The act of writing and the act of mapping are not far removed from one another. In fact, many of the words we associate with the science of mapping include writing as a root verb: topography, from the Greek words for “place” and "write"; geography, from the Greek words for “earth” and “write”; cartography, from the Greek words for “papyrus” and “write.” To write is, in a sense, to attempt to chart our understanding of the world. And to look at a map is, in a sense, to create: we pore over unfamiliar names and fill in blank spaces with new people and adventures. The unknown is knowable, the map whispers. It’s hard to overstate—or to resist— the power of that call to the imagination. Here, we examine how poets have attempted these chartings in works that engage with maps as physical objects and as metaphor.
This exhibit, curated by Sarah Kortemeier, was originally presented in the Jeremy Ingalls Gallery of the University of Arizona Poetry Center from February 4, 2013 to April 17, 2013.