Friday, April 16, 2010

Poetry Friday: Martín Espada and Yellow Legal Pads

Thursday Evening Previews Scripts: [Untitled] [pencil on yellow legal pad paper with emendations in ink]
 Bernstein, Leonard, 1918-1990, from the Music Division of the Library of Congress

". . . it's just a beautiful object. It's already perfect. It's like the No. 2 pencil. It's a classic. It's cheap and you don't get to use it as a kid. I think it's the grown-up version of the writing paper we use as kids." --- writer Suzanne Snider talking with reporter Madeline Brand

But for today, how about this lovely poem, with a title that demanded my attention:

Who Burns for the Perfection of Paper
by Martín Espada

At sixteen, I worked after high school hours
at a printing plant
that manufactured legal pads:
Yellow paper
stacked seven feet high
and leaning
as I slipped cardboard
between the pages,
then brushed red glue
up and down the stack.
No gloves: fingertips required
for the perfection of paper,

The rest is here

Poetry Friday is hosted today by Jules at 7 Impossible Things Before Breakfast


  1. Actually, this poem is also a beautiful meditation of the law -- that justice doesn't come without work and pain. What an intriguing and gorgeous poem.

  2. "...fingertips required / for the perfection of paper."

    this so speaks to my college bookbiniding experience. if you couldn't get a literal feel for it then it never looked quite right.

    and as for legal pads, i coveted them as a teen, but as an adult i prefer the 5x7 size for some reason.

  3. Legal pads will never be the same. Love Tanita's interpretation. Definitely a very thought provoking poem. There are so many cool poems at the Poetry 180 site. Thanks for finding this one.

  4. Wow. I love the way poetry can make you look at an ordinary object in a completely different way.

  5. I love the tools of a writer's trade. I get very excited just to walk down the office supply aisle where colorful pens, pencils, and papers ambush me.

    Neat poem!

    Laura Evans
    all things poetry

  6. I'm with Laura -- I covet all tools of the writing trade. I recently spent the big bucks for a blank Moleskine, make that TWO Moleskines -- because I love them so much! One black for everyday notetaking and to-do lists and a red one for my poetry this month!

  7. Beautiful meditation indeed. Thanks Tanita for adding your insight. What a beautiful poem!


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