Sunday, December 30, 2012

Basking in the Digital Light of an Ebook

Sunday December  30, 2012, in a Washington Post editorial essay titled “Vanishing Ink,” Kathleen Parker has articulated quite well the place where those of who read sit – the crack between print on paper versus light-infused digital text.  She writes—and the Steiny Road Poet read this from the pulpy, dirty news paper that was delivered to her door by a human paper courier—“Tension between man and machine is an old science-fiction plot that just happens no longer to be fictional.”

To Kathleen Parker’s thoughts, the Steiny Road Poet would like to add the following.

As the year closes, she is reading her first Ebook and is really enjoying the experience. Choosing to read Prague Spring by David Del Bourgo happened this way: time is running out before she meets this writer and reads poetry with him at Beyond Baroque inVenice, California, on January 20, 2013. While the Steiny Poet does not own an E reader, her husband Jim does and his IPad with a Kindle app made it possible to instantaneously acquire the book at the low price of $.99 from Amazon.

Now she sees there are other advantages. For example, there is no problem with where to store the book when she is finished reading it.

As a publisher of contemporary poetry—the Steiny Poet has been involved as a leader with The Word Works, a small press publisher, for over thirty years and she knows the problems of book storage all too well. Periodically she is called upon to visit their book storage unit where boxes of books have been stacked up for years awaiting distribution through sale or donation. Book inventory requires brawn—boxes have to be picked up and moved. Book inventory is necessary periodically to find books that might be in short supply.

While you, Dear Reader, might be questioning what the copy of Prague Spring has to do with The Word Works, the Steiny Poet says book storage in her personal quarters shared with her husband Jim is a microcosm of The Word Works book storage problem—not enough space and often the book can’t be found when it is looked for so why keep it?

OK, the Poet won’t go into the huge number of reasons why paper books, especially for poetry, are so much better than a digital book. Suffice it to say there is still a line break problem with poetry set on the multi-format digital platform. But nonetheless The Word Works will experiment this year with publishing John Bradley’s Love-in-Idleness:The Poetry of Roberto Zinagarello, an out-of-print title that won The Word Works Washington Prize in 1989 and deserves to be in circulation.

Now back to David Del Bourgo’s murder mystery set in San Francisco with strong  ties to Prague during World War II. The thing I will regret most about reading Prague Spring this way is that I won’t be able to hand it off to my son Ivan, who like his mom, loves to hold that paper book in his hands as he turns the pages.

Saturday, December 1, 2012

Collaborative Learning & Poetry Readings

The Steiny Road Poet (a.k.a. Karren Alenier) has been saying for a long time don't go into the woods alone when you can collaborate and possibly learn something you would not have seen or noticed otherwise.


Therefore when her colleague and friend Margo Stever said, let's go to California to do some readings, she thought, OK worth a try. She tried to do this alone back in the 90's and while she got a beautiful venue (an art gallery in downtown San Francisco), only a handful people attended despite the formally printed and snail mailed invitations sent to the literary community there.


Right away Margo and Karren got a reading at Beyond Baroque in Venice, CA. Margo has a contact in the Los Angeles area who said she would help get audience. That's an offer greater than gold for a poet—or two poets in this case.

Margo Stever and Karren Alenier will be reading with David Del Bourgo and Andrea Carter Brown, who are based in the LA area. LA poet Mary Armstrong, a colleague of Margo's, recommended David not only because she admires his writing but also because he has an active relationship with Beyond Baroque. The Steiny Poet knows Andrea by their mutual connection to the Virginia Center for the Creative Arts, an arts colony not far from Charlottesville.


San Francisco was much harder. It took six months and a changing cast of readers to land a bookstore reading for Poetry in Red Dress, the program Karren designed based on a conversation with San Francisco-based poet Evelyn Posamentier. This reading now features Evie, Margo, Karren and Mary Mackey. Andrea Carter Brown put Karren in touch with Mary as a result of all three having poems in Entering the Real World: VCCA Poets on Mt. San Angelo, an anthology Andrea edited to raise money for the VCCA.

The Red Dress reading draws inspiration from Muriel Rukeyser and Gertrude Stein. It's an opportunity for readers and audience alike to learn more about these two literary giants and their views on writing and poetry.


The Steiny Poet has been taking the online Coursera Modern Poetry (ModPo) this fall. The course taught by Al Filreis attracted over 35,000 students worldwide and it has given the Steiny Poet a new perspective on active learning with others. She has been spending time with the DC ModPo participants and she is hoping to connect with the Modpo community in San Francisco and LA.

Yes, indeed, it takes a village to make poetry live!