Between the Sheets…of Paper

Have you ever opened up a second-hand book and found something strange left behind by a previous owner? I certainly have. A black & white photograph, a sheet of newspaper from 1959, a letter written in Chinese on Brigham Young University stationary – these aren’t the only things I’ve stumbled across, but they’re the most striking examples. In fact, I found them all so intriguing, I dedicated poems to each one.

The most recent of these poems was inspired by the aforementioned Chinese letter, but the note itself was only one half of my motivation. The other was the approach of October 6th, the UK’s National Poetry Day. Last year, I carelessly let this special occasion pass me by without even noticing it. How embarrassing! I was determined to do better this time around and then I heard about the theme of this year’s festivities: Messages. “This is perfect!” I thought. “I can finally get that letter translated and write something about it!”

Obtaining a translation was an interesting process in and of itself, but the poem is more or less ready now and I’ll be reading it for the first time in Surbiton (or, as I like to call it, Suburb-i-tron) at The Museum of Futures‘ National Poetry Day Celebrations. You can find more information about this event at the Seethingography blog, so be sure to stop by and reacquaint yourself with the world of poetry. And if you’re wondering about the other two poems I wrote about the photo and the newspaper, they’re currently unpublished and looking for a home, so feel free to contact me if you’re interested.

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7 thoughts on “Between the Sheets…of Paper

    1. Haha, it wasn’t a shopping list, though every once in awhile, it can be interesting to pick them up when they’re floating around in grocery store parking lots. They tell their own story. If you want more info on the contents of the letter, follow the link above in the phrase “an interesting process”. It’ll take you to the Reddit thread where I obtained my translation.

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      1. Well David. What an amazing find. A ‘simple’ piece of paper in a book gives you/us some info on history and culture. As their language changed through the years these translators could pin point the letter to a period in time…now – does the book you found it in correlate to the age of the letter?

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      2. Unfortunately, I can’t recall what book I found the letter in. While I was living in Thailand, I frequently finished books and traded them in for a discount at used book stores. When I left to move to Turkey, I had to leave some books behind. And then, I left some more books behind in Turkey as well. So, it isn’t like I can just look at my shelf and narrow it down. 😦

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