Silk is compatible with body tissues; our immune system accepts it on surfaces as sensitive as the human brain. In conjunction with Tufts University’s cutting edge research on liquefied silk, Jen Bervin mixes poetry with medical technology in the form of a silk bio-sensor. Silk Poems explores the cultural, scientific, and linguistic complexities of silk written nanoscale inside the body. Bervin’s poem stems from the belief that reading such a sensor inside the body is not a neutral context, rather one pre-inscribed with concern, written in a material with a 5,000 year old international history. In her research, Bervin consulted over thirty international bioengineering labs, textile archives, medical libraries, and sericulture sites in North America, Europe, the Middle East, and Asia.
“Jen Bervin’s work—all of it—engages the eye, the hand, the ear, and the mind. Her artistry is vast and inclusive, by finesse and intelligence, by curiosity, forbearance, and vision. She knows the unexpected wonder of pattern is everywhere and that the smallest detail contains enough energy to spawn a universe. I think they should send her into space, if it were not for the fact her work has already sent us there. Her poems in themselves, those exhilirated fragments, are the purest form of the art itself—they contain the innate inner gradients of whatever takes our breath away.”–Mary Ruefle
Jen Bervin is an artist and poet whose research-driven interdisciplinary works weave together art, writing, science and life. In conjunction with Tufts University’s Silk Lab’s cutting-edge research on liquified silk, Jen Bervin wrote a poem composed in a six-character chain that corresponds to the DNA structure of silk; modeled on the way a silkworm applies filament to its cocoon. This poem, written from the perspective of the silkworm, explores the cultural, scientific, and linguistic complexities of silk written inside the body.