Essay

Breaking the Poetry Code

The future of poetry e-books, and why it's not what you think.

by Alizah Salario
Poetry e-reader

Long before the advent of e-publishing, poet Reb Livingston was a believer in the do-it-yourself ethos. As editor and publisher of No Tell Books, a micro-press devoted to poetry, she churns out up to five books a year through her one-woman operation. Livingston wants her titles to remain just as accessible in today’s shifting book culture as those produced by publishing powerhouses. So when the e-book frenzy hit, Livingston embraced the change. She didn’t have a fancy Web team or a contract with an electronic distributor, but she did have Internet access, a coupon from an online publishing platform called Lulu, and enough pluck to give it a shot.

Livingston published her first e-book, an anthology of No Tell poets titled The Bedside Guide to No Tell Motel—Second Floor, earlier this year. It will be the first and last e-book she publishes through Lulu. 

“I was very disappointed,” said Livingston. In short, she said, the e-book was a mess. The poems on the e-reader screen didn’t match up with their print counterparts, there were mistakes in lineation that changed the flow of entire poems, and the attempt to replicate the curly, intricate font on the cover of the print book resulted in an e-book cover that was blurry and hard to decipher.

This, it turns out, is not an uncommon response to the shotgun marriage between ePub and poetry. 

“Most e-readers use the ePub format, which generally strips text of most of its design and formatting,” explained Rachel Berchten, poetry and poetics editor at the University of California Press, in an e-mail. “For poems that are visual in nature, this is problematic.”

What went wrong? If prose can be transformed into a clean, flawless e-book, then why is converting poetry so thorny?

As Berchten points out, in order to turn a print poetry book into an e-book, the text must be converted into ePub format, which is accessible by most e-readers, including the Nook by Barnes & Noble, the Sony Reader, the iPad, and various e-book applications for smart phones. (Amazon’s Kindle is an exception because it uses a proprietary file format.) At its most basic, converting to ePub means adding markup language around the text, and using a customized style sheet so the device can display the marked up text. In publishing-world shorthand, this is often called “coding.” Yet as with most of the ePub problems, the term and what it’s trying to describe don’t quite match up.

All the aspects of the poem—including irregular line breaks, indentations, and spaces (essentially, all the nuances that make a poem a poem)—must be described in a language the e-reader understands. So the markup language describes what the text is—the title, the epigraph, the text body of the poem, and so on—and the cascading style sheet (otherwise known as the CSS) tells the e-reader how to display what the markup language describes. The problem for ePub, the Kindle, and poetry is that the markup language doesn’t have the vocabulary to describe the minutiae of poetry. Take, for example, the following lines from Allen Ginsberg’s “Kaddish”:

No more to say, and nothing to weep for but the Beings in the
   Dream, trapped in its disappearance,

sighing, screaming with it, buying and selling pieces of
   phantom, worshipping each other,

worshipping the God included in it all—longing or inevitability?
   —while it lasts, a Vision—anything more?

Depending on your approach, there are different ways of marking up this text. Here’s one example of what the same lines look like surrounded by markup language and preceded by an associated style sheet:

There’s a lot of room for error here because the markup language lacks a precise vocabulary for the building blocks of poetry. The language doesn’t have specific descriptors (or “tags”) for elements of poetry such as line or stanza, so you have to use prose elements as best you can to make sure the device displays the text properly. In markup terms, these makeshift tags with less than accurate descriptors are called “hacks,” and they function the way terms such as “horseless carriage” and “motion picture” once did. Hacks are imprecise labels that can’t fully capture what they’re trying to describe. Thus, instead of some element that could define a poetic aspect of text unique to poetry—say, a line that extends beyond the length of the page, as in “Kaddish”—you have to use the inelegant

In other words, you have to use the language of prose to define poetry.   

Ideally, some future markup language will contain a poetry vocabulary, but until then each line must be hacked—preferably by someone who understands the importance of the visual elements to the meaning of poetry. For small distributors such as Lulu, this handiwork isn’t part of the bargain. Large publishing houses may not take the time—or perhaps have the incentive or know-how—to meticulously tailor each line of poetry when converting e-books for the masses. Expediency, not poetic accuracy, is the priority.

For Livingston, the solution is simple: do it herself. She has vowed to learn how to convert the next No Tell e-book on her own. Print publishing already requires specialized technical skills, and as times change, so do the tricks of the trade. If publishers of the past needed to know how to operate a letterpress, then those of the future just might need to know how to code their style sheets.

