Section two graphic illustration
Section 2 of The Power of Partnership is called “Intersections.” Sam Hester’s opening illustration for the section fully embraces this theme. She visually disrupts boundaries and juxtaposes apparent opposites, suggesting that the space where those opposites meet — the “and” — is where partnership happens. The chapters of this section explore how partnership:

Astronauts, each on a planet, tethered by a line, holding flags with question marks
Illustration by Stephanie Barahona, published in “On the Edge: The Spaces Between Student-Staff-Partnerships” in The Power of Partnership

While reading and editing these chapters last fall, I wrote the first draft of what eventually became the poem below. Since reading these chapters, I have been intrigued by the idea of “interstices” which are the very small intervening spaces between things, and the idea of something being “interstitial”–or occupying that intervening space.

Walking through my neighborhood late fall
I spotted two deer through the gaps in a grove of oak trees
at a dead-end cracked-asphalt road

the path I walked lined with homes
so intentional, so human,
and at the edges of their lawns, stretching from the grove,
the still-bouncy branches of saplings
cued the interstitial zone

that small significant space
where soft brown deer meet cracked-asphalt

We live in these betweens
— the interstices –

of learner, teacher

power, oppression

love, challenge, joy, frustration

When we pause, we see this
our multiplicity
interstitial, in-between, in the margins, at the border

the threshold where change happens

Stepping past the road-ends sign, I heard a trill,
the rustling of disrupted leaves
sunlight filtered through oranges and browns

and the departing deer swiftly leapt into the hollow.

In many ways, the authors of the four chapters in Section 2 describe partnerships as creating these interstitial spaces, establishing a new and tiny opening for contact and learning. For example, Bell, Barahona, and Stanway (Chapter 8) describe the contact point in the movie Arrival, where a linguist learns to communicate with aliens. The authors use that as a metaphor to understand the new learning and connection that happens in partnerships among people of radically different experiences and roles. Nancy Chick’s Introduction explores the idea of borders and borderlands. Guitman and Marquis (Chapter 9) examine the idea of “both/and” in analyses of partnership. Kelly Matthews (Chapter 7) shares a “visual metaphor” for partnership in a drawing by Alex Ikton Ponce-Matthews that captures the overlapping messiness of this work. Metaphors abound in this section, and help authors and readers alike make sense of the unique interactions partnerships facilitate in higher education. What metaphors do you use to describe your pedagogical partnerships?

Sophia Abbot is the 2018-2020 Center for Engaged Learning Graduate Apprentice and a student in the Masters of Higher Education program at Elon University.

How to cite this post:

Abbot, Sophia. 2020, May 12. The Power of Partnership, Section Two: The Interstices. [Blog Post]. Retrieved from