Surface & Depth

December 1, 2017

By Nancy Kuhl

Organized by Esther Ritchin Y’20, students in Emily Skillings’s Fall 2017 English 135 “Reading Poetry for Craft” class wrote a collaborative poem using the Beinecke Library as a writing surface.

The class wrote and projected the multi-faceted poem simultaneously, creating a dynamic many-voiced work that included student writing, quotations from texts read in class, and “found text” offered by people passing by on the Beinecke Library Plaza.

The project was derived from a class assignment challenging students to compose poems on non-traditional writing surfaces; it was further inspired by the class’s visit to the Beinecke, where they consulted poems collaged and assembled from archival and found texts, creative interpretations of well-known texts, works of poetic erasure, poems written on pencils and commercial paint chips, and poems crafted from grave rubbings (among other innovative works – see a partial list of works consulted below).  

Emily Skillings’s English 135 “Reading Poetry for Craft” – Works consulted at Beinecke Library

Artists Books

Gibbons, Sandra, Tender buttons : objects. [Portland, Oregon], 2011-2016.
Physical Description:59 drawings on 49 sheets : pen and ink drawings, pen and wash drawings on illustration board ; 43 x 28 cm (in 2 boxes)
Call Number: YCAL MSS 1092
Fifty-nine comics-adaption drawings, 2011-2015, that illustrate or respond to the OBJECTS section of Gertrude Stein, Tender Buttons (1914).  In addition to a drawing of the section title, OBJECTS, on one sheet, the drawings illustrate 58 poems on 47 sheets. The titling of the illustrations replicates the titles and capitalization used by Stein and the arrangement follows publication order. Gibbons also applied sequential numbers to each drawing that illustrates a poem.
In memory D. Thompson / Buck Downs. Downs, Buck.  Zab D7595 +2004J                           
“In memory of D. Thompson is a series composed of rubbings taken from headstones in Congressional Cemetery, Washington, DC.”–P. [1].
Poems found in a pioneer museum / Susan Howe.             Howe, Susan, 1937-         Zab H838 2009P
Frolic Architecture / [Susan Howe, James Welling]. [New York] : Grenfell Press, 2010.  Zab H8379 +2010F
Tom Tit Tot / Susan Howe ; with prints by R.H. Quaytman. New York : Library Council of the Museum of Modern Art, 2014. Zab H838 +2013Tb
Memories :  the pencils each carry lines from a poem, which you may construct according to my arrangement, or in any way which appeals to your sensibilities / Buzz Spector. Zab Sp318 976M                 
Twelve pencils in a box with a rectangular and a circular label on top. Ten of the pencils are each printed with a line of the poem, one is printed with the poet’s name and one with: Copyright 1976.
Crawl space / Suzanne Heyd. [United States? : s.n., 200-?] Zac H511 C85 2000
Poems printed on 24 numbered paint chips in shades of white, laid in paper case secured with copper wire.

Manuscripts & Archives

H. D.’s Scrapbook
Call Number: YCAL MSS 24. Oversize, Box 62, folder 1430
William Carlos Williams, notes on prescription pads
Call Number:  YCAL MSS 116. Box 40. Folder: Folder 1033
Notes on prescription pad about Federico Garcia Lorca
Rent Party Cards collected by Langston Hughes
JWJ MSS 26. 516.12854-12856  
Mary Ruefle erasure books, 2007-2013.
Call Number: YCAL MSS 764
The collection consists of ten books by nine authors, published between 1866 and 1916, which Mary Ruefle altered between 2007 and 2013 to create her own original works, which she called “erasure books.” In each instance Ruefle used an opaque correction fluid or ink to redact all but selected words on the pages, and affixed photographs, clipped graphics and texts, and dried organic materials, such as flowers and leaves, to pages throughout the volumes. In most cases Ruefle retained the title of the original book, then signed and dated the title page as author of the altered piece. Titles, authors, and dates of the original volumes present are: A Cathedral Singer, by James Lane Allen (1916); Fast in the Ice, or, Adventures in the Polar Regions, by R. M. Ballantyne (1866); Sketches of My Childhood, by Mary E. B. Clarke (undated); P’tit Matinie and Other Monotones, by George Wharton Edwards (1897); Songs of Seven, by Jean Ingelow (1881); My Winter Garden, by Charles Kingsley (undated); Shanks’s Pony, by Frederick Langbridge (1886); Marie, by Laura Richards (1894); and Laddie, by Evelyn Whitaker (two editions, undated).
Umbra Page Proofs
Umbra : the early poems of Ezra Pound, all that he now wishes to keep in circulation from “Personae”, “Exultations”, “Ripostes”, etc. : with translations from Guido Cavalcanti and Arnaut Daniel and poems by the late T.E. Hulme, 1920.
Page proofs, corrected and with notes by Pound, of collection published by Elkin Mathews in 1920. Corrections, notes, and date stamps from printers document evolution of text during March 1920. Signed and dated by Pound, April 1920.
Call Number: YCAL MSS 394
Richard Wright, Drafts of Blue Black Blues
JWJ MSS 3 Box 84
Susan Howe Notebooks and Diaries to 2007
Call Number: YCAL MSS 338, Boxes 11 & 12
Ginsberg, Allen, 1926-1997. Notebook, journal, diary, blank pages, writings, 1962-1963.
Call Number: YCAL MSS 393
Holograph notebook, signed, covering Ginsberg’s trip to India from October 1962 to August 1963. Notebook used as basis of Indian Journals, March 1962-May 1963: Notebooks, Diary, Blank Pages, Writings (David Haselwood Books and City Lights Books, 1970). In Ginsberg’s words, the “Indian journals are notebook writings sketches dream fragments night thoughts afternoon reveries Kodak snapshots Optical & verbal: hymns to Kali, political ravings, one line pensées, doodles, description in detail of opium Dens…” Includes descriptions of beggars, holy men, cremation ceremonies along the Ganges River, and other aspects of life in India. Mentions William S. Burroughs, Peter Orlovsky, and others. Volume includes 376 numbered pages (approximately 30 blank). Poems and paper fragments laid in.