Click Image to Visit the Pecan Grove Press Web Page for Poetry from Paradise Valley


Poetry From Paradise Valley

Pecan Grove Press has released an anthology of poems, a sampling of works published in Valparaiso Poetry Review during its first decade, from the original 1999-2000 volume to the 2009-2010 volume.

Poetry from Paradise Valley includes a stellar roster of 50 poets. Among the contributors are a former Poet Laureate of the United States, a winner of the Griffin International Prize, two Pulitzer Prize winners, two National Book Award winners, two National Book Critics Circle winners, six finalists for the National Book Award, four finalists for the National Book Critics Circle Award, two finalists for the Pulitzer Prize, and a few dozen recipients of other honors, such as fellowships from the Guggenheim Foundation, the National Endowment for the Arts, etc.

Readers are encouraged to visit the Poetry from Paradise Valley page at the publisher's web site, where ordering information about the book can be found.

Best Books of Indiana 2011: Finalist. Judges' Citation: "Poetry from Paradise Valley is an excellent anthology that features world-class poetry, including the work of many artists from the Midwest, such as Jared Carter, Annie Finch, David Baker, and Allison Joseph. It’s an eclectic and always interesting collection where poems on similar themes flow into each other. It showcases the highest caliber of U. S. poetry."
—Indiana Center for the Book, Indiana State Library

Thursday, July 28, 2011

Weekend Thoughts on Transitions in Publication

A number of times I have written in One Poet’s Notes about the changes happening in composition and publication of various forms of literature as the dominant medium transitions from print to digital. I have related the steady shift of literary periodicals from paper to online during the last decade (“Online Literary Journals: A Status Report”). I have also narrated my experience with release of a poetry chapbook, Dark Refuge, in numerous formats, most popularly online and as an e-book (Dark Refuge: Process and Publication”). In addition, a couple of months ago I reported the policy change, after a dozen years, to accepting only e-mail submissions for Valparaiso Poetry Review (“VPR Submission Guidelines: A Policy Change”), as well as the process of submitting work through an electronic submission manager to the newly established Valparaiso Fiction Review.

Ever since Valparaiso Poetry Review was initiated as an online journal in 1999, I have emphasized that electronic literary venues were not meant to supplant print publications, but they were intended to supplement and be complementary. Although I still believe this to be true, I am convinced the balance of influence is tilting even more quickly toward digital publication. I was reminded of this movement and its consequences in a few experiences during the past weekend.

On Friday, at the request of my university’s librarian in charge of rare books and archives, I examined four storage boxes of material written by a nineteenth-century author who had graduated from Valparaiso University. The gathered works included books of poetry, typed manuscripts, hand-written journals, personal letters, and all sorts of other pieces. I was pleased to see the books, published in the 1890s, were still in excellent condition. The content of the journals and letters fascinated me. Especially since I had first learned to value authorship as a boy when I wrote in cursive with my treasured fountain pen and ink bottle, I could imagine the writer’s hand creating those elegant loops and sharp slashes more than one hundred years ago.

The journals contained everyday entries about current events and a chronological record, complete with commentary or analysis, of all books read by the author, as well as details of submissions to magazines along with dates of rejections or acceptances. I was intrigued by the informal notations and hand-written corrections to multiple drafts of typed poems or essays. At the same time, I lamented to the librarian that much preserved in these collected papers would not exist among holdings of a contemporary author because todays writer most likely would have composed upon a computer and deleted many of the unwanted drafts. Indeed, the letters might also have been lost by an individual writing now if sent by e-mail.

After examining and evaluating the books or papers to be sorted and catalogued, I was offered a tour of the archives. A couple of magnificent books I noticed, beautifully printed and adorned with illustrations, had been published in the mid-1560s, and I was impressed by the fine condition in which they still exist nearly 450 years later. These volumes appealed to my great appreciation for books as objects of art. I immediately contrasted their magnificent presence with the lack of physical substance when reading an e-book.

