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Read My Book: Paul Wilson Interview on The Invisible Library

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Sunday, December 1, 2013

Filed under: Read My Book

I know the term invisible books refers to books that only appear in other books, that is, unwritten, unread, unpublished, and unfound. Can you say a little more about that?

As I began writing “The Invisible Library” I came across commentaries in the media surmising that the physical book would soon become an object of nostalgia, to be displayed as an antique, a part of our past we would soon put aside. I don’t see many people claiming this today, yet at the time I asked myself, I wonder what a book, if it could speak beyond its text, would contribute to the discussion.

Our relationship with the book over the past five hundred years has deeply shaped the way we imagine our world, just as other technologies such as the tablet and smart phone have changed how we think, function and communicate.

I agree with what William Carlos Williams said about the book as a critical link between author and reader: “In the imagination, we are from henceforth locked in a fraternal embrace, the classic caress of author and reader. We are one. Whenever I say “I” I mean also, “you.” And so together, as one, we shall begin.”

Since this is a book about forgotten or unwritten books, is the collection an elegy? Or something joyful? Or a combination of the two?

On the surface there is very little in the way of autobiographical material in “The Invisible Library”, yet I now realize that what I was experiencing emotionally had an impact on the direction of the project and in the execution of the writing. I see now that of my five published books, “The Invisible Library” is the most personal. This is true because of what my family was going through when I wrote it, but also because of my personal ”embrace” with books as a writer, editor, and publisher.

While there are elegiac poems in the book, it was my intent that readers share my sense of wonder over the vital engagements that happen through books, even though they may take place years or even centuries after the book was written.

Is your collection a comment on the importance of books in the modern-day "frenetic world?"

If poetry is “utterance overheard”+, then poetry could be held in sharp contrast to the deluge of utterances we are bombarded with each day. I personally find it is getting increasingly difficult to disengage from the messaging processes long enough to determine which messages are actually important.

In the modern world we face a lot of disorder and randomness in our daily lives, and most of us are reassured by a certain amount of order and pattern. My poems don’t provide “comment”. I hope my work in “The Invisible Library” challenges readers to examine their own experiences of order and disorder, and to explore the human need for form and order. Poetry, if it works, says Stanley Kunitz, is “the voice of the solitary who makes others less alone”. This statement could also be said of all literary books, as they bridge the gaps between people through the power of imagination.

+This idea can be attributed to John Stuart Mill

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