“Foam came after fog, then dust, then nothing. We saw our lives and our world vanish.” Mina Polen

Nothing lasts. Nothing is fixed or stable. The universe we live in is the embodiment of violent change. So are we, shaped and reshaped as we are by the violence of genes, hormones, relationships, our environment. But this should not make us despondent or negative; the ephemerality of everything is what makes it so wonderful, so impossible to fix in words or concepts.

Ephemera is not a poetic-pictorial essay on the topic of the ephemeral. It has no point to make, no philosophy to peddle. It has arisen from a freely creative collaboration between poet Mina Polen and artist Viviana Hinojosa. Mina’s elegant prose poems and Viviana’s gorgeous drawings take us into a dream world where familiar symbols are given new life, where animals and objects transform under our gaze. Words and pictures have a quiet, understated quality, behind which all is turmoil, restlessness, longing, violence. The effect is intoxicating.

There is an intriguing relationship between each text and its illustration. Viviana’s responses to Mina’s words are clever but playful; central images are elaborated on, enriched by a multitude of associations. Texts and pictures work well on their own, but achieve brilliance in combination.There is a more elusive (but no less compelling) relationship between the pieces in the sequence. So I urge you to read the book like a novel. Take each page in turn. Do not be tempted to jump ahead.

It will not take you long to read Ephemera, but its pages will flit like butterflies in and out of your mind for years to come.

You can buy the book here.


He sat in the dark room

He sat in the dark room and his fountain pen scratched black signs that looked like claw marks on the pages of a notebook found in the basement of his grandfather’s house thirty years ago when he was a little boy and his grandfather was a bony creature with a beak-like nose sitting shrivelled in the dusty patina of the most ill-lit part of the living room never moving always there as if glued to his seat or terrified of leaving his throne and every word every phrase every sentence every paragraph every page was an attempt to describe to put into words to delimit and contain the dreams that occupied his mind all night every night and crept or flitted around the periphery of his consciousness by day sometimes revealing themselves to him removing their masks to the detriment of everything else his job his home his friends his ability to do and see and feel and think a constant unease or inability to settle into anything a bad feeling tight balls watchfulness dry mouth occasionally nausea and the fear that he would vomit or pass out or do something else stupid in front of other people so he had to write it wasn’t a matter of choice it was the only way to stay in control though it didn’t always feel like that and he wondered if in writing his dreams he was inadvertently giving them more life not fixing them to pages clipping their wings straitjacketing them but feeding them nurturing them letting the awful wasted bird-like figure of his grandfather live on in the dark room.


This text is part of House of Mirrors, my ongoing collaboration with Viviana Hinojosa.