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.
Thursday, August 10, 2006
this time :
among the cynics
Singing Horse Press
Like all the books this time, ‘among the cynics’ has no page count. It consists of ten poems. Nine very short ones and the longer ‘A Tree Among Trees’. The cover art is by Monika Burczyk. The writing here is crisp, it’s no surprise that Gil Ott published it. The final poem in the chapbook, ‘Fighting in Zagora’ seems appropriate. Using simple language, Fitterman speaks beyond the arch of time,
is it then
that I don’t
replace Zagora with Baghdad or Beirut, and the question is still valid and still unanswered.
Robert Fitterman has gone on to a distinguished career, and lives in New York. It’s great to see in chapbooks like this how writers evolve, and I am glad to have gotten this snapshot of his.
Little Sermons of the Big Joy
Insight to Riot
This little book, and it is that coming in at 5 1/2 X 5 1/2", is a long poem by James Broughton, and published handsomely by Insight to Riot, the Philadelphia Press run by Jim Cory, Janet Mason, and C A Conrad in the early 1990s. Jim Cory edited a collection of Broughton’s work for Black Sparrow Press, and this piece came from that experience.
In its heyday, Insight to Riot, published several fine chapbooks and small books done with care and an artist’s eye. That artist was their collaborator, cover artist and book designer, John Ignarri. Each of the principals of Insight to Riot have gone on to establish themselves in the city of Philadelphia and beyond. They left behind a beautiful legacy.
Black paper with red rectangle inlaid to make a distinctive cover, hophophop Press bounded forth with this 2002 chapbook by MacGregor Card. Card came upon a novel concept with this one. There are 9 poems in the collection, and the odd numbered poems are named from buildings designed by A.G. Rizzoli. There are corresponding images throughout the chapbook of some of the buildings the poem titles come from.
This collection is #3 in hophophop Press chapbook series. One hopes that that number has continued to grow!
C A Conrad
C A Conrad has become a well known fixture in the Philadelphia poetry community for his tireless work developing the "scene", his constant appearance and numerous readings, as well as his accomplishments with Insight to Riot and now his own Press, Mooncalf.
This 2003 slim volume is mostly a "tease" for a larger version of Frank as well as for his growing body of work, as predicted, accurately, in the back of this chapbook. There is a list of five books "coming" including DEVIANT PROPULSION which was published by Soft Skull in 2005.
This version of ‘Frank’ consists of 13 pages of poems in a simple purple paper cover with a large F on the front. The purpose of this "give-away" was to draw attention to his upcoming large work. One would have to say it was a successful move on his part.