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Sitting Between the Sea and the Buildings: A Symposium of Poets and Artists

Saturday, May 11th – Saturday, May 11th, 12:00 PM–6:00 PM

Poetry Foundation
61 West Superior Street
Free admission; the public is welcome to attend any or all of the day's schedule

Taking Joan Mitchell’s legacy of collaboration with poets as a starting point, this day-long symposium will include talks, readings, demonstrations, and performances that explore intersections of visual art and poetry.

Participants include poets Bill Berkson, Douglas Kearney, and John Yau; visual artists Terry Adkins, Lesley Dill, and Mildred Howard; and April Sheridan and Stephen Woodall of the Center for Book and Paper Arts at Columbia College Chicago.

Sitting Between the Sea and the Buildings, named after the first line of John Ashbery’s “The Painter,” is organized in connection with the exhibition currently on view at the Poetry Foundation, Joan Mitchell: At Home in Poetry. The exhibition features the large-scale quadriptych painting, Minnesota (1980), as well as photographs, correspondence, print portfolios, and artists’ books that Joan Mitchell created in collaboration with poets.

The symposium will conclude with the announcement of a commissioned performance piece, which will be created as a collaboration between Terry Adkins and Douglas Kearney and unveiled at a later date. The goal of this commission is to demonstrate how collaboration can change the way artists and poets think and work.


12:00 PM Open Door & Welcome
12:30 PM Poetry & Anecdotes, by Bill Berkson, with keepsake print produced by the Center for Book and Paper Arts
1:30 PM Break
1:45 PM Artist Talk, by Lesley Dill
2:15 PM Artist Talk, by Mildred Howard
2:45 PM Poetry & Art, by John Yau
3:15 PM Break
3:45 PM Artists Among Poets: A Panel Discussion moderated by poet and critic John Yau, including visual artists Lesley Dill and Mildred Howard and poet Bill Berkson
5:00 PM

Untitled: The Joan Mitchell Foundation and Poetry magazine announce a Commissioned performance piece, to be created collaboratively by artist Terry Adkins and poet Douglas Kearney. A short demonstration will accompany the announcement.

Co-sponsored by the Joan Mitchell Foundation and
Poetry magazine

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Other Information

  • Browse Poems

  • Current Exhibition
    Jun 16, 2017 – Aug 25, 2017

    This exhibition showcases highlights from the literary archives of Gwendolyn E. Brooks (1917–2000), Illinois Poet Laureate and the first black winner of the Pulitzer Prize. Brooks’s papers include youthful poetry and prose, scrapbooks of pieces she published as a young woman, extensive correspondence with a significant roster of other writers, and manuscript drafts and proofs, especially after she left mainstream publishing to produce her works with black-owned presses.