In the Stacks with Lightsey Darst: Day 1

Poet Lightsey Darst is currently a writer-in-residence at The Walker Art Center’s Resource Library. During the course of her two-week residency, she’ll post dispatches here at Unfiltered. To learn more about our Writers and Readers Library Residency Program, click here.


Day 1: 5/15/13, 1-3pm


Jill says, “Off you go.”

I look up HOME in the card catalog. To start. The drawer for HOME is Hol-How. A card for Nancy Holt, free of the rod at the bottom of the drawer, tilts up at me. A trace of a previous researcher. In a physical medium, people can be followed.

I was just reading about Nancy Holt and her husband Robert Smithson making a film together. He died young, in a plane crash (I mistype “place crash”), as he was scoping out a site for a new earthwork. Tragic. Place crash. I’m drawn to Holt.

Decision: follow the impulse or stick to the search? Follow the impulse.

TR647. H658

Holt is next to Rebecca Horn. I look at Horn first. A photo of her body in a landscape with wings, the wings attached with a series of horizontal straps, stripes across her body. Unfurled, the wings make perfect hemispheres, body in parenthesis. Corona. Nimbus. Aura. The word aporia somehow comes to mind: a contradiction. I must be thinking of lacuna: a gap.

“a ritual to exorcise fear of contact”—from an essay by Lucy Lippard.

I try to take good notes. A typo in the text: instead of forms, “froms a text.”

“these walls enclosing the room so lovingly, isolating it from the world, standing so close in front of you, intermingling with you”—from Horn’s own writing.

But one must go beyond gathering quotations—snipping, stealing. I don’t know where this must comes from.

Another book by Lippard gleams on a shelf above me. A little further over, I spy Smithson. Trails lead everywhere. There is no possible isolation.


  1. If you don’t know what you’re looking for, you’re sure to find it.
  2. Wander vs. errand. (Errand from Old English mission, seemingly unrelated to err.)

LATER, when I’m revising poems, I notice that I’m adding words of material and texture. Jet, woodgrain.

The library is solid words.


Lightsey Darst is the author of Find the Girl and the forthcoming book, Dance, both published by Coffee House Press. She will read new work and talk about her residency experience at the Walker Art Center on Thursday, June 20th at 7:00 pm. Stay tuned for more details. 


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