A compilation of image and text by Portland-based poet, Brandi Katherine Herrera. It is a lyrical response to the death of her sister on 10/13/1984, now thirty-one years ago.
I experienced Brandi Katherine Herrera’s poetry for the first time at Poetry Press week in December, 2014. Portions of DYING ONE IN TIME, Herrera’s manuscript and poetic book length response to her sister’s death in 1984 by a car accident on I-84, were read by a little girl as images of gloomy skies and power lines projected on screen behind her.
The sound of the young girl’s voice reading (near the same age Brandi was at the time of the accident) coupled with the images of rolling skies and a death notice, pricked my instinctual sadness. As Herrera treads the process of death in her poems, from grieving to levels of forgetting, the performance strikes a confidentiality and you are sharing, with eerie intimacy, in the memories of a stranger. I saw the car in my head, the black attire at a funeral home, kids not fully understanding what has happened, confronting grief for the first time with confusion. I felt the power of presentation here max out the experience of the poem, in deciding what to show and how to create a sensory experience.
Pieces of DYING IN ONE TIME have been exhibited in various ways; live readings and performances, in print, and in a poem-film featured on The Volta, a multimedia site of poetry. Below are three selected poems, images and erasures from the manuscript. Documents exist as evidence of life and death and Brandi extracts poetry from them. There are gaps, unintelligible pages, either blacked out or erased. Her poetry and selected words tell another story, one spurred more by memory than fact. She fills in some gaps to piece together a narrative, but in other spaces, she leaves nothing behind.
About the Author
Brandi Katherine Herrera is a Portland, Ore. based poet and multidisciplinary artist, whose work in poetic text, film, and sound has recently been featured in Poor Claudia, The Volta, The Common, Octopus Magazine, Word/For Word, and The Oregonian, among others.