“This is new, and there’s a lot of stuff I have to learn and it can be daunting,” she said. “But if you want your books to be in distribution and used in schools and available to a wide audience, then publishers are going to have to make this move.”

Countless websites and YouTube tutorials offer instruction on converting text into ePub format, yet that doesn’t mean the process is simple. Livingston recognizes that the poems she converts might not be perfect, but she thinks they’ll be better than Lulu’s.

“I want to start with books that are going to be easiest—prose poems or ones with short lines,” she said. “I’m not going to require that the book be exactly perfect, but it has to be mostly right.” 

Livingston is not alone in her frustration. Electronically published poems nearly hardly ever correlate with their print counterparts, and there’s resounding agreement among poets and publishers that poetry for e-readers leaves much to be desired.

The major issues with with poetry in the ePub format—botched line breaks and altered indentations—result not just from messy work-arounds but also from the flexibility of e-readers. Because e-reader users can regulate font and point size, line breaks and indentations—described simply as paragraph breaks in the prosey markup language available—can move drastically when a user zooms in or decides to change the font from Times New Roman to Comic Sans. Altering font style and size disrupts the display because it changes the text flow, and without a “tag” to describe a poetic line as a line, the e-reader treats it just like any old paragraph. “We real cool. We / left school. We.” can easily become “We real / cool. We left / school.” Which, as Gwendolyn Brooks herself would tell you, is just not the same thing. On the plus side, the e-reader’s adjustable text allows the elderly and visually challenged to read books previously inaccessible to them. It’s likely the feature won’t change for the benefit of a few persnickety poets. EPub poems are, for now, anywhere from slightly botched to totally butchered versions of their print selves.

For those not versed in poetry, a misplaced word here or an incorrect indentation there might sound inconsequential. Certainly, technology will catch up—or so goes the argument—so why not accept that e-publications are in the the fetal stages of a long evolution. Yet for many poets, a severed line is no less egregious an error than blowing the entire poem to smithereens. A poem is diminished if its digital presentation doesn’t mirror the text on the page. The poem’s integrity and the poet’s intent are diluted, and who wants mangled poetry?

So what’s a poetry publisher to do? Wait until e-readers render flawless verse? Or is a slightly imperfect poem still worth the e-read? BOA Editions publisher Peter Conners seems to think it is.

“It’s hard to deal with from the publishing side; it’s hard for poets, no doubt,” he said. “At the same time, now we have our whole last season available, and every poet has been excited about it.”

Although BOA was one of the first small presses to make its foray into the world of ePub, Conners emphasized that BOA waded in slowly with prose e-books before leaping into poetry.

“I think a lot of people in independent publishing have the same hesitation that we’ve had,” said Conners. “We all love books, we love the paper, we love the process, we fetishize books. I would give BOA credit for having those feelings and jumping in anyway.”

Craig Morgan Teicher, senior web editor of Publishers Weekly, whose latest collection of prose was published by BOA both in print and electronically, notes that the e-book version isn't a perfect reproduction of the print—the iBooks edition, for instance, doesn't have page breaks between stories. Still, he has no regrets about e-booking it: “I think that I ultimately agree with the decision to jump in,” said Teicher. “I think it’s important to get the content out there.”

Teicher noted that in the future, it might even be “dangerous” not to have books digitally archived, considering the rapid rise of e-books and the forthcoming explosion of Google Editions. Poised to launch before the end of the year, Google Editions will be a digital books platform that will function as an e-bookstore. With digitally accessible books becoming the norm, the expectation that all text will soon be just a Google search away is changing ideas of relevance and importance. From January to August of this year, e-books comprised 9 percent of all trade book sales and earned $263 million, according to the Association of American Publishers. Compared to $89.8 million in earnings from the same period last year, that’s a 193 percent increase. For Conners, the surge in e-book popularity is part of why imperfect digital content is better than no content at all.

 “Part of our mission is to spread poetry however we can,” he said. “I think there’s a certain amount of arrogance that goes into not e-publishing. At a certain point you have to say, this is how people are going to be reading more and more . . . we’re not handwriting our manuscripts on papyrus anymore for a reason.”

It’s a convincing argument, but e-books are a hard sell to publishers of poetry, who align themselves more closely with the tactile papyrus than the Etch-A-Sketchy e-reader.  

“[Poets aren’t] chomping at the bit to get their books on e-books,” said Joseph Bednarik, the marketing and sales director at Copper Canyon Press. “The fact is that poetry sales of e-books are limited, and likely will continue to be limited.”

