By Brooke Schultz
“Still Life with Poem,” an anthology of poetry, was born from the prompt: make a still life and write a poem.
Dr. Jehanne Dubrow and Lindsay Lusby, the editors of the anthology, sent the challenge to poets across the country, encouraging them to use anything in their composition; the only rule was that their poem could not be based on any pre-existing work of art.
To celebrate the launch on Oct. 18, five poets read their own submission, along with the work of two additional poets included in the anthology.
Readers included Dr. James Allen Hall, James Arthur, Leslie Harrison, dawn lonsinger, Dora Malech, and Lusby.
“With a nearly 600 year history, the still life has most often been used as a vehicle for symbolism and allegory with objects – flowers, skulls, fruits, dead game – serving as stand-ins for philosophical ideas, religious principles, or moralizing messages. In this way, still life is the very embodiment of show, don’t tell,” Lusby said in her opening remarks of the “Still Life with Poem” reading on Oct. 18. “Concrete, tangible things are used to express abstract concepts by evoking the five senses.”
Lusby said that it took about a year and a half for the idea to become a printed book.
“We gave contributors a few months to write these poems and send them back to us. One of the great thrills of editing ‘Still Life with Poem’ was instigating writing of new poems by some of the best contemporary American poets,” she said.
After all the work was submitted, Lusby, Dr. Dubrow, and Literary House’s 2016 Press Intern Caroline Harvey, junior, began editing the book.
“[It] involved hours upon hours of careful reading, research and reference materials, note-making, corrections, creative proofs, and sending them out to contributors, and making all final alterations,” Lusby said. “So a lot of work.”
The cover was designed by Lusby and Dr. Dubrow and used the image submitted with her poem “A Green Thought” by Jennifer Clarvoe.
This launch represents the second Literary House press anthology. The first, “Book of Scented Things” was published in 2014. Poets were challenged to use scent as an inspiration. In addition to their paper books, the Literary House Press has published several chapbooks, the most recent slated for a fall 2017 release, and in February 2015, launched a literary magazine, “Cherry Tree: A National Literary Magazine @ Washington College,” featuring poetry, fiction, and creative non-fiction.