Putting together library exhibits for the Poetry Center is one of my favorite parts of my job. It’s a chance to dive deep into the Center’s incredible collections and share the riches found there with visitors. This time of quarantine has left us unable to share our in-person exhibits with you, but it’s fortunately given us the opportunity to work on launching an online exhibit platform, which will allow you to see our exhibits at home, anywhere in the world, now and into the future.
When you view our online exhibits, you’re seeing the same materials that you would see in person: a curated selection of books, chapbooks, and broadsides drawn from the Poetry Center’s collections. That means you’re seeing scanned images of specific items from our library, like this cover of Halal If You Hear Me, with stickers indicating it should be shelved with anthologies visible on the edge of the spine. You’re seeing my seventh attempt to get a page to lay straight on the scanner, or a stitched together image of a large broadside that wouldn’t fit on the scanner bed. And you can get much closer to the materials than you could in person, maybe zooming in to see the details of a cover image in larger-than-life scale. In online exhibit text, we can also easily link to other online materials, such as to interviews or reviews that we quote in descriptive text, expanding the exhibit out beyond what could be contained by our physical cases.
Our first online exhibit of materials from the Poetry Center library is “Opening Ourselves Like a Book”: Contemporary Poetry of the Abrahamic Religions, presented in tandem with fiber artist Laurie Wohl’s Birds of Longing: Exile and Memory. Birds of Longing, on loan to us from the artist, will come down at the end of July, but "Opening Ourselves Like a Book" will remain perpetually. Look for more online exhibits to come—I can’t wait for the time when visitors can enjoy physical exhibits at the Poetry Center again, but I’m also thankful for our new capability to share exhibits with you at home. I hope you enjoy these curated views into the Poetry Center’s unique collections.
Special thanks to Yvonne Bourgeois of College of Humanities Computing Services for getting our online exhibit platform up and running!