Like books, quilts are symbolic items with patterns that can tell stories. Quilts tell domestic narratives and have been recognized as important historical artifacts. As a result, the Smithsonian’s National Quilt Collection at the National Museum of American History contains hundreds of quilts. However, it might be surprising to hear that the Smithsonian Libraries also hold quilts – or rather, quilt-like books.
“Where the fold should be / There is no fold” reads the entire tenth poem of Reading Red. Reading this poem is a jarring experience: the book has many folds, extra folds. Is the “fold” of the poem related to the physical construction of the book in which it is printed, or is it a statement about something outside the book? As this poem makes clear, the work is concerned with the physical form of its presentation.