Saturday, December 29, 2007

The Beats (part 1)

I am more than a fan of the Beats, however loosely or broadly defined as you want to make it, I am also a collector of their works. Here again, I favor the chapbooks as they are more rare and often more interesting that full books but....

I will start out discussing :

Kirby Doyle
The Poets Press
Kerhonkson, NY

Kirby Doyle is a mostly forgotten Beat era poet whose work deserves a second look. This is the first chapbook of his work, a fine chapbook published by The Poets Press with an unattributed illustration on front cover and inside. Pages not numbered. Apparently, the poems in this collection come from various magazine publications from the late 1950s into the 1960s. All of the poems in this collection later appear in The Collected Poems of Kirby Doyle (1983).

This is a well-made and RARE edition of Doyle’s work. Quite the item for collectors.

Empty Mirror
Allen Ginsberg
New York, New York

Introduction by William Carlos Williams. 47 pages. Staple-bound. Cover image by Jesse Sorrentino. Early poems by Ginsberg. Printed by Totem Press in association with Corinth Books. Interesting to see this early collection, knowing as we do, what became of the young Mr. Ginsberg.

Beards and Brown Bags
Lenore Kandel
Stadtlichter Presse (in German)
© 2006

This tiny chapbook was sent to me by a German author and collector of Beat Generation books, he is involved with the Stadtlichter Presse, which produces German-language collections of Beat era books. He and I have been swapping books, and this is one that he sent me. I don’t have any of Kandle’s work prior, and now I have one entirely in German. I should have paid more attention to my high school German classes afterall!

11 pages short, illustration on front cover of naked lady in stockings and nothing else. #54 of 100 in this limited edition form. Originally published in Three Penny Press (1959) Illustration accompanied the piece when it first appeared.

Black is Black Blues
Ray Bremser
The Beau Fleuve Series #4
Intrepid Press
Buffalo, NY
© 1971

This tiny chapbook was created by Allen De Loach, editor of Intrepid. Photo on back cover by De Loach. One of 1000 printed. Unnumbered pages. Written in Jan 1970, NY. Much history with the Press, De Loach, Bresmer, and this series. Rare little item indeed.

honey spoon
ted joans
Handshake Press
Paris, France
© 1993

Handshake Press is the workings of poet & writer Jim Haynes, who has lived in Paris for the past 40 years. He became a friend of Ted Joans and published a number of Joans’ work, including this 6” X 5 1/4” book. Published in 1991 by Handshake Press and reprinted in 1993 (this copy is the reprinted one) in Vilnius, Lithuania. There is a photo of a much younger Joans inside back cover and illustrations in the beginning and end of the text. 75 pages. My copy is signed by Joans inside front.

Gregory Corso
Number Eight
The Pocket Poets Series
City Lights Books
San Francisco, CA
© 1958

4 1/4” X 6 ‘14” City Lights edition of ‘Gasoline’ with introduction by Allen Ginsberg. 48 pages. Cover red with white lettering. #8 in series. Great copy of great book.

Thursday, December 13, 2007

Sandy Crimmins (1951-2007)

I have not written about any of the chapbooks that Plan B Press has produced, focusing instead on the wide variety of work coming out across the country, and around the world. I must make an exception for String Theory by the late Sandy Crimmins.

We got to know Sandy in Philadelphia, and discussed the possibility of bringing out her first collection as early as 2004. 'String Theory' was a collaborative effort of Sandy and our lay-out and cover design guru, Katy Jean. The book design is similar to the the Harold and the Purple Crayon books except there is a string running throughout the 39 pages. The book is 7" X 5 1/2" with a wraparound cover image of a string that becomes the earth. From there, the combined talents of Sandy and Katy Jean produced a book that launched an entire division at Plan B Press, Stay-At-Home Press. S-A-H is our "art book/book art" division and 'String Theory' is responsible for moving us in that direction.

It was our distinct pleasure to have worked with her, and to become her friend. Shortly after her sudden and untimely death in July, 2007, we decided to establish the Sandy Crimmins award for a first chapbook with strong visual presence, with the initial award being presented in the Fall 2008 season. More details will appear over the next few months on website.

Friday, November 16, 2007

Chapbooks 20

The Kimnama
Kim Roberts
Vrzhu Press
Washington, DC

The Kimnama is the among the first two chapbooks published by this new publisher, Vrzhu Press. The other book is More Than Anything by Hiram Larew. Kim Roberts is a hyper-involved individual in the Washington DC poetry community where she edits the Beltway Magazine. The Kimnama was written during Kim’s travels in India a few years ago, and appropriately enough means ‘the history of Kim’.

I found the writing crisp and approachable. While I am not a big fan of POD (print-on-demand) books, this one is well made and very professional looking. It’s a great book and well worth finding – best way through the Press’s website – Vzrhu Press.

