afterWords POEtry That Sticks™ began as an art project photographing common names from gravestones in order to string them together as poems. But as I started pairing the photographs together at size, the idea transformed into reducing these photos at magnet size so that you could write poems with these word images.

POEtry that Sticks


The over 200 originally photographed words in a POEtry set include(d) common names like, almond, bent, blood, darling, eat, ham, handy, link, love, place, pope, pray, rice, ride, smile, safe, stiff, storm, sweet, walk, weed and wild. The lighting, texture and scale create each magnet word as unique leading to hundreds of poetic options. Each photo, with this exceptional diversity of words, is reduced then printed on magnets. The arc of afterWords POEtry that sticks is some of the work I’m most proud of. It was tenacious, time consuming, involved my full skill set, added new skills, very labor intensive and continued alongside studio art work and RISD course work.

History: With the partnership of Wayne Losey, who’d been at Hasbro toys, I took afterWords POEtry That Sticks from a very rough draft to a final product that sold on store shelves. This was a multi year endeavor. I am forever indebted for the opportunity to be mentored by Wayne in product/toy development. He gave me skills, and we went through a process, that has me confident that I can coach others in the growth and development of ideas and product ideas.  We reached a common intersection in product development where you have self funded/bootstrapped successful proof of concept but not cash injection lined up for the next few steps of growth. Additional challenges were the product’s drafts first came out in 2008 right when the economy imploded, kitchen fridges were less likely to be magnetic, and apps just exploded as the platform for interactive play. The bootstrapping financing we did, (under 10k) kept us from any debt and I broke even. No loss. No profit. So much fun, creative problem solving, meeting people at events, meeting vendors.

In the full arc of the project I handled the graphic design, the website, PR, Flash based animations, selling at fairs and festivals and interfaced with boutique shops throughout New England to get the sets on shelves. From the original full size photos to store shelves – what a project! New sets have not been produced or sold for some time. Future: Can afterWords be produced again? Can they be modified? Could they be in an app? You bet. All the templates and materials are in a digital format.

“RISD alum Rachel Cyrene Blackman has an interesting project called ‘afterWords’ which to describe it simply is ‘magnetic poetry meets the graveyard. She photographs actual gravestones and has made them into a kit for magnetic poetry. I remember hanging with master typographer Mathew Carter who had a similar obsession with type as derived from old gravestones – artists and designers find inspiration in the most interesting places” – John Maeda President of RISD 2008- 2013

Good Words