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Work Samples

Sure of Heart

Sure of Heart - Book Art
Book opened to show first two stanzas of the poem, "Sure of Heart," and the embroidered organs within the plastic rib cage.

You Are What You Tweet

This book's head is stuffed with candy and fast food wrappers, and the mouth opens to reveal an accordian book full of tweeted/deleted texts sent by Donald Trump.

home pages: 1-5

Five HTML poems chronicling the lives of Martha and Bill Hall, whose marriage has been strained following the loss of their son.

Our Blood Holds Secrets

The underside of the horseshoe crab. The "book lungs" pull back to reveal a poem about the crabs as living fossils. The legs and tail move freely. Made in 2013. More on the book here: http://kineticprose.com/2013/04/22/living-fossil-book/

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About Jenny

Jenny O'Grady likes to keep her poems to herself so she can make them into little book sculptures made of beans and tape and fabric and whatever else she fancies at the moment. For several years, she taught book arts as an adjunct professor in the University of Baltimore's Creative Writing and Publishing Arts MFA program, where she earned her MFA in 2006. By day, she writes for UMBC. Jenny is editor of The Light Ekphrastic (www.thelightekphrastic.com), an online literary journal that pairs... more

home pages: 1-5

home pages: 1-5 is a series of poems written in a variation of HTML code, focusing on the lives of Marth and Bill Hall, whose marriage has been strained by the loss of their baby, Joey. I wrote the poems a number of years ago, but only recently created a physical home for them. This book opens up to create a house-shaped form, with a room, a door, a driveway, and roof made of paper. This is an edition of 50 copies, created in 2018.

Face Books

If a person was a book, what would it tell you? These small books, which take the shape of people's heads, hold stories and poems about the subject inside.

Recent Poetry

Some of my poems wind up inside books; others do not. This is a selection of several I've written recently for purposes other than my own book binding.

Sure of Heart

This book is contained within the rib cage and organs of plastic, thread and paper, with a poem that calls to the purpose of the body's most complicated machines. I started this in spring of 2016 as a challenge of form -- the body as a sort of gate-style coptic bind -- but found it came together emotionally after my husband underwent heart surgery later in the year. As I watched the echocardiograms, I marveled at the unknown landscape of machines working away for purposes they don't even understand.

Six Birds: Unsung/Sung

This work explores the legacy of lost birdsong through book art forms. Each of the six books represents a commonly lost Baltimore bird. When the book is closed, the bird appears to be dead and devoid of color; when its pages are opened, the bird comes alive through colorful paper popups and poetry that reveal secrets of the voices lost to the lights.

These were shown as part of Lynne Parks' group show Unfriendly Skies: Birds, Buildings, and Collisions exhibits at Goucher College and George Mason University in 2015.

Additional Recent Works (2016-2018)

  • Sea/Sky

    This is a dos-a-dos book, which means you can read it rightside up, or upside down. In one direction, it focuses on SKY, and the clouds and birds you might see there. On the flip side, it focuses on SEA, where the reader sees an underwater seascape. Sea/Sky is made of a variety of fabrics.
  • Three Studies

    Three Studies book
    This was for the Amplified Cactus project, through which writers and artists responded to questions. In this case the question was Why am I attracted to stimulation that destabilizes me? My response was Three Studies. Each “study” within the book is composed of a poem about a moment of destabilization (which slides neatly into the wallet-style construction) and an accompanying chart. The first spread contains a poem about how I chew my thumb ragged when I read. So, the line chart follows the “violence toward thumb” in relation to a thriller story arc.
  • Three Studies - detail

    Three Studies book
    This was for the Amplified Cactus project, through which writers and artists responded to questions. In this case the question was Why am I attracted to stimulation that destabilizes me? My response was Three Studies. Each “study” within the book is composed of a poem about a moment of destabilization (which slides neatly into the wallet-style construction) and an accompanying chart. The first spread contains a poem about how I chew my thumb ragged when I read. So, the line chart follows the “violence toward thumb” in relation to a thriller story arc.
  • Three Studies - detail

    Three Studies book
    This was for the Amplified Cactus project, through which writers and artists responded to questions. In this case the question was Why am I attracted to stimulation that destabilizes me? My response was Three Studies. Each “study” within the book is composed of a poem about a moment of destabilization (which slides neatly into the wallet-style construction) and an accompanying chart. The first spread contains a poem about how I chew my thumb ragged when I read. So, the line chart follows the “violence toward thumb” in relation to a thriller story arc.
  • Joke Explosion

    Cracker Jack lunchbox art book
    This project is part of Container's Multitudes series, which invites writers and artists to transform the same object into works of visual and literary art. In this series, participants were invited to interpret a vintage metal lunchbox. When I saw my lunchbox for the first time, I was SO excited. I have always loved the packaging for Cracker Jacks -- especially the tiny folded joke prize booklets. I love the little structures, and I adore the fact that the jokes are always terrible.
  • Smart Watch

    A play on the Apple Watch made with paper and polystyrene plastic, this book contains a short poem about the parts of life (heart, mind, etc.) the watch might "track" for you, along with illustrations of those life icons. This book was a part of the "Beyond the Margins" display at Loyola University in 2016.
  • Detail - Smart Watch

    A play on the Apple Watch made with paper and polystyrene plastic, this book contains a short poem about the parts of life (heart, mind, etc.) the watch might "track" for you, along with illustrations of those life icons. This book was a part of the "Beyond the Margins" display at Loyola University in 2016.

