University of Wisconsin-Madison Libraries

Events & Exhibits

Celebrate Poetry Month and Go Big Read with This New Exhibit

2014-04-16_1707Memorial Library invites all to join in a unique conversation inspired by this year’s Go Big Read book, Ruth Ozeki’s A Tale for the Time Being. The exhibit runs through May 9th in the first floor lobby.

What distinguishes this conversation is that it takes place on a magnetic poetry board. Why this particular format? Not only is this month National Poetry Month, but also because of a line that inspired our librarians. In the novel, a novelist named Ruth living near British Columbia finds the diary of Nao, a girl from Toyko. In the diary, Nao writes:

 “I will write down everything I know about Jiko’s life in Marcel’s book, and when I’m done, I’ll just leave it somewhere, and you will find it.
How cool is that?  It feels like I’m reaching forward through time to touch you, and now that you’ve found it, you’re reaching back to touch me!
If you ask me, it’s fantastically cool and beautiful.  It’s like a message in a bottle, cast out onto the ocean of time and space….”

 A magnetic poetry board allows us to send out “messages in bottles,” anonymously, to others who come through the library.

A Tale for the Time Being is also a meditation on the impermanence of text. Nao writers her diary in the hull of a copy of Proust’s A la Recherche du Temps Perdu (In Search of Lost Time). Ruth’s search for Nao’s identity is stymied by the disappearance of texts on the Internet. Text disappearing is a major plot point near the end of the book.

Compositions on a magnetic poetry board are alterable by anyone, and can mimic, to some extent, the way words appear and disappear in the story.

Guidelines for this magnetic poetry board, which will be up through May 9, are fairly simple.

  • We provide word tiles, including a number specifically inspired by Tale (the letters on these tiles are red), and some inspiration, in the form of writing prompts also inspired by the book. The writing prompts are suggestions and jumping-off points, not questions that have to be answered directly.
  • People are encouraged to respond to others’ compositions. Because Tale is a meditation on the fluidity of texts, it’s okay to alter others’ compositions.
  • We ask that people please be mindful and respectful of others, those who have left thoughts on the board, and those who will read the board.
  • Library staff will photograph the board as a whole each day.
  • Enjoy!

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