About six weeks ago I subscribed to Chris Lott’s daily email newsletter Katexic Clippings. It’s a compact, precise literary gift that contains a work (usually a short poem or excerpt from a longer work), a word of the day, and a number of interesting links. I love that Lott has dialed his online publishing back to email. And rather than that being a liability, I find I can wait to rip that hand-delivered electronic package open regularly. I find myself sometimes waiting for my clippings to come.
There’s a Tumblr site, but that doesn’t contain the actual newsletters, that’s just the various pieces—usually the poems or excerpts. The newsletter is the thing, and I think that’s what is so cool about what Katexic has done. It’s about the curation, representation, and sense of intimacy between author and reader. I find myself increasingly more attached with every new letter.
There’s something about the newsletter that seems personal, almost as if Chris is putting them together for me—although I know he isn’t. The links to what he’s reading turn me onto awesome stuff regularly, like today’s link to Reddit users summing up their first sexual encounters with a GIF. I find myself puzzling over each newsletter’s title, trying to find the loosely framed theme across the poem/excerpt, the word of the day, and the links out to the web. They often seem to work together to support the theme–which is a sign of how much work goes into each one. hand crafted emails at their finest.
Katexic is a good reminder just how intimate email still is. While it’s become associated with daily, repetitive chores as part of work life, Katexic helps liberate us from that assumption. I look forward to these emails, and I can’t say that about too many others. What’s more, I’m really taken with the word of the day. Words like syzygy, cockalorum, puteal, gloaming, celadon, and many others you probably never read keep me coming back for more.
I’m a huge fan of Chris Lott’s work, always have been. I wasn’t sure what he was up to when I discovered Katexic six weeks ago (via a snailmail card, mind you), but I’ve usually benefitted immensely from embracing his ideas and struggling with his work. If you’re looking for an excellent daily read delivered directly to your email, I highly recommend subscribing to Katexic Clippings.
As for the name of the newsletter, I think it might have something to do with David Foster Wallace. but then again, that’s just what email’s younger cousin the web tells me 😉
I’ve been subscribed since you mentioned it the other week. I am a fan. I even passed it on to my dad.
Figured you would like it given your love of peotry and crazy ass words. But your dad too? That’s cool. Chris deserves every reader he gets, so good.
Thanks for this! Katexic is a labor of love but I absolutely won’t deny the thrill when I know it resonates with someone else.
There are a few things that have drawn me to the email newsletter form. You mention perhaps the most important: intimacy. The second most is probably ephemerality…I enjoy the one-way push to people who have affirmatively chosen to receive my missives and the fact that once sent, they are gone. No archive. No forwards. Not from me anyway.
Third in importance: boundaries. The newsletter fulfills most of the impulses and desires that led me to blogging for so many years, but with an added sense of containment…once the email is sent, it is is sent. It is a thing in itself. A gift. It can’t be taken back. It can’t be revised in place or silently disappeared in favor of something repaired or something improved.
And while each edition is far from being densely interlinked, I do have fun creating internal connections and (mostly unspoken) connections from edition to edition. Pragmatically, this helps contain my often extreme eclecticism as well…
You knwo I lvoe me a good archive, and I have all my Katexic emails archived in my GMail. I never could get excited about the ephemeral, I mean it’s all so ephemeral, why reinforce the abyss 🙂
And I get the boundaries of an email, but I imagine the idea of getting each one written everyday is a lot like blogging. The very idea of a daily creation is so good, and such a rhythm, but once it gets thrown off the balance erodes and dread sets in. Do you think that sense is any differetn for a newsletter?
As far as your eclecticism, what I marvel out is how far, wide and deep you read on the web, these missives make it that much mroe enjoyable for me. So keep on rocking the clippings, I’m a big fan!
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