Student Illustrates Poetry Chapbook

By Eva Andrews

    This semester, Sara Tolbert has illustrated a poetry chapbook, Uhaul: A Collection of Lesbian Love Poems, written by Emily Ramser. The chapbook was inspired by Ramser’s experiences with Tinder last summer and her relationships with women. Ramser reached out to Tolbert to illustrate the book during the fall semester. The two worked together to compose the book over spring with Tolbert contributing five drawings to accompany Ramser’s poems and the cover.

    Her passion was ignited with the crafted words of Ramser’ poems. She chose from the collection of twelve poems those that most inspired her to illustrate.

    The illustrations are sketches that capture the essence of the poems. The poems have an offbeat, conversational vibe to them, and Tolbert is able to mirror that vibe with a fragments of sketches that express timeless moments within each poem. Tolbert looked for vibrant descriptions in order to inspire her illustrations. The illustrations consist of stuffed dogs and moving boxes, a face with flowers surrounding it, a curious pair of eyes, an abdomen with the written tattoo “Queer,” a skillet with smoke pouring out human figures and a mixtape with the recording tape spilling out the side.

    Ramser describes Tolbert’s illustrates as “something just short of magical.”

    Tolbert was never formally taught art until she attended college. Her family couldn’t afford formal art lessons, and she states, “money was a problem.” Even without that formal teaching, Tolbert had “the opportunity to work with Art Organizations who were associated with RISD and Brown University.” RISD stands for Rhode Island School of Design, which have had notable alumni such as James Franco and Seth MacFarlane. Tolbert’s reason for pursuing a major in the arts is her passion.

    Tolbert’s future plan is to be a professor or “work within an art organization and give others the opportunities that [she] was able to have.” She is all about giving back and pursuing her passion. She plans to take a year off from school after she graduates and travel the world. After her expedition, she plans to apply to the School of the Art Institute of Chicago for her graduate school experience.

    Tolbert and Ramser’s book is set to come out later this year in the fall with Weasel Press, an independent press based out of Texas. Those interested in ordering a copy should contact Ramser at her email emily.ramser@salem.edu.

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