Tuesday, August 18, 2009

Eternal Paper

I was both entertained and educated by Michael Agger's article in Slate about writing for the web (writing for the web is part of my day job, so I'm continually learning more about such things).

I was simultaneously heartened by the author's observation of the permanence of paper. "We'll do more and more reading on screens," he writes, "but they won't replace paper - never mind what your friend with a Kindle tells you."

Intimacy and tactility - sensuousness - are the most notable aspects of reading from paper as opposed to reading on the screen. Agger describes paper as "a balm for the distracted mind." This is absolutely true for pleasure reading, where one treasures the feeling of diving into a book. I also prefer to proofread and copyedit publications of any length on paper instead of on screen, since paper allows for easier concentration and focus.

When I visited Goddard College for the first time and heard program director Paul Selig describe the MFA experience, he talked about how most of the professors still prefer to receive packets of physical paper in the mail (oh, the time we spent on those packets!) as opposed to being emailed manuscripts. "You might get your manuscript back with wrinkles and coffee stains," he said, and I felt the instinctive joy of a bibliophile whose passions have been recognized and acknowledged. Not only did we all love writing, but we all loved paper.

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

Poetry for the Young

I recently found this post by author and fellow Hampshire alum Leah Hager Cohen on her blog Love As A Found Object. Cohen describes a momentary yet wonderful solution to a two-part dilemma: how to reconnect with her teenage son, and which poem to suggest he memorize for English class. You might be surprised at her choice!

Wednesday, August 5, 2009

Sculpted Language

Last Saturday I treated myself with a trip to the Smith College Museum of Art, to see the show I Heard a Voice: The Art of Lesley Dill. (Actually, I treated myself with time, but the entrance was free thanks to a pass I checked out of the Lilly Library. What a great public resource.) I didn't go because it was the work of Lesley Dill (I wasn't familiar with her work). I went because Dill incorporates fragments of poetry into her sculptures, predominantly the work of Emily Dickinson.

I had pretty low expectations of the show. Somehow I expected it to be cheesy. Plus, while gorgeous in person, the sculptures do not come across nearly as well when photographed. They're like written-down words that only truly come alive when spoken. All my expectations were completely blown out of the water. I was amazed by the show, and hope to see it again before it closes on September 13.

I can't imagine that Dill's sculptures could possibly do a better job of embodying the ambiguous, troubled, transcendent lines of poetry with which she chose to work. The two main themes in the show were spirituality and language. The materials (thin sheets of tin, thread, luminous silk fabric), the compositions (figures, partial figures, mixed media, collages), and the scale (a few very large pieces and several very small pieces) all do a great job of illustrating either the spirituality captured in the words, or simply the spirituality of language itself.

You can preview the show here.