Emory Report
February 4, 2008
Volume 60, Number 18

“Visions and Revisions”
is on display at MARBL in Woodruff Library through May 21. The exhibit is free and open to the public.
For more information visit, www.arts.emory.edu.

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February 4, 2008
‘Visions and Revisions’ reveals creative process

By Lea McLees

Despite their usually brief and concise nature, the process of creating poems is anything but that. “Visions and Revisions: An Exhibition of Poems in Process” takes visitors on the journey of composition alongside 10 poets whose manuscripts, revisions and final versions of 16 individual poems are on display.

The manuscripts displayed highlight Emory’s collecting strengths in American, British and Irish poetry. Poets featured include Nobel-prize-winner Seamus Heaney of Ireland, the late poet laureate of Britain Ted Hughes, American Sylvia Plath, the late American Pulitizer-prize-winner Anthony Hecht, and two of Emory’s own poets: Pulitzer-prize-winner Natasha Trethewey, and Kevin Young, curator of the Danowski Poetry Library.

The exhibition, housed in the Manuscript, Archives, and Rare Book Library, is a testament to the challenge of writing powerfully with few words, says Steve Enniss, MARBL’s director.

“The manuscripts in this exhibition illustrate that composing is a difficult process, and that each poet approaches it differently,” Enniss said. “We see clearly through this exhibition that poems rarely emerge fully formed from the writer’s head on the first try.”

Visitors will note revisions such as those in Heaney’s “Strange Fruit,” which originally included more frequent religious references than appeared in the final version. They’ll also see what inspired some of the poets: British poet Carole Ann Duffy was moved to compose “Recognition” by a letter to the editor she clipped and pasted to her writing paper.

They’ll also see the different final formats in which poetry can appear, ranging from Plath’s “Sleep in the Mojave Desert,” published in Harper’s magazine, to Hecht’s Pulitzer-prize-winning volume of poetry, to Young’s “Ode to Pork,” published on a single sheet by the Southern Foodways Alliance.