Hey everyone!

Keen to ask a question and would love your help.

I’m curious as to whether you read poetry in electronic format. Pdf, on a reader etc, whatever – but basically, do you prefer print for poetry, or doesn’t it matter, it’s all good so long as it’s poetry?

Love to hear your thoughts. I’m thinking of trying to do a broad survey, but not sure whether I want to commit the time to that just yet.

For me, I find it harder to read poetry on a screen. How about you?



29 thoughts on “e-poetry?

  1. Hey Ash, I agree that reading on the page is a little easier but e-formats are more easily accessible at times (instantaneous delivery) and are cheaper. I read a couple of journals regularly online on my iPad (using a kindle app) and read quite a lot on my phone in WordPress. I often buy books from write bloody’s catalogue in eformat and read them online and on a few occasions I’ve bought an e-version, then enjoyed it so much I got a paper copy as well. In terms of time and quantity of reading, I probably spend more time reading on my phone and iPad but I guess aesthetically, the preference would be for paper. Does that help?

    • Fantastic, thanks, Simon! Great response too, very helpful.
      The ease of access & portability of electronic works is very cool, absolutely, good point. I too find the aesthetic of poetry on the page more pleasing, something about it is somehow different to fiction. No idea why! πŸ™‚

  2. I’m with you, Ash. Much prefer to hold a book and see the words dance on paper- for me I think it loses some of its lustre when its on a screen. But that said, I’d be lying if I said I didn’t read poetry on screens quite often in addition to physical books and I do love the convenience.
    Also depends what and where it is. Eg. Poetry library, journals or decent poetry sites and blogs are great, the presentation of the words is a big factor in its appreciation for the reader, like what you were alluding to, Ash, with your preference being paper for poetry ( and As a general rule, I don’t read poetry e-Books but paper books, but I read a lot of fiction digitally).
    But mark’s view is one i share too, if the words are worth reading, you just have to read them however and they will serve their porpoise.
    I know this is quite incoherent, but basically there are pros and cons on both sides, but LOng live the physical book!

    • I read a lot online too, I think what I don’t seem to read as much of digitally, is poetry that has been ‘collected’ – I seem to go print for that. Otherwise, I read the same – blogs, sites etc
      Thanks for the great response, Robbie!
      Long live print indeed! πŸ˜€

  3. If I like it, then I want to hold it. If it’s just for the joy of the moment it can be virtual.
    (I am speaking about poetry not about sex life).

    But I think it can be printed on any thing. In fact some poems looks so great when are written on/in unusual places.

    • Yes! Unusual printing is a blessing for poetry sometimes, being (often) much shorter than fiction, there’s more options perhaps? I find the same, Dhyan – I like to hold my favourite collections too πŸ™‚

  4. I find it harder to absorb poetry on screen. I’ve read research that shows people don’t read as deeply, comprehension wise, on a screen – and I think that of all forms of writing, poetry probably requires the deepest reading! Having said that, I do read lots of poetry on my ipad – it’s just too convenient! But then if I really something, I want to buy it in print. Poetry’s one of the few things you read over and over – so I think that e-poetry and print poetry support each other rather than compete with each other.

    • I’ve read the same and I must follow it up with more reading, Michele – it’s fascinating, huh? I find the screen a bit of a chore sometimes. I’ve been using a screen most of the day, then when I write of an evening, so I love to take a break with an old school book.
      Good point, there’s a complimentary status – and different formats suit different needs for the reader, huh? πŸ™‚

  5. Good questions Ash.

    I’ll read it in whatever format I can get it i.e. accessibility’s the thing for me. I have been reviewing books in either format for so long that I have had any real preference bludgeoned out of me.

    If we are talking about owning as opposed to just reading I’d probably go ebook unless I know the poet and want a keepsake.

    I have found it reasonably hard getting access to poets works(collections) unless they are printed by UQP or they are a Lawrence/Murray/Porter etc. Our wonderful state Library system only seems to carry a very select range. If more poets had more work in eBook form I’d be buying it. Indeed earlier in the year I tweeted out calls to poets that I had money to burn and for them to tweet me links to any work they had in ebook form. I got 2 responses.

