Nearly twenty years ago, I read an essay that has always stayed with me. The writer is reading a copy of Denise Levertov’s Evening Train, which she has checked out from the New York Public Library. As she reads and documents this experience for her reader, the writer finds herself engaging not only with the nuances of Levertov’s poetry but also with the penciled marginalia of an unknown reader—she presumes a woman—who has borrowed the book from the library before her. The essay is deftly layered: Levertov, unknown reader, essayist as reader of both Levertov and unknown reader, and also as reflector on the text of her own life.
For years, I searched for this essay, but because I had forgotten the title (“Book Marks”) and author (Rebecca McClanahan), I was never able to find it.
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