Copper Canyon, a small press that prides itself on its book design and elegance in print, has yet to publish an e-book of poetry. “Copper Canyon is all about the poem on the page, the poem in the book,” said Bednarik. “As a publisher, we’re excited by the possibility that e-books afford, but we need to be careful about the way poems and e-books are presented.”

Bednarik insisted that Copper Canyon creates books, not Web pages, and will remain cautious about converting poetry collections into e-books until the reading experience on the screen parallels that on the page. Yet with prose e-books in the works and a desire to be a leader in e-book publishing, Bednarik understands that functionality might soon trump an elegant display: “Our mission is to get poetry out in the world. Our mission isn’t to have fidelity to one form of distribution.”

At Coffee House Press, associate publisher Chris Fischbach is still waiting to see poetry e-books reach their potential before taking action. The independent publishing house will soon publish a selection of prose e-books, but for now there’s no poetry on the e-book docket. “I’m waiting to see how artists adjust to this, whether they do start composing for various websites or devices. For other people, it could be that it re-emphasizes the book and the page,” said Fischbach. “Poets are essentially light-years ahead of other writers because they’ve always been aware of the page. They’re aware of how what they’re writing on and what they’re writing with affects what they are writing.” Poets are constantly reinventing what it means to be a poet, and Fischbach is waiting to see precisely how e-books will further their evolution.

For other small presses, the e-book question is one of not why but how. “It [e-publishing] doesn’t hold a special place, nor are we loath to move into it,” said Suzanna Tamminen, editor-in-chief of Wesleyan University Press, in an e-mail. “We’re so small that e-books are mainly a problem to be solved right now—how to get our books converted, how to make sure rights are cleared when necessary, who to partner with and how to manage the whole new workflow that the move to e-books entails. It’s a huge undertaking and it is taking up a great deal of our time right now. But we’re happy to be able to make our books available in another medium.”

Even if poetry publishers are fastidious about e-book presentation, they aren’t always in control of the conversion process. Many small publishing houses lack the resources to handle the conversion independently and rely on a sort of middleman—a distributor—to do the markup work for them. Some, like Livingston, use online distributors such as Lulu for à la carte conversions, whereas larger small presses need to contract out the work en masse.

Consortium, one of the largest distributors of independent press publishing, launched a “digital distribution system” called Constellation in 2008. Constellation affords more e-publishing opportunities to the small presses it represents by converting e-books for both Kindle and ePub formats.

Michael Cashin, Consortium’s vice president of publisher services, assured me that the company has a particular affinity for poetry and wants to resolve display issues just as much as publishers and poets do. “The whole digital world right now is obviously changing because of the technology involved, and it’s changing with a velocity that we’ve perhaps not seen before,” he said. “I think in the early stage of the e-book revolution—or evolution—it’s moving so fast that on occasion we’ve seen books or products go to market in less than the best presentation.”

Consortium, which distributes for BOA Editions, Copper Canyon Press, and Coffee House, among others, needs publishers willing to experiment in order to improve their product. “I can appreciate that BOA has put something out there, perhaps to have it reach a wider audience and start the conversation, and start looking at how it is now and what it could evolve into,” said Cashin.

Many poets, including Teicher, suggest that those most invested in the life of a poem will be the ones to initiate improvements. With fewer publications overall, small presses have the luxury of giving each text particular attention. 

“I think that poetry is an esoteric art, and it tends to do better when it’s published by people who understand that,” said Teicher.

This is when discussions about e-poetry quickly transition from the technical to the existential. “Ultimately, you get into those questions of where does the poem live,” said Bednarik. “What’s the endgame? It’s to make poems come alive, and there’s not one place to make poems come alive. If a poem has to be tacked to a page and that’s the only place it can live, that doesn’t fly.”

For Bud Parr, the president of Sonnet Media and a programmer and Web designer, the question is really at what point does the poem becomes something other than the poem? 

“Writers will always find a way to write (Solzhenitsyn used all sorts of devices to write while imprisoned, for example) and writers will always seek a way to be read,” he said in an e-mail. “I believe in the primacy of the text and don’t feel nostalgic for print, but I would hate to think that ‘the line’ in poetry gets lost to technology. That’s just wrong.”

