Tools of the Trade

I’m happy to announce that my poem, In the Theatre of Epidaurus, can be found in Issue 6 of Tellus Magazine. Subscribe to Tellus, or order individual issues, at their website. In other news, I recently bought a vintage type writer. There’s no obvious connection between them, but these two occasions have become tangled up in my mind. Let me explain.

The typewriter doesn’t work. It has no ribbon and some of the letters stick. I’m not heartbroken about this, as it only cost me five pounds. I’m sure I could get it working again. I even did some (intimidating/confusing/overwhelming) research about buying a new ribbon, but generally, I just can’t be bothered. This begs the question: why did I buy it in the first place? Its function is purely decorative. It looks great on our book shelf, but every time I see it, I wonder why I don’t just sell it on Ebay for five times what I paid.

I think it comes down to a writerly nostalgia for erstwhile tools of the trade. Everywhere you look it’s feather quills, ink wells, and, of course, typewriters. They’re on t-shirts, mugs, badges – just do a Google search for typewriter tattoos! Sometimes, I look at all the typewriter merchandising and think, UGH, hipster nonsense. But, the truth is, I’m just as susceptible as anyone else. (Yes, there is a typewriter badge on the collar of my jacket). Literature has a long, rich history and these little gestures of symbolic participation are too tempting to pass up.

What’s this got to do with Tellus Magazine? As their motto states, Tellus is “a magazine for modern poetry which brings ancient worlds to new life”, and when it comes to writing systems, they don’t get much more ancient than Cuneiform. I figure, if we’re identifying with outdated writing tools, why not go back to the beginning? The tool used for writing in cuneiform is called a stylus (I looked it up). So, in honor of Tellus Magazine’s historical focus and the history of writing in general, I’m calling for a stylus revival. If it was good enough for the Code of Hammurabi, it’s good enough for trendy screen prints.



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