There’s a great article by Janaka Stucky over at The Poetry Foundation called “How to Survive in the Age of Amazon: If indie bookstores can’t beat the online giant’s prices, what can they do?” on independent bookstores and the battle against Amazon. The article is persuasive not only because Stucky (editor of the popular indie press Black Ocean) outlines how Amazon actually affects presses and authors, but because his pitch to independent bookstores (and consumers and visitors of independent bookstores) to cater to a poetry-reading audience offers not only advice to these shops in how to be prominent culture-bearers for local communities but a compelling rationale (and for once a not-so-dismal approach) for the state of poetry and poetry-readers in the digital age. He writes: Continue reading
So, I received a Kindle Keyboard (WiFi & Free 3G) as an early birthday gift from my parents. Unfortunately this is the stock photo from Amazon and I have not in fact been enjoying it beach side (it’s finally rather cold in Maryland, I have to say), but I have been enjoying it for some morning reading in my sunny bedroom, warm and curled under the duvet with the morning’s cool air around me. This new gadget is as good a reason as any to indulge in a formerly common lazy morning ritual (rather than feel guilty about my reluctance to get out of bed).
Like many readers and writers, I hesitated to buy an e-reader for myself because I wondered how it might change my reading experience. When I read to study I always have a pen (or, these days, more likely a pencil) in hand and scribble ample notes in the margins, stars, and underlines. I feel a kinship with the physical object; I love the smell of the pages, the way the binding starts to wear after I’ve carried the book around for a while, and the accomplishment of seeing a bookmark move forward as I read my way through it. I think always of Whitman, who demands his readers to see the act of reading as intimate (to the point of sexual), as we literally touch him and his words and have a physical and visceral relationship with the book object itself. I think also of Elizabeth Willis, who has said in an interview that identity is as much about who we’ve read as it is about our family background or where we’re from geographically (I’m pretty sure this interview is online but I can’t find it at the moment… if any reader is particularly curious I can find it for you). Although I have Whitman and Willis to give an image to what I feel for the act of reading and the book object itself, I know many others share or have similar sentiments.
The habit of marking, though, is not just a habit left over from my days as a student. It’s one way I remember what I’m taking in, and it keeps the language itself material. I’m more tuned in to how an author USES language to achieve his or her means when I take the time to mark the instances where such use is particularly poignant. My poems, too, in the last several years, are an excessive example of this. They’ve become extended notes and marginalia in response to a source text. I’m not only making use of another’s language as material for my own poems (collage), I do it as an act of response. I am concerned with Olmsted’s argument, with Hawkes’s relationship to he land (more on this new project soon, I promise). Continue reading