Keep your intangible pants on: Poetry is still poetry, even when it goes electric

By Harriet Staff

Kristen Hoggatt posts the question of Format vs. Function on The Smart Set blog. When a reader asks whether she would recommend the Kindle or the Nook for reading poetry in the interest of environmental friendliness, her response is purely pragmatic: Aside from the Nook offering Llama, Llama Red Pajama in color, it didn't provide the same range of reading material for poetry fans as the Kindle. No contemporary poetry, and even a small selection of the classics. Case closed.

But wait! One can't just answer that question without bringing up the debate between print and electronic publishing. A Nook vs. Kindle dispute is simply not complete without it being an all out Nook vs. Kindle vs. Book smackdown. Or can it?

I understand your hesitation. Surely something will be lost when we all start reading poetry in electronic form, maybe something similar to what was lost when we all started composing our poems on computer instead of in long-hand, something we don’t even know or give pause to recognize, being distracted by all the techno-sparkly things this age offers. But poetry is still part of this world, and the world is changing. Reading poetry is an intangible experience anyway, so we have to wonder if elimination of the material medium really matters.

Originally Published: January 19th, 2011