Silk Poems

Silk Poems

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Author: Jen Bervin 

Publisher: Nightboat Books (2017)

In conjunction with Tufts University’s Silk Lab’s cutting-edge research on liquified silk, Jen Bervin wrote a poem composed in a six-character chain that corresponds to the DNA structure of silk; modeled on the way a silkworm applies filament to its cocoon. This poem, written from the perspective of the silkworm, explores the cultural, scientific, and linguistic complexities of silk written inside the body.

 Silk Poems, in its small, delicate package, is monumental in scope...and also in its wide-ranging suggestiveness. . . . Like all of Bervin’s projects, this one is based on the fusion of text and the material world, and on careful, extensive research. . . . She makes 'interdisciplinary' seem too narrow a word to describe the scope of the work, and her singular fabrication of wonder.”

–Martha Ronk

“She makes connections between things that most of us would leave unconnected. Her artistry is vast and inclusive, by finesse and intelligence, by curiosity, wonder, forebearance, and vision.”

–Mary Ruefle

“Read Jen Bervin's fascinating Silk Poems one hundred times and you will be given one hundred gifts. A first reading draws the mother silkworm as a metaphor for creativity and resilience. Another reading reveals an elegant letter to Infinity. This sensational book addresses both the past and the future; art and science; the earth and the stars. Everywhere Silk Poems is in incomparable conversation with us.

–Terrance Hayes

“Two filaments of silk combine to form a single thread. In poems of delicate beauty Bervin inventories multiple strands of a 5,000-year legacy spun from the carapace of a silkworm. To read is to inhabit the continuous reeling of an ancient insect / human tale and to emerge forever changed.”

–Ann Hamilton

Silk Poems seem to unspool magically from ancient burial practice and philosophy into the future of emerging nanotechnology. This beautiful multi-disciplinary text becomes a meditation on desire and embodiment, on cultural and personal transformation, on the genetic coding of language and the enduring connection of poetic practice to other forms of making.”

–Elizabeth Willis