Monday, January 14, 2019

The Fish / The Virgin / and The Lion by Jennie Orvino (1972)

The Fish / The Virgin / and The Lion
Jennie Orvino
Milwaukee, WI
(c) 1972

IN the many years now that I have been writing about chapbooks I have never before seen on that spun on itself like a whirling top quite like this one from 1972. First of all, I never heard of the poet nor of the Press she and her husband were associated with in Milwaukee. Second of all, I never had an appreciation that Milwaukee HAD a literary community at all - let alone a small press community. Thirdly, I never held and read a book that changed as I read it in quite the same way as this before. It is a condensed history of a transformation from a heterosexual woman to a liberated gay woman - while also giving birth to a daughter and starting out as a dutiful wife. It's more like a bullet ride than a rollercoaster. The life that this condensed book covers in all likelihood doesn't do justice for what the poet was thinking/feeling for most of her life. I don't mean to read too much into her verse, but there are also 3 photographs in the book, one in the front and two at the end which emphasize the transformation that occurs through the book. It's just astounding.

Tuesday, January 01, 2019

It's all in a new year - 2019

So, how did that happen? Where did that time go? 13 years now since I started to blog about chapbooks. People, publishers, Presses, and the poetry itself. And I feel like I have only scratched the surface. Hardly gotten a handle on any of it. Every city of size had more than one small press operating and I don't have more than the tiniest percentage of any of those.

What has come of it mostly is the reenforcement of the idea that in this market economy that we live in in the United States, that art (however broadly defined) is a "commodity". People tend not to consider the work involved in creating the work, but just how much "it's worth". That's disheartening for the artist and for the publisher (or gallery; whomever else is involved in the artistic endeavor that is being measured strictly in monetary terms)

I have been working on a book dealing with what artists in this country have to deal with, and I will be spending a good deal of time with those practitioners of the chapbook form for their contribution to the overall "success" of certain poets and writers.

Friday, December 28, 2018

Youu Gave Me Your Shadow by David Iribarne (2013)

You Gave Me Your Shadow
David Iribarne
self published

Unpaginated self published book of poetry. The cover image is the strongest thing about this book. It's a deeply personal collection which feels like a missive from the author to one specific person and not really meant for public consumption. That's probably how it should have been handled.

Ghost Soldiers of Volcano and other poems by Arthur Webb (1968)

Ghost Soldiers of Volcano and other poems
Arthur Webb
Mother Lode Publishing Co.
Fresno, CA

I like the cover stock.

Wednesday, December 12, 2018

Three Grange Halls by Jordan Smith (2002)

Three Grange Halls
Jordan Smith
Swan Scythe Press
Davis, CA
(c) 2002

There are reproductions of sketches from Edward Hopper's notebook sprinkled around this chapbook, very handsomely presented. In fact, I think the poems are sprinkled about as well. Tumbleweed. Milkweed in autumn breeze. Dandelion "helicopters" floating on a summer's day.

And I think that's my problem with poetry like this. The breeziness. The lack of depth. It's 2002 and the poetry in this collection like so many other collections anticipate the surface emptiness of "Instagram Poetry" perfectly. It's singy-songy nothingness. I read the whole book feeling like my hand was out of a window on a hot summer day, feeling air. Feeling air because there was nothing there. Nothing I would remember tomorrow. Chinese food for the soul.

Rattlesnake Press

a full house of Rattlesnake Press books, all of them defanged.

Sunday, December 09, 2018

Spiral by Kate Wells (2007)

Kate Wells
Rattlesnake Press
Pollock Pines, CA

Chapbooks like this one become journies into new and different threads that are the tapestry of small press history in this country. This chapbook was part of a lot that I found & bought online and I mostly got it because I didn't know any of the poets nor any of the publishers. Like Rattlesnake, which seems to be a big-deal West Coast regional press. Poetry with fangs, or something. That's what the website says. "Poetry with fangs."

Kate Wells' poetry is fangless. But it exists and I am acknowledging it. So, there. Next!

Friday, December 07, 2018

Julia Vinograd 1943-2018

Sometimes it's worth noting.

You should read her, now that she has left our dimension.

Tuesday, November 27, 2018

Pit Stop by Pat Parker (1975)

Pit Stop
Pat Parker, editor
the women's press collective
Oakland, CA

I bought a small press lot of books from a seller in California who was highlighting this book in particular, but I bought the lot anyway because of the variety of authors and presses I have never heard of before. It wasn't until it arrived and I looked through the books that I started to feel uneasy about this one - this Pit Stop left me a bit cold and it took me a few extra minutes to work through my brain why that might be and it wasn't until after I read over the publisher information that it dawned on me that I had seen "the women's press collective" before, and that it was in an unsavory context.

I quickly looked through my own blog and also typed in "Lesbian Poetry" for the name of this publisher and found that it was linked to Diana Press out of Baltimore. Ah, that's right - Diana Press out of Baltimore. Lee Lally's book that they stole. Lee Lally's book that they published without permission and never gave a dime to the original publisher, Some Of Us Press. Yes, scumbags. Yes, dirtballs. Yes, uprooting themselves from Baltimore to merge with/become the women's press collective. And that name : Pat Parker. Her name was involved with both Diana and the Oakland re-grouping.

Lee Lally passed away years ago now and my own involved with any of this was a stillborn effort on my part to publish an inclusive "Some of Us Press" anthology. While it didn't come to bear, it did enlighten me about this unethical action by Diana Press. I found it interesting that in the Lesbian Poetry Archives listing of the books published BY Diana Press that there was no mention of the pirated publication, These Days, but I just looked through my copy of the book and it clearly states that it was printed BY Diana Press. Someone is attempting to airbrush history a bit.

Since this is now the second time this incident has come across my screen, I will now have to research a bit more. I do want to get to the bottom of this sorted affair simply because whoever made this underhanded decision should not go unpunished.