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Andrei Codrescu on turning books into school cabins

September 7th 2010

In the current ongoing issue of Exquisite Corpse, editor Andrei Codrescu writes:

We would like to open a summer poetry school in our magic hills on the Buffalo River, the Oz[ark] branch of the New Orleans School for the Imagination (NOSI). We thought about building cabins from books. Vincent Cellucci told us that he knows how to get a ton of books cheaply from an outfit that sells books by weight. This kicked off a memory: in 1990 I saw an art exhibit about the demise of commie states; the centerpiece was a dry well made from thousands of hardback copies of unread books by Lenin, Stalin, and Co. The artist had used mirrors at the bottom of the well to multiply the books to infinity, which is just about how many were produced and never read for all those grim decades of boring prose. I can’t remember the artist’s name, but I would like to ask our readers how might one use books as bricks to build a small house? What sort of binding agent might we use? How do we keep humidity out? Is it possible to build a house out of books so that the spines can be seen from various inside/outside places? Architects, masons, and cement connoisseurs, can you advise us? As I said, we can get books (bricks) cheap, and while it is true that most of these tons of books were produced, warehoused, and never-read, some of them were best-sellers in their day and were printed by the millions before they were forgotten. Our project is not like Larry MacMurtry’s Book City in Texas, or Hay-on-Wye in Wales, where they sell books. We want to make idiosyncratic (interesting) structures from books, places where students of poetry could live over the summer. We envision about twelve cabins built around a common ground, and one long building for a kitchen, dining room, and, ironically, a library. In the library books will be free to move about, obviously, while their fellow books are imprisoned in the walls. This will not, hopefully again, be anything but an esthetic judgment. There are five hundred years of books out there just crying out to be used for something, anything, And here we are, an answer to their prayers. If you can help us, write directly to:

Andrei is deadly serious about this. So if you have any suggestions, please send him an email. Immediately if not sooner. EW

Plus more current Codrescu news: His latest book The Poetry Lesson is now available. Click here

And there’s an interview with Andrei conducted by Mark Spitzer here

Exquisite Corpse. And Andrei Codrescu. Both still going strong, thank God!