The Good-Neighbor Policy
Charles Ardai
A Midsummer Night’s Press
New York City

This is an the first offering from a new Press. It is 6 X 4 1/4” mini book, well made (in Spain) 28 pages long. If you are familiar with the author’s work, then I recommend you add it to your library.

Three Poems for Charles Boyer
Joyce Odam
Banshee Press
Philadelphia, PA

This “chapbook” is actually a 3 poem, as the title suggests, a form of a pamphlet. It’s a well made pamphlet. Perhaps it was offered as a thank you gift or something. There is no price on the cover.

Lisa Alexander Baron
Encircle Publications
Sagamore Beach, MA

This is a 33 page chapbook, with a clip-art butterfly on the front cover. Although well made, it is not a collection that I can read more than once. HOWEVER, that is merely my own matter of taste. I can see this collection being read by others, and as an early work in the writing career of Ms. Baron, it is worth having.

Staring at the Welder’s Flame
Marlene Dembinsky Rowe
Self published

Staring at the Welder’s Flame is the first collection of work by Marlene Rowe and it is self published. As such, the only editor is the poet, and often the poet doesn’t know when to stop. This 83 page collection is more a book than a chapbook. The staple-binding looks a bit strained. Much of the work inside is in fact quite good, but again….too much can sometimes be simply too much.

However, the book is also very handsome with illustrations by Martin Heffron. I got my copy from the poet when it was fresh off the presses, and a few years before starting Plan B Press. Ms. Rowe has been very involved in the poetry activity of the coal regions of Pennsylvania where she help to found the Stray Dog poets. I respect what she has accomplished and applaud her book. Looking forward to a follow-up in the near future.

Tuesday, September 04, 2007

Chapbooks 19

Kostas Anagnopoulos
Ugly Duckling Presse
Brooklyn, NY
© 2007

This is a great little book. Ugly Duckling Presse continues to impress. Anagnopoulos comes at us with 38 bits of poetic observations, short blasts of reality/absurdity. So this is where the New York school is now. Packaged beautifully in this compact punch. Kudos to Ugly Duckling.

Emma Rossi
Green Zone Editions
Brooklyn, NY
© 2007

This odd sized book is a wonderful thing. Ms. Rossi writes prose poetry, and writes it well. With an interesting cover by Kate Parnell, hey cover design is hard work!, this book is a great addition to any collection. AND Green Zone actually has its address in the book so one can contact them and thank them for all their wonderful books.

a familiar album
erica kaufman
The New School Chapbook Series
New York, New York
© 2006

It’s great to see a chapbook coming out of the New School Chapbook series. Ms. Kaufman has written a moving, personal tribute to her family is an interesting treatment on the whole notion of ‘the family album’. For me, however, there needed to be more images or none at all. The black & white photos were a tease. As this was one long prose poem, perhaps that determined the number of photos in the book. Yet, the format could have been ‘toyed’ with a bit more.

I also want to note that Ms. Kaufman is involved with running the Belladonna series in New York which has produced many fine chapbooks over the past few year. Bless you, Erica for all your hard work; your rewards await you in heaven.

a gravure and five drawings with text
Elaine Galen & Edward Colker
John Simon Guggenheim Memorial Foundation
New York, New York
© 1963

This is less a ‘chapbook’ as a loose collection of drawings with text. As the title suggests. The text was provided by Elaine Galen with the etchings by Edward Colker. It’s a beautiful experiment. One that works. One of only 100 made.

Bird in the Overhang
Jennifer Gittings-Dalton
Springfed Chapbook Series
Foothills Publishing
Kanona, NY
© 2007

I must defer to El Lissitzky who wrote in 1931 "The book must be the unified work of the author and the designer. As long as this is not the case, splendid exteriors will constantly be produced for unimportant contents, and visa-versa." Unfortunately, that’s what has happened here. The wonderful poems by Jennifer Gittings-Dalton are wrapped in a frankly boring cover which does no justice to the work. I understand that this is the publisher’s decision, and as this particular volume is number 65 in this series but - he has been milking the cover design for all it is worth. Seriously, invest in hiring someone who can do something ELSE with the covers. PLEASE!!!!!

Hot Water Review 1981
# 4
Peter Bushyeager, editor
Philadelphia, PA

Bright pink cover with red lettering, Hot Water Review 1981. This is a great collection of text with images, well ahead of its time, featuring Philadelphia legend Joel Colton, who died at Mount St. Helens eruption, along with the editor, Peter Bushyeager, Andrei Codrescu, Richard Kostelanetz, Ron Padgett, and others. It’s a shame that sometimes the most interesting work has the shortest lifespan. This is a great volume. I would imagine rare as hell to find, but – FIND A COPY! (no, you can not have my copy)

Wednesday, July 25, 2007

chapbooks 18

This time there is a theme! Location, location, LOcation!!!

