Sunday, July 18, 2021

bookshelf love post

It only took a year and a half (since I disassembled the larger bookshelf in the living room) but I finally, after months of piling everything just everywhere, I was able to re-org the shelves and make room for the much-culled poetry books on the fiction shelves. When I moved out of the studio, there was a bunch of stuff, including chap stock, my folding table, display racks that had to go into my entryway closet.  As such, I lost coat storage and the ease of access, so since the taller shelves were in danger of falling over anyway  and were near the door, I swapped them out with a coat rack (mostly so I don't have to climb over a bunch of crap to get coats out, while also fighting to keep the cats from getting locked in there.) The rack worked out awesomely, but it left the entirety of my poetry books without a home and no room on the fiction shelves.

There was an initial cull of both collections in the spring, but I still had books piled in stacks on the floor in front of it, on top, in the bedroom, behind the couch, with no where to store them. I put an embargo on fiction buying years ago--relegating any new titles to library loans--but books are hard to part with, especially since I will forseeably need more room for poetry purchases. (I wound up tossing even more the things I was holding onto--writing reference books, college anthologies that had somehow made their way through several moves. Random B&N bargain bin purchases that I read, but don't love enough to hold onto.   Even still, all the shelves are two deep, and a later project is to try to organize them alphabetical by author roughly to still be able to find things. But not today. 

When I was a teenager in my bedroom I took much care in arranging my paperback novels--always alphabetical by author, then title.  Eventually, the shelf was bigger and I filled it with the books I was reading as an undergrad--novels and anthologies, but also lots of plays and theatre books.  Most of those I left at my parent's house when I moved and my mother donated them sometime along the way.  In my first apartment I had a giant set of wood utility shelves to hold books as the collection grew, then moved them a couple more times before filling the shelves in this apartment.  It was then that I began buying more contemporary poetry titles and space got a little tenuous at times--they're a slender sister to novels, but in bulk, they still take up a lot of space. Don't even mention chapbooks, which are still in boxes and are destined for the cabinet near my desk once I discard my dvd collection (that I've not touched in years) and move all the stuff in there (cd's, photo albums, etc) to the tv. cabinet.) The grey long ikea drawers are filled with my stock of my own zines and art pints and originals. 

The top shelf closest to my desk is  occupied by stashes of my own books, including a stack of my first book, the fever almanac, that are the last copies in existence, as well as a handful each of the other, newer titles. Also, at least once copy of my zines, chaps, other book objects.  The sleek black spines of the last two larger books are in the front, and as I arranged them, it felt so strange and surreal even still that I have written books at all, much less several. Much less that are still several to come. For a girl who spent so much time contemplating and arranging bookshelves in her youth.  So much time reading and buying books--in bargain bins, at flea markets, in the mall bookstore.  I also remember my first Amazon orders in the late 90's--including the list of books for my M.A. comp exams. (and the strange time when Amazon sold only books, hilarious since I just got a bedspread and some bath gel in the mail yesterday.) How surreal to also be making books for other authors-- to be participating in the publishing world at all, even if it's tiny handmade editions.

The shelf below my own books are journals and anthologies that have graciously let me into their pages, including the very first ones--the vanity-esque anthologies, my first for-real publication in a tiny staplebound feminist journal. I have copies of everything--tiny handmade zines, glossy academic journals, hardback anthologies. Most times, I don't even remember which poems they published without looking. All in all, over 20 years of publishing, and even though I never think I've published much in print and far more in online journals, they take up a hefty amount of space. I submit less often to print journals--and so many are long gone--but if this grows I may have to claim more shelves. 

Sometimes, it feels even more ridiculous to keep so many books in a place where space is limited and while I, you know, work in a LIBRARY where I can pretty much get my hands on whatever i want and return it when I'm done. Nevertheless, I still like keeping them around. I used to say I'd need them to read during the apocalypse  (the joke being that this last apocalypse, I wasn't able to read much at all.)

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