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Visual Art

John Gartland
Letter to John Wilson

Interpreted by Joey Madia
Sound design by Knight Berman Jr


This poem is a reflection on a past friendship, a mosaic of memory, a piecing together of journeys,  meetings  and fragments,  in the form of  a belated letter to an artist friend.

John Wilson came from my home town in England, and knew major artistic success in New York, where we met on several occasions in my travels.  Writing this letter to him, sharing glimpses of the journey between, and since our meetings, was an attempt, years later, to map the mystery of the past. The letter is also sent to share that map, and a rare friendship, with others.

Long poems are notoriously difficult to get published, so I was delighted when The Paumanok Review took up this piece some years ago, and allowed me to ‘mail the letter’ in John Wilson’s adopted country.

That delight is compounded with this exciting new production by Joey Madia and his musical collaborator, Knight Berman, Jr.  Their added theatrical and musical flair deserve to open a host of new mailboxes to our Letter to John Wilson.


So I'm moving on again: collecting everything in boxes.
Packing up the books and rediscovering old markers
in the process, faded notes upon the margins I'd forgotten,
insights overlaid with restless years; inspiring chapters
that surrender up the postcards sent by lovers.
Miraculous small change of memory, pressed between the covers.

It's always like this, moving on. Books of favourite
verse fall open with the business cards of chancers.
A boarding pass I couldn't throw away, her birthday gift
of shots of her in bed with me, provocatively mounted.
Itineraries of the heart; a rare thing sintered down to art.
More questions here than answers.