Friday, July 14, 2006


Uncle’s South China Sea Blue Nightmare
lamont b steptoe
Troubadour Press
Evanston, IL

This volume is 11 X 8 1/2 and 43 pages with a glossary and bio in back. Photos on cover by Lamont Steptoe and Philip Caligurie. It’s a first edition paper copy (there seems to have been a hard bound version of this book as well) printed on off-white paper. The cover is made of the same paper as the rest of the book, which leaves to crease marks and tears.

It’s important to know that Lamont Steptoe did two tours in Vietnam. He witnessed a lifetime of horror and killing while there and it bleeds through his work. Countless friends and fellow GIs died; days and nights of numbing fear and a tragic sense of loss. As well this collection is an indictment of the racism within the ranks and the hypocrisy of America’s war in Vietnam while at home Afro-Americans, the backbone of the fighting force, was still struggling for equality.

An updated version of this book was published in 2003 by Plan B Press.

Draft X Letters
Rachel Blau DuPlessis
Singing Horse Press
Philadelphia, PA

Rachel Blau DuPlessis has been working on her long series, Drafts, for several years now and this piece, called ‘Draft X Letters’ takes as its starting point a quote from William Carlos Williams and she runs with it. Published by Singing Horse Press, the late Gil Ott’s publishing operation, this book has size and dimension beyond the ‘normal’ sizing. With a cover designed by Julia Blumenreich, the letters call out for attention. The work certainly deserves the attention.

It’s a MUST for anyone collecting the entire collection of Drafts, and for that matter, all her work.

False Start
Assembled by R. Haley
anti-reading series
New York, NY

24 pages. 5 1/2 X 4 1/2 mini-book. On the back it states "a smallest-of-all production for loudmouth collective’s anti-reading series." It sold for $0. Disjointed. Yet – there is something to this ‘madness’.

great short stories of the world
Ryan Eckes (with illustrations by Brandon Eckes)
a feeling production
Philadelphia, PA

Ryan Eckes is making a name for himself in the Philadelphia literary community. Good for him, his a talented chap with the second driest sense of humor I have ever witnessed. His work has impeccable timing and no aftertaste. This tiny red cover chapbook with black figures by his multitalented brother, Brandon (who is also a musician of interest) is 4 1/4 X 7 1/4 – a fairly unconventional sized book.

The same year that this tiny booklet appeared, Ryan joined fellow poets Andrew Bradley, Laura Smith, and myself in forming REPO – a performance poetry posse – which terrorized Philadelphia in 2002 & 2003. For his troubles, Ryan was accepted in the Graduate Writing Program at Temple University. hmmmm (subversive?)

Sebastian Petsu & Mark Price
First printing 2003
Philadelphia, PA

There’s that name again; Sebastian Petsu. This time collaborating with Mark Price. This slim volume, coming in at 11 X 4 1/2 inches and without a page count (I counted 13 but the front page does fold open twice) is an interesting collection of Sebastian’s writings and the Ralph Steadman-like ink work of Price is spellbinding in its complexity and bizarre view of the city (of Philadelphia)

Glad I got a copy.

Part of
Hiram Larew
2000 winner of Baltimore Artscape Literary Arts Award for Poetry
Norton Coker Press

5 1/2 X 11. This odd sized book was the 2000 winner of the Baltimore Artscape Literary Arts Award for Poetry. There is a blurb from the Mayor of Baltimore at the time as well as an acknowledgment that funding for this book came from the Maryland Humanities Council. 21 pages. Similar use of typewriter letters as in DuPlessis’s book yet to the opposite effect. In ‘Part of’ the letters blur as do the lines while in ‘Draft X Letters’ the use of the letters is much more random with wide gaps of open whiteness. The designer of this book expresses the consistency of the use of fractured letters throughout. Not surprisingly, that designer was Cornerstone Advertising (of Baltimore?)

till next time
s - a - m