Tin Drum Doll Books

This trio of fabric book dolls is based on poems I’ve written about characters in the Günter Grass novel The Tin Drum. They represent three generations: Anna Bronski (the grandmother); Agnes Matzerath (the mother); and Oskar (the son, and the book's protagonist).

I've tried to make the physical experience of reading each poem doll mirror an aspect of the doll's character, and also somewhat intrusive -- as each poem touches on private, uncomfortable moments of their lives. You must lift a skirt, or unzip a dress, or unbutton suspenders to read their stories.

You can hear each poem and see the dolls in action by viewing the attached video.

More at http://kineticprose.com/2012/12/06/tin-drum-update-the-trio-is-complete/

Our Blood Holds Secrets

This "living fossil" book sculpture is made mainly from paper bags, eyelets and glue. A poem is hidden within the horseshoe crab's book gills -- one stanza per segment. The legs, tail and gills move, as do the front and middle sections of "carapace." You can read more about the project here: http://kineticprose.com/2013/04/22/living-fossil-book/.

  • Our Blood Holds Secrets

    The underside of the horseshoe crab. The "book lungs" pull back to reveal a poem about the crabs as living fossils. The legs and tail move freely. Made in 2013. More on the book here: http://kineticprose.com/2013/04/22/living-fossil-book/
  • Our Blood Holds Secrets

    The underside of the horseshoe crab. The "book lungs" pull back to reveal a poem about the crabs as living fossils. The legs and tail move freely. Made in 2013. More on the book here: http://kineticprose.com/2013/04/22/living-fossil-book/

Book Art Projects - 2005 through 2014

I have made many, many books of poems, paper, fabric and other materials. These are a few of my favorites.

  • Judy/Madeleine-depths-of-madness-avoidance-parachute-doll

    This is a double-ended parachute doll built around two characters in the movie Vertigo. Pictured is Madeleine. The parachute keeps them from actually dying. 2012. More at: http://kineticprose.com/2012/12/03/tyvek-and-vertigo/
  • Shark Book

    Shark Book is made from binder board and paper, and opens mid-way into a coptic-bound book that reveals a set of scary shark teeth! Made in 2014. More about this online at http://kineticprose.com/2014/06/22/falling-behind-catching-up/.
  • Overdue

    This book was made using discarded library card catalogue cards from UMBC's Albin O. Kuhn Library. The hand-made box opens to reveal a drawer of pop-out cards. It is decorated with dates from an authentic library date stamp. The book was accepted into the AOK Library's Special Collections, bringing the cards full-circle as artifacts. 2011. More here: http://kineticprose.com/books/overdue/
  • Good Morning, My Eye

    This wearable eyeglasses book contains a haiku: Good morning, my eye Lashes, lenses, eager blink: Everything is yours. 2012. More here: http://kineticprose.com/2012/08/12/good-morning-my-eye/
  • And, Afterward...

    I contributed a spread to And, Afterward, a collaborative book project. 2011. More at: http://kineticprose.com/books/and-afterward/
  • Autobiography

    Inside of book, bean poem, hand sewn into plastic.
  • Deadline

    Deadline is made of corrugated cardboard, Sculpey clay, paint, a long matchstick, packing tape and white xerox paper. It unrolls to reveal a poem of the same name. 2005.
  • Rainbow Sculpey Book

    This book's cover is made of yellow Sculpey clay and is only one-inch square. The exposed bind signatures open to reveal a rainbow of pages. 2012. More at: http://kineticprose.com/2012/03/11/a-bit-of-spring-cheer/

The Light Ekphrastic

The Light Ekphrastic is a quarterly online ekphrasis journal that has paired writers and visual artists of all types to create new pieces based on previous work since November 2009. Many contributors are from the Baltimore-D.C. area, but others come from as far away as Canada, Australia and Germany.

The Light Ephrastic paired with LED Baltimore in March 2015 to curate The Baltimore Ekphrasis Project, through which we paired 66 artists and writers from the Baltimore area to create new work that was displayed on the LED Art Board next to Penn Station, as well as in a special online issue of TLE. A reading/pop-up art show was held at UB, with more than 100 guests in attendance.

Photos below attempt to show how this process works, but it's much better to visit the real thing at http://www.thelightekphrastic.com.

We held our very first show of pairings of art and writing at the David Mikow Gallery in Catonsville in February 2013, and again at the same location in February 2014, both times bringing together artists and writers who had previously only met online to discuss their processes in responding to each others' work.

  • The Light Ekphrastic

    Part III: The finale of a poem, and the artist's new response to it.
  • The Light Ekphrastic

    Part II: Poetic response to artist's work, then part of the poet's original submission to TLE.
  • The Light Ekphrastic

    Part 1: Top of page, a visual artist's submitted work.
  • TLE Gallery Show, February 2013

    The Light Ekphrastic held its very first non-virtual appearance with a show at The David Mikow Art Gallery in Catonsville. The show had a special focus on contributors from UMBC and surrounding community and featured an informal discussion by artist/writer pairs about the ekphrastic processes they used to create new works inspired by the works of their partners.
  • The Light Ekphrastic

    Screen shot of The Light Ekphrastic home page, August 2012 issue, featuring writers and visual artists who have been paired to create new work.

Connect with Jenny

Jenny's Curated Collection

This artist has not yet created a curated collection.