Be seen reading a book

by Marie Marshall

Be seen reading a book wherever you go. No, not thumbing a hand-held device, reading an actual book. Be seen to laugh, to smile, to frown; be heard to catch your breath. Take out a pencil and make marginal notes in your own, personal shorthand. Use a bookmark, maybe one main one in stiff card or leather, along with supplementary markers torn from a notepad, maybe a brightly-coloured index tab or two which lead to a favourite or important passage neatly underlined. Take the book everywhere. Let people hear you chuckling and exclaiming even during a comfort break; interrupt your lunchtime apple to read out passages to colleagues; hold your book high whilst sitting on the bus or in the park; when at rest on the summit of a newly-climbed mountain, whip out a paperback from your pocket.

No, this is not an exercise in Luddism. The hand-held device is here to stay. It is an exercise in celebrating what must be the most important technological advance of the past thousand years – print. So much has now been committed to ink on paper. Even though the day of the hand-held device has come, the new literature that has appeared only in a form that can be consumed on such a device is infinitesimal compared to the vast canon of the already-published.

The printer’s boast was always this: that once something is published in print then it cannot be retracted. If you lie then your lie is nailed forever; if you tell the truth it shines forever. A pomposity, maybe, but do the book thing anyway. For me. You know you want to.

And on no account ever refer to it as ‘hard copy’.


I have just finished what I think is my final input into the selection of poems submitted to The Phoenix Rising from the Ashes and am awaiting eagerly a sight of what the final book may look like.

Meanwhile it is time to turn my attention to another possible editing project, this time the work of a single poet. I will keep you posted…