I haven’t counted, but I would guess that at least 10% of people who meet me ask if I play basketball. I haven’t. But when you are almost 6′ tall, that’s a fair question.
It might seem surprising then that someone who cannot dribble to save her life might choose Christopher Myer’s Jabberwocky, the Classic Poem from Lewis Carroll’s Through the Looking-Glass and What Alice Found There as her favorite item in the Alice 150 exhibit. But I have my reasons. Myers’ brilliant recreation Carroll’s most famous poem as a pick-up basketball game is visually engrossing and thought provoking and his striking illustrations pulse with energy. Myers uses his original illustrations in tandem with Carroll’s original poem to create a “Jabberwock” who is the towering king of an urban basketball court…up until now! The oversize, oddly shaped and multicolored font sprawls across the page in between large, fiery-eyed players who seem as if they are somehow inspired to repeat Carroll’s poem.
And if I had to describe why I like this seemingly strange, nonsensical interpretation of a nonsense poem, it might be for the very same reason. Though Myers’ work seems like an incongruous and nonsensical pairing of the modern and the Carrollian, I still feel like I have learned something from it. This is a work meant to be experienced and not just read. There is something inspiring about the towering figures in their poetic intensity. Their fervor could, as a New York Times reviewer concluded,”make you believe that somewhere in Mount Cemetery in Surrey, England, Lewis Carroll is attempting a graceful spin move.”
And if Lewis Carroll can, then why can’t I? If the library thing doesn’t work out, a second career as a WNBA star/poet could be a solid plan B. Curiouser things have happened.
Visit the Alice 150 and Counting exhibit in Hornbake Library to view more curious versions of Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland, or explore our online exhibit.
Edith Sandler is co-curator of the Alice 150 Years and Counting exhibit in Hornbake Library and is Graduate Assistant for Instruction and Outreach at the University of Maryland’s Special Collections and University Archives. She will receive her MLS from UMD’s iSchool in May of 2016 and has a B.A. in English Literature from the University of California at Los Angeles.