In the meantime, Livingston is happily buying poetry e-books. She has about 20 poetry collections downloaded onto her Nook—albeit not without their issues—but the errors don’t bother her as much as the scant selection does. “I’ve accepted that to some extent the poem might look a little different. A few lines here and there, at the moment, I can accept that. But they should be available,” she said. Six months to a year from now, when Livingston publishes the next No Tell e-book, she hopes someone will have made the process easier and the product better. Until then, publishers such as BOA Editions will continue to provide e-poetry in the best form they can, and Livingston will continue to read it. As for producing poetry e-books on the fly, BOA publisher Peter Conners sees potential, not mistakes, and that’s part of what being an innovative independent publisher is about.

“The cool thing is that we’re small enough that we can make these moves without having huge ramifications,” said Conners. “It doesn’t change anything other than the fact that it opens up a new readership. I’ve always thought in terms of the next generation. More people are going to want to read this way.”

Originally Published: November 10, 2010

COMMENTS (28)

On November 10, 2010 at 12:06pm Christopher wrote:
What happens when this entire Digital
Society we've built collapses? You'll wish
you had bought that book while it was in
print.

On November 10, 2010 at 12:44pm Reb Livingston wrote:

Alizah, thank you for covering this issue and including No Tell Books in this article. Just one clarification, The Bedside Guide to No Tell Books - Second Floor eBook done via Lulu *isn't* a mess, but there were certainly issues. If it was a mess, I'd take the eBook off the marketplace. The cover wasn't blurry (I don't think there even is a cover), but the poem TITLES are in a font that's difficult to read on my Nook and I don't think it can be changed on my end. And yes, there are *some* lineation issues. My complaint with Lulu is that they don't send galleys or offer any support to fix these issues -or- any communication on the conversion process itself (other than, "hey, it's done"). Lulu's customer service simply doesn't respond to my inquiries on these matters. I would love to be able to cheaply send off these books to be converted properly, but I know of no place to do that correctly. A while back, somebody (Craig Teicher?) suggested that this would be a great opportunity for an organization, like The Poetry Foundation, to step up and offer a solution for poetry publishers. This would help hundreds of small poetry presses, thousands of poets and well, poetry in general. One of the reasons I'm waiting until 2011 to start the conversion process for No Tell Books is because I'm hoping a new solution will show itself. If in a few years there are still few poetry titles correctly formatted as eBooks, we're all gonna be in a lot of trouble.

On November 10, 2010 at 1:48pm solidad decosta wrote:
Technically, this seems like an issue that XML and surrounding technologies (such as XSLT) could address. If true, the main problem with that approach is that XML et. al., while widely used in dedicated environments, never really established itself as a de facto standard the way HTML + CSS did. Perhaps there needs to be a new suite of markup tools, or as a somewhat less nightmarish option, a plug-in to widely supported JS framework, such as JQuery.

On November 10, 2010 at 2:30pm Theron Kennedy wrote:
I have published with Lulu.com and I was happy with the amount of knowledge for self publishing on the site. I didn't opt to use epub and I'm happy with how the pdf version of my book looks. When making my kindle version I used HTML and I'm also happy with how it looks. I think kindle and lulu are great self publishing tools. Its a knowledge issue and if youre self publishing that responsibility falls entirely on you.

On November 11, 2010 at 1:59am James Westwood wrote:
I doubt I'd ever read much poetry on a ebook. It just feels wrong to be reading it from a computer screen.

On November 11, 2010 at 2:37am Philip Thrift wrote:
It does not take much HTML+CSS knowledge now to make most poems look good on ebook reader screens (on my NOOK, for example, and even on my iPod Touch), taking care of issues like lineation, etc. Without publishers and editors applying the appropriate markup, things can indeed look bad.

That will take care of itself. The bottom line though is that the future of reading is electronic, with books made of paper and glue going the way of the vinyl record. One thing is for sure: ebooks never go out of print.

On November 11, 2010 at 2:02pm Allen Edwin Butt wrote:
The problem will get better with time. As it
stands, I've found .pdf to be a very good
format for presenting poetry.

On November 12, 2010 at 12:45pm William Mark Gabriel wrote:
A free document-processing program called LyX might be helpful. I tried learning it a few years back, when I found out it had a poetry template.

But -- while not complex -- learning LyX was going to consume more time than I had available back then.

I understand it works well with lulu.com and might be worth a look. HTH

http://www.lyx.org

This was a great article, by the way.

On November 12, 2010 at 7:34pm mfwilkie wrote:
"The bottom line though is that the future of reading is electronic, with books made of paper and glue going the way of the vinyl record. "

The plan was for the computer to create
a near-paperless society, Phillip.

Demand for paper, due to the steady
rise in the number of computer users,
has actually increased the number of
trees felled each year, Phillip. I think
your vision of a bookless future runs
along the same dream track.

