Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Poet Kathleen Ossip responds in Publishers Weekly to that irresistible question, “Why do I write?” She states:

Two words: privacy and complexity—both in scarce supply, both precious. When I am working on a poem and when I'm reading one, I'm acutely aware of myself as an individual being who thinks and feels, an intense mode of paying attention via (marvelous, delicious) words.

Enjoy two of Ossip’s poems published online in The Awl.

I’m curious how often poets compromise their spatial preferences in making their poetry work for online publishing (line breaks, shape, margination). I know our editor here at TQO puts considerable ingenuity into preserving the author’s intended spacing.

Print poetry publishers, such as Graywolf, Copper Canyon, BOA, Coffee House, and Wesleyan, face a similar challenge as they try to make their authors available in e-book formatting. The problem is that line breaks are lost as text is wrapped to accommodate variation among e-readers. Good news comes in the form of Ampersand, an iPad and smartphone app developed by Bookmobile, a Minneapolis-based printer and distributer. With this app, text is transferred as a PDF, so both book design and line breaks can be preserved. Even though this solution is limited to smartphones and iPads, it’s an interim step that indie poetry presses are excited about. Ampersand will be released this summer.

If you are interested in more in-depth analysis of the new linguistics of digital literature and other arts, check out the 10th annual E-Poetry festival hosted by the University of Buffalo. Early registration ends April 1 for the May event.