Wednesday, December 22, 2004

good fellow- watch me undress

That's the subject line of an e-mail from one "Gertrude Inman"—by far the courtliest bit of spam I've ever received. Very busy here at the store but I'm using spare moments to go through the new SPD catalog looking for acquisitions for our shelves. Given what Ron and others have been saying about the chapbook's being the most important unit of publication for contemporary poetry, and figuring it's at least partially true (Lateral Argument, anyone?), I've been wondering if it might be possible to create a chapbook display here at the Bookery. Space is at a premium, but I pride myself on our poetry section and the chapbooks we have just don't get enough attention when they're shelved spine-out like regular books. Anyway, I'm keeping this idea in mind and trying not to shy away from ordering interesting looking chapbooks. My ordering process is necessarily arbitrary—I'd love us to have one of everything in the catalog, but that simply isn't feasible. So I look for books I've heard people talking about, or by familiar names, or which are blurbed by poets I like, or come from publishing houses I respect. Of course this means I can never get fully outside the perimeter of the familiar; I will not discover something which is not in some way already grasped. For that I need to leave the store and maybe my comfort zone too. I'm going to Philadelphia next week to see old friends and take a look at MLA; hopefully there will be a few good bookstores to browse in.

The ice may be broken dissertation-wise: I'm plunging ahead on Pound. The trick I think is to just sit down and write every morning without reading what I wrote the previous day. Revise once there's a tangible chapter in front of you. I've devoted the first chunk to a discussion of two rather slight-seeming poems from Lustra, "Salutation" and "Salutation the Second." From there I plan to discuss Heideggerian authenticity as a lead-in to discussing The Cantos and the changing shape of pastoral imagery in that very "inorganic" poem. Wish me luck.

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