Phil Brown on Poetry & the Kindle

The Huffington Post has recently published an article by the poet Phil Brown, lamenting the impact of the Kindle on poetry. He writes:

The Kindle[…]does not care about the poet’s feelings about line-breaks or page-structure or the publisher’s in-house typographical style. The Kindle cares about giving you the words you asked for in the order that the writer wrote them – if Coleridge could read Kubla Khan as an ePub he’d write a couple of footnotes to his famous adage.

Whilst the nature of novels certainly stand up incredibly well to this treatment, the arbitrariness of page and line-breaks on the Kindle make viewing Prufrock on an eReader akin to viewing an Edward Hopper painting snapped in two and placed in neighbouring rooms to save space.

He is completely right that there is a problem with the Kindle’s reflowable text & poetry. I wrote about this issue in my review of Sarah Dawson’s Anatomically Incorrect Sketches of Marine Animals. But it is frustrating that this response to the problem is so pessimistic & unimaginative.

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