Congratulations to Linda K. Sienkiewicz: her haunting portrait of Doors legend Jim Morrison (below, right) won our ‘Decorate for Disgrace’ contest and will appear in our upcoming film, CELEBRITIES IN DISGRACE. Always wanting to encourage celeb. obsessors like myself to ‘act out’ creatively, I asked Linda to share thoughts on how she opened ‘The Doors’ to celeb. inspirations in her writing and art…
Linda K. Sienkiewicz is a writer and artist from Michigan. Her poetry and short stories have been published in numerous literary journals from Prairie Schooner to A Twist of Noir online. Her latest chapbook, SECURITY, with all its pop culture references, can be purchased from the March Street Press catalog /39 pages, $9.
What celeb.s have inspired your writings and works of visual art? Who was the first?
Jim was the first. No one else has inspired me in quite the same way!
Your works on Jim Morrison are so striking and intense. What first drew you to him?
Initially, it was the music. The first Doors album I bought was “Morrison Hotel,” and Jim’s voice was like a conduit. Listening to him was nothing short of an orgasmic experience. That album was followed by “LA Woman.” The lyrics blew me away—“his brain was squirming like a toad”—my God, who else on the planet wrote like that? As an angst-filled, artsy teen in the 70’s, dealing with a bad breakup, Jim’s darkness was a beacon of light for me. It was as if he was singing “The Spy” to me, and he really did know my deepest secret fear. And then he died! I remember how shocked, confused and hurt I was, as if something had been physically ripped from my body.
Over the years, I started collecting The Doors’ CDs and books on Jim—and what a story he made, too. Not only gorgeous, he was sensuous, erudite, poetic, and a Southern gentleman at heart, yet he was also a volatile and conflicted prick, vexed by mood swings and addictions. In the early nineties, I went through a major depression, and my interest in his life and work became a flat-out obsession. Morrison was my escape valve and all I can say is thank goodness I had one. In this sense, I think obsessions are good; they can hold our hands and walk us through dark times. I used to tease my husband that one day he’d find a poster of Jim hanging above our bed. Can you imagine? He laughed and said, “Whatever turns you on, dear.”
And what inspired you to write a chapbook of poems ‘to’ him?
I’d tried for years to write a tribute poem and failed miserably. It wasn’t until I wrote to Jim that I found what I wanted to say, which is what he’s meant to me over the years. A terrific editor, Russell Thorburn, sorted through about 80+ of my poems to help me put together a new chapbook. He pulled out all the rock ‘n roll and sexy poems, and there it was, a long letter to my love in the form of a book, DEAR JIM.
What gave you the idea for Angel of Death, the painting?
It was a line from one of his poems that fits him so well: “Death makes angels of us all and gives us wings where we once had shoulders smooth as raven’s claws.” I found a photograph in one of my books where he looks angelic, even heavenly, in that five o’clock-shadow way of his. It was a perfect match for that line. The resulting collage came together quickly.
Your new book contains a poem inspired by Liberace and we just posted a poem of yours inspired by Thomas Kinkade– what keeps you coming back to Pop Culture touchstones in your writings?
They carry so much emotion and passion. I want to capture these cultural markers and icons before I lose them; they define who I am, and they define my place in a particular era like nothing else can. For example, when I was reading about Liberace’s life and whacky excesses, he brought my grandmother back for me. I was right there in her apartment on Fulton Avenue in Cleveland, watching him on TV with her. She never missed his show. Naturally, I had to write that poem.
Incidentally, the cover of my chapbook, SECURITY, was inspired by pop poetry icon, Rod McKuen. The artwork is a page in an altered book I created from a McKuen hardcover I found at a garage sale. There are other pop culture references throughout SECURITY, from “The Twilight Zone,” to the Wades of England porcelain collectibles from the Red Rose Tea boxes, and Mutual of Omaha’s “Wild Kingdom” TV show. And of course, there’s “Liberace.
(Morrison photo: topnews.in)