Closing Night
Jeff Rath
One Moment in Time (self published)
Lancaster County, Pennsylvania

In June 2007, I got to hear Jeff Rath read his work for the first time. Astounding. Where has this poet been? The answer is simple enough: living in a cabin in Lancaster County, PA. This self published chapbook, along with his public readings in Lancaster and elsewhere brought Jeff to the attention of Le Hinton, who runs Iris G. Press out of nearby Wrightsville, PA. Iris G has published a full book of Jeff’s work, including a number of poems from this chapbook, under the title of ‘The Waiting Room at the End of the World’ (Iris G Press 2007)

‘Closing Night’ is a reflective body of work. 20 short poems. Color image on the front cover. Poems dedicated to some of his heroes; Carl Sandburg, Neal Cassidy. He lights a cigarette to each as well as to empty, smoke-filled bars at closing time and one can almost hear the Tom Waits playing in the background. Jeff’s work is real. He isn’t writing about something he hasn’t lived, hasn’t experienced for himself.

Apparently there is an earlier chapbook which is quite out of print, as is ‘Closing Night’, yet I highly recommend you get a copy of ‘The Waiting Room…’ and take in for yourself this remarkable talent.

Poets Pen to Play Pretend
Kyle Simmons (aka boog)
Self published
Pottstown, PA

boog is a 16 year old phenom. This small chap is very well done for a kid who is also in a band, makes visual art, and takes high school chemistry. I hope to see more of this young man’s work, if poetry remains a strong interest for him. But, we are talking about a teen here, so – time alone will tell.

Alan King
Self published

To the people this collection is dedicated to, and the scenes that are herein mentioned, as well as the artists also seasoned through these poems like dressing on a salad; you know it – you live it – it’s your world. To anyone else, this work is superficial and self-referential. Um, SAVE A TREE.

Experimental Forest
#5 The Paper Sword Episode
Anneville, PA

In a different phase of my life, my own work appeared in this journal. It’s a journal in the guise of a chapbook and this issue focused on the Paper Sword group from the Harrisburg, PA area. The two editors moved away from the written word for visual arts, and with that shift ended the publication. Yet, in it’s heyday, Experimental Forest did a great job representing and capturing the late 1990s – early 2000’s in Central PA.

37 pages. Front cover illustration by Gene Hosey. Three of the poets associated with the Paper Sword group were also the driving force behind the final item that I will be reviewing this time;

The Blue Guitar
Winter/Spring 1989
Harrisburg, PA

This 11’ x 9’ journal is a little bigger than a chapbook per se, but it is also lean and mean. The apparent brainchild of poet Rick Kearns, this first volume featured the work of Kearns, Lance Clewett, and Gene Hosey; all of whom also appeared in the Experimental Forest #5 issue.

The Blue Guitar was conceived as an art and literature quarterly. This is the first issue. I don’t know what became of the idea or if there were other issues. It was a great start all the same. Harrisburg area needs this type of literary presence, and with the emergence of Iris G Press, I am hopeful that Le Hinton will be able to capture at least a little of that energy in his own Fledging Rag journal that appears alongside the books on Iris G imprint. Please find it in your heart to support Le and Iris G.

Saturday, June 30, 2007

chapbooks 17

Kristen Gallagher
Form of a bank
dumbie copy.

Kristen Gallagher is a poet and is the publisher of handwritten press. This small ‘experiment’, this poetic exploration of Buffalo, New York is not identified as a handwritten press book because, at the time of this incarnation of the book, it was not finalized AS a book.
This ‘experiment’ is a combination of text and image that is sparkling the unexpected and the sublime. Worth tracking down, please contact Ms. Gallagher if interested.

About TEN poems
James Hoff
Ugly Duckling Presse
Brooklyn, NY

The history of Ugly Duckling Presse is an interesting one, and their relationship with the author dates to the beginning of the Presse. Ugly Ducking has done some interesting work and used Constructionist materials for covers; wall papering for example.

‘about TEN poems’ is an early effort by the Presse, and it feels that way. It is cheaply made, bound by an elongated rubber band, printing Xerox paper (it seems to me) and typed on a typewriter that needed a serious cleaning. For those familiar with the work of James Hoff, this has got to be a keeper. However, I have to say SAVE A TREE.

Walden Vision Quest and other poems
andy levesque
self published

I found this chapbook in a used bookstore in northern Virginia. It’s signed by the author. Once I googled the author, I found that he is the host of the Walden Pond poetry series as well as a graphic designer. That explains the layout and attempt of the book which has images on each page, presumably to correspond with the text. I have been to the website,, and have seen the way it exists online. However, the book ought to have been in full color to appreciate the complete picture. As it exist as a chapbook, it’s a muddy mess. Neither the web address nor any contact info exists within the chapbook. One does not know that the author has a companion CD, nor that he is the host of the poetry series, or anything else. These oversights are glaring since as I suggest the chapbook by itself is fairly bland.
Mr. Levesque’s work is very naturalistic and reflective. He is trying to carry the torch of Thoreau and mostly does so very well. I would merely suggest that if a reprint were to be done of this book, it be done in full color.

