I am tasked with constructing a blog for my library class, but thought rather than whirl down the drain of temporary cyber space, I would instead combine the process of poetry with the process of my career; as often they have been one and the same. So, for those of you following along, I have begun my studies (online of course) at San Jose State, to get a degree and be a real-live-grown-up Librarian.
Last month I wrote an article on LinkedIn about the importance of libraries in a society that seems to have forgotten them. Though my experience has been far different, I know the general consensus is the long swan song of our public bookish spaces.
Here, I want to express my love for a small but important section of the library that pangs deeply with all of us: Poetry 813.
The Poetry Section is a Mess.
Not just because poets from opposing centuries get different numbers, like 811.3 or 811.8 or later in anthologies 820… no poetry books in libraries (Dewey System anyway) have a certain tendency to be thin and disheveled because poetry is disheveled. We are in an age of ever changing standards. I see it all day long working on the journal [NGQ]. I find the poetry section, unlike any other section in the stacks, to be the vast tree rings of our complex theories. A rough cut crystal hastily cracked to marvel what lies inside. The poetry section makes me wonder about what was lost, pared down, purged from the ever bulking shelves.
I think often of the poetry shelves. The paper whisp editions of temporary art. I imagine the poetry section is purged with the most frequency and the least impact. This poet out of vogue, that long lost writer in his place. And yet, we are clearing only half an inch away. Not an encyclopedia, not a novel. Five score pages, no more.
I think often of myself on the poetry shelves. 811.13 WIR
But there is no such book. Nor will there ever be. For many of us, the poetry shelves are little more than a throw back to a simpler more guarded time. Now the internet provides for us our own shelf, equipped with the whisperes of fellow poets, aspiring writers, quiet readers. We are luckier than anyone on the 813 shelf. No purging. No missing books, lost forever in someone else’s living rooms.
I think often of the tree rings of this writing generation. Millenials, they call us. I once used that term in my thesis (long before it came into common tongue) to describe anyone writing now. Not just the youth, but the longstanding veterans, who wrote to capture this moment. This tree ring.
It has grown out of itself; sprouten and sprawled into something more complicated, unruly and wild. The tree ring of this writing generation is a seed. And with that we have outgrown the poetry shelf, our humple reminder of what greatness came to a lifetime ago.
Keep Writing and Visit Your Local Library