Adrian Silbernagel
The Operating System & Liminal Lab
4 min readSep 17, 2018


Dear Readers and Fellow Creative Practitioners: today we are thrilled to introduce you to poet and transdisciplinary artist Heidi Reszies, whose book Illusory Borders is forthcoming from The Operating System in November 2019. Illusory Borders is “grounded in a process that incorporates fragments, lists, and reflections on “woman’s work.” In a series of installments which we will publish here over the next couple of weeks, Reszies offers us a privileged glimpse into the rituals, correspondences, notes, drafts, and artifacts that culminated in her book, which is now available for pre-order. [2018 series editor: Adrian Silbernagel]

My first poetry collection, Illusory Borders, is forthcoming from the OS in 2019. This manuscript was written over the course of about a year and a half — from 2014 to 2015. Since then it has lived under different titles, and the formatting of the text has evolved. In preparation for publication, I’ve been revisiting/rediscovering my notes, journals, early drafts, correspondence, and various ephemeral materials collected throughout this process of vision and revision — many of which I hadn’t seen since they’d been boxed up when I relocated to Richmond, Virginia in August of 2015.

Illusory Borders is grounded in a process that incorporates fragments, lists, and reflections on ‘woman’s work.’ I typically describe it as being inspired, in part, by my reading/rereading of Gertrude Stein’s Tender Buttons — in particular, the section titled Objects; in retrospect, this poetic series involved more of a confluence of galaxies, with Stein’s text situated at one of several significant points of convergence. The image above illustrates (some of) my inspiration throughout the process, the overlap of ideas and sources that fueled the work.

a few of the ephemeral materials collected throughout this process of vision and revision

Stein’s Objects reminded me of something I’d filed away years before because I knew it would come in handy someday: a 1943 daily planner called a DESKAIDE Silent Secretary. “The Deskaide comes to aid you — as a second mind; to multiply your memory; an efficient, neverfailing secretary in well arranged book form, ” the book’s introduction claims. Only a few pages were written on in this particular planner/diary. Entries like,“Burned by exploding can of butterbeans — I did not go to the doctor on this date,” or “Mother’s Day — I sent Mother hose and cakes,” made an impression.

Stein’s text and the Deskaide artifact together inspired a list poem, with the working title Tend to. This was composed of fragments of language that I’d scissored out of Objects and collaged in an arrangement/chronology of events that mimicked a cyclical calendar. The title itself was an erasure: T e n d e r B u t t o n s.

Lists naturally for a while and by lists I mean a series.

-Gertrude Stein, from Composition as Explanation

My list poem was something I explored/enacted in different ways over time. One of the most important discoveries I made during this process was that writing poems in series/sequence is natural for me. In my twenty-five years of practice as a visual artist (before I came to poetry) I had always created paintings (or prints or collages or assemblages, etc.) in series. Up until this point, the way I’d been writing poems felt by contrast disconnected, but once I allowed those two parts of my creative self to merge — artist and poet — the work that emerged felt like a true extension of me.

Beginning again and again, writing in manageable units and whenever I had the chance/the energy, writing through and into rupture…eventually I had a text/textile stitched together with fragments that I’d cut and collaged from my original list. This resulting series/long poem seeks to expand liminal spaces, marginality, the unsaid — the footnotes of dailyness and everyday objects.

(next installment — Field Notes, Part Two: Blue Optimism)

Pictured in diagram:
1/ Tender Buttons, Gertrude Stein
2/ my list poem, Tend to, in process — typed on a manual typewriter, with handwritten notes
3/ The Moon — A Chronology of Events (page from an antique picture book about the solar system)
4/ sample spread from a 1943 DESKAIDE
5/ one of my cyanotype prints from a year-long series
6/ 1940 DESKAIDE Silent Secretary (my own journal/notebook)

Heidi Reszies is a poet and transdisciplinary artist. She is the author of three chapbooks; her poetry and poetics have appeared in journals including The Volta, La Vague Journal, Forklift Ohio, Gramma, BOAAT, LEVELER, Salt Hill, SUSAN/the Journal, and Queen of Cups. She is the founding creator/curator of Artifact Press, and currently resides in Richmond, Virginia. Find her at heidireszies.com