About Google... I'm not liking the idea of a few minds in possession of all the words.

On November 13, 2010 at 12:45pm Martin Horwitz wrote:
The best comment was for the Poetry Foundation to finance a simple conversion program.
Is it being considered?

On November 13, 2010 at 1:49pm Scott Wiggerman wrote:
Very interesting article, and it makes me glad that my small press, Dos Gatos, has not gone digital yet, though Lord knows we've considered it. I'll take Reb's advice and wait till next year or start learning how to do markup myself (please, NO). I'm a big believer in the sanctity of the line, and if these new electronic formats can't handle it, then I don't see becoming a part of the "revolution."

On November 13, 2010 at 1:55pm Robin Kemp wrote:

I thought I'd have to do TEI markup on individual poems I wanted to add to my Kindle. I found that it converted Word docs just fine. Conversely, I bought a friend's book in e-book format (respected press to remain nameless) and the stanzas appeared in a range of font sizes. See recent post on Every Poet Needs A Patio for a simple walk-through. Also, check out the Text Encoding Initiative for poetry-specific markup. A program like Stanza might also do the trick for self- publishers. What I'd like to know is whether a standard exists for encoding e- book navigation, and whether that changes with user-end font-size changes.

On November 14, 2010 at 7:48am Cindy Anderson wrote:
Publishers, please do not stop printing books.
I enjoy the chance to use sites like this to be exposed to more poets, but in the end I choose to buy their books when I love them.
Nothing will replace, for me, the joy of holding a book and reading to my children, and now grandchildren, the joy of picking up a book of poetry from the coffee table to read on a rainy day, or carry in my bag to read on quick breaks at work.
On a recent trip, trying to capture the flavor of the place, I bought a book. The cover appealed to me first. The book is beautiful. "Secrets from the Center of the World" by Joy Harjo and Stephen Strom is a gift I enjoy more every time I open it. Photographs and verses flow together and open the imagination, I don't think an e book could duplicate that, at least at this point, for me.

On November 16, 2010 at 10:52am Philip Thrift wrote:
@mfwilkie

When a new generation is brought up on those new "kiddie kindles" (like V.Reader), they may only be reading about the old books in ebooks. :)
[ http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=s5oBWTzXNBE ]

On November 23, 2010 at 3:38pm Elmer James Roth wrote:
The article was interesting. Some how the question of what Poetry is and is not seems to be not what I had read yet the inferance was there. That the tradition of the oratorial presentation is the nature of the Poet and the Poem. The thought of having the thought without the Event proceeding is wholly absurd. Just as television is none to proper a suregate for the presence of our mother or father, the poem without the voice of the Poet is equally inappropriate.

On November 23, 2010 at 11:45pm Professor R.K.Singh wrote:
e-publishing poetry has been an education in itself. I too learnt a lot while publishing a couple of my books on lulu.com

On December 3, 2010 at 1:34am quixoticle wrote:

The advent of e-books (and what might be dubbed as "e-reading") is the sun of a true and earnest fidelity falling even lower in the sky of reading. The night approaches, but why? The singular content of the book - for a book can only be one book, and not three other books, or a hundred - demanded a certain devotion of the reader, for them to give their attention to this one thing out of an entire universe of things, and encounter the "line" earnestly and as set apart from any other. The idea of an e-reader to me, of bringing many, even hundreds of books with me wherever I go, is disgusting. I like developing a relationship with a book. It is through the necessary delimitedness of the book, much like an individual body, that I feel we can have any sensual and real and thus deep-felt relation to what happens to be printed therein - e-readers undo this focus, this necessary solitude, this sensuality of the writing for the "intertextuality" always already implied in "text." It is for your glory (read: 'convenience') as a reader, and not the poems' or novel's, a reader too loath, impatient and selfish to give yourself up to but one book at time.

On December 16, 2010 at 10:29am Susan Neuhaus wrote:
I think a carefully crafted ebook of poetry
could become something special. You could
add audio or video of the author reading
the poem, images and links that enhance
the experience, music, social commentary
and interaction.
Instead of focusing on what an ereader
can't do (replicate a paper book reading
experience), wouldn't it be great to
experiment with what it can add to the
experience?

On December 17, 2010 at 12:27pm David Y Bevington wrote:
I laboriously put 8 books of poetry on kindle, Amazon.com. It took hours to format html page by page. I didn't want the poems to be partly on one page and partly on another.

