MFA Book and Paper Students Re-Imagine Theater in Book Form

When Poetry magazine Senior Editor Don Share was looking for an alternative way to present a short theatrical piece by poet Aram Saroyan, naturally went to the Foundation’s Printer’s Ball collaborators at Columbia College Chicago’s Center for Book and Paper Arts.

Share met with the Center’s Director Steve Woodall and MFA in Interdisciplinary Book and Paper Arts faculty member Clif Meador. It was a short step from there to the MFA program’s Advanced Printing course, and the result was Four Monologues, a small chapbook currently being bound in an edition of 300 under the Book and Paper Center’s Epicenter imprint.


Last week Don was presented with several advance copies from the first batch out of the bindery. As he makes clear on his blog Squandermania, one of the most-followed of all poetry blogs, he was blown away by the end result. Says Share, “Columbia’s MFA students (Jenny Garnett, Boo Gilder, Michelle Graves, Hannah King, Jackie McGill, Jenna Rodriguez, Christopher Sacolo, and Claire Sammons) came up with something unaccountably apt and beautiful: a handprinted, hand-sewn book consisting of four pockets, bound together, holding each piece of the work. The book makes tangible, as does Aram’s piece, the poignant fact that these four writers were both brought together by writing and the printed page, and separated tragically by the events of history.”


Share is thrilled with his copy of the book. And the project will be expanding in a number of interesting directions, including an iPad app featuring this and other artists’ books, and a Critical Encounters co-hosted dramatic reading of the piece with students in Columbia’s Theater Department, under the direction of Professor Brian Shaw.

Plans are already underway for the next collaboration between the Poetry Foundation and the Center for Book and Paper Arts. The project promises to be a very different, but just as innovative, working with much-praised poet and novelist Ben Lerner on his work The Dark Threw Patches Down Upon Me Also.