What you see...

I've been writing poetry since I was a baffled teen, about forty years. I have published four books of poetry and have just completed my fifth collection, "The Invisible Library". I am also a culture worker, editor, and publisher (Hagios Press).

Wednesday, 17 August 2011

My Invisible Library


I have prefered to write notes upon imaginary books
Jeorge Luis Borges
Invisible Library: a collection of books that only appear as titles in published books, txhat is to say all manner of books unwritten, unread, unpublished, and unfound.

These words have guided me for the last three years as I have worked on a poetry manuscript titled "The Invisible Library"  Invisible books have no substance beyond the context given in the books where they are mentioned. They are fragments of the imagination of the author, but yet somehow they light a flame in the imagination of the reader. What would that book be like?  

Once aware of the invisible library I began to notice entries in books I was reading. It seemed a short leap from these discoveries to wanting to create entries in the invisible library myself. In this writing process I have been inspired by the invisible library but all the titles used in my poems are original and not borrowed from other sources. Soon the poems I was writing took on more imagistic and metaphoric weight. I found that the concept was leading me into fascinating thematic and psychological territory.

In June I began a term position as an Artist Animateur for SaskCulture in aid of supporting and promoting Culture Days, Canada's celebration of arts and culture from coast to coast to coast. This summer I have acted as Poet in Residence (at the Invisible Library) at several events in southern Saskatchewan, where I have read poems from my book and engaged people in the creative act of writing their own "invisible"titles into a book I've carried with me. The response when I ask someone to participate is usually a smile or even a chuckle at the thought of them becoming an instant author. While the writer may want to pause and think it over, I encourage them to use the first good thought they have. Many of the participants use their own name but they are also allowed to sign a pseudonym that plays off the title.

Here are a few samples of the anonymous entries I've collected:
The Sun Doesn't Forgive by Prudence Burns (Saskatchewan Festival of Words, Moose Jaw)
What the Butler Told the Cook: Poems by Francessca Canneline-Jones (Festival of Words)
The Private Life of a Pumpkin by Ivy Vine (Cannington Manor Heritage Park Fair)
How Do You Like Them Apples? by Granny Smith (Cannington Manor Fair)

The creation of a book title, imaginary or real requires a creative leap and writing the title of an invisible book one that resonates, requires employing one's intuition. It's fascinating to watch participants as they contemplate and then write their invisible book title. While many have not written a book, they all have read books and have perhaps entertained thoughts of writing one day. They may tap into a humorous idea or one that speaks to them personally and as they do they are also thinking about the the importance of books in their lives.

So far I have collected over seventy book titles in my Invisible Library, and welcome more via e-mail: wilsonhpaul@gmail.com At the end of my term I will post the complete list of titles here on my blog and the "library" will be archived with SaskCulture. I look forward to seeing your entry into the world of invisible books.

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