When I attempted to do the same thing on epub for Barnes and Noble it became a nightmare. I would like to get my books online, but the epub machine makes the formatting a real problem. You would think that if you formatted 80 identically aligned poems the same way they would appear properly as one page each--not so.

If anybody knows how to do this more easily, let me know.
Dave B

On December 21, 2010 at 10:24am Bernard Kripkee wrote:
In response to Dave B, I am writing blog postings on formatting poetry for e-readers that my be helpful. They can be found at http://farewellrio.wordpress.com/
The first posting outlines the nature of the problem. The next posting (forthcoming) will suggest some technical solutions.

On January 2, 2011 at 5:27am Andrew George Stergiou wrote:
Theron Kennedy is the type of neo-
conservative in poetry who actually
should of been locked away in a convent
for without their respect of the societal
problems involved for poetry and the
poet, they disrespect both, as well as
themselves, in poetry of a take it or
leave it style of form without substance.
As for the article it was excellent and I
would buy if needed the lady lunch any
time (though I cook much better than
the restaurants)
http://www.zito.biz/fuckyou is my blog
and site and all (in the subjective good)
poets and poetry fans are welcome.

~A~

On January 9, 2011 at 10:49am Melanie Carver wrote:
I work at a B&N actually, so I get to play with the nooks all the time. I'm wondering how the nook color might address these problems? Magazines on the nook color display the same way they would on a physical page, pictures and columns and all, and then you can pinch to zoom in while maintaining the format. I have no idea how difficult they are to set up, but something like that sounds like it would be a perfect way to view poetry.

On January 18, 2011 at 3:45am Theron Kennedy wrote:
Andrew Stergiou,

I would invite you to read my blog, poetry, review my poetry book, if I thought you were as much a creator as you are a technician. Or if I thought you could demonstrate a real understanding of the labels you use in your rants. Thank you for reading my post here though.

On April 7, 2011 at 11:15am kenneth krabat wrote:
http://krabat.menneske.dk/wp_uploads/ /2010/11/Billede-27.png

This is a concrete picture of the problem - and this is being nice... The lines could be even longer, like my latest physical book, which at my editor's beheft and dilligence ended up square due to very long lines.. I have been covering the problem with no absolute positioning for poetry on my blog since Sep 2010, when the "official" first Danish original EPUB poetry collection by an acknowledged poet's publishing house showed how not to do it. (http://krabat.menneske.dk/kkblog) Being a published poet for 25 years I will never publish in a risky ebook format. I believe SVG is the only way - not Apple's fancy fixed layout hacks. Absolute positioning means absolute positioning.

On August 26, 2011 at 9:58am speakwright wrote:
@solidad
You are somewhat right, however the platform often strips out
formatting. This is partly a limitation the languages, but also a limitation
of the devices and how much of the language they will recognize.

On November 29, 2011 at 2:32pm Surazeus Simon Seamount wrote:
I found a simple way to put the HTML linebreak BR at the end of every line of thousands of lines in creating ebooks of my poems for Kindle format. I store all my poems in Access, so I use the letter-generator in Word to slide those poems into a set of pre-written code blocks. I paste the text into DreamWeaver which adds the BR code at the end of every line, then I search>replace the CODEBLOCK with actual HTML code. I am Surazeus on FaceBook and GooglePlus, so feel free to contact me if anyone wants more details on the process. http://amzn.to/jzG4vi

On March 23, 2012 at 4:59am David Walther Birk wrote:
The example is misleading, the article is first showing us the
correct formatting of the poem and then showing us unprecise
coding that would indeed mess up the formatting. But the medium
showing us the correct formatting is the web, done with html
and css – just as in an ebook. You can just go into the source
of the article in question and find the code producing the
correct formatting for the poem:

No more to say, and nothing to weep for but the Beings in
the    Dream, trapped in its disappearance,
sighing, screaming with it, buying and selling pieces of    phantom, worshipping each other,
worshipping the God included in it all—longing or
inevitability?   —while it lasts, a
Vision—anything more?

On March 23, 2012 at 5:05am David Walther Birk wrote:
The above comment is expanded in a full response here:

http://thedigitalimperative.wordpress.com/2012/03/23/print
-versus-digital-poetry-in-response-to-the-article-
breaking-the-poetry-code/

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 Alizah  Salario

Biography

Alizah Salario is a former Columbia University journalism fellow at the Poetry Foundation. Her writing has appeared in The Daily Beast, Ms. Magazine, TimeOut Istanbul, Booklist, and elsewhere. She lives in Chicago. 

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