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The Poet and the Archivist

November 3, 2017

Lily Guillen / The Courier

Over the summer, a group of Monmouth College students and Professor David Wright produced a set of poems based on artifacts from the Warren County History Museum. Last week, they gave a presentation on the collaboration process.

This project was a part of the Summer Opportunities for Intellectual Activities (SOfIA) program at the college. The students involved were sophomore Lauren Horner, and freshmen Kelsey Arlt, Hannah Decker, Maddisen Nelsen, and Connor Schmall. They were able to use photographs, objects, and documents from the museum’s collections as a basis for the poems they would write.

On Thursday night, members of the Monmouth community came out to the museum to learn about the three-week long project. Wright mentioned, “This is a project I’ve wanted to do for a while, but I haven’t really gotten the opportunity to work on it in class.” He also spoke about how to create a story, and the ethics that go along with inventing one for an artifact that already has its own history.

A couple of the students were present at the talk and got the opportunity to read one of their poems. Nelsen read a poem she wrote that was inspired by a Japanese toy accordion; while Schmall read a found poem he wrote. Wright explained that a found poem is created by taking text from other poems, but in this case, the text was taken from archived documents. Wright also read a found poem that he wrote from diary entries from the great depression. To his surprise, the owner of the diary was a relative of Diane Hawk, the museum’s vice president.

Wright emphasized the great help that they were able to receive from several people outside of the SOfIA program; especially from Kellen Hinrichsen, the museum director. After the talk, the floor was open for questions, and attendees got the opportunity to take a look at the artifacts that inspired the poems.

The collections area of the museum is open by appointment only. The public can call the museum at (309) 734- 8433, or email Hinrichsen at for more information.

Lily Guillen
Photography Manager

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