As part of Knopf’s annual Poem-a-Day celebration in 2012, I wanted to put together a short collection of poems and offer it up as a low-priced ebook. Deborah Garrison, the poetry editor at Knopf, came up with a fantastic theme (and title) — Poems After Midnight — and selected 13 amazing poems to showcase. The elegant cover was designed by Knopf art director Carol Carson.
There was a time when publishers would have printed this kind of thing up, making it into a beautiful little collectible. You don’t see much of this anymore, mainly because of cost. The cost to design, copy edit, print, and then distribute. But the rise of digital really opens things up, making it more feasible to create projects like this. Of course there are still costs associated with producing an ebook — you still have to design a cover, format the text, and copy edit — but the more noticeable dollar figures associated with printing, distribution and inventory are not a part of the picture.
I hope to see more of these types of digital projects — shorter works, offbeat curation, collections and combinations of material that would never, ever get approved as a physical product.
Anyway, here’s the description of the Poems After Midnight ebook:
Most poets are or have been at one time or another members of what Mark Strand here calls “The Midnight Club”: they are insomniacs, or feel most productive in the middle of the night, or, if nothing else, are people whose work requires an openness to the dreams, visions, and scraps of inspired language that may drift across our path in the wee hours. In Poems After Midnight, drawn from Knopf’s Poem-a-Day program (the daily e-mails we’ve sent to our fans every April for the last dozen years or more), we’ve gathered some of the significant nocturnal entries by our poets. Here are poems of love and loss (J. D. McClatchy’s “Little Elegy,” Kevin Young’s “Chorale”), poems under the moon and in hotel rooms (Frank O’Hara’s “Avenue A,” Sharon Olds’s “Sleep Suite”), poems detailing urgent self-examinations and Jewish mourning rituals, or heralding the arrival of a visionary political statement like “They Feed They Lion,” a poem from the early 1970s by poet laureate Philip Levine. Each one carries us on a journey away from the distractions of daytime and into a realm of heightened understanding.
And here are the 13 poems featured:
“A Remedy for Insomnia” by Vera Pavlova
“Avenue A” by Frank O’Hara
“Soul Keeping Company” by Lucie Brock-Broido
“Little Elegy” by J. D. McClatchy
“Sleep Suite” by Sharon Olds
“Self-portrait” by Edward Hirsch
“The Midnight Club” by Mark Strand
“They Feed They Lion” by Philip Levine
“After” by Franz Wright
“Chorale” by Kevin Young
“Greeter of Souls” by Deborah Digges
“Poem to be Read at 3 a.m.” by Donald Justice
“The House was Quiet and the World Was Calm” by Wallace Stevens