Saturday, June 22, 2013

Poetry Is Everywhere

This has been a week of mourning for the printed word, as my local paper, The Oregonian, takes the ax to its staff, its home delivery, and its print content.  However, as I walked home from the coffee shop, where I had been sitting reading a printed book by the small, independent local Forest Avenue Press, I saw a poem posted in someone's yard.  I stopped and read it and it nearly brought tears to my eyes.  For the rest of my walk, everything around me wanted to be a poem, too.  Then, at home, there was a poem in my email from my friend, William S. Gregory.  And, perusing the blogosphere, another poem called to me from Christi Krug's site Fire By Night.  With poetry all around me, perhaps the portentous omens I have seen in the news of dying bees and dying customs are not so very dire after all.  Thank you, poets, one and all.

Monday, June 17, 2013

Penguin's Pushcart

While reading recently about the Book Expo of America, I came upon a news item about the Penguin Group's old-fashioned, print-only Book Truck and Pushcart, a mobile store scheduled to travel the Route 66 journey made famous in John Steinbeck's "The Grapes of Wrath" (one of my all-time favorite novels) and partly-inspired by New York's classic hotdog carts.  I found this notion wholely delightful, and very much in line with the strange dichotomy our modern world seems to be embracing - high-tech digital wonderment on one hand, low-tech retro small-business on the other.  

I must admit this dichotomy makes me unreasonably happy.  Maybe it's because I live in Portland.  The old-fashioned traveling bookstore notion represented by Penguin's Book Truck falls right in line with the locally-sourced movement of restaurants and the movement towards repairing over replacing in the realm of other products, not to mention the food cart revolution that has allowed small business restaurateurs a fiscally low-risk entry-point.  E-books seem to have dealt a serious blow to big name publishing houses and bookstores, but the indies are thriving, and benefitting from the access to technology such as print-on-demand.  With their pushcart/book truck idea, Penguin appears to be engaging in competition on indie terms.  

We humans seem hell-bent on finding ways to keep our humble, simple humanity, community and craftsmanship intact even as we catapult ourselves through cyberspace.  I say this cycling back to basics while embracing progress is healthy.  It  gives me hope.  I'm not a luddite; I'm a humanist.

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