Visiting scholar to share poetry and visual art

Contact: Mark Schwerin
Photo of Jen .


KALAMAZOO--The worlds of art, poetry and scholarship will intertwine later this month when a visiting scholar and artist comes to town to take part in the Western Michigan University Gwen Frostic Reading Series and give a talk on Emily Dickinson while also showing her work in the Arts Council of Greater Kalamazoo Art Hop.

Poet and visual artist Jen Bervin will give a lecture titled "Small Infinities--Emily Dickinson's Manuscripts" at 4 p.m. Wednesday, March 28, in the Meader Rare Book Room of WMU's Waldo Library. She will read from her own works at 7 p.m. Thursday, March 29, at Kalamazoo Book Arts Center, 326 W. Kalamazoo Ave. Her art also is on display throughout March at the Book Arts Center.

Bervin's research and diverse creative work bring together text and textile in a way that encompasses artist books, poetry, large-scale art works and archival research. Her scholarship adopts a unique cross-disciplinary approach to the poetry of Emily Dickinson, while her own verse--which she refers to as "erasure" poetry--explores elements of collage and juxtaposition in innovative and exquisite ways. Her poetry and artist books include "The Dickinson Composites," "The Desert," "A Non- Breaking Space," "The Red Box" and "Nets," currently in its fifth printing.

In her Dickinson talk, Bervin will focus on visual and verbal conjunctions and interrelated moments in the famous poet's remarkable manuscripts and present the opportunity to look at how they intersect with earlier formal gestures in Dickinson's herbarium, embroidery sampler, letters and specific editions of books she read, marked or altered. She also will discuss the large-scale sewn composite works she has made based on Dickinson's variant structures and new works.

Bervin is coming to WMU through the Visiting Scholars and Artists Program. Established in 1960, the Visiting Scholars and Artists Program significantly contributes to the intellectual life of WMU and the community. The program provides funds for academic units to bring distinguished scholars and artists to campus. These visitors meet with faculty and students in their fields and address the community at large.

Since the program began, it has supported more than 600 visits by scholars and artists representing more than 60 academic disciplines.

Bervin's visit is co-sponsored by the Department of English Speaker Series, the University Center for the Humanities, the WMU Women's Caucus, the Carole Ann Haenicke American Women's Poetry Collection at Waldo Library, the Kalamazoo Book Arts Center and the Department of English Gwen Frostic Reading Series.

For more information, contact Dr. Nancy Eimers, WMU professor of English, at (269) 387-2593 or