How to Be Alone, Halifax viral poetry video, turned into book
Tanya Davis and Andrea Dorfman reunite for new project
A spoken-word video from two Halifax artists that has been viewed more than six million times online has been turned into an illustrated book.
Poet Tanya Davis and videographer Andrea Dorfman collaborated on a video for Davis’s poem How To Be Alone. To their amazement it went viral and today has 6.1 million views and more than 12,000 comments.
The fact that so many people watched the video and have been in contact ... has meant a lot to me.- Tanya Davis
Now it’s been turned into an illustrated book of the same name. Dorfman created 75 paintings to illustrate the 120-page book. The pair celebrated the artwork at Halifax’s Parenthesis Gallery this weekend.
Davis, who is originally from P.E.I., said the entire experience was unplanned. “It’s the project that keeps on living. It’s like a cat; I don’t know how many lives it has,” she said. “The book was a nice, pleasant surprise.”
For Dorfman, it was a chance to move away from film and toward painting.
“A book is a totally different incarnation and opportunity. It’s such a beautiful poem that I really wanted to make something that was beautiful in a different way. It also felt very permanent to have a book,” she said.
It occasionally references the video, but it is mostly a new creation for a new medium. “I loved it. I spent two months in my office working on this. It was an absolute high point in my life.”
Davis said they still get feedback on the video, which was posted in 2010.
“It’s a source of connection,” she said. “The fact that so many people watched the video and have been in contact with us through personal emails — really nice, candid, vulnerable messages — has meant a lot to me.”
Davis said it alleviates the issue the poem set out to address.
“It affirms that I’m not working in a bubble. I do spend a lot of time alone and I struggle with my own solitude," Davis said. "Andrea can attest to that. She has seen me show up in tears from spending time alone, thinking too much."
The video is still gathering fans. "I really thought I might be broken for wanting to be alone so much," a recent commenter wrote. "Thank you for warming my heart."