The official weblog of the little-poetry-press-that-could, Plan B Press. Specializing in chapbooks, we have published of over 40 books from authors both local and international.

Tuesday, January 27, 2009

thoughts on a snowy day

john updike 1932-2009
My wife tasked me to write in the blog today, and I sat down uncertain what to write about - when I saw a breaking news story that John Updike died today at age 76.

Updike grew up about 12 miles from the town where I lived and I was keenly aware of him and his achievements since he was one of the most successful writers to emerge from Berks County, PA (along with Wallace Stevens who was also born in Reading, PA). In the heady lead up to the first Bardfest and the creation of Plan B Press back in 1999, one of the locations where poets met and read to each other was a used bookstore on the main street of Shillington, a shop called Tattered Pages. The owner of Tattered Pages has a small shrine to John Updike there by the counter with photos and many of his books in first edition Hard Bound. We would admire these books behind glass and then huddle to read our poems. Few if any mentioned John Updike at all in their work.

Like any number of artists who leave their birth town or community for success in the wider world, Shillington is where Updike was "from". In the same was the small community of Leola, PA is technically where Plan B Press is "from" as well. It was the initial heavy lifting by co-founder Dianne Miller that brought the idea of a press into the reality of this Press. The Press has evolved into a publisher of talent from across the country and parts of Europe.

Tattered Pages folded a few years ago, and now the subject of their worship has also moved into the reeds. Things change, life goes on. John Updike had written more than 50 books. PLUS all those stories in The New Yorker. He had an incredible output of work, and among them, it should be noted, was The Carpentered Hen and Other Tame Creatures (1958), which was of course a book of poetry. Updike began as a published poet!

Here's to your spirit, Mr. Updike, may the divine have a writing table ready for you upon arrival.

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