Julia Kim Smith

concrete poetry 2

Concrete Poetry 2 opening May 2024, The Ivy Bookshop gardens, Baltimore, MD

Concrete Poetry 2 is an interactive outdoor installation of 100 free-standing cast concrete letters placed on a platform of concrete pavers. Visitors to The Ivy Bookshop’s gardens are welcome to move the letters and compose poetry. On occasion, noted authors are invited to feature their work.

In celebration of Asian American, Native Hawaiian, and Pacific Islanders Heritage Month, an excerpt from Cathy Park Hong’s Minor Feelings: An Asian American Reckoning is currently featured: “For as long as I can remember, I have struggled to prove myself into existence.”
—Cathy Park Hong, Minor Feelings: An Asian American Reckoning, Penguin Random House, 2020

From the publisher:
Poet and essayist Cathy Park Hong fearlessly and provocatively blends memoir, cultural criticism, and history to expose fresh truths about racialized consciousness in America. Part memoir and part cultural criticism, this collection is vulnerable, humorous, and provocative—and its relentless and riveting pursuit of vital questions around family and friendship, art and politics, identity and individuality, will change the way you think about our world.

Binding these essays together is Hong’s theory of “minor feelings.” As the daughter of Korean immigrants, Cathy Park Hong grew up steeped in shame, suspicion, and melancholy. She would later understand that these “minor feelings” occur when American optimism contradicts your own reality—when you believe the lies you’re told about your own racial identity. Minor feelings are not small, they’re dissonant—and in their tension Hong finds the key to the questions that haunt her.

With sly humor and a poet’s searching mind, Hong uses her own story as a portal into a deeper examination of racial consciousness in America today. This intimate and devastating book traces her relationship to the English language, to shame and depression, to poetry and female friendship. A radically honest work of art, Minor Feelings forms a portrait of one Asian American psyche—and of a writer’s search to both uncover and speak the truth.

As public art, Concrete Poetry 2 is an expression of community trust. It is permanent and mutable. As often the case with public art, permanence and immutability can prove to be elusive. Through the installation, I query: how do we move forward in an impermanent world?

Concrete Poetry 2 is set in Clarendon, a slab serif with a bold, sturdy structure. It was created by Robert Besley for Fann—later Thorowgood and Co.—type founders (U.K.) in 1845 and exists today in modern iterations. Haas Clarendon was introduced as the U.S. National Park Service standard by Chermayeff and Geismar in 1975 and was in use on park signage until 2000.

Jonathan Ceci Landscape Architects, New World Gardens, Orlando Products, Remington Artist Services