• See|Saw
  • Wish You Were Here (2011), Jennie Ottinger, 18" x 18" Oil on panel, Courtesy of Johansson Projects.


The second installment of See|Saw features work by artist Jennie Ottinger and writer Sarah Fran Wisby. Both currently live and work in the Bay Area. For this round of See|Saw, Jennie responded to Sarah’s poem. Enjoy.

 -Maw Shein Win



things to take with us 

by Sarah Fran Wisby


I would want a bag of sugar. We can practice restraint by eating one grain per day. Could a person even taste one grain of sugar on the end of her fingertip? She could if it was her job. Then when the bag is empty we can use it for shelter, or tear out the inner lining and write on it. What will we write? Sweet things.

A good mattress. We are not so young anymore. We need a good mattress. I do believe that the universe provides. When I needed nothing, I had nothing. Now that I need things, I am able to acquire them. I only hope I am not judged too harshly by those who still need nothing.

A dictionary is more important than a comb, that is certain. But a comb is so lightweight there is no need to jettison it in favor of more important things. A dictionary however.

I’m afraid my ceramic knives will be useless, as they require professional sharpening.

Yes of course a suicide kit. You are so practical, darling. When we need nothing, we will have nothing.

The mommy is no longer able to get pregnant. Therefore the daddy must impregnate the daughter if the human race is to continue. This is so distasteful they cannot speak of it, and tacitly postpone the decision at least until the son reaches puberty, and there will be options.


— Jennie Ottinger was raised in Massachusetts and currently lives in San Francisco, CA. She earned her Bachelor of Arts in art history from University of the Pacific, her Bachelor of Fine Arts from California College of the Arts in Illustration and her Masters of Fine Arts from Mills College. Her work has been shown throughout the Bay Area, in Dallas, Miami, New York and Los Angeles. Reviews of Ottinger's work have appeared in Art in America, San Francisco Chronicle by Kenneth Baker, ArtSlant, Daily Serving, 7x7 Magazine, and Huffington Post. She is artist in residence at Kala in Berkeley and is preparing for an upcoming show in London.

Sarah Fran Wisby writes poetry, short fiction, memoir and essays, preferring always to deepen and subvert genre by way of the hybrid form. Her book Viva Loss was published in 2008 by Small Desk Press. Recent work can be found in Eleven Eleven Journal and Rumpus Women Volume 1, and heard on Invisible Cities Audio Tour #2: The Armada of Golden Dreams. She’s also been published in Instant City, Sparkle and Blink, Digital Artifact, and The Encyclopedia Project Volume 2, F—K, for which she was honored to write the entry for fuck. She performs her work all over the San Francisco Bay Area and beyond, and was a Literary Death Match champion in December 2010.