" Today we present an interview with and tone poem by visual artist Margaret Withers. I’m really digging her vision of her ideal library; make sure to check it out! ~ Laura

Library as Incubator Project (LAIP): Tell us a little about yourself – who are you, where are you from, and what sort of creative work do you do?

Margaret Withers (MW): I’m a visual artist and I currently live in New York City, but I grew up in Texas and also lived for a long stretch of time in Colorado. I primarily paint abstract narratives or anti-stories that revolve around the idea of home and communication.

LAIP: What is/has been your relationship to libraries–as a reader, as an artist, as a community member…however you feel like answering the question!

MW: When I was around nine or ten, I would go by myself to visit my grandmother who lived on a farm. I had absolute freedom to do anything I wanted to do during the day as long as I was home for dinner. So, I would ride my bike 5 miles into town, go buy grapes and licorice whips and hang out at the library and read magazines and newspapers. So for me, the library was a safe and orderly place where I could go and be around adults but not feel powerless or small (and they didn’t yell at me for sneaking in grapes).

LAIP: As an artist, what would your ideal library look or be like? What would it have in it?

MW: My ideal library would have incandescent lights with lots of windows and skylights, and be peaceful, comfortable and open on Sunday’s and nights. It would have an adult only poetry cave that would be magical in that, once you entered, time would stop. It would contain all the poetry in the world and hot tea and cookies would be served on fine china by large Saint Bernard dogs.


Curious, USA

To get there, you follow a passage, not like this sentence is a passage, but instead, like a line is a passage, and you know that the road is there because you can see the

houses  and you look up and down the line and see the telephone poles with the telephone lines that snap in some breeze unfelt, at least by you, and listening, you hear the party lines hum with gossip and pig futures.

Do you see the eyes?   They’ve been there all this time, just staring at you, as if they’re waiting for their cue, and you think you know what this is all about, that you’ve seen this written down on scraps of paper that were crumbled up and tossed in a trash can, where you repeatedly dug them out and smoothed them on your knee while mumbling to yourself that, really, it’s ok to move on.
Well, the mouth,   you understand, it’s just a souvenir, picked up at a Stuckey’s store somewhere in West Texas, where afterwards, you pulled out of the parking lot and back onto the road, snapping your eyes up from the mesmerizing pull of the telephone lines as they stretch from pole to pole, rolling down into the curve and back up, click, and down, then back up, click, keeping time with the purr of the tires on the blacktop, and beyond that you see the flat darkness of the fields, corn rows fanning out in the curve of each line

, and before long a house interrupts this flow and you see your own tired eyes reflecting back at you in the glass. You quickly roll down the window just to feel the cool breeze and you stare straight ahead and somehow you know that this image is just a passage moving through this curious American landscape and that, if you look away now, you might just miss it. "


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