, Upstairs Apt. I Lived at for 6 Months and My Girlfriend’s Apt. Complex, 2011 [Location unknown]

Begin by choosing a room in your home. We’ll be trying to capture the spirit of that space through text, so find a room containing many objects with words on their surface. Start exploring the space by looking for text within it. Notice objects you use regularly but don’t necessarily read: your Sharpie marker, your coffee mug, a warning sticker on your lamp. Record any words and phrases that grab your attention. Notice things like repetition, lists, and slogans. You don’t have to write everything down. Instead, try to focus on the text that captures the mood of the specific space and its role in your daily life.

Sharpie Fine Point Permanent Marker / ACMI AP Conforms to ASTM D-4236 / Sharpie Fine Purple / Made in the USA
Oxford Circus / London / There’s so much to see in London / London Transport / 5d / Postage Revenue / First Class / Greetings from London / London
Caution: to reduce the risk of fire, use MAX 100W Type A bulb

In the journal entry (at top), for example, I wrote down text found in my basement. Of particular importance in that space are some boxes that remain unpacked: “Small / The Home Depot / Pratt 100% Recycled / Small / Pequeña … Be Orange / Think green.” Text from a calendar becomes a nod to the repetition of days while being quarantined “…April / Monday / Tuesday / Wednesday / Thursday / Friday…” and text found on the back of Chrissy Teigen’s cookbook lends a hopeful reach towards traveling again someday “…maybe she’s on a photo shoot in Zanzibar.” I didn’t set out to make a poem about these ideas, but instead discovered along the way how the objects in the space coincide with my experience right now. This weird little collection of text really is a portrait of my life during the pandemic.

hand drawn map of an apartment in baltimore maryland
Unknown, Shooooz, (drawn at Baltimore DIY Festival), 2009 [Location unknown]

The poems alone can be seen as unique maps defining space through words rather than lines or symbols. Certainly you could take the text further by incorporating it into a fully realized drawing. You could, for example, combine the text with a diagram of the space or conform the text to lines that mimic linear perspective.

hand drawn map of a fictional space
Karey Kessler, An Invisible Scaffolding, 2008 [Fictional location]

Additional Inspiration

interstitial image back to the song

Montablan Archipelago

George Kohn, The Montablan Archepelago, 1969 [Fictional location: Montablan; drawn in Varanasi, India] original HDMA web archive: map 103

George drew this map while attending Banaras Hindu University in Varanasi, India for a year of study in 1969.

The fictional archipelago of Montablan originated years earlier in his imagination while mowing the yard of his childhood home in Iowa. Driven by his contempt of cutting grass, he fantasized himself as one of a group of exploited workers on the island of Lospania who were planning a revolt.

As he grew older, the island remained in his imagination, expanding into a small archipelago of closely allied islands. The place names are influenced by aspects of Indian culture as well as his love of American football. The references in the map to places such as Talortown and Talorado, for example, are a misspelling of Jim Taylor, a fullback for the Green Bay Packers from 1958-1962.

Dream House

Purple Wyrm, Dream House, 2008 [Fictional location] original HDMA web archive: map 49

Purple Wyrm mapped a home that frequently occurs in their dreams. While much of the home and the space surrounding it remain a mystery, the hatstand near the front door and the dark windows on the veranda are consistent signifiers.

Map of Staines

Carlo Anomie, Map of Staines, 2008 [Fictional location: Staines; photographed in New Jersey] original HDMA web archive: map 13

A circa 2008 cell phone photo from Carlo reveals a map he created while passing time at work. Realizing an accidental coffee stain looked much like a continent, he traced the different hues to create countries and deemed the area Staines. This early addition to the HDMA web archive is also the first example I collected of a meta map, or map within a map. Here we not only see Carlo’s fictional territory Staines but also the seating chart of the restaurant where he was working.