Join Voyages by Road and Sea featured artist Kelly McQuain in the West Gallery for an up-close look at his Whitman Sampler. McQuain will share the origin of this unique sculpture and explain the significance of its hidden parts.
The Whitman Sampler is a box designed to delight and surprise. It became a way for me to slip inside Whitman’s Leaves of Grass and grapple anew with the good gray poet’s famous life’s work. I think of it as a visual poem, an homage to Whitman’s opus and an educational tool.
Based on an advent calendar, each box of the Sampler opens to reveal excerpts of Whitman’s verse as well as found objects repurposed to reflect and critique his text. My hope is that curious viewers will use the Sampler as a springboard for investigating Whitman’s poetry more fully. Think of it as play, a means to see how Whitman’s myriad ideas echo and resonate against each other in a visual way.
My art project on Walt Whitman, “A Whitman Sampler” is now on display at the Free Library of Philadelphia’s exhibition, Voyages by Road and Sea: Philadelphia Perspectives on Walt Whitman and Herman Melville. The artwork is now installed in the West Gallery at the Parkway Central Library, Free Library of Philadelphia, located on the Ben Franklin Parkway. This project is a collaboration of the Free Library and the Rosenbach Center and features historical context on the authors as well as newly commissioned artwork related to the works of Melville and Whitman.
That’s where I come in. The Library commissioned artwork from me that consists of a box similar to an advent calendar. Each box contains pictures and text that correspond with Whitman’s Leaves of Grass. Part puzzle, part Whitman fortune-telling device, the box is designed as an interactive tool to help readers engage with the Great Gray Bard in a new and compelling way. In the spring I will be participating in an event where I take the box out of its display case to show off its possibilities. Time and date to be announced.
Special thanks to the team that created the exhibition: graphic designer Nathanael Roesch, writer/editor Clare Fentress, registrar Jobi Zink, FLP Deputy Director Andrew Nurkin, the Rosenbach’s Alexander Ames, and co-curator Professor Ed Whitley. In the coming year, a series of related events and programs in support of the exhibition will be held. Watch for details!
Update: On the back of the sampler there is an illustration of Walt for the 21st century, departing as air, waiting for us along life’s path in the grass beneath our soles/souls:
I depart as air, I shake my white locks at the runaway sun,I effuse my flesh in eddies, and drift it in lacy jags. I bequeath myself to the dirt to grow from the grass I love,If you want me again look for me under your boot-soles.
February 2, 2015 – 6:30, Kelly McQuain and Amy Small-McKinney
Kelly McQuain’s writing has appeared in many venues, ranging from the Philly Inquirer to the Painted Bride Quarterly to Drawn to Marvel: Poems from the Comic Books to The Queer South. His chapbook, Velvet Rodeo, recently won BLOOM magazine’s poetry prize. He has twice received fellowships from the Penn. Council on the Arts. Visit him at http://www.kellymcquain.wordpress.com.
Amy Small-McKinney is the author of a collection of poems, Life is Perfect, and two chapbooks of poetry, Body of Surrender and Clear Moon, Frost. Her poems have appeared in many journals, including The American Poetry Review. In 2014 she won the Open Reading Competition at the Green Line Reading & Interview Series. The prize for this is also a prize for Monday Poets, which has the honor of having her here to read for us.
Monday Poets Reading Series: The Free Library is pleased to present The Monday Poets on the first Monday of the month, October through April. Now in its 19th year, it showcases a variety of talented local and regional poets. Readings take place from 6:30 p.m. to 8:30 p.m. in Room 108 of the Parkway Central Library, 1901 Vine Street. Copies of the Featured Poets’ books may be purchased at the readings. For additional information, please call the Free Library of Philadelphia’s Literature Department at 215-686-5402.
Hello, writer friends! The podcast of Edward Hirsch’s talk at the Free Library of Philadelphia is below at the link. I was happy to introduce him when he visited the Library recently, and I am likewise excited to introduce Pulitzer Prize-winning author Michael Cunningham on May 22nd. The new novel tackles religion, drugs and politics and is called The Snow Queen. The event is free! Maybe you will join me there? Learn more at http://libwww.freelibrary.org/authorevents/index.cfm?ID=42446&type=2
#EdHirsch #Poetry I’ll be introducing poet Ed Hirsch next week! Edward Hirsch, a MacArthur fellow and Penn grad, is in Philadelphia April 10th at the Free Library to talk about A Poet’s Glossary, his new book. It’s a volume that is sure to teach you everything you were instinctively doing as a poet but didn’t have a name for. With entries from “abecedarian” to “zuegma”, it’s also sure to give you bold new places to go (the book has a delightful emphasis on terms for non-English forms). Be bold and come with your poetry questions! DETAILS HERE! https://www.facebook.com/events/199905483546429/