Poetry and architecture go together like, well, bricks and mortar. For architect John DaSilva and poet GennaRose Nethercott, it’s a compatible pairing that’s culminated in a book, “Living Where Land Meets Sea: The Houses of Polhemus Savery DaSilva.” The design and construction firm Polhemus Savery DaSilva (PSD), based in East Harwich, has commissioned Ms. Nethercott to write poetry. They build the houses; she writes poems that complement them. Both will offer a presentation about the book and their collaboration on Saturday, Sept. 30, at 3:30 pm at the West Tisbury library.
Only 26 years old, Ms. Nethercott was recently selected as a winner of the National Poetry Series; her manuscript “The Lumberjack’s Dove” will be published by ECCO/HarperCollins in 2018. For six years she traveled the U.S. and abroad, setting up a little folding table with her 1952 Hermes Rocket typewriter and writing poetry on the spot.
“I wanted to travel, and thought of it as a good way to meet people and make money while traveling,” Ms. Nethercott said. “I didn’t play a busking instrument, thus came the poetry busking.
“I was doing this in Vermont when I met John and his family, who were visiting and ordered a poem from me,” she said. “John thought we could work together, and this sort of jump-started his imagination. That was three summers ago.”
For Mr. DaSilva, combining architecture and poetry isn’t far-fetched. “When appropriate for specific clients, we commission poems about the client’s house as a gift to give them after the house is complete,” Mr. DaSilva explained. “Several clients have found the poems to be very moving. It is hard to put a value on something both I as the designer and they as the client can look to as an artistic interpretation of a ‘poetic’ work of architecture.”
He and his wife Sharon began visiting the Vineyard in the early 1980s, and have visited every year since they were married in 1989.
“She and I designed our own getaway cottage in Chilmark, and it was completed in 1995,” Mr. DaSilva said. “We still use it every summer and as often as we can, and GennaRose is in residency there this year for the month of September.”
Ms. Nethercott has taken that time to work in solitude, crafting more poetry. She grew up in Brattleboro, Vt., and has spent the past two years living in Boston.
“One of my goals is to integrate poetry into places you might not find it. It can be a companion to things you may not expect,” Ms. Nethercott said. “For me, it’s exciting to prove poetry can pair with all these things; not only do they go together, but they are relevant to each other. Architecture is a form that is so integrated — it is art that we live inside.”
“Living Where Land Meets Sea” is a heavy book filled with exceptional photos of houses that will look familiar to Islanders: cedar shingles, outdoor showers, gambrel gables, ocean views visible from windows galore. There are detailed descriptions of the homes’ assets accompanying the photos, and then there’s Ms. Nethercott’s poetry to introduce each section of the book.
She writes, “Inhabit a space and it becomes a mirror; festooned with vines of your hair, your pulse erupting from the opening and closing of cabinets, light passing among rooms like your breath as it enters and leaves the lungs, like a memory sighing through you, like a looking glass tossing your form back into the basin of your own cupped hands.”
Mr. DaSilva says that like the architectural process itself — which synthesizes aesthetic, technical, financial, social, and other demands into a unified building — “poetry brings complex ideas, images, and emotions together into relatively concise works of literary art.”
The concepts aren’t so different after all.