Fragments in the Archive


"like souls, neither touching nor mingling, never composing a set, these positionless fragments depict the beauties of transition and isolation at once. Belonging to the chronology of the instant, a book of them would have to present them as a discontinuous series, a book from which each page could be taken out" (Martha L. Warner: Radical Scatters (electronic resource): Emily Dickinson's Fragments and Related Texts, 1870-1886. Ann Arbor, Michigan: University of Michigan Press, 1999-)




Nina Montenegro, Student,

written during Archive: Dance and Writing session in the University of Michigan Graduate Stacks:


Volumes and volumes

I am surrounded by all the knowledge in the world

Knowledge that is,

that can be captured into words and pages

Into bound volumes…

Bound to be forgotten

It would take a lifetime to touch all of these books,

To understand their innards an eternity.

The archive is stillness.

Sitting in a pile of dust on this glassy cold floor

It occurs to me- someone has written all of this

Could my story make a book this thick?

The density of the attempts to record experience.

Uncountable knowledge

How many voices and stories are beneath these laminated photos?

Characters in a language I don't understand bring me back to childhood illiteracy.

Oh, deteriorating, delicate pages,

Are you so set in stone that I cannot insert my own history between your lines?

Can I bridge my life to those contained in yours?

Outside of you, book,

There will always be more

More pages and books

More articles and volumes

More stacks and libraries

More voices