paper trail

Jul 16, 2010 @ 9:00:00 am

James Franco as poet Allen Ginsberg (Photo Credit: Sundance Film Festival 2010).

Former poet laureate Billy Collins dislikes the havoc that is wreaked on poems when they are converted to ebooks: "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."

Allen Ginsberg wasn't shy about promoting "Howl" as “an all-purpose cultural barometer,” as John Palatella observed in Bookforum in 2006, the fiftieth anniversary of the book's publication. In 1967, when asked if his poems would survive, Ginsberg told a packed Berkeley lecture hall that they "may be valuable as like big important historical documents," saying, "there are some pretty things in them." Well, pretty things doth Hollywood love: Witness heartthrob James Franco don glasses to channel the scruffy poet in the trailer for the forthcoming bio-pic Howl.

George Szpiro, author of Numbers Rule, a new book about the nettlesome laws that determine how Congressional seats are apportioned, has a strikingly simple solution: send fractional congresspeople to the Capitol.  

Luxury publishers such as Kraken Opus and Taschen are releasing lavish editions with goodies like moon rocks, a signed Jeff Koons photograph of Muhammad Ali, or even the blood of cricket star Sachin Tendulkar, which was mixed into the signature page of a forthcoming $75,000 limited edition biography.