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Reverberations: On Memory and Being

A collection of place-based poems and gestural ink washes that explore themes of memory, being, reciprocity, and place
by Melody Joy Overstreet / Artist-In-Residence 2022

To view and download Reverberations in its entirety, please visit


Artist Reflection

Through this time, I have had moments of stillness that feel akin to a river that runs clear. Moments to listen and dwell in intimate presence with the kindred world. From these moments of clarity, words and stories emerged. I felt moved to create a book of poems and illustrations titled Reverberations. This body of work explores themes of memory, being, reciprocity, and place.

I am based in traditional Awaswas territory along the coast of California, in a region presently tended by the Amah Mutsun Tribal Band. As a person of Jewish, Iranian, and European lineage, born within the supposed U.S., a relationship to place, for me, is one centered in context, story, and change. In being with place, I wondered how the particular colors, textures, and sensations of where I am situated could speak through this work. I took slow walks alongside the local river, under the canopy of swaying redwood trees, and through my garden, where a significant amount of this writing took place. Being in conversation with the plants, I gently observed what was seasonally present (so much!). I was drawn to the trees and the river, and gently gathered fallen redwood cones and water, which I worked with to create a handmade ink. Witnessing the constant movement and change around me, I worked with this ink to paint all of the gestural wash paintings for this book. For me, being in conversation with place includes the context of for the long-arc story of the ecology, including all the people who have touched, tended, lived, and still coexist alongside this land. More than anything, this work was guided by the questions, “What does it mean to be human?” and “What does it mean to live well in a place, together?”


Right image by Vincent Waring.

When I think about Reverberations, I think about the potency of words and their ripples. I wonder about the internal impulse to play a particular song again and again for the way that it touches us in a universal and soulful way. I think about the echo that remains even after the origin of a sound has paused. I am blessed to have many teachers to thank for holding space for my growth and continued inspiration. All of them, seen and unseen, coalesce as a living part of this collection.

Right image by Vincent Waring.

I live within a floodplain, and like the changing river, words sometimes rush full and intensely, and sometimes so quietly they are almost imperceptible. The words that compose these poems arose while in reflection — both within the house of my own body and within the larger web of life — from still time in my home garden, the garden where I teach, and the river that runs parallel to my humble home.

From the garden, the kitchen, from the river to the loom, I weave these words together as an offering of love and praise to this holy, tender world — and to you. I wonder: are there words that can feel like they are making eye contact with the reader, so that wherever you are, however lonely you might be, you somehow feel seen for the magical being that you are, for the troubled yet beautiful world you are a part of?

Images provided by Melody Joy Overstreet.

Find more of Melody’s work: Website | Portfolio | Instagram

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