Poet Billy Collins Thinks eBooks Ruin Poetry


Are eBooks bad for reading poetry? Poet Billy Collins thinks so. After seeing his poems on an eReader and finding stanzas broken up and lines split when changing font size, he was not amused.

The writer complained that form is part of poetry and the eBooks are not formatted to keep this form. From the AP, “‘I found that even in a very small font that if the original line is beyond a certain length, they will take the extra word and have it flush left on the screen, so that instead of a three-line stanza you actually have a four-line stanza. And that screws everything up,” says Collins, a former U.S. poet laureate whose Ballistics came out in February.”

Collins also told the AP, “The critical difference between prose and poetry is that prose is kind of like water and will become the shape of any vessel you pour it into to. Poetry is like a piece of sculpture and can easily break.”

Maybe there is a software answer, an eReader that locks in the poetry so that the form can be preserved. What do you think?