Performance Poetry and the Collaboration Behind “Letters Under Rock”

CREATIVITY CRUSH | 12.1.20

Published in The Herd newsletter at www.allierigby.com.

Cindy Rinne and Bory Thach’s written work is meant for the stage—and will return to the stage soon, when safe. Initially, the poetry book Letters Under Rock debuted as a visual performance, complete with the wearing of Cindy’s colorful sculptural costumes, which she made herself.

Rinne and Thach invited the audience to witness a spiritual exchange between two characters: a Wanderer and a Nomad. A few months before their debut performance, Cindy asked Bory to write a poem in response to one of her sculptures for a collaborative exhibit. “I didn’t have time to create artwork with another person,” Cindy explains.

Bory Thach explains how, after deciding to collaborate together “continued writing back and forth in the form of letters once we saw that there were two distinct characters that made themselves known. For us, the story of the Nomad and Wanderer continues through future performances.”

After their initial exchanges, Rinne and Thach had only two months to write enough letters to make a performance, as well as establish and practice the choreography by the opening reception—which they managed to pull off. “The curator came up with the idea to perform and to wear my sculptural costumes that were a part of my installation,” Cindy explains, and “Bory was open to the idea of performance.”

For more, please enjoy the interview below, stay tuned about their future performances, and order a copy of Letters Under Rock from Elyssar Press.

The Herd: Can you tell us a little bit about your personal process of making art as individuals, as well as together? 

Cindy Rinne: I like to collage together myths, life experiences, and my spiritual journey. Prompts inspire sometimes. Reading other poets of many different styles helps to expand my writing. For “Letters” we each have a persona and we wrote in response as we answered each other’s letter.

Bory Thach: I write from a storyteller’s point of view.  My background is in fiction and memoir, so I incorporate those tools when writing poetry. I use the language of poets to help me see the stories unfold.  Much of what I’m writing comes from cultural traditions that I follow, such as my spiritual beliefs, and lived experiences.

The Herd: How do identity and social politics influence your art, and vise versa, if applicable? 

Cindy Rinne: Nature is a big inspiration for my art and writing. Reminding people of it’s importance matters to me. I also enjoy exploring various cultures to find the ancient stories which affect the present. Stories can unite us.

Bory Thach: The idea of personal identity, social or political do influence my work to a degree. But I choose to focus on what makes us similar across cultures, traditions, religious, or spiritual in nature. If the writing is honest and true, then it will speak to people from all backgrounds. It connects us on a subconscious level. It’s all about learning, for me and those who respond to my work. 

The Herd: Are there any other artists whose work you’d like to give a shout-out to right now? 

Cindy Rinne: So many amazing authors! A few: Eve L. Ewing, Cynthia Anderson, Armine Iknadossian, Sam Roxas-Chua, Natalie J. Graham, Lauren K. Alleyne, Julia Bouwsma, Nicelle Davis.

Bory Thach: Professor James Brown, writers Diana Wagman, and Robin Russin are teachers who I learned a lot from when it comes to creating characters and telling a story. 

The Herd: Anything else you’d like to share about that are not asked here? 

Cindy Rinne: “Letters Under Rock” is a story about a relationship and their journey. This affects the poems, the tone of the work, the performance, and the future story.

Bory Thach: I hope those who are interested in “Letters Under Rock” approach it with openness and intrigue. Art itself needs to be shared and interpreted individually.  Everyone will come away with a different understanding.

The Herd: Will there be future performances and collaborations, post-Covid?

Long answer short: We LOVE performing the poetry and yes, we will again!

Cindy Rinne is a poet and fiber artist based in San Bernardino, California. She’d like to give some gratitude and shout-outs to a new art publication started during the pandemic called Fish and Zoom, as well as the publication “Agri-Culture” Artillery Magazine, and Elyssar Press who published their book. She also has a solo exhibition called “Magical Realms,” which opens on January 2, 2021 and feature’s Rinne’s fiber art and sculptures at Bunny Gunner Gallery in Claremont, CA. One of her essays is also in the new anthology Feminist Pilgrimage. You can visit her website at www.fiberverse.com.

Bory Thach was born in a refugee camp located on the border between Thailand and Cambodia. His family immigrated to the United States when he was four years old. He served in the U.S. Army and deployed to Iraq in support of Operation Iraqi Freedom. He received his MFA from California State University San Bernardino. Fiction and creative nonfiction fall under the art of storytelling, while poetry for him is more of a study of language, an art form in itself. His work has been published in Pacific Review, Urban Ivy, Arteidolia, and Sand Canyon Review, as well as Letters Under Rock.

Note: Together, Cindy Rinne and Thach are also both published in We Are Here: Village Poets Anthology by Moonrise Press, edited by Maja Trochimczyk and Marlene Hitt. “Halo” (poem above) was first published by Cloud Women’s Quarterly. 

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