Nevertheless, I have a fondness for the ease of use and practical economic advantages of electronic publications. As much as I maintain affection for print books—the quality of paper, the choice of font, the design of text, and the artful cover—and continue to add volumes to the thousands in my home library, I also confess to delighting in the ability to obtain any novel instantly or to possibly hold an extended collection of books on the Kindle I can regularly carry in my sport jacket pocket. In addition, though I view magazine covers as artworks, and as attractive as text set in print magazines may be, I appreciate the vastly greater potential of a worldwide audience for literary journals available online.

At a meeting on Friday with Jon Bull, my co-editor at Valparaiso Fiction Review who also is a librarian and has a great attraction to books as tactile objects or physical works of art, we discussed the desire to someday produce a book including an anthology of works from Valparaiso Fiction Review, similar to Poetry from Paradise Valley, the print publication of selected poems from the first decade of Valparaiso Poetry Review that has recently been released. During our conversation, Jon remarked that he expected print books would always be an option to complement electronic publications, though he envisioned a future in which print publications might have a specialty position similar to vinyl records that many collectors still seek despite the digitization of music in other formats. Similarly, I thought of how I enjoy very much my digital camera and the ease of editing or displaying photos online; however, I still prefer viewing the finest photos as prints within a frame mounted upon a wall.

Over the weekend, newspapers included articles concerning the closing of Borders bookstores across the country and bloggers contemplated whether this event represented more evidence of transformation in the literary world. In addition, I received word that Quarterly West, the literary journal with which I gained valuable experience as the poetry editor during a few years of graduate school, would be joining a number of other notable literary journals, such as Shenandoah and TriQuarterly, by making a switch in its next issue from print publication to online only.

On Monday, my weekend thoughts about the contemporary process or product of publication seemed complete when I accepted an e-mail invitation by a literary group to give a poetry reading in the upcoming year, and I responded to a request to deliver a talk about a topic of my choice. I informed the reading series organizer I would present poems from a few of my newest publications, both print and electronic, and for my lecture I felt I had chosen an apt title: “Transitions in Publication.” Indeed, I noted that I believe the subject I selected might reflect various perspectives about one of the most significant developments to shape the literary community during the past decade, while addressing concerns and questions about format that will continue to influence how literature is put forward by authors or perceived by readers in the decade ahead, perhaps even evolving in ways we have not yet determined.


Maureen said...

It can be such a thrilling experience to hold a beautifully printed book in the hands. To hold and read a book before turning out the lights each night is not an experience equalled with a Kindle. And yet I'm amazed and delighted with what is being done with technology to bring digital collection of books and artwork to all of us who otherwise might never have an opportunity to view them.

You and I are of a generation who grew up with print but are successful in embracing the digital. My son, soon to be 23, is lucky enough enough also to have cultivated a love of books held in the hand, and he's even taken to collecting old records while honing his proficiency in downloading iTunes.

I, for one, hope print will never disappear, even as I hope to be around to revel in all the marvelous discoveries our digital technologies have yet to bring us.

John Linstrom said...

I would note two other major differences between electronic and print media. On the one hand, as a personally more tactile learner, I better absorb information when I can physically measure my progress and interact with the text by scribbling in the margins. On the other hand, my biggest qualm with being a physical book lover has more to do with the use of paper and deforestation in a world with more and more books but fewer and fewer trees. I think we need to get better at sustainable book production if we are to continue printing them off at the rate we must be printing now.

Pat Valdata said...

An interesting corollary to this subject was discussed on a recent Diane Rehm show about whether children should be taught to write in cursive or not. The process of writing is in a transitional stage similar to that of publishing.

RFYork said...

As the son and brother of librarians, I have always loved the printed books. I also love the convenience of electronic books.

Printed books may well end up as works of art. Beautiful books have always been around and not just for art and photography .

As with many objets d'art, the purchase of such books will become increasingly limited to the wealthy or those willing to forgo other pleasures to enable purchase of such books.

While I am by no means entranced by such an outcome, it seems almost inevitable.

Anonymous said...

Paper or e-reader:

To read a book, you need a table to put your coffee on.

Have you ever tried to stabilize a table with a Kindle?