Ian Colbert has lived and worked across the United States as a chef, forest conservationist, youth corps leader, raft and tour guide, most recently splitting time between the Southwest and Arctic Alaska. He has developed and is interested in continuing to develop a place and history based poetics, primarily concerned with cultural and ecological loss in the face of global, hegemonic forces… at times variously narrative, at times sonic and sense oriented. How can we touch again histories that have (been) vanished (how for that matter truly “see” one’s backyard, with sensual, real regard). Whether we can clearly understand the present, where things are going, and what remains and is pressing to do in the colonized field, mediated through an overpowering, often-afflicted “self”…. Glimpses of a break in one’s personal narrative, an Inupiaq village in merriment butchering a whale, the light that fills the ancestral Puebloan ruins in a canyon gone to pot or that reflects off a crowd of people marching with signs, to be seen and heard, in the streets. A mountain village in Portugal with only a few families left to it, Tia Ilda in the last years of her life sharing the learned art of deftly tossing broa before shuttering the stone oven door and letting loaves bake in the intense dark.
Ian is also interested in artistic possibilities available through multimedia collaboration and genre and linguistic bending, and he has a long partnership supplying verse and song to his sister’s, the American/Portuguese artist Maile Colbert’s, various endeavors. Maile and Ian have collaborated on the text of her multimedia work Passageira em Casa, produced through Binaural/Nodar and funded by the Portuguese Directorate for the Arts, and in the English and Latin lyrics to her experimental opera Come Kingdom Come! and the album of the same released in 2013. Ian has been published in the Patterson Review, Chinquapin, the Red Wheelbarrow, and will have his first book of poetry, Midnight Elegies, published in the fall of 2014 by Cat In The Sun Press—a book exploring Northern mythologies, “North sickness” and Alaska’s cultural/ecological histories by employing and complicating its own narrative with the visual poetry of Maile Colbert wrought upon the work of various Alaskan photographers. He is currently in the process of collaborating with the Portuguese sound artist Rui Costa and some of the remaining residents of Nodar, Portugal, on a culinary chap-book/poetic-history-through-food-cookbook, tentatively entitled A Continuous History of I’m Here, to be published by Binaural/Nodar’s Edições Nodar.