Erin Scott is an interdisciplinary poet, performer, and UBC alumnus with a Master of Fine Arts (MFA) in writing and performance. In addition to her performance and writing projects, she is the co-executive director of Inspired Word Café, a nonprofit literacy program designed to inspire and create connections in the literary arts community.

Scott recently released an exhibition, 9/3, for viewing and participation at the Alternator Center for Contemporary Arts. The project is an amalgamation of audio recordings, audio poems, and visual imagery in a series of videos. In this medium, Scott uses natural landscapes, family, and the body to capture and impart the temporality of our personal lives.

Photo provided by Erin Scott

Throughout the project, Scott explores the lines between art and life as the poem and audio intertwine a web of familial ties and invitations to some of the private moments in her life. 

“I invite you into my private world, but you are also not welcome there.”

- 9/3

Walking into the university theatre, I sank into one of the empty seats in the dimly lit room close to the stage. As I wrestled through my bag for a notebook, the overhead projector sprung to life in front of me. The first slide of Scott’s lecture, “Art-Life,” appeared. Pointing to the screen, Scott shared, “‘Art-Life’ is a way of existing as a woman and an artist. The hyphen is an embodiment of lived experience and interdisciplinary practice.”

Continuing, Scott explained how this philosophy came to be in her household.

“The art we have going on isn’t distinct from our lives,” she said. “The hyphen is a rope. Sometimes, the tension leans to one side, leaving slack to the other.”

In the unfolding of the project, there are instances where Scott’s children played a part in the poetry on screen and in audio form. For Scott, making art at home means “making art where your kids are.”

Crafting some of her poems “in the moment” helps share the small, spontaneous and meaningful snippets in Scott’s life. Scott explained that anyone interested in creating poetry in this way should “practice making poems that are instances of thinking aloud with the sounds of a household.”

In 9/3, “Interruptions,” an audio poem in the series, focuses on this aspect of creation. In this piece, Scott presents her poetry with the sounds of her children using image composition and vocal layering. By doing so, Scott can resist “the singularity of audio recording.”

Scott went on to add: 

“Poets use the page. Performers use their bodies. Instead of self-led mentorship — my children became my mentors. The audio recording captured a poem coming to being in a time-based way.”

Continuing the lecture, Scott brought up an important facet of her project: consent. In collaboration with the audio poetry, Scott used the imagery of the land and her children. On the topic of sharing work with the public, Scott asserted, “Always ask for consent. What do our children consent to? What does the land consent to? I think this brings up a lot of larger questions.”

Strikingly, the importance of this aspect in the lecture sat with me deeply. However, as the talk ended, I still had one crucial question for Scott.

As a student who can sometimes feel empty from the energy drain of school projects, coupled with my creative endeavours, I had to ask, how do you keep the hyphen when the boundaries between our work and life are so thinly drawn?

Scott kindly responded, “There have been periods where I don’t create. If I don’t create, I am just living. Other times, it's a beautiful day, and I want to film everything. The hyphen is always leaning.”

“When making 9/3, I read a lot — this is part of my process,” Scott continued. “If I have writer's block, I sit in it and create it later. Although, I understand as students you can’t do this and might have to create when you don’t want to.”

As the lecture ended, Scott left us writers, interdisciplinary artists, and creatives with some final words for anyone looking to share their work:

“Sometimes, I want the legitimacy of publishers or known avenues to exist. But, other times, I just want people to see it. Allow yourself to work without worrying about publishing. Be okay with not knowing where you're going.”

Candidly, she added, “I have never been drawn to one medium, one lane. My intrinsic gesture as an artist is not fitting in. Follow the residency of your life to make radical art.”