The next time you visit NMWA, come to the Betty Boyd Dettre Library and Research Center to see a work that will appeal to fans of artists’ books and poetry. When opened, the contents of this “book in a box” fold out accordion-style; viewers can approach it as a traditional book and turn the pages, or view it as a sculptural object. A facsimile of a handmade book that Anne Carson, a Canadian poet and classicist, wrote and created after the death of her older brother, Nox beautifully and distinctively portrays the poet’s memories and feelings.
Inside, reproductions of family photos, drawings, collages, and letters commemorate her brother’s life and express her attempts at coming to terms with her loss. Accompanying the illustrations is a beautiful translation of Catullus 101 by the Roman poet Gaius Valerius Catullus, which was addressed to his dead brother. Other text includes definitions of various words relating to family and loss, pasted in dictionary format, and personal written excerpts from her notebook. The effect is a beautiful epitaph to a loved one, inspiring in both content and form.
We welcome all to stop by the Betty Boyd Dettre Library and Research Center to look at this beautiful book in person. We’re open to the public Monday–Friday, 10 a.m.–noon and 1–5 p.m. If you’re touring the museum’s exhibitions, the library makes a great starting point on the fourth floor! In addition to the beautiful books and comfy reading chairs, visitors enjoy the interesting exhibitions that feature artist’s books, archival manuscripts, and rare books. Reference Desk staff are always happy to answer questions and offer assistance. We hope to see you soon!
—Jennifer Page is the library assistant at the National Museum of Women in the Arts.