Illustration by Sami Wax
In this series we will hear directly from some very inspiring clubs using Bookclubz in order to get to know their stories and learn how they are using our platform to build uplifting and meaningful communities!
Get to know the Profound Experience of Poetry Book Club, and how they hold each other accountable for their reading goals and expand their reading experiences together.
How did your book club start?
Lucy: We started out as a more disparate group of writers rather than readers, -Profound Experience is an online literary magazine too. But then last year after publishing a lot of work in the first few months of the pandemic, and hosting a lot of zoom trivia to celebrate, I had the idea of trying to start a poetry book club to give us something more focused to talk about, and admittedly to force myself to read more. One poetry book every two weeks seemed achievable.
I didn’t know if anyone would actually be interested in doing this, or if it would work, so it was initially going to just be an experiment over the summer, I thought we’d read a few books and then do something else... but then the club kept growing and new members joined and people seemed to want to continue, so we have. We just selected our twentieth title.
How do you select what book your club is reading?
Lucy: We come up with a topic or category related to something we’ve talked about (like first books, last books, nature poetry, in translation, indigenous writers, escapism, optimism, hybrid-genre, poets from new zealand, poets not from america, for example) and then everyone is invited to suggest relevant titles and we have a poll.
How has your relationship to reading changed since you started/joined a book club?
Victor: This may be a really obvious answer but reading being such a selfish, lonesome act, being part of a book club and reading collectively makes you read not just for yourself but for other people too, like if I don't respond particularly well to a poem, I know maybe someone will have something to say about it so it forces me to stay open about the book after I finished it, because the whole reading process is not over until we've all talked about it together (and not when I personally close the book).
Emma: I think it’s also really valuable to read things I’d otherwise never know about or consider. I feel more open to reading new things and am thankful that the club has expanded my tastes. It’s also nice to have accountability to actually read in a time when it feels hard to do so
Victor: Totally agree!! I know my knowledge of poetry is more academic so it's nice to read with people who actually practice it and know (very) contemporary authors and make me discover things I would have heard of 20 years from now, lol.
Caroline: Definitely agree with what Victor and Emma said. Reading books on my own can feel so isolating, and finishing a book can feel anticlimactic, in a way, because I’ll have all these ideas about what I just read and the best I can do is just write about them, I guess because it feels annoying to ramble on and on to someone about a book I just read that they haven’t also read. Our conversations are truly always such a joy and I love hearing what everyone else thinks of the books we read, and I love anticipating that.
Lucy: I always like the book more once I've heard how other people experienced them.
Chris: Wow, very good answers. I just think it makes me read more, or more consistently anyway, and yeah, read stuff I might otherwise not try. Maybe because not only starting it is easier because you have to because time constraints, but also because there isn't that dreaded anticlimactic feeling near the end that Caroline mentioned where you don't want it to end because when it does you will once again be Lonesome and Bookless, and have to start another new relationship with a book all over again, etc etc.
Erica: I also think that reading with the same people and having a continued conversation helps draw connections between works. There’s something powerful about it. Especially for me who graduated years ago and is no longer in academia.
Lucy: Yeah, it sometimes feels to me like attending the most chill school. We only have to read one book every two weeks, we don’t have to write anything. There is time to do further research into an author or book if I want to learn more. And the reading list is chosen by my favourite writers.
How has reading together affected your relationships with one another? Has it brought you together in a new way, provided opportunities for conversations you may not have had, etc.?
Lucy: It's given us a reason to see each other regularly and something to talk about that isn't just how miserable things are, which feels really helpful... There are people I've known in real life for years but haven't seen in person in ages, people I've known online for a long time but had never met or actually spoken to before we started doing this, and people I didn't know existed before they came to the book club and now look forward to meeting in person eventually... It feels pretty cool to have actually made new friends during this time. Though the best part, I think, is that none of the details about who knows who and how make any difference when we're together because we've all read the same book.