Today we’d like to introduce you to Barry Duncan.
Barry, we’d love to hear your story and how you got to where you are today both personally and as an artist.
I write palindromes. For those unfamiliar with the concept, a palindrome is any construction – letters, numbers, symbols – that reads the same forward as backward. Over the years, I tried my hand at many different kinds of writing: songs, plays, children’s books, novels, poems. But it was only when I got serious about writing in two directions that I really found my voice. I write palindromes at a very high level, which is why I am known as The Master Palindromist.
We’d love to hear more about your art. What do you do you do and why and what do you hope others will take away from your work?
I take very seriously being in a position where I can demonstrate the power and versatility of palindromes. Since Greg Kornbluh’s article about me appeared in the magazine The Believer back in 2011, I have had the opportunity to participate in a variety of interesting projects. I collaborated on a dance with the dance company Monkeyhouse, I have been invited to speak to writing classes about reversibility, I composed palindromes for the Hank Wonder album Little Mysteries, I have had two exhibitions of my work at the Brooklyn gallery ArtHelix, I wrote reversible text that was set to music by composer Oliver Caplan. It seems that I am always taking on one commission or another, filmmaker Michael Rossi is making a documentary film about me, and I am trying to get my book manuscript published. This is a very exciting time for me.
I hope that people who see or hear my work will be surprised by the range of emotions that can be expressed in two directions, and that they will realize that palindrome writing – when practiced by someone competent – can be a legitimate literary form.
What do you know now that you wished you had learned earlier?
When people from other disciplines began to reach out to me about working together, I was unprepared and not quite sure how to respond. Now I see that I was wise to accept their offers, and that these collaborations have made my life richer and my art stronger. But you spend so much time as an artistic community of one, saying no to outside influences, and then suddenly it is time to say yes. That was difficult for me to recognize. My advice: Be more open to things, and sooner.
Do you have any events or exhibitions coming up? Where would one go to see more of your work? How can people support you and your artwork?
I expect to have another exhibition of my work locally (either in Cambridge or here in my hometown of Somerville) before the end of this year. People who would like to take a closer look at what I do might consider commissioning a palindrome for a special occasion. After all, custom-made biographical palindromes are about to become the next big gift-giving trend (I hope).
- Email: firstname.lastname@example.org
- Other: www.masterpalindromist.com