Poetry Everywhere

Poetry exists, everywhere. 
In this series done in collaboration with Wen Lei, we created interventions with found objects that spurred new poems to be created.


An interactive poetry project in response to Ron Padgett’s poem “Nothing In That Drawer”. The project ended up manifesting in two parts.

This Drawer - Done in collaboration with Andrew Cerrito
A 26-compartment storage container was wired up to detect when each drawer was opened by a user. In the first iteration, we put nothing in most of the drawers, and put stanzas of a response poem that we created (more on that later) in the remaining drawers. All drawers with nothing it in were set to produce a different audio cue of Andrew saying “nothing in that drawer!” every time they were opened.

In the first iteration, we decided to have 14 empty drawers (a reference to the number of lines in the poem) and 12 drawers filled with different stanzas from our response poem. The class feedback we got seemed to indicate that we should separate the drawers and the poem into two separate pieces. In the second iteration (shown above), all 26 drawers are empty and we made more audio cues to reflect that fact.

Upon Finding Nothing In The Drawer:
This is the response poem that was originally found in the drawers in our first iteration. We wanted to inflict nothingness upon people to see how they would respond and compile those responses into a poem. We achieved this by bombarding people we knew (and in a few cases, total strangers) with blank texts and blank emails. We also created a mostly blank website and asked the ITP community for feedback on it. We then curated and grouped the responses we got by sentiment and created a poem out of them.

The poem is as follows:

Upon Finding Nothing In The Drawer
Compiled by Andrew Cerrito and Xuedi Chen

This is sort of annoying, really.
What are you, a fucking ghost or something?
Fuck, it’s empty. Bastards.
I hope you’re laughing right now.

I’m kind of seeing nothing. Is this art?
You gave me nothing. Is this conceptual?

Are you doing secret lemon-and-a-candle messages?
Lorem ipsum dolor sit amet.
I just see bubbles.
Yeah, don’t remind me.

What’s going on? Is everything okay?
Are you hiding something?
What do you want? What’s the big secret?
What are you trying to say?

I looked around more,
but I was still disappointed.
Nothing is working.
This is tearing me apart inside.

I feel partly pleased and partly confused.
But I swear I saw something.
I kind of like that.

(no response to nothing)
(no response to nothing)
(no response to nothing)
(no response to nothing)

View the drawers in action at the ITP Winter Show on Dec 15&16, 2013