Sunday, March 04, 2018

Deckle Edge Literary Festival 2018

(Above:  Making bookmarks at the Richland County Main Library as part of the Deckle Edge Literary Festival 2018.  Click on any image to enlarge.)

Yesterday was an amazing experience!  From 10 - 4, I spent time on the second floor of the Richland County Public Library, just at the top of the central escalator making bookmarks with the public.  The event was part of the Deckle Edge Literary Festival.  I met lots of people and talked about the many panel discussions and other offerings at the one-day festival.  One lady and her young son came from Summerville, just outside Charleston.  The three girls in the photo above came with a high school journalism group in Oxford, Mississippi.  I also met lots of aspiring poets, like the volunteer in the background.  She's a Spring Valley High School student who helped festival goers find their way to various discussions groups, the hospitality room, the theater, and the bathroom.  She made two nice bookmarks too!  I also spent time with a homeless guy I know from Starbucks.  He has a "gold card" like me.  He made a bookmark that spelled out the word "coffee".  Later, one little four-year-old girl refused her mother's help.  She couldn't read or write but carefully selected attractive letters to glue down and then announced exactly what it meant to her.  It was incredible!

 (Above:  Sample book marks.)

The idea for this project was for people to use my letters (clipped from magazines) to spell out a significant word or favorite author or important book title.  No one selected a book or an author.  Everyone gravitated to a word of intention.  I thought that would happen, especially since the sample bookmarks I made came from a video called "10 Emotions You Didn't Know Had Names".  I found this video on Facebook.  It was shared by my friend Ellen Kochansky, director of the Rensing Center ... a place where I will spent five summer weeks creating another, larger project for public engagement.  The funny thing is, almost no one looked at my samples.  People immediately understood that they could write anything they wanted using the thousands of available letters.

 (Above:  Some of the participants and the bookmarks they made.)

For me, it was a unique way to watch people select letters that really did look like the meaning behind their word or phrase. 

Some people automatically used the blank bookmarks vertically.  I've never done that.  The man in the photo above let his wife know what was on his mind.  His bookmark read, "LUNCH"!

 (Above:  Making keys with the public, including poet Jennifer Bartell.)

I kept busy the entire time too although nothing I made will ever be used as a bookmark.  Everything I created will later be turned into a tagged key for my Wall of Keys.  That's how I came up with this idea in the first place.  I've always used "text", a literary form for visual expression.  I've always thought about meaningful words.  During the day, the public influence me in unexpected ways with idea for new words and phrases.  Soon, there will be plenty of newly tagged keys on my wall!

(Above:  Detail of my Wall of Keys.  There are currently over 2000 tagged keys.)

Later in the evening, I went to the champagne reception followed by the keynote address by Terrance Hayes, winner of the 2010 National Book Award who also the current New York Times Magazine's poetry editor and honored as a MacArthur, NEA, and Guggenheim fellowship.  During the evening, Nikky Finney was given Deckle Edge's inaugural "Southern Truth Award".  Nikky Finney has a resume very much like Terrance Hayes ... winning the 2011 National Book for Poetry award, a book I've even read! LOL!  For the most part, the evening was one spent listening to amazing words by very, very accomplished writers.  It was my honor just to be there!

(Above:  Deckle Edge's keynote evening with Deckle Edge's board member Cindi Boiter starting the evening off!)

1 comment:

fndlmous said...

It's amazing how a simple idea can strike a chord with people. How gratifying to be part of an event where everybody benefited, including you.
Pat F in Winnipwg