Thursday, May 18, 2006

First Four

First four:

The Phoenician Sailor - Michaele Waters. San Francisco. 1968
tart - Daphne Gottlieb. San Francisco. 2003
Philadelphia Poets – ed. Rosemary Cappello. Philadelphia1988
Hand Crafted – Jen Bryant. Rosemont, PA 2001

The Phoenician Sailor was as all chapbooks are; a sliver of nothing. This ‘sliver’ I saw on a shelf of a used bookstore in Alexandria, VA. It is a timepiece to a scene frozen in memory and history; San Francisco in 1968. The poetry feels of the period; Tarot cards, knights and empresses, war and references to "golden California poppies". An example, from "Stumbling" :

True, Pandora’s box remains
as yet tight-closed
to stifle one last demon,
yet one knows he rests inside.
Frail noises knock against the trunk
from time to time.

The cover is white with black ink drawing of a silhouetted man on the front with the title of the book lettered above the figure. The cover has begun to fade slightly to brown along the top and fold (spine) area. There is a note on the inside back indicating that this is from a 500 copy run by Mount Vernon Press in San Francisco and there is a circle 8 on the inside back cover flap suggesting that it is #8 of those 500. On the title page she has signed the copy above her typed name.

I tried to get more information about the author without success. Another reason to collect chapbooks, it’s a way to preserve these unknown voices who over the passage of time have contributed in one way or another to the flow of literature that we call ‘Our heritage’.

tart is a seven page sampler by Daphne Gottlieb who was touring the country in 2003 in support of her Soft Skull published book called ‘Final Girl’. At the time I was there Poetry and Special Events Coordinator at Robin’s Bookstore and had the opportunity to book a reading of her there. Tart was the eight in a series of chapbooks that Daphne had done over the years. It’s a simple design chapbook. Front cover has the title of the book, an image in the middle which is an uncredited photo triptych. There is contact info on the back cover describing the chapbook and the work of Daphne Gottlieb, and info about Final Girl.
Having a hand-out chapbook as part of a book tour is a clever marketing idea and it shows that Gottlieb has done a good deal of prep work before tackling a national tour.
She is based in San Francisco as well (ah, the Google searches!) Additionally, she read from tart which helps to remind the reader of her voice and delivery, which are outstanding. If you ever get the chance, check out her writing and of course, SEE HER LIVE!!!!

Philadelphia Poets May 1988 Volume 8, Number 10

Philadelphia Poets was and is the brainchild of Rosemary Cappello who began the poetry journal in 1980 and suspended publication of it with this issue in 1988. Over the years, so many of the poets who had helped to create the ‘scene’ in the 1980s have been published here. In this issue alone are works by Peter Krok, who runs the poetry series at MAC, Chris Peditto, who founded Heat Press in Los Angeles, and Eileen Spinelli, who has had a very successful career as a writer of children’s books and as a poet. A mere 28 pages, this journal is stuffed with Philadelphia. It went into hiatus until the spring of 2003 when it returned bigger (with a spine!) and more full of great poetry than ever before. Sometime the phoenix does return more brilliantly than before.

Hand Crafted

Jen Byrant’s 2001 collection of poems on the Nova House Press is a good and short (21 pages) gathering of some of the work to date by Bryant. The 16 poems presented here are crisp and polished. The cover features a drawing of two hands (uncredited) on gray coverstock. Nova House Press has made a series of small collections by Philadelphia area poets Lou McKee and others. I don’t know if they are still publishing but these books are well made and thoughtfully assembled….so I hope that the Press is still active.