Ever since I read Jonathan Safran Foer’s article Emptiness, about his fascination and promise of the empty page, I’ve been wondering about my own collections concerning writing. I collect books. I collect model student papers, but most of this stuff was in my hand. Well, a couple of years ago, I began giving away framed pages of my annotations to friends. I would consider the friend, find a book that I’ve read that I thought they might like or made me think of them, check the text for annotations, photocopy the passage, frame it and give the annotated page as a gift.
As I kept making more gifts, people kept commenting on how they enjoyed them.
Throughout my different living spaces, I would put up annotations or frame favorite pages of books. Over time, using the Foer as a model, I wrote some of my favorite authors and asked if they wanted to contribute a photocopied-annotated manuscript page or a photocopy of their reading to the wall. Some replied, while others only read and wrote electronically.
Every once in a while, I would take one or two up to school to show students. They were fascinated. It was then I realized how little modeling they had of annotations in the process of reading or writing. Yes, they’d seen me do it, but that was about it. So when it was appropriate, I would show annotations from readers/ writers from Obama, Coppola, and whatever else I could find on-line. And while they thought it was cool, the students didn’t seem to respond the same way to the screen as they did when they saw them in a frame. The framing provided it’s own rhetoric. It told the students that writing and the notes are important of our process as readers, writers, and persons.
And finally the invitation. If you would like to contribute an annotated page of your reading or notes you’ve made on a manuscript (photocopied or original), feel free to get in touch. I’m looking to put a collection together of physical copies of annotations in all shapes and sizes.