Crossing Dog Creek Again with eBooks

Charles Wright

As each day passes this summer, Project MUSE continues its transformation into a robust content community of web journals and books integrated in a seamless interface.  We expect 15,000 e-books to join the 500 journals currently on the platform. More than 30 new journals are slated for 2012, a host of back issues have just published, and we are in the midst of building a home for e-books.

I glimpsed the developing beta site this afternoon and it looks great–a refresh from the current look and feel of MUSE–with a new homepage designed to bring the content to life in new and exciting ways.

E-books are landing and we have amassed more than 11,000 titles. Our content developers, Liz Brown, Brian Harrington, and Hadley Leach carefully sift through each shipment to ensure that the metadata is complete.  They have begun laying the groundwork for subject collections.

In one of the batches, we discovered poetry books from the prestigious Wesleyan University Press poetry series. The work of James Dickey, Heather McHugh, Brenda Hillman, and James Wright will be accessible in e-book form on the Project MUSE platform.

I checked the Wesleyan list again for Campbell McGrath’s first book “Capitalism” and have spoken to the publisher about getting it on the platform-offering to pay for its digitization out of my own pocket.  There’s only one print copy available on Amazon for $80.00.  A trailblazing work of modern poetry, I’m hoping to get this important work back in circulation via Project MUSE.

One title stuck out from the spreadsheet. I found “Country Music: Selected Early Poems” by Charles Wright that won the 1983 National Book Award. I first read the poem “Dog Creek Mainline” at the University of Virginia in 1984 where I studied with Wright.

I found myself reading it out loud again in my office last week.  Those opening lines echoing again like they did the first time:

“Dog Creek: cat track and bird splay

sprindrift and windfall, woodrot;

odor of muscadine, the blue creep

of kingsnake and copperhead…”

Winner of the Pulitzer Prize, Wright’s early poems roam the fret board of language and foreshadow the long canto-like stanzas to come in his later work. “Country Music” exposed me to the possibilities of what poetry could be – alive, magical, and moving toward an exciting unknown.

These explorations led me to an MFA in Poetry from Columbia University in 1989 and a book of poems published in 2000.

Project MUSE will have more than 40 books of poetry and 140 works of fiction on the platform in January of 2012.

I invite today’s aspiring and emerging writers to frequent these books when they become available in January.

Thanks for reading,

Dean Smith

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One response to “Crossing Dog Creek Again with eBooks

  1. Looking forweard to seeing the launch in January and looking forward to reading more musings before then!

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