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Patricia Flaherty Pagan

dark Fiction & Poetry 

Collaborating With A Visual Artist Sparked Creative Transformation


Who knew collaborating with an artist could be such a fun learning experience? I don’t mind telling you, when I signed up to collaborate on a project with another member of Women in the Visual and Literary Arts, I was a little nervous. While I have always wanted to try collage, my visual art skills plateaued at stick figures!

Once I got to know skilled and enthusiastic artist and bookmaker Lee Steiner of Domestic Papers, I knew that working together would be challenging and fun. Despite crazy summer schedules, we stole time to meet and trade concepts and materials ideas on WIVLA’s theme for 2018, “SPACE.” Emotional interactions between characters fuel my writing, and Americans seem culturally divided at this time, so it felt organic and exciting when we settled on depicting the spaces between people.

I wrote first drafts off a few flash fiction pieces and prose poems, and we whittled it down to four space concepts we wanted to emphasize. Emotional spaces creating pain, such as in my piece “Hollow,” were complemented by pieces such as “Zenith,” which explores the connection between lovers. Lee Steiner devised the idea of mapping emotional spaces, so we created a literal map with prose pieces and conceptual terms in four directions. A creative dynamo, Lee even fashioned the map so that it can be rolled down like a scroll like a map of yesteryear! Our “Map of Human Distance” represents our hard work, hopes, and connection to our readers/viewers.

I am so proud that my flash fiction pieces and prose poems were a part of WIVLA’s celebration of collaborative work, SPACE, that recently opened at the Boston Public Library downtown.  My flash pieces “Hollow” and “Zenith” work in conjunction with my prose poems “Guff” and “Invitation to the Expanse.” The opening reception was amazing! Other teams of artists and writers displayed work and read prose and poetry that shone brightly. One writer collaborated with a choreographer, and the resulting performance by The Fly dance troupe wowed us all! My writing is also featured alongside a reproduction of our map in the WIVLA anthology, SPACE (available to the public soon).

Considering collaborating with an artist? I highly recommend this educational and transformative process!

SPACE, the exhibit including “Map of Human Distance” by myself and Lee Steiner, will be on display in the main lobby of The Houston Public Library Central Branch, 500 McKinney St, Houston, until December 31, 2018.

SPACE, a paperback anthology, will be soon be available via WIVLA Houston. Learn more abut WIVLA at

Interested in the work of talented paper artist and bookmaker Lee Steiner? Check out her work at Domestic Papers: