Samples

January 23, 2010

How do you choose which poetry books to buy?  Joan Houlihan, who has a sharp eye for cliché, has written a good article on how to sample the contents of a book, either in a bookshop, or making use of the Amazon ‘Look Inside’ feature.:

http://www.cprw.com/Houlihan/bond.htm

She makes an interesting point about the way sampling and pick’nmix could be the future of poetry:

As we move into the next decade, it seems very likely that a subset of all published poetry will, like music, become readily experienced or viewed for free, and that readers will “sample” poems and make any buying decisions based on these samples. Readers will become sophisticated enough in their own judgments, or tuned in enough to trusted recommenders wherever and however encountered, and soon the disappearance of reviews in mainstream periodicals won’t be missed. It may even turn out that the book of poems as physical object no longer holds us, cannot maintain its presence through the next ten years, cannot justify its 65 or more pages of poems all bound into one place—we might instead purchase only 5 or 10 poems at once, or a “mixed tape” of poems we love, or a subset of poems by a favorite poet. The packaging and distribution mechanisms are already in place; we, the readers, will only need to become proficient at making our own selections. Just be sure to read the first lines before you buy.

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