“Proof” by Tiana Clark by Peter Bruun; 15″ x 22″; gouache, watercolor, and pencil on paper; 2021

I like the drawing, but it didn’t make the cut.

“Proof” by Tiana Clark is part of a series I made between 2019 and 2021 based on writings by others that – at the time I read them – resonated with my own story. Bibliographythe online exhibition based on this series, has just gone live. In the exhibition, each of 9 featured drawings presents a dance of colorful lines entwining words in ink and pencil – poetry and prose originally written by the likes of Rebecca SolnitLeslie Jamison, and Robert Hass.

This drawing is inspired by Tiana Clark’s Proof. When I first read the poem, it seemed penned just for me. I had been going through intense feelings of self-recrimination over the dissolution of my marriage, believing I was entirely at fault.

Then I read this line in Clark’s poem:

“Sometimes nobody is the monster.”

And this:

“I know you want a reason, a caution to avoid, but
life rarely tumbles out a cheat sheet.”

Proof helped move me beyond the eddy of self-denigration in which I was stuck. It offered a perspective more balanced and true – not so painfully one-sided. I was reminded that life is complicated, and that I need not see myself as a monster.

My drawing is a hallelujah to the gift Proof gave me.

But not every work makes it into an exhibition, just like not every sentence makes it into a book. Though this piece fits the theme and I like it, it doesn’t add anything new or better to the narrative arc of Bibliography.

Instead, I put it here, with a tale of its own, an offering to you – my salute to poetry’s power as inspiration and salve.