Last week, I was talking volumes of poetry with the university's humanities librarian Julie Hansen. I started discussing Evie Shockley's volume the new black, a work that has regularly been on my mind for over a year now. I own hardcover and paperback editions of Shockley's book, and Julie suggested that we acquire the ebook edition of the new black for the university library. Good idea.
Shockley's book marks the first ebook volume of poetry by a contemporary African American poet. The addition of this ebook means that we will now have the capability of introducing Shockley's work to large numbers of SIUE students who do not own the physical book. Given the relatively small number of poems published online, it's refreshing to know that at least for now our library will have a web-based body of Shockley's available for readers.
I am curious and thus will hopefully later test how readers respond to the ebook of Shockley's book as opposed to the physical versions. I wonder how students' engagements with the book will shift and remain constant as they move from one version to another. I'm also curious about how reading a volume online will affect how students view contemporary African American poetry overall.
Apparently, I'll have to wait a little longer before figuring out what readers at my university think about black poetry in different formats. Unfortunately, there are relatively few African American volumes of poetry in ebooks format available for libraries to acquire. After noting the possibility of obtaining Shockley's book, Julie asked me about several additional poets and titles that we might consider, and we discovered that none were available as ebooks. Maybe, electronic versions are in the works.
So in the near future, we'll take some extended looks at Shockley's poetry and hope that more publishers and poets can work out the deals to make ebooks more widely available to libraries. Book for now, at least when it comes to ebook volumes of African American poetry at our library, Shockley's the new black will also be the only one.
Julie Hansen Week: Af-Am Lit, Black Studies & Lovejoy Library