No Ideas But in Things: A Confluence of Ephemera, Found Objects, Heirlooms, and Words
Poetry and Object Installation
In Residence: November 6 – December 14, 2006
Opening Reception: December 14, 5:30 – 8:00pm
Exhibition: continues through January 13, 2007
Creative Resident Michael J. Henry celebrated his six-week residency at PlatteForum with an exhibition of poetry and prose-with the objects that inspired the writing.
A long-time packrat and person known to get lost in nostalgic reverie, Michael has embarked on an exploration of personal ephemera and the power they hold over him, whether they be youthful folly or priceless family heirlooms. “These are the things I’ve kept in dusty shoeboxes over the years, and have either been embarrassed or afraid to look at them and try to understand why they’re so important to me,” says Henry. “Some of these things make me incredibly sad, and some just leave me wondering, what is this thing?”
On a more playful note, Michael has embarked on a series of writing workshops/Learning Labs with youth from Colfax Community Network, PS 1, and North High, to investigate the small beauties and enigmas of everyday found objects-items one might consider junk-to see what stories and poems they might trigger. Says Henry: The poet William Carlos Williams once wrote “No ideas but in things,” and for the longest time I’ve been trying to fully understand what that means, since many of my teachers considered that a cornerstone of a writer’s education.” To wit, Michael and the young writers have written about a host of objects-which include things like a pocket watch, dog leash, a miniature replica of Rodin’s “The Thinker,” and a five-pound dumbbell. Adults who participated in a special Writer’s Buzz on December 9 added their poetry to the installation, making the project a multi-generational experience.
About the Artist
Michael J. Henry, MFA is the executive director of Lighthouse Writers Workshop, a non-profit independent creative writing school located in downtown Denver. Michael’s poetry and essays have appeared in such journals and magazines as Threepenny Review, Georgetown Review, Poetry Motel, and 5280. His work is soon to appear in the forthcoming Open Windows 2006anthology from Ghost Road Press. Awards for his writing have included a Colorado Council on the Arts Fellowship. In addition to teaching adults and young writers at Lighthouse, Michael is currently an instructor at University of Denver. He received his MFA in creative writing from Emerson College. For information about Lighthouse Writers Workshop: www.lighthousewriters.com
Poetry Mentors:Emily Potts, Ginny Hoyle, Mindy Bray, Hobby Chapin, Mark Kling, Tracy Chapin, Katie Meske , Rachel Rand, Miguel Garcia, Debby Cella and Tyrell Banks
Teachers: Mandie Birchem, Susan Vaho, Abby Beltz, Jose Mercado