'The Art of Losing' Exhibition on Display at Emory

Published 08-20-2010

The death of a loved one often brings feelings of despair and isolation, but an exhibition and anthology of poems offers comfort through shared experiences.

“The Art of Losing” exhibition is open through Dec. 28 at the Manuscript, Archives, and Rare Book Library (MARBL), on the 10th floor of the Woodruff Library at Emory University.

The exhibition coincided with the March release of The Art of Losing: Poems of Grief & Healing, an anthology of elegies selected by poet Kevin Young, co-curator of the exhibition. Young is the curator of literary collections and the Raymond Danowski Poetry Library at MARBL, and the Atticus Haygood Professor of English and Creative Writing at Emory. The book includes poems by Elizabeth Alexander, Pulitzer Prize-winner Natasha Trethewey (who is the Phillis Wheatley Distinguished Chair in Poetry in Emory’s Creative Writing program), Elizabeth Bishop, Lucille Clifton, e.e. cummings, Emily Dickinson, Seamus Heaney, Ted Hughes, Mary Oliver, Anne Sexton and Dylan Thomas, as well as several by Young himself. Also included are poems by recent readers in MARBL’s Danowski Poetry Reading Series: Robert Pinsky, C.K. Williams and Li-Young Lee.

“Through elegy and throughout the years, poets have traced their own journeys through grief in order to comprehend the incomprehensible, to comfort themselves and others,” Young says. “Like the book that inspired it, this exhibition traces grief’s journey, from Reckoning to Regret, through Remembrance to Ritual and Recovery; if it doesn’t resolve the grieving process with simple acceptance, it does end with a kind of Redemption. For while these poems chronicle loss and its rituals, elegies also celebrate life – and ask us to care for ours, if only by honoring the lives of loved ones.”

The exhibition features books and unique items from MARBL’s collection that feature poems reprinted in Young’s anthology, along with additional highlights from the Raymond Danowski Poetry Library, MARBL’s general holdings and recent acquisitions.

One of Young’s notebooks with a draft of his poem “Bereavement,” written in memory of his father, will be displayed alongside a wall panel of its printing last summer in The New Yorker.

The exhibition is free and open to the public during normal MARBL hours, which are Monday through Saturday from 9 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. MARBL is located on the 10th floor of the Woodruff Library on the Emory University campus, 540 Asbury Circle, Atlanta, GA 30322. For more information, call 404.727.6887, e-mail marbl@emory.edu or visit http://marbl.library.emory.edu/news-events.