I’m excited to announce Book Lung at 516 Arts. From Sept 6 to Oct 18, 2008, there will be two exhibitions in the gallery (Finding A Pulse upstairs, and Cautionary Tales: A Visual Dystopia on the main floor). And now there will be a poetry component featuring work by all these poets:

Jennifer Bartlett, Jill Battson, Amy Beeder, Hakim Bellamy, Debbi Brody, Jennifer Frank, Teresa E. Gallion, Gabriel Gomez, Renee Gregorio, Lisa Hase, Michelle Holland, Gary Jackson, Zach Kluckman, Jennifer Krohn, Michelle Laflamme-Childs, Diane Louise Larson, Maria Leyba, Joan Logghe, Mary Oishi, Richard Oyama, Shin Yu Pai, Greta Pullen, Margaret Randall, Mitch Rayes, Miriam Sagan, Maureen Seaton, Thandiwe Shiphrah, Diane Thiel, John Tritica, Richard Vargas, Mark Weber, Chris Wrenn

Here’s how Book Lung Works.

tarantula anatomy

Today arachnid anatomy has everything to do with my interpretation of how art and poetry inform each other. Situated inside the abdomen of many common spiders (and scorpions) are miniature books that breathe—or, lungs that look like miniature books. The “pages” are filled with hemolymph (spider blood) and remain open to maximize exposure to air and create the exchange known as spider respiration. I’m a fan of spider respiration so I haven’t dissected anything eight-legged to see the little encyclopedias of breath. I’m also a fan of human respiration, which allows us to dissect spiders (if so inclined), or simply page through an open book about spiders (which I prefer). I am a fan of the open book, in particular the book of poetry—the book being read, poured over, peered at, pondered. In contemporary American culture you have to ask the question: “How do you get people to pay attention to a book of poetry when it doesn’t have eight legs and drop too quickly from a silk strand to land on some patch of exposed flesh?” Writers, like artists, dabble in both the exhibition (and excitation) of blood and breath. We want that visceral response. So how is it achieved? From September 6 to October 18, 2008, the answer is two-fold.

1. Make the book a work of art and place it in a gallery.
2. Create interplay between language and visual art.

Muriel Rukeyser writes, “Breathe-in experience, breath-out poetry.” In both exhibitions the poets are linked to the artworks that will be exhibited in the gallery: for Cautionary Tales, writers are responding to images from the show; for Finding a Pulse, both writers and artists are responding to the same themes. And the poetry is going to be displayed in the gallery in less-than-conventional art books. The end result will be the exploration of both the inhale and the exhale of creative process. We hope that this “respiration” will create a flow of energy that moves back and forth between art and poem, between sight and sound, between visual and verbal. Come September, the belly of the spider will be cut open and the book lung exposed.

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