It’s not easy to pin down Divinity Rose. Hell, I feel like I am limiting her already just by scrunching her into journalistic form, but back off, man, I’m doing my best with this wild woman. Just one glance at her upcoming graphic novel, “Diaries of a Godling: The Promise,” and you see why she isn’t just a writer, just a visual artist or just a performer. She is, quite simply, a woman with a vision who is willing to pursue all means and mediums necessary to complete it.
She didn’t start with a graphic medium. “I began as a stand-up comic and indie filmmaker before I hit a big bump in the road,” she says. “I had my heart broken and my reality shattered. This started an intense three-year journey.” That journey moved her into reading her poetry at events she would set up called “Louisville Speakeasy,” which slowly morphed into its current, expanded incarnation, “Sub Rosa: The Gypsy Courtyard,” an all-encompassing artist/performer variety show where anyone is welcome to show their work (no matter how extreme) and, for one night at least, be granted a rather large audience in the adjoining room of Diamond’s Pub (3814 Frankfort Ave.). She is host and producer of the Monday night event that helps artists promote themselves in an all-inclusive atmosphere. With Rose’s guidance, these events have become a huge hit, attracting a rather large regular audience for poetry readings, music, fire spinners and, once, a performance artist who let audience members staple money to his body. (Note: He made the most money of any one person at a Sub Rosa event to date.)
Rose grew up studying the Bible in a strict, religious environment, but she has since moved far, far away. Not to say she isn’t spiritual, but her self-exploratory art has become her spirituality. “My image has become a shattered one,” Rose says, and one glance at her upcoming graphic novel proves this.
I use the term “graphic novel” loosely here. Rose has truly made something wholly untraditional — nothing you can find in the world of comic books today. Her comic is made up of, well, most everything. From bits of paper with mysterious symbols to real childhood pictures, sculpture, scribbled poetry and diary fragments, this story is not going to come together in the traditional fashion. Yes, there is most definitely a tangible storyline, but to really follow, you have to fully immerse yourself in her world and find the path from there. Reading a bit like a graphic “Only Revolutions,” the dense prose and poetry that curls around the page and rests in the margins of this comic is wholly moving and deeply mysterious. “It’s about trying to make sense of a shifting world of information and, at the same time, about finding yourself in every tiny piece of your world — and then all of a sudden realizing the whole.”
“Diaries of a Godling” follows the journey of a young girl as she begins her development as a Godling — that is to say, a creator. This acts not only as a commentary on the creative process, but also as a structuring element of Rose’s difficult journey toward self-discovery through her shifting childhood, foster parents and ultimate letting-go to find the creator she always was. “Really, we are all-powerful creatures,” she says. “We just need something to remind us.”
This slim volume is the first in a run of 24 issues. “It may seem a bit random at first, but once you grasp the basic story, you won’t believe — looking back — how every little piece contributes.” The collage effect is something that helps you pull scattered thoughts together and is seldom used in the graphic novel medium. It reminds me of Brian Eno’s approach to TV: “I see TV as a picture medium rather than a narrative medium,” he says. “Video for me is a way of configuring light, just as painting is a way of configuring paint.”
Rose has found this same kind of freedom in the graphic form and has followed no conventions but her own in pursuing her highest ideal: “Create your own kingdom, or you will find yourself part of someone else’s.”
There will be a signing and release party at The Great Escape Sunday, March 14, where you can get your own copy for the cryptic price of $11.11, something to pay attention to, because this is a work that stretches beyond the margins of the page. An alternate reality game (read: Internet scavenger hunt) has already been developed to go along with the work and fill out the storyline in the language of every other conceivable medium: film clips, websites, etc.
The after-party for the signing is a celebration entitled “Poets, Prophets and Punks.” It will take place at Comedy Caravan (1250 Bardstown Road, 459-0022) and will feature Ron Whitehead, The Revenge of Ricky Williams, and Divinity Rose’s own band, Sagun. Tickets are $10 in advance and are available at ear X-tacy and The Great Escape. The show begins at 7 p.m., and, mothers, lock up your children: It’s 16 and up.