Poetry and the Archives of HistorySaturday, May 6 | 1:00 PM - 2:00 PM
The Marsh Berkeley - Cabaret
- History & Biography
Many of us, when faced by stacks of dusty documents or faded photographs, might leave the work to the archivists—or consign the mess to the recycling bin of history. In this session, we’ll hear from those who instead look at archives and envision poetry. In West: A Translation, poet Paisley Rekdal vividly documents how the heroic narrative of the transcontinental railroad is intertwined with the history of Chinese exclusion. Her innovative, multimedia narrative poem incorporates archival photographs, maps, and other ephemera—and the whole work, as Rekdal explains in a concluding essay, was inspired by a Chinese poem carved by an anonymous writer into the walls of the Angel Island Immigration Station. In Borderland Apocrypha, longlisted for PEN America’s Jean Stein Book Award, poet Anthony Cody blends centers on the ongoing legacy of trauma along the US–Mexico border after the end of the Mexican–American War. Cody combines archival photos, postcards, newspaper clippings, and posters with deconstructed modern-day government documents and gruesome contemporary artifacts, such as “Tripadvisor Reviews” for a hanging tree in Texas. Leading this conversation through past and present is poet Tess Taylor, whose own Last West: Roadsongs for Dorothea Lange collages Lange’s photographs and journals with Taylor’s poetry.
Book signing information: Marcus Books, at the venue