Read-in

Still working (leisurely) on cataloging the books into Libib (pronounced, btw, from Libib’s FAQs: “luh-bib. For you IPA people, relish the schwa: ləbib.” At first I thought they were talking about India Pale Ale.

Categories and Tags – this is where things get swiftly tricky, like getting caught in a riptide. Libib recommends not using genres as categories, but something more personally identifiable, so that I might put one collection into a category called basement books, a collection being a subset of the library, and where to find a book of paramount concern. Or green bookcase. This might make sense for my library, since the books are spread throughout the house with little to no regard for genre or author. Though there is some organization, a row of paperbacks I’ve had since high school, for example. The green bookcase holds primarily poetry and plays. Nevertheless, I’ve decided upon genres as categories. But how many? Is biography considered non-fiction, or should it have its own collection (a collection and category being at this point synonymous)? Most of my books are literary by nature, so a single category of literary would hold them all, which would not be all that helpful in terms of organization and inventory. But less the whole enterprise get subsumed in some sort of biblio neurosis, I’ve decided to go with the following categories of genre: Fiction, Non-fiction, Music, Philosophy, Plays, Poetry. Libib provides a tool to filter: “Not Begun, In Progress, Completed, Abandoned, No Status.” I was thinking I might put all the Samuel Beckett books under Abandoned. In any event, the organization of the library will be in reality only virtual – I’ve no intention of actually physically moving all the books about trying to get them organized by genre or author or whatever. It’s enough to take them down, dust them off, peruse, catalog into Libib, put back – or leave out for further consideration. The library is, after all, not so large that I can’t find something wandering about and searching manually, which is what the hobby, if not the passion, is all about. A library should be a quiet and also unhurried experience.

Tags will be useful and helpful, for example: beat, pocket poets series – which I’ve for the last few days been working on. This morning I came to Robert Bly’s “The Teeth Mother Naked at Last,” Number Twenty-Six in the City Lights Series. Bly, born in 1926, passed away last November at the age of 94. Teeth Mother (hyphenated on the title page but not on the cover) is a single poem, 22 pages in this edition (Library of Congress No. 73-11121), 1970 by City Lights Books. Parts of the poem were printed earlier in the Nation and New American Review magazines. In my copy, which I think is a first edition (original cost $1.00), the pages are as thick as the covers of other Pocket Poems books, thick and unbending. I was struck by several things (historical, foreboding, ironic) in the Kenneth Rexroth quote on the back cover:

“For a good many years now in his magazine The Sixties, and its accompanying book publishing Robert Bly has been struggling manfully to return American poetry to the mainstream of international literature from which it was diverted into the sultry provincial bayous of the Pillowcase Headdress School a generation ago. He started out completely surrounded by enemies . . It’s a wonder he’s alive. When he first started to wean away the puling young of America’s heartland from the seventy-seven tits of ambiguity, I thought he didn’t have a Chinaman’s chance. Robert Bly is today [i.e. 1970] one of the leaders of a poetic revival which has returned American literature to the world community . . A wide grasp of experience, an octave or more in each hand, is not just a sign of energy, it is a cause of responsibility. This is what gives the poems their great moral impact.”

Kenneth Rexroth