ephemera

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Ephemera given away by poets at Haiku North American 2013

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I’ve worked in several archives and I can tell you that one of the best words you will encounter there is “ephemera.” This refers to printed material that is (naturally) meant to be ephemeral, to serve a specific purpose and then be discarded — or, as the case may be, preserved in a scrapbook or collected or hoarded or pounced upon by some archivist who perceives historical value in it and tucks it neatly into an acid-free folder and gives it an accession number. Tickets, for instance, are ephemera. Menus. Playbills. Business cards. Dance cards. (Dance cards? What, are we partying like it’s 1899?)

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by moonlight
a sheet of stickers
with unreadable faces

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These objects above might or might not be classified as ephemera, depending on how likely you thought it was that their creators wanted or intended them to be preserved. What they are is giveaways from various poets at last month’s Haiku North America — samples, if you will, of their work. “Samples” sounds a bit ephemeral, but really, these lovely objects don’t look as if they were meant to be discarded. They look like art. Which they are.

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light years can’t explain how we got here

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From top left, clockwise and into center:

  • Postcard by Sandra Simpson
  • a primer of organic forms, booklet by Jim Kacian
  • Art trading card by Linda Papanicolaou
  • Bookmark by Lee Gurga
  • Brochure with map of Japan by Susan Diridoni
  • Pamphlet by Lidia Rozmus

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last day of summer
the wrong words
to the right song

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I would say that they’re going into my personal archives, except that mine is not maintained in a way any self-respecting archivist would ever approve of. For instance I have already used Lee’s bookmark as a bookmark and I’ve been pawing through Jim’s amazing little book while eating spaghetti so it may or may not have some extraneous material attached to it now. I think what I’ll actually do is pile these things in a basket on top of the bookcase I keep my Haiku Stuff in, so they can be Haiku Stuff too. All of it both ephemeral and eternal.

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between two hills the rest of my life

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