Thursday, November 3, 2011

Alphabetical Shelving

Yesterday, as I was re-shelving The Alchemist's Kitchen, by Susan Rich, on my poetry bookshelves, after pulling it out to re-read a certain poem, I noticed I was putting her back next to Rilke, thanks to alphabetical shelving. "How nice to be shelved next to Rilke," I said in my head, where I have frequent conversations.

On my particular poetry shelves, she has Ezra Pound on her left flank, a little more abrasive.

So then I wondered who I would be shelved between were my books and journals not all over there on their own bookcase, now full, so I guess I can't publish anymore poems. Heh. Sigh. Thank goodness for online journals!  Anyhoo, I would be between Galway Kinnell and Carolyn Kizer.  Not bad at all!

Not all of my books are alphabetized, or not all by author.  My personal bookcase is alpha-betized by title of journal or anthology, with my freestanding books slid in at "K" or lying atop the stacked books if used recently for a reading or a reference (as yesterday when a composer friend called in need of some lyrics!). In addition, not all of the journals fit, sizewise, on this shelf, Kaleidoscope, for example, a "K" journal, and Ninth Letter, and Seeding the Snow, so they are in various other places tall enough for them, or supportive enough, as Kaleidoscope and Seeding the Snow are tall and saddle-stapled.

Elsewhere in the room are little stacks of books in what we might call random organization, helped up by bookends, with handmade dividers identifying them as waiting to be reviewed for Fiddler Crab, Prick of the Spindle, or Rattle, for instance, or lying atop the poetry shelves to be read, which is gently italicized on my brain. And a couple of books are 1) temporarily lost in the piles on my desk and computer desk and/or 2) in process.

One of these is The Sensual World Re-Emerges, by Eleanor Lerman, and today, waiting for the computer to warm all the way up, I opened the book to my bookmark and read the poem "The Days of the Week are Explained To Me," which, as a blogger who writes "eight days a week" is 1) right up my alley and 2) urgently necessary.

How wonderful that it says, "Plans / can be made on Thursday, next steps / mapped out." How reassuring! And also apt, as I have a meeting today to talk out some "next steps."

Ah, but how disconcerting, the next stanza: "Therefore, she [the friend explaining the days of the week to the speaker of the poem, who is now the friend explaining the days of the week to random me] suggests, if we / intend to get anything done, / we must meet on Tuesday, / in a sober cafe, with sharpened / pencils and clean white pads..."

We are meeting in a "sober cafe," for coffee. It is only open for breakfast and lunch and serves no alcohol!

But Lerman continues, accessing "zero at the bone" chills for someone like me, and keeping me honest:

as if we are normal people
with good intentions
As if we have the kind of jobs
where we are paid with money
As if in our vicious little hearts
we really want anything to change

More on Eleanor Lerman's book later. That's all I can handle today, a Random Coinciday on a Thor's Day, a rainy, vicious Thursday in the blog.

But with happy art by Mo Conlon, the paintings I Love This Rabbit, Sophia, and Joy Blessing, leading you to our Best of the Net Nominations at Escape Into Life.


Sandy Longhorn said...

I have this same thought when I shelve Susan's books...nestled next to Rilke, wow! Your shelves sound a lot like mine. Yay! :)

Kathleen said...

What fun! That's nice to know, Sandy.

Cathy said...

We have these greeting cards in the shop that feature cute kid sayings. The most popular one reads, "I wish my family would stop trying to pretend we're normal!" If you're happy where you are, best to stay put.

There's another one I ordered sort of by mistake, which I'm going to send to you once I find the corner of an envelope with your address on it. (Probably hiding under a pile of "randomly organized" books.)

Maureen said...

I wrote a poem about my shelved poets; I'll post it soon.

Love the featured art here.

Hannah Stephenson said...

At bookstores, I always pay special attention the very bottom shelves, because I think they probably get neglected by browsers...

I need to get new bookshelves, so my books are in boxes all over the place. It's a bit obnoxious (more for my husband than me!).

That poem you shared is really resonating with me, too. Thanks for sharing it.

Collagemama said...

When, I wonder, did you first begin alphabetizing. Were your Beatles and Monkees LPs in order with the Lovin' Spoonful and the Byrds? By title or group? Your first recipes arranged just because those little ABC tabs on index cards were so hard to resist at the Ben Franklin Five and Dime? File card under W for "water" or B for "boil". I only ask because I never knew whether Grandma's Frosted Ginger Cremes should be in G, F, or C.