Thursday, June 29, 2006


The Witchcraft Hysteria of 1692
Leo Bonfanti
New England Historical Series
Pride Publishing
Wakefield, MA

This 63 page volume offers a concise and yet thorough account of the final witch trials in America, those taking place in Salem in 1692. As told by Leo Bonfanti, a writer of several volumes of New England history, all in the same format, this book holds the weight of those matters without pandering or offering sweetened explanations. The cover art depicts the moment of one of the celebrated denouncements of one of those "witches". It’s a well made volume. Certainly not poetic intentionally, I could see Susan Howe using it as source material for some future work of hers though.

Stephen Ferry
Back East Press
In association with The Los Angeles Poets & Writers Collective
Philadelphia, PA

34 pages, Yellow cover with red lettering for the title – Devour – this collection of confessional work is dedicated to the author’s friends, all of whom, it seems, still live in Los Angeles since none of these poems connected at all with me. Published in 2003, perhaps the author has written work about Philadelphia now. I look forward to THAT collection.

A Germantown Sequence
Robin Hiteshew
Irish Pig Press
Philadelphia, PA

This tiny sliver of a book, 12 pages, in a handsome dark-green cover was produced in 1996. A gem of a collection about a section of the city often overlooked by writers but instrumental to the development of the city and the nation’s early growth. Home to a literate German population, there was a printer who created a German-language bible in this area. Stated in one of the poems within. There is much and deep history in these 12 pages of verse.

I wasn’t around when this book came out. I don’t know how it was greeted by the city’s literati but it really should be on every Philly bookshelf, alongside Daniel Hoffman’s Brotherly Love and if one can find it, The Literary History of Philadelphia by Ellis Paxson Oberholtzer published in 1906. Thanks to you, Robin!

Half My Own and More Someone Else’s
Alice Ginsberg
Hopping Bunny Press
Philadelphia, PA

Alice Ginsberg self published a series of chapbooks in the early 1980s of which ‘Half My Own and More Someone Else’s’ was among the last. 26 pages, with a photo of author at a reception in front of a collection of her other books; these poems have the feel of a much older poet than the one who wrote them.

One can only wonder what might have become of her as a poet, since shortly after bringing out this collection, she retired from poetics for a career in the Humanities followed by motherhood

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