New Exhibit, “Poems of UC’s Past,” Combines Original Works with Historic Photographs

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One of the images from the Archives and Rare Books Library collections used in the exhibit.

A new exhibit on display on the 5th floor lobby of Langsam Library features original poetry describing historic images from the collections of UC’s Archives and Rare Books Library.

Referred to as “Ekphrastic poems,” they use “vivid descriptions of a scene or, more commonly, a work of art. Through the imaginative act of narrating and reflecting on the ‘action’ of a painting or sculpture, the poet may amplify and expand its meaning.” (Poetry Foundation.org)

In this exhibit, six graduate-student poets in the McMicken College of Arts and Science’s English department do not aim to simply “amplify and expand” the meaning of the images, but rather through their words, these pictures come more vibrantly to life.

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One of the images from the Archives and Rare Books Library collections used in the exhibit.

The exhibit was the idea of Kelly Blewett, doctoral candidate in rhetoric and composition at UC. It was designed by Samantha Scheidler, College of Design, Architecture, Art and Planning design student and UC Libraries co-op.

I wanted to collaborate on this piece because I am so impressed by the fine work of the graduate student poets. I’ve had opportunities to hear them read at English events, and always these are such rich experiences. I wanted to share that with others in the UC community. I came upon the idea for the exhibit because one of the participating poets, Julia Koets, recently published a poem that took inspiration from a photograph that came from the archive of her undergraduate institution. A collection of these photographs, accompanied by poems, was published as a book. I knew we could  do something similar here, and when I saw the photographs selected by Kevin Grace, which are so striking and diverse, I knew we were in for a real treat,” said Kelly Blewett.

The six poets included in the exhibit are: José Angel Araguz, Holly Virginia Clark, Daniel Groves, Rochelle Hurt, Julia Koets and Linwood Rumney. The exhibit will be on display through May 31.

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