She Is In The Library by Tania Hershman | Gladstone's Library

She Is In The Library by Tania Hershman

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She is playing her way in. She is tricking herself, teasing herself, approaching it from the side. She has no idea where it will go, as she sits in the library, cosseted by bookshelves, wrapped in wood, leather and bindings.

A small part of her is concerned: what if the play is too frivolous? What if the words – which do not make much sense – never add up to anything? But right now, she is not counting, not adding up, not logical, sensible, fanatical. Simply playing.

Sestina World

Yesterday, she became a self-taught sestinateur. The sestina is a poetic game with strict rules for end-words, arrangements, stanzas, envois. In Sestina World you begin your poem with some choice, some human agency, and then your options reduce. But you can weave yourself through, despite the dictates, and you begin, she found, to feel it. 651 243, 364 125, 532 164.

After three sestinas, she attempted gymnastics: the reverse sestina. She fell quickly, bruised but grinning. Failure is accomplishment too.

Books Books Books

Her first time in the library, she heard books cajoling her, the sheer weight of them a distraction. But now, the second time, they have settled into keeping her company, surrounding her space. They are not demanding, each one, thousands, to be read. She could stretch out an arm and slide her finger along spines, in each direction and behind her. She could, but she doesn't. They are there, that's enough.

Itchy Fingers

Her words come, today. Her words come every day, if she wants them to. It wasn't always like that, but now that she plays, now that she sets herself games, and no-one is waiting, watching, she can use words like pieces, move them around, toss them up in the air, laugh at the ways that they land. She likes to let pressure build up, not write every day, until her fingers itch for it.


Here, she has no worries. Here, they lift the burden of meal plannings, boiling, baking, frying. Here, there is a whispering quiet, shadows and sun on the arches. Here there are fellow wordworkers. Here, she thinks, we come together, move apart, arrange our letters, our lines, in solitary, then return to ourselves, regroup in the evenings to report back from other worlds.

Tania Library