Jen Bervin

The Dickinson Composites Edition

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This artist book edition from Granary Books focuses on The Dickinson Composites, Jen Bervin’s series of large scale embroideries on the poet Emily Dickinson’s variant marks. The subtext for this project is Emily Dickinson’s textual practice, one obscured by a century of editorial interventions.

The box, printed with enigmatic red crosses and dashes, contains two sewn samples (excerpts made at the same scale, in the same materials, using the same methods as the quilts), large prints of each quilt, and a nested booklet. Like Dickinson’s manuscripts, the box and the works therein are encountered entirely without titles. In the booklet, an essay by Bervin elucidates Dickinson’s variant marking system in her poetry manuscripts and provides further context for the quilts.

Bervin writes: “The Dickinson Composites are mends of omissions, samplers of ‘a system of Aesthetics – / Far superior to mine.’ Choosing to circumvent what seemed like an intractable editorial situation, I tried to make something as forceful, abstract, and generously beautiful as Dickinson’s work is to me.”