kindle poems

I don't have a Kindle. And so far as I can see the alt- poetry world isn't particularly interested in the paperless format, yet. At some point there may be a tipping point. Basically because Kindle editions are so cheap compared to paper. Price isn't usually thought of as an important factor in selling alt-poetry, but O Publishers, it might be more of a differentiator than you think. That's all I'm saying.

Anyhow, this is all just an excuse for a couple of recommendations if you want some light Kindle reading. (And obviously I haven't read them myself, just glanced at the samplers, which are even cheaper of course.)

1. Complicities: British Poetry 1945 - 2007 ed. Robin Purves and Sam Ladkin (Literaria Pragensia, 2007) . Kindle edition £2.02.  Essays by various hands (Sutherland, Prynne, Marriott, Dworkin, Cooke and a dozen others) on disparate modern-UK-poetry-related topics. There's something young-fogeyish about the title, hell, about the idea that a book like this embodies. (Remember the young fogeys? Oh well.)  Nevertheless it seems like a promising primer if you want to understand the kind of things people say in Sussex circles.

The sampler contains the editors' not-too-convincing introduction, plus three pieces: Robin Purves' typically excellent essay: this is about whether W.S. Graham's poetry does or does not show the influence of Heidegger's philosophy. I couldn't care less, you might reasonably respond, as I did. But that's not really the point. Every question turns out to be absorbing once someone really deep-dives into it as Purves does. His essay makes both the poet and the philosopher begin to seem significant, and above all the problematics of this whole question of "influence". Also Thomas Day on Geoffrey Hill, which I'm afraid I can't be bothered to read, and a substantial part of a Keston Sutherland essay on Prynne that is really a work of profound beauty and power.

2. Hidden Agendas: Unreported Poetics ed. Louis Armand (Literaria Pragensia, 2010). Kindle Edition £2.03. This is another collection of essays - an even more interesting one, in my judgment.

"Beyond a type of Luddite mentality, there is a view counter to the pervasive Google-ization of the web which invites a certain difficulty in making particular types of archival material immediately locatable. Ubu Web's self removal from the Google search engine points to a growing aversion to the market cult of accessibility and the tyranny of distribution (mediated and regulated by proprietary bodies such as Google, Amazon, et al.)."

This is from Armand's terrific Introduction and of course there is a massive irony in talking about Kindle editions in this context. This collection is in a sense Armand's follow-up to Avant-Post, a 2006 collection in the same series, but this time the focus is on "marginality" and this is a much sharper focus than "avant-garde", which is swamped by irrelevant baggage.

Anyway the sampler gives us two wonderful bits of literary history, Kyle Schlesinger on Asa Benveniste and a large chunk of Robert Sheppard on the eighties London scene and Bob Cobbing. The latter gives, I think, a better flavour of the striking intellectual/creative discussions within that scene than anything I've read elsewhere. Revelatory. Other contents include Stephanie Strickland on digital poetry, D.J. Huppatz on Flarf, plus Allen Fisher, Jena Osman, John Wilkinson....

You can see why the Kindle format makes sense for these hefty essay collections. But what actual poetry can you get in Kindle editions? Here's what I turned up in a desultory search:

Keston Sutherland. Yes, you can get the Odes to TL61P, but at £5.89 this is not much of a saving and paper is probably the best way to go. The sampler is frustrating (a dozen pages of preamble, some sort of epigraph and only one page of actual ode.)

Wesleyan University Press, including:

John Ashbery, The Tennis Court Oath (Wesleyan Poetry Classics). Kindle edition, £6.87. Wow. Just wow.
and Peter Gizzi (especially Threshold Songs- £4.42), and Jena Osman's Public Figures (2012), rather expensive at £12.35, which is a big shame.

On the other hand, BlazeVOX books. Including brilliant things like Tom Clark's At the Fair (2010) and Amy King's Slaves To Do These Things (2009) - ridiculously cheap at £0.77 each.

Major UK publishers of alt-poetry (Shearsman, Reality Street, Barque) have not taken up Kindle.

Salt have, but they hardly publish any alt-poetry any more. I know I would hugely enjoy reading Luke Kennard's The Harbour Beyond The Movie (2010), - Kindle edition £3.08 - though I probably never will.

More significant is the availability of quite a few Carcanet books on Kindle. Tom Pickard, Philip Terry, Tom Raworth, Christine Brooke-Rose, Peter Riley, Roger Langley, Thomas A. Clark, Christopher Middleton, Andrew Crozier might be variously acceptable to our hypothetical Kindler.  (Prices vary; they are not very much cheaper than the paperbacks.)

And Penguin, of course, are on Kindle, so you can get half a dozen Alice Notley books, as well as a few classics by Ginsberg, Berrigan, and Kyger. Like Carcanet, they pitch the kindle price almost as high as the paperback price.

Not forgetting!..:

James Russell, Neurotrash (Like This Press, 2013, £2.05)


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