10 November 2010

Green Books Campaign: Inside, Outside, Morningside

Today, November 10, at 1 p.m., 200 bloggers will simultaneously publish reviews of 200 books printed on environmentally-friendly paper. By turning a spotlight on books printed using greener methods, Eco-Libris aims to raise consumer awareness about considering the environment when making book purchases.

The 200 books to be reviewed are in a variety of subjects including cooking, poetry, travel, green living, and history, and come from 56 publishers from the U.S., Canada, Australia, and the U.K. that are participating in the Green Books Campaign.

Full list of participating books and bloggers - be sure to check out this review by Penelope of Sunray – The Death and Life of Captain Nichola Goddard.

iomfrontsmI am reviewing Inside, Outside, Morningside by Alaskan poet Majorie Kowalski Cole.  Published posthumously after he untimely death this past December, the collection is divided into three sections: ‘Desire’, ‘Travel’ and ‘The Work of Our Hands.’

This was my first time hearing of Cole and reading her work, so I can only fairly discuss what I read here.  I want to re-emphasize that this was published after her death.  I want to do so because, while an overall good collection of poems, there were a few curious editing decisions that I feel should be forgiven being that Cole was unable to work through the final edits.  For example, in ‘Fire Filled Summer’ the poem begins: “Ignited by thousands of lightning strikes / fires roared to life in the black of spruce.”  To me, this is a significant error by omitting the comma after the word ‘strikes.’  While the hope is that the reader will see the separation between the two lines, the lack of punctuation asks for the sentence to be read straight through.  This causes a clunky turn. 

To show how this can be done well, I look to my personal favorite, John Keats: “When I have fears that I may cease to be / Before my pen has glean’d my teeming brain.”  The two lines are meant to read as a full sentence, but the visual stand alone makes the though far more morbid than the full sentence.  When done correctly, the enjambed lines can yield great lines of poetry (note: Shakespeare was the master of doing this).

I highlight this negative first because Cole’s well constructed lines stand above such a simple error.  “Never have I see the shape of the planet / until now, standing at the perimeter of this frozen ocean. / Arrested in midcurl, artic ice is tided up /  where it meets the horizon, becomes the perfect edge / of a coin,” is the start of ‘The Top of the World from Inside Jeanie’s Parka.’  Here, Cole is at her best.  Enjambment liberates the lines as a flow that opposes the frozen ocean she is describing.  The lines are well crafted, particularly “the perfect edge /  of a coin.”  The use of edge to end the line is intended to be sharp and Cole accomplishes it well in eyes of the reader to only be undone by the visual of the softer rounded edges of a coin.

The collection of poems are a long love letter to Alaska and her environment.  It is the beauty of the landscape that allows Cole to find God and explore her own faith.  The interruption of human activity is noted but only injected sparsely.  The real focus is the Alaska that called to Jack London and pulled Chris McCandless into her.  Robert Frost she is not, but Cole has a strong grasp on her surroundings made tragic by her passing and the lost opportunity to see promise flourish.  I recommend this collection as the onset of fall provides the perfect time to take in what Hopkins, a clear influence, called “God’s Grandeur.”


If you would like to participate, Eco-Libris suggests the following:
  1. Check the reviews of books on the campaign's list that look interesting to you and add your comments to their reviews.
  2. Tweet the campaign (you can also follow it on twitter).
  3. Post it in your Facebook status update and join the conversation on the campaign's Facebook page.
  4. Learn more about the green agenda of some of the participating publishers on Eco-Libris blog.
  5. Update your green and lit LinkedIn groups about the campaign.
  6. Find a book on the campaign's list that you already read and loved? Write a review on Amazon mentioning the green aspect of the book.
  7. Post it on literary websites and social networks, like BookMooch,Goodreads, LibraryThing, BookRabbit and others.
  8. Check out the unique search feature of Indigo Books & Music that enables you to identify books that are printed on recycled or FSC-certified paper.
  9. Learn more why it is important to print books on eco-friendly paper by visiting the campaign's resources page
  10. See a book on the campaign's list that you would like to read? Buy it for yourself or as a green gift to someone you care about. You're also invited to look for it on your local library!
  11. http://www.keyporter.com/BookDetail.aspx?ISBN=155470300X