Original photo by Buffy Hamilton
Now that I’ve been reading books on the iPad/iPhone for about two years, I’m taking stock of some evolving patterns in my reading preferences. A few trends I’ve noticed about myself as a reader:
- I enjoy reading books that I would consider as “fluffy” or “light” (while still very gratifying!) fiction on the iPad or iPhone. Not only do I seem to concentrate better on these types of texts in digital format, but I also seem to read more quickly.
- Nonfiction is a mixed bag for me–initially, I didn’t notice a difference in my reading experiences of nonfiction from print to digital, but in recent months, I have felt a need to read nonfiction in print—the digital form of highlighting and notetaking just doesn’t seem to meet my needs like sticky notes, highlighted passages, and marginalia composed in my own hand.
- Rereads of favorite fiction are definitely more enjoyable for me in print—I would say the sensory experiences I’ve associated with previous readings of a text in print are the primary reason for this preference.
I had not tried reading a book of poetry in digital format until this weekend. In the midst of a poetry reading binge on Sunday, I finished two and a half books in print format and one in eBook format. While I enjoyed all of the poetry reads, I quickly realized the experience of reading a collection of poems in the digital format was not gratifying, and in fact, felt quite uncomfortable—it was akin to putting on a cozy, familiar old sweatshirt and discovering it was suddenly scratchy and ill-fitting. I literally had difficulty concentrating and soaking in the sensory experiences of the poems; the poems almost seemed sterile in eInk. Now perhaps this is just a personal reading quirk, but the experience left me with these immediate reactions:
1. I will purchase all future collections of poetry in print (unless I have a desperate midnight craving for a book that I feel compelled to read in the wee hours of the morning)
2. Do others have preferences for certain genres in print vs. digital formats? I’m guessing they do.
3. How and to what extent is the sensory aspect of reading impacted by a print version versus a digital edition? I know that question has been the subject of some mockery, but I think this is a legitimate and serious question to consider as readers have diverse needs.
4. What are the implications of these kinds of questions or points for consideration when thinking about print and digital collection development?
What are your experiences as a reader? Do you have a preference for certain genres in certain formats, or have you noticed your preferences evolving over time? I realize what I experienced this weekend and the patterns I’ve noticed are not unique or earth-shattering, but the absolute dissonance I felt with my transaction with the poetry text in digital format are prompting me to think a little more critically about these questions.
These clips were filmed at the poetry reading she gave in January 2011 at Emory University (which I unfortunately could not attend due to a migraine). Take a few minutes to enjoy these beautiful poems, including one of my personal favorites, “Wild Geese.”
As I was working belatedly yesterday on adding some new features to one of my National Poetry Month displays on the exterior of the library, I began thinking about what I might feature in addition to student created poems, quotes about poetry, and images of favorite poetry books. Perhaps because I was surrounded by Ms. Frost’s 9th Honors Literature/Composition students with whom I’ve been immersed in presentation zen this past week, it occurred to me it might be fun to combine favorite lines of poetry or short poems with a carefully selected photograph to unpack a feeling, idea, or image I associated with the lines of poetry or short poem.
After I completed a few slides in PowerPoint, I shared what I had created with Ms. Frost, and she was so excited about what she saw that she plans to work with the library and use this approach to help students dwell in poems by focusing on key lines and images to tease out the concepts of imagery, connotation, and mood. We plan to use student created slides and convert them into picture files that can then be printed as flyers or posters for hanging or display on art easels to feature throughout the library; we’ll also be sure to include an artistic tag to give students credit for their creation. I also see this kind of activity as another learning exercise in visual thinking that can be used for a poetry immersion unit and an entry point into discovering new poems.
I hope you enjoy the slides I’ve created so far—to be able to immerse myself in this kind of thinking and content creation was therapeutic for me intellectually and emotionally. Most of my days are spent as an instructional librarian (which I LOVE), but I relished the opportunity to use most of the workday for content creation as it was great mind candy for me and ultimately, a springboard to a wonderful conversation for some new collaborative efforts with Ms. Frost and her students. I’ll be working with the wonderful Joy Mabry at our district “Teacher Center” to create poster sized prints of these slides as well as the student generated content to help celebrate and honor poetry year round—I’ll blog an update as soon as we have the new creative works up and on display in the library!
Another source of inspiration came today during a Google chat with my good friend and colleague Diane Cordell, an amazing librarian and lifelong learner. Diane shared a poetry reading created with VoiceThread, and I thought how cool it would be for students to choose a poem (either one they have composed or one of their choosing) to read and to add images to represent the poem; they could then narrate these poems individually, with a partner, or as a small group. I see this kind of learning activity as another way of students remixing and interpreting poetry through sound and audio!
What ways are you using visual literacy or multimedia as an entry point to poetry?
On Wednesday, April 29, Mrs. Nayman’s 1st period 11th American Literature/Composition students shared poems inspired by personal photographs @ The Unquiet Library! You can enjoy the slidecast below to see their photos and hear each student read his/her poem. Simply click the green button, and the slides will automatically play and advance themselves.
It took me awhile to get the hang of syncing the mp3 audio to each slide, but after some trial and error, I think I have it. I hope to improve my syncing skills as I work on the next two poetry podcasts/slidecasts for 2nd and 7th periods.
I am also making class books of each set of poems for the poetry reading—one set for the library, and one set for Mrs. Nayman’s classroom; many thanks to Mrs. Joy Mabry of the Cherokee County School District Teacher Center for her help with this endeavor! The photos from the day are also housed at http://www.flickr.com/photos/8166472@N03/sets/72157617481444372/ . We also have the student poems hanging from our poetry clothesline.
For help on creating the Slidecasts, try these resources: