Format vs. Function
Advice and insight from a professional poet.
The only books I buy are poetry books, and I’m very possessive of them. I’ve been thinking of getting an e-reader to be more environmentally friendly. What is your opinion of them? And which one is better for reading poetry, the Kindle or the Nook?
I understand your hesitation. Surely something will be lost when we all start reading poetry in electronic form, maybe something similar to what was lost when we all started composing our poems on computer instead of in long-hand, something we don’t even know or give pause to recognize, being distracted by all the techno-sparkly things this age offers. But poetry is still part of this world, and the world is changing. Reading poetry is an intangible experience anyway, so we have to wonder if elimination of the material medium really matters.
I used to love reading the great poets and the words that hovered like
bees at the lines' cut edges scythed by their commas. But tonight,
beyond my locked door, the ground takes charge of caving in.
Somewhere, the windows in kitchens smolder and soldier onward
toward a glass of gin. I long for its coffin, the heat of its sleep. Dear
Sleep, help me sheet the furniture in the rooms of the brain. I will not
look underneath at the black ache of the table or wake the furnishings
into breathing. I will cut open the vein that feeds the beat of the
pendulum. I once read the great poets until my heart was blown open.
Now, whenever I stoop over the hard desk of my heart — the soldiers
come. Troy is burned.
• 18 January 2011
Kristen Hoggatt lives, works, and writes in Boston, where she received her MFA from Emerson College. She volunteers at 826 Boston. Send questions to firstname.lastname@example.org.