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Bookstories 42: Remember Albums?

libraryofbabelEvery book tells its story, but what of the other story, the story behind the book? Bookstories offers an opportunity to tell that story. If you have a story about a book or poem you would like to share, contact us and we’ll help you make it happen. Thanks for letting us know the rest of the story!


“Albums — remember those?” Prince quipped before presenting the Grammy for Album of the Year. With the current dominance of hit singles — digitally downloaded, playlisted, and streamed — most pundits say the era of the album is over. Yet a good many music buffs agree with Prince that “Albums still matter.” It’s a vital art form in its own right, where the whole is greater than the sum of its songs; where thematic albums, such as Dark Side of the Moon, and Morning Phase, are as immersive as cinema.

Haikai books, like albums, still matter. Especially books that make engaging use of themes, reticence, sequencing, juxtaposition, etc., to expand the meanings of individual poems, and to build a cumulative emotional arc not unlike that of a memoir or a novel.

Inspired and intimidated by the most timeless haikai books, I waited ten years before starting work on my first collection. Not for lack of material earlier on, maybe even for several books, but because no compelling shape or interesting concept came to me. When the Muse eventually paid a visit, and green-lighted the project, I was elated. But things didn’t exactly fall into place as a result. The book was two more years in the making.

It’s hard to judge the outcome of one’s own creative endeavors, so I was immensely grateful for the thoughtful reviews by Michael McClintock (in Frogpond) and Michele Root-Bernstein (in Modern Haiku), especially since they both appreciated the immersive book experience of Turn Turn, as well as its selected poems.

— Christopher Patchel

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