Jane Shore, “Encyclopaedia Britanica” (The New Yorker, 7 September 2015)

Self began to love poetry because of The New Yorker.

She began subscribing over 20 years ago. There have been breaks of a year or two, it hasn’t been one continuous subscription. But she usually reads it cover to cover.

When she was growing up in the Philippines, she did not connect with any of the poetry she had to read for school: Shelley, Keats, Alfred Lord Tennyson, Walt Whitman.

But in the pages of The New Yorker, she saw that poetry was actually like little slices of life, like flashes of insight. The lines were plain and unadorned and she did not have to look up any words in the dictionary.

Here’s a poem self read this evening, by a poet she knows nothing about: Jane Shore.

It’s called “Encyclopaedia Britanica.”

The Encyclopaedia Brittanica (the books, not the poem) has been replaced by Wikipedia. Are there any libraries that still stock the Encyclopaedia Britanica? In the Philippines, her home had two different encyclopaedia series: The Encyclopaedia Britannica and the Book of Knowledge. Never did she need to look up stuff in a library, she could just go to the bookshelves in her home. Thanks much, Dearest Dad! He was such a bookworm and lover of learning.

Here’s part of the Jane Shore poem:

ENCYCLOPAEDIA BRITANNICA

We were as excited as when we’d bought our new car,
and it, too, weighed a ton, the entire history
of the world and everything in it
on two whole shelves in our family room,
sitting like a judge over our new color TV.

We fact-checked over dinner
to settle arguments erupting like Etna (Volume 8)
while the Caesar salad was being served.
In which movie does Charlie Chaplin eat a stewed shoe?
What was the exact date of Kristallnacht?
Before we had our Encylopaedia Britannica,
everybody had opinions instead of facts,
which they stuck to, uncorrected, unto death.

But you couldn’t pick a fight with the Encyclopaedia Britannica.
Even saying its name upped my IQ.

And that is about all self will quote for now.

Stay tuned, dear blog readers. Stay tuned.

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