Monday, August 28, 2006
The Toothpaste Press
West Branch, Iowa
This handsome,(7 3/4” X 5”) little chapbook was published by The Toothpaste Press in March 1982. There is no page count. 14 pages of printed material. Contains the poems First Rain, Waiting, Self Portrait, Still Too Young, Still Dancers, Elements, If Happiness, Bresson’s Movies, Stone, Some Echo, Beyond, and the title poem, Echoes.
I will readily admit to “ebaying” and that’s where I found 3 Creeley chapbooks. It was a lucky moment, but one I was determined to take advantage of. While the chapbooks did not come cheaply, they were all in pristine condition. The craftsmanship of Allan Kornblum, owner of Toothpaste Press, Iowa, is quite evident in the two chapbooks I have from his press. I don’t know how long Toothpaste Press was in operation but if all their books were done this well, they were a treasure lost.
I have found a few copies of this book as well as a French version of it which appeared in 1996 online. Again, not cheap, but incredibly worth having. If you are a fan of Creeley, look for his books on Toothpaste Press; Echoes (1982) and Later (1978).
Let’s Just Say
Charles Bernstein, in addition to his work with the L=A=N=G=U=A=G=E movement, has consistently worked with small presses. This small (6 7/8” X 5 1/2”) beautifully created chapbook is an example of his work with fine craftsmen/printers. Consisting of 4 poems, including the titled piece, this slim volume was expertly made. In addition to ‘Let’s Just Say’, the chap contains 3 other poems written in 2001, ‘Thank You for Saying Thank You’, ‘In Particular’, and an untitled poem commonly known as ‘every lake has a house’.
I wish there was some info about the production, but alas that is part of the mystery.
Great little book.
Time Barn Books
As I was beginning this ‘chapbook project’ a publisher from Nashville contacted me and we exchanged some books; this was one of them. If you are not familiar with Charles Potts, he is the author of 26 books of poetry and prose. Known primarily as a west coast poet, Potts has been extremely productive and influential in the State of Washington, where he founded Tsunami Inc., a vertically integrated international publishing venture, which published The Temple magazine as well as a driving force behind the creation of Temple Bookstore and the Walla Walla Poetry Party.
This collection of seven poems is followed by an analysis by poet and publisher of Time Barn Books, Klyd Watkins. 7” X 5 1/2” in size and with a glossy cover, this book is a great introduction to both Potts work and that of the Press.
Anne Kaier’s book is a statement of survival and resilience. InFire, with it’s beautiful cover illustration by Willow Bader and designed by Biddle Design, is very eye-catching. The poems are well crafted and penetrating. Anne suffers from Ichthyosis, a rare skin type, which is most poignantly handled in the piece ‘Scales’ :
In Philadelphia in July
cicadas swell in my garden.
At the Ichthyosis Support Group, we rate each other.
Cindy shakes green scales, chattering.
Etheldra, her face blurred by blisters, shrinks in her wheelchair.
Don’t you just itch after sex, asks Jill.
I stare, like a fish.
In the garden, my phantom Florida woman
sits with Buddha belly on louvered porch.
Birds scream. Teal branches trash the dark.
Water caresses her skin, wet as an alligator’s.
Extremely powerful work. Skintype is a Philadelphia based publisher, and as always I encourage all to support the locals, the independents. They are the backbone of publishing, the ones who find the new voices and bring their work into print. As now, I encourage you to get a copy of Anne Kaier’s book. You won’t be disappointed.