Marie Ponsot’s newest poetry book, Easy, is due to be published by Knopf this month. Ponsot is in her late 80s, with five previous poetry books to her name. She’s won the National Book Critics Circle Award for Poetry, and I have a feeling, from what I’m reading about this new work, it could be stunning.
I’m not familiar with Ponsot, so I found two of her earlier works in the online catalog of a nearby library. I stopped there on the way to my workout to pick them up. Evidently, I didn’t read the fine print on the catalog results page because the library’s Information Man said the books had been discarded.
What’s surprising is not the obliteration of the books, rather my standing like an immovable ape in front of the man’s desk, waiting for another answer.
I’m well aware libraries discard (please, deaccession) their books for reasons of bad condition or no readership. But I simply couldn’t digest what he was saying. I wanted to read Ponsot after my workout. I wanted another answer. Couldn’t he offer a banana and say, “Let me check in the back,” like a store clerk? Or, look up availability at another library? Or, even commiserate over the horror of getting rid of a book I wanted?
I said the word “discard” three times, stalling, and then announced, “She has a new book coming out this month,” as if that would highlight some shame on his part.
I later found one Ponsot book at an out-lying library that will transfer the book to my neighborhood library. By that time, though, I’ll have Easy in hand and, if it’s as good as I hope it will be, then I’ll be shopping for first editions of her other books.