Friday, 30 August 2013

What I do

What do archivists and special collections librarians do? Here's a (not totally accurate, but hopefully amusing) idea based on my Friday:

Thursday, 29 August 2013

Unexpected embroidery

Hoopla: The Art of Unexpected Embroidery

This is a book we got in recently at Special Collections. Pretty interesting stuff, showcasing guerrilla styled stitch-art that challenges the traditions of textile crafts, and brings new, unexpected life to the ordinary.  I didn't get a chance to read the whole thing, but from what I saw, it looked pretty cool. So allow me to share with you some examples of unexpected embroidery, in which the ordinary is made extraordinary:


But this isn't a post about embroidery, this is a post about poetry. It is a post about how poetry is its own kind of embroidery--and the more unexpected, the better it is (imo, anyway). To borrow a notion from H.G. Widdowson, most poetry is, at its heart, about some very general, very basic theme. Like "love hurts" or "flowers are pretty". What makes the words worth reading at all, much like what makes the piece of bread above worth looking at, is the embroidery.

Take a rather dull, straightforward theme like "my life sucks and is meaningless". We've all felt this, but phrasing it in this way doesn't even come close to describing it, and is certainly not entertaining. Put this sentiment in a poet's hands, however, and we get:

For I have known them all already, known them all;
Have known the evenings, mornings, afternoons,                       50
I have measured out my life with coffee spoons;
I know the voices dying with a dying fall
Beneath the music from a farther room.
  So how should I presume?

  And I have known the eyes already, known them all—
The eyes that fix you in a formulated phrase,
And when I am formulated, sprawling on a pin,
When I am pinned and wriggling on the wall,
Then how should I begin
To spit out all the butt-ends of my days and ways?                    60
  And how should I presume?

(Prufrock, ladies and gentlemen)

Captures the essence of the rather simple dull sentiment much better, doesn't it?

So whether you're doing it with a needle and thread, or with words, I sort of feel like embroidery is at the heart of creation, and the more unexpected the embroidery is--sometimes the more unlike embroidery it becomes--the more interesting the creation can be.