By Chara Kramer:
MaryAnn Miller, a poet and an artist, has been involved with teaching and school counseling for 28 years. Recently, she has put together a poetry series at Hunterdon Art Museum. This series will begin this April 5, 2013 in honor of National Poetry Month. Lucky for me, I got in touch with MaryAnn to get some specifics:
Kramer: What exactly is a Resident Book Artist, and how did you get involved with it at the Experimental Printmaking Institute?
Miller: As the Resident Book Artist at the Experimental Printmaking Institute, my job is to collaborate with artists to design and construct an edition of handmade books using the prints they have created in the studio. I help them decide on the format for their books, for instance, should it be a traditional case-bound book, an accordion book, or I might innovate a form just for a particular project. I have been doing this since 2001 when I took a Digital Book Arts Workshop at EPI and the Director asked me to stay on and teach the next session. I should add I have been a visual artist all my life and taught art in Public School and Museums.
Kramer: In what ways have you seen poetry change because of the use of technology?
Miller: My experience with poetry and technology started with Book Arts. Photoshop, scanners, and wide format printers allow poets to integrate their work with the visual arts in new ways. Poems can be arranged on the page so easily with text being bent and stretched, copied and pasted. My experience has been more on the making end of it, but the disseminating function of technology has obviously made it possible for poetry to be published and read in a flash! The very slow hand-made low-tech side pf artists’ books is at one end of a continuum and the almost instantaneous on-line publication is at the other end. There are many more choices for poets because of technology. What that does to the quality of writing is a question for each writer to consider.
Kramer: Was there one significant piece of writing that gave you the idea for this Poetry Series at the Hunterdon Art Museum? Why did you choose the Hunterdon Art Museum as the location?
Miller: It wasn’t a piece of writing that gave me the idea for a poetry series at the Hunterdon Art Museum. It was that there is no series in the area and Clinton is actually an easy town to get to situated at the junction of Routes I-78 and 31. The HAM is a beautiful renovated stone mill and is a center for art, craft and design. It sits on the banks of the South Branch of the Raritan River, has a gorgeous new terrace. The town comes alive on Friday evenings with people strolling, listening to live music, eating dinner on the river, and boating in warm weather. The HAM is a perfect spot to enjoy some poetry, see some art and sense the relationships among the arts and the environment.
Kramer: What kinds of things should audience members expect to see and hear each month?
Miller: Folks who come should expect to hear fine poetry from well-published poets from the Tri-State area. We start on April 5 with JC Todd and Mark Hillringhouse, both Dodge Poets. The Galleries will be free and open to the public so you can wander through or get a tour from a member of the Museum. There are activities planned for after the readings, everything from Tango lessons, a cash bar, cooking demos, to art talks, and mini-workshops.
May 4: Lois Harrod and BJ Ward
June 7: Scott McVay and Grant Clauser
Kramer: Will your book artist books be on display at these monthly events?
Miller: My artist books won’t be on display, but the Galleries will be loaded with contemporary fine art. I will be hosting and coordinating.
Kramer: How important do you think it is to have a poet read his or her work to a live audience?
Miller: When poets read to an audience a dynamic interaction is created that the poet doesn’t have when working in isolation. People tell us things we never imagine as we write. I don’t think about audience when I write so it’s always interesting to discover how your work is received. It’s fun and clarifying: and although it doesn’t influence how I write it feels like a reward to be with people who like words as much as I do.
Hunterdon Art Museum Poetry Series
7 Lower Center Street, Clinton NJ 08809
First Fridays: 6 – 7:30 pm
MaryAnn L. Miller taught art, reading and was a School Counselor in NJ public schools for 28 years. She has an M.Ed. in School Counseling from the College of NJ and an MFA from Rosemont College. She has recently completed a Postgraduate semester with the poet David Wojahn at Vermont College of Fine Arts. She has been published in Philadelphia Poets Anthology 2011 and 2013, Certain Circuits, The International Review of African American Art, The Fox Chase Review 2013, Rathalla Review, and forthcoming in Kaleidoscope magazine and MuseHouse Journal. Miller’s book of poems, Locus Mentis, has been published by PS Books. She has been the Resident Book Artist at the Experimental Printmaking Institute, Lafayette College for twelve years, where she teaches and collaborates with artists designing and constructing artist books. Her work is in the National Museum of Women in the Arts and in many corporate and private collections. She publishes hand bound artist books pairing artists and poets through her press: www.luciapress.com.