“Jungelize my Days” – Agnes Marton and Midori McCabe

Agnes Marton is one of the poets who contributed to the anthology. Here, she describes her collaboration with the artist Midori McCabe  (whose recent projects include the wonderful book Estuary). With the kind permission of Midori McCabe, below are six of her paintings, capturing the flows and reflections of water. Unga is inspired by the Navigli Canal in Italy, Dieforella by Schubert’s song Die Forelle (the Trout), and Odori  by the Pacific Ocean.

Agnes Marton: ‘Jungelize My Days’

“What made my collaboration with Midori McCabe easy and enjoyable is the similarity between our personalities: positive thinking, searching for adventure and challenges, dynamism (to the extent of restlessness), colour- and playfulness, freedom, absolute honesty; keeping emotions in the centre of attention; making the best of all what we have; finding beauty even in tiny things (a flower, a cloud, a lucky charm) and feeling the immediate urge to show them to others in our own way… A 19-year-old Mauritian poet, Ameerah Arjanee wrote this about Midori’s work:

“Her paintings have a transmuting energy to them, like phoenixes repeatedly burning and being born. Or like rain falling and then draining away.”

“And it matches Midori’s own words quite well:

“Nature inspires me most. I often wonder why; even though ocean waves are repetitive and hit the same sand, they are never the same; I am fascinated by things like this. I would like to paint by nature.”

“On the other hand, just like Björk (whose world we adore; and who is the theme of my poem written for pop culture anthology ‘Double Bill’, to be published in 2014), we would do (almost) anything against boredom; we can’t bear staying stuck. You know the Kerouac quote: “The only people for me are the mad ones, the ones who are mad to live, mad to talk, mad to be saved, desirous of everything at the same time, the ones who never yawn or say a commonplace thing, but burn, burn, burn, like fabulous yellow Roman candles exploding like spiders across the stars…” (On the Road).

“We have special projects.

“The images of Midori’s paintings are transferred into high quality silk using advanced laser printer and non-toxic natural dye colours. They are called dancing scarves because they fly beautifully in the sky. They were also showcased in Milan this May.* Midori had another exhibition in Milan this April within the Fuorisalone Milan Design Week, with one hundred of her digital images in glass frame created by “Le Cornici Di Luna.”

“Her forthcoming project is the “Free Hand” Exhibition at the Gallery House, Palto Alto, USA.

“The poem T-shirts I designed myself (using some key expressions from my own poems) have been exhibited in France, in Germany and in South Africa.

“I’ve joined various poetry projects (most recently the Like This Press Austen/Bronte/ Shakespeare Anthology edited by Angela Topping) but I’m editing anthologies (confluences of poetry and visual art) myself too, together with American sculptor/designer Harriette Lawler.

“Midori began studying music and painting simultaneously as a child.  She works intuitively, combining colors, textures, and forms into a fluid whole until she can hear the melody.

“Although her forms appear to be entirely abstract, she derives them from elements in nature, books, movies, songs, or everyday objects, each becoming characters in a musical play on canvas. Her artwork is basically her emotional diary. Even when she travels, she always paints in her head… Whatever she sees contributes to her art… colours, forms, movement… so she takes a note, or a photo, or makes a drawing.

“Similarly, I collect impressions and words everywhere… Strange sentence structures, patterns of leaves, traffic signs, evocative names… they might be used later in my poems, sometimes distorted, most often out of context, surrounded by my own word creations. I love writing about mythical figures too, for example about the Icelandic eight-legged horse, Sleipnir. Midori told me about Furaibo, somebody who arrives with the instincts but flies away soon: and Furaibo moved in one of my poems, just like shimenawa, the ‘enclosing rope’: lengths of braided rice straw rope used for ritual purification in the Shinto religion. It happens that Midori doesn’t even realize when she gives me inspiration with a word or comment. She posted some photos of Hollow Bean Beach – and later I used this name in my own way as Hollow Dream Beach; she mentioned some strange ice-cream names and this is when I started to write my poem Flavours:

No bounderies in those dreams.

You melt in my veins

from plates and scoops,

scones and cornets, craters.

I’ll never lose your flavours.

Aileron chevalier des vosges du Nord,

pommes de terre nouvelles et girolles.

Lalande de Pomerol,

Arbois Pupillin,

Gevrey Chambertin,

Clos des Mouches.

Citrussy, Bramble & Hedge Sherbet.

Miraculum Mundi Fudge Torte.

Shaved Ice,


Wind Chime.

“Midori says, outside Japan people seem to see more Japanese in her work, and more western in Japan… but it is fine with her. As a child, she used to admire the work of European artists, their vivid colours and free forms… however her brush strokes might have been influenced by the form of Kana, full of curves, taught by her mother who is a calligraphy artist. Now Midori uses this kind of brush stroke with various colours. If it is black and white, it may look like Japanese style.

“I grew up admiring the rhythm of Hungarian poems and folk songs. I formed my own diction step by step, I started the recreation of the language for my own purposes, mainly to express the magical knowledge (I believe) I have.

“In my highly visual, dreamlike poems I make invisible processes (cores of life decisions, changes of emotions, birth and death of doubts and fears, the inner fight between our noble selves and our beasts) recognizable, and smile at them, using my poetic inventions (non-existent words and expressions, distortions, unusual punctuation, ’langwiches’ – mixtures of different language fractions) and juxtaposition.

“I talk about mysterious beings, snakes proud of their new, glorious skin, leopards lying in the middle of the canopy dreaming about their new territories and running free in the sunshine, passages leading to different empires, timeless hills of our private Edens… The word-sparing, airy compositions are full of music.

“As I write in my poem ‘Trespassers’:

‘My enladdered words / leading to secret vaults / of your senses. (…) Our bisons on rock walls / before we go on trace.’

“Both Midori and I feel at home everywhere (and lost everywhere, just a little bit, in our own worlds), have friends everywhere, work everywhere. It’s a very reassuring feeling that people in each corner of the world understand our art. It gives us new energy.”

(The title ‘Jungelize My Days’ is from my poem ‘Attraversiamo.’)

*“DA COSA NASCE COSA” Exhibition at Sala Biagi, Libreria RIZZOLI Galleria, Galleria Vittorio Emanuele II