Monday, December 11, 2006



“Hollyridge Press is a small literary publisher located in Venice, California. Hollyridge uses Print-on-Demand technology to keep its books always in print, always in stock. Books are available to stores in just days for orders as small as one book through Hollyridge's wholesalers Ingram and Baker & Taylor. The technology keeps start-up expenses low, and eliminates costly inventory. Savings are put toward promotion. The Press plans to bring out new work and out-of-print work from literary authors.”

Let me just say that I am not a fan of POD operations. I find the work to be uneven at best. Not necessarily the poetry or prose, but the production. Since the books are basically generated per order or sale, one gets the luck of the print operation. If the machines are working well, one may get a well made book with cover clarity and no streaking. If the machines aren’t, well – then one is stuck with a piece of crap.

I am certain that the Press does well and that it has many fans. I don’t happen to be one of them. The books are so uniform that they feel stale upon opening. The content is distracted by the blandness of the packaging. The covers are identical in design. Same layout, some color scheme in the same format. Perhaps this does identify each book as a Hollyridge Press book for those seeking them out. However, for someone who publishes, as I do, this comes across as a complete lack of imagination on the part of the publisher and design person.

That said: I decided to review

Jesse Lee Kercheval
Hollyridge Press
Venice, CA

The work in this chapbook is varied and at time surprising. Her bio indicates that she was born in France. It shows in her verse. And I do mean that as a compliment. The work’s strength is in its images and phrases. Her prose poem J’ai deux amours & One of them is Paris is a particular delight. These 39 pages breeze by so quickly it leaves one thirsty for me. I would be remiss if I did not mention that as stated above, however, it is hit-or-miss with quality of the book itself. Death: A Definition is smeared; the page is imperfect. These blemishes do take away from the overall appreciation of the work but I place that “fault” on the decision of the publisher and not on the poet herself. Any book is only as good as what comes back from the printer. And sometimes it makes one wonder if the technology is up to snuff. Buyer beware!

Aaron Simon
Insurance Editions
Jackson Heights, NY

Insurance Editions makes quality chapbooks, period. Carrier by Aaron Simon is no exception. It’s a small book, 6 3/4 X 5 1/4. The paper stock and quality of printing are to be commended. I will note that the book was printed at Oscar Printing Company of San Francisco, CA and it is a superb job. The 34 prose poems are equal to the production of the book. I would say that this is a fine book and if you not yet familiar with Mr. Simon’s work, as I was not, it behooves you to find and read whatever Aaron was brought out. You are in for a treat.

The Anatomy of Oil
Marcella Durand
Belladonna Books
Brooklyn, NY

This is a gorgeous book. Just that, gorgeous. Letterpress cover designed by Tim Sullivan from the Center for Book Arts and printed by Soho Letterpress, this is a masterpiece of the form. Astounding! The editors of the Belladonna poetry series and of Belladonna Books, Rachel Levitsky and Erica Kaufman have here something to be extremely proud out. This is a collector’s item. The poetry is a wonderful as the production. It’s a book any collector of chapbooks needs to own. Not enough praise for Belladonna Books. If you are interested, and you ought to be, go to Belladonna Series.

Flat House
Irene Koronas
Ordinary Press
Cambridge, MA

Known in the Boston area as “word catcher”, Irene Koronas’ method of poetry writing feels quite familiar to this reviewer. She writes what she hears, in whatever fragmented way she catches it. Her poems are seamless in their creation and yet one can detect the multiple voices being woven together. In the introduction by Jennifer Howe Peace one sees that “words flow unhinged, like streams of water or riffs of music. (Koronas) creates ripples of words across the page that shift and form new patterns, new associations, new meanings depending on the experiences and attention of the reader.” Indeed so. Koronas has tapped into the Burroughs cut-up machine without having a unified “text” to begin with. Life is the text. What she captures from it, from the snippets of her own awareness, become filtered onto the page and then reinterpreted by the reader. Completing the cycle and starting it anew.

This is an amazingly complex process and effort and if one is inclined to pursue the literary butterflies of LANGUAGE poetics and ‘The New Novel’ abstractness, this book is for you. However, if the reader is seeking a spoon-fed sense of meaning and comprehension, then it’s best to pass on this one. While Koronas is not trying to bend that spoon nor the reader’s perspective, it’s important to remember: there is no spoon.

Here’s to You
Andrew Mister & Anthony Robinson
boku books
New York, New York

This small Xerox-produced chapbook is nothing more that a series of email exchanges between two persons on either side of the United States. I am not sure why this particular set of exchanges is more worthy of publication than others, but I found it a complete waste of the trees that were felled in its making. SAVE A TREE!

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