If there's anything that the onset (or is it an onslaught?) of e-books should teach us, it's that books themselves matter. For the most part, if the publishing industry crashes, I say they deserve it for keeping the public trust so poorly.
Case in point: the publication of Michael Dickman's new book of poems Flies, recently out from Copper Canyon Press, is one of the major events of the year for people who care about poetry. His first book, The End of the West, was the bestselling debut in the long history of that press, and if it was filled with a sagacious quietness that suggested an author twice Dickman's age, it was also filled with promise. Many of us reacted with a compound clause: that's amazing; I can't wait to see what he does next.
Part of that feeling comes from the fragility of Dickman's lines. His verses seem weightless at the same time that they feel enormous and heavy. That's not a hyperbolic contradiction: think of a blue whale and you have it—this slow, gigantic force. Or, picture the cover of that first book: a photograph by Ralph Eugene Meatyard (Untitled, 1960) depicting a hanging victim, who, due to the camera's trick and limit, seems to float, or even to fly up off the page, when he should be dropping.
The cover of Dickman's new book...