Poetry Friday: Self-publishing

In an attempt to be all centered and Zen yesterday, I brought along my well-worn copy of Walt Whitman's Leaves of Grass to read on the subway. I opened to random pages, reading whatever, and then I tripped upon this one:


Shut not your doors to me proud libraries,
For that which was lacking on all your well-fill'd shelves, yet needed most, I bring,
Forth from the war emerging, a book I have made,
The words of my book nothing, the drift of it every thing,
A book separate, not link'd with the rest nor felt by the intellect,
But you ye untold latencies will thrill to every page.

I'll admit that I'm awful at deconstructing poetry - I get too lost in the language to take it apart piece by piece to figure out what it means. And deconstructing it just seems to take away the beauty and romanticism of it all, you know?

So I thought that this was a poem about libraries.

THEN I re-read it. Wait...wait...just...one...second. Is he a self-published author trying to get a library to stock his book?! Is that what this poem is about? Yeah, I think it might be. Do you know how often this happened to me when I worked at Queens Library?! Self-published authors contacting me directly to put their book on their shelves. Wow.

Well, I would hate to be the collection development specialist who said no, no thank you, Mr. Whitman. I think your poetry is crap. Yeah, I'd hate to be that librarian.

Help me out, poetry aficionados. Is he an aggressive self-pubbed poet, selling his collection to whoever will stock it?


GreenBeanTeenQueen said...

I'm terrible at finding the meaning in poetry too. But I work in a library and we have self-published authors who push their books all the time! We actually changed our patron suggestion form to only include people with library cards so random authors couldn't suggest their own book to us anymore. It gets kind of crazy sometimes. I'm just glad I get to send them back to collection development!:)

Anonymous said...

I think he falls in the "aggressive self-pubbed poet" category - he did manage to get the Brooklyn Eagle to give the Leaves of Grass a good review (rumor has it that someone with the initials WW wrote said review!)