Robert Creeley Lecture on Poetry and Poetics

Upcoming Events

JEN BERVIN presents Measuring the Sun

Fri., Nov. 3rd, Poetry Collection 3:30-5:30 pm

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A first glimpse from work in progress by Jen Bervin and conservator Debora Mayer: Measuring the Sun – pursues a conceptual, scientific, and literary investigation of the material history of poet Emily Dickinson’s embossed writing materials and their entangled relationships between text and textiles. Machine-made cotton and linen rag writing paper—an emergent, booming technology in the Berkshire mills surrounding Amherst, Massachusetts, came of age alongside Dickinson in the mid-nineteenth century. The corresponding blind-stamped mill embossments—tactile, sculptural, nearly invisible—on Dickinson’s writing papers have become a research portal to trace and render visible underlying histories blistering the blank page: including colonial expropriation of native land, culture, and waterways; the machinations of the cotton empire encompassing the horrors of trans-Atlantic enslavement; the global rag trade in cotton and linen textile materials; and women’s labor in the paper and textile mills.

Jen Bervin is a visual artist and poet whose multidisciplinary practice weaves together situated poetics, research-driven works, and long-term collaborations with specialists ranging from literary scholars to material scientists. The subject of a survey publication Jen Bervin: Shift Rotate Reflect, Selected Works, Bervin’s work has been exhibited internationally and is held in more than sixty collections. Her books include Gorgeous Nothings: Emily Dickinson’s Envelope Poems (with Marta Werner); Silk Poems, a poem written nanoscale in the form of a silk biosensor with Tufts University’s Silk Lab; Nets, and numerous artist’s books (Granary Books). Bervin holds 2023–2024 research fellowships at Yale University and Harvard University.