    The other thing about eBooks is the ease with which one can be be put together and the cost factor. I can drop $10 on an ebook collection almost without thinking, without knowing too much about the poet – a $30 paperback + postage …well that’s 2 more poets I am going to not by eBooks from.

    I think its an area poets aren’t utilizing for example between the Digital collections of the combined Yarra Plenty/Brisbane LIbrary and the SA Library catalogue there are less than 10 Australian works and fair percentage of the 10 percent is me requesting the library system to buy them. From memory only 2-3 are single author too.

    • Great points, Sean – very helpful!
      Part of the owning of a text must come down to physical space at one point, huh? And the price differences are significant too, especially if you factor in (international) postage, huh?
      Wow – so few! I wonder if other libraries are similar – and of course, they would also be hampered by the amount of poets who’ve digitized surely?

      • I think there’s probably a couple of issues at play. Poetry is usually handled by smaller presses who don’t have the staff or the technical know how to create them. It can require a change to a publishers workflow if they want to bring out the eBook at the same time, then there’s an issue of eBook sales cannibalizing hard copy (although as I alluded to above I wonder if they are missing out on sales altogether). Then there is format issues and agreements with Library providers. Overdrive is the company that supports the back end of the Queensland and South Australian digital libraries and I think works need to be made available to that system by the publisher before they can be purchased. I just requested The Stars Like Sand anthology which has only just been printed so some Aussie publishers might be switching onto it.

    • There’s a lot of opportunity to innovate, huh? I used to dabble in link poetry, which I think has enormous space for new ideas, I just have to research it more and see who’s doing it well I reckon πŸ™‚
      Thanks, Rhiannon!

    • I do feel the same – part of it is habit, perhaps? – and part of it is definitely the feel and the aesthetic, but also the space. The screen seems like *work* and I wonder if I relax more without the screen.
      Thanks, Amanda πŸ™‚

  6. I read electronic and print. I like that electronic gives the opportunity for the poet to offer sound, colour, and vision, and music. Collaboration is easier and better, except with dead poets, electronically. Ekphrastic work can be referred [link] to the original without fear of copyright infringement, and the use of unfamiliar words or references is more easily researched if electronic access is available.

    If I can hold materials the poet held, it makes a difference. People who craft their own ‘book’, or write notes, or just distribute the items themselves, lend more than their voices, and I can lend more than my ears.

    I want it all, and I want it now!

    • Those extra features are superb draws – absolutely! And that’s an excellent point about copyright, John, thank you! πŸ™‚
      And I love handmade poetry collections too, it feels more of a ‘single’ object perhaps, if that makes sense?

  7. Hi Ash. Speaking as a lifelong lover of the outdoors and of the feeling of being untethered, I can say that my regular preference for ‘print’ (print being something which has typically both followed and been carried by me from time and place to time and place through my life in one form or another) has become somewhat muddled with my middle-age since recent wireless technologies made it possible to plug a USB mobile broadband stick into my portable laptop and download a pdf of something like this


    into my Acrobat reader (coz I’m a member) from a picnic bench beside a highway, or check on the blogs I am following.

    Usually what happens then is I drive out of power and mobile phone signal range to a secluded beach or into the breast of a behemoth of bushland, spark up my gas lamp, and choose something to read from the stack in my car.

    Generally though, e-poetry’s good for between times like these, Ash. I don’t expect I’ll fully embrace it until there’s such a thing as lunar laptop power adaptors. When that happens, I might just fork out for one of those e-reader thingies.

    P.S. I like to stop at the antique and book shops of the towns I pass through. If I ever see a volume of Poems For The Millenium in paper or hardback, I won’t hesitate to buy it.

    • I think that portability and flexibility of electronic that we’re becoming used to is a real draw, great example with the USB and the bench, Brad. And equally so, it’s limitation in terms of battery.

      And the idea of the in-between times too, we’re on the cusp of something huge, aren’t we?

      Thanks for the response πŸ™‚

  8. I am interested in getting an e-book out down the track so I am interested to see how it goes for you. I could say I love hard copy but these days the truth is I travel about so much that I do most of my reading online

    • I’m definitely considering it πŸ™‚
      I think I’ll start with my back catalogue and see how it goes, will definitely keep you posted! Have you got a collection close to ready?

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