The Homecoming
James Gerald Koch
Old Mountain Press
Vienna, Georgia

I learned of a Press I had not heard of previously here. I was also “schooled” on poetry by someone who was a Gulf War veteran. I don’t appreciate being schooled by someone who hasn’t been to school (for creative writing, much less for poetry). The poetry here is Dr. Suess rhyme scheme with political and moral overtones. Not the least bit interesting. SAVE A TREE!

What’s With Modern Art?
Frank O’Hara
Mike & Dale’s Press
Austin, Texas

Great title chapbook, edited by Bill Berkson, and published with permission by the O’Hara estate. Besides the writing, the coolest thing about this chapbook is that the publishers here, Mike and Dale, went on to form Skanky Possum journal which has become well known in literary circles for the writers they have brought to print and the quality of work they have achieved. 33 pages.
Rare to be sure, but worth it for O’Hara completists.

Monday, June 04, 2007


Chapbooks 16

Back from the Park
Denee Dubeau Zah
Green Zone
New York, New York
© 2006

Zah’s chapbook opens with the poem, Ming, which has the opening line “This book is so well-made I can’t bear to write in it”. Whether irony or hyperbole, that’s about the highest praise this book can give. Self praise. The poems are not breathtaking and the stapled 8 1/2” x 11” size makes for an awkward storage issue. If in fact this chapbook was meant to be saved; or stored. The cover is from a beautiful painting by ‘J. Brooke’, uncredited. It’s got to be an early Green Zone chapbook – a learning as one goes book – since the quality of presentation simply is not visual here. Later chapbooks by the same mystery publisher are extremely well done. This one was not. I fear that the tree was wasted in this effort – SAVE A TREE!!!!

Emergency #3
New Orleans, LA
© 2000

A 48 page rant by Ammi, whose Emergency #3 I got first-hand when a swarm of New Orleans writers and poets descended on the city of Brotherly Land back in 2002. It was a most curious evening and a series of curious chapbooks on display. I scooped up one of everything and have been picking through them in this blog. I do so as much to bond with the city that that mob of writers came from as for the merit of their work. As is the case here, It’s a bit of whiny post Gen-X angst. SAVE A TREE!!!!!!!!

The Portuguese Letters
Steve Dalachinsky
Sisyphus Press Chapbook series
© 2000

Steve Dalachinsky has been published by several small presses. This effort is one of the better ones. Green cover with cover art by Yuko Otomo. Contains 5 letters (poems). For those familiar with his work from his Free Jazz collaborations, it’s worth collecting his written work as well.

Yukon Poems of Robert W. Service
Sourdough Edition
Filter Press
Palmer Lake, Colorado
© 1967

For those who love to read the poems of Robert Service, or of any of a list of 47 other writers in this series by Filter Press, this book is quite a find. Fully illustrated with period piece images, it sings of the time. Definitely worth it for those in the know. (not my cup of brandy though)

Dances in Dialogue
Sharon Rees Eiferman
Zenobia Press
Bryn Mawr, PA
© 1991

This is a 30-page chapbook with cover image of unknown married couple, parents or grandparents of the author. There are some poems in this collection that are very good and it would have been interesting to see what might have happened had the author concentrated on only poems about writing, the muse, and poetry itself. Yet this is not a tight and focused grouping of poems and the various strands unwound for me upon reading.

Ms. Eiferman has been a fixture on the campus of Philadelphia Community College and has conducted workshops across the region for many years. I am unaware of any additional books of hers, nor of the press itself.

Thursday, May 24, 2007

the Perishable Press Limited

I have previously mentioned that one of my favorite small presses is Toothpaste Press which was most active from during the 1970s and 1980s. I wish to add to this small list the Perishable Press Limited. Brainchild of Walter Hamady and located in Mount Horeb, Wisconsin, this small press has made an incredible contribution to the advance of “book art” in the 20th century. Begun in 1964, the press has defied categorization. Known for their fine hand-made paper, distinguished typography, and unique colophons, the Perishable Press challenges traditional notions of the book. Perishable Press Limited is best known for their work with Robert Creeley, Robert Duncan, Paul Blackburn, and Lawrence Ferlinghetti. However, the books I have to discuss are by lesser known poets; George Oppen, J V Cunningham, Carl Thayler (and a rare gem by William Stafford).

The number and size of chapbooks by Perishable Press, a name taken from the notion that books – like people – are perishable and limited, make them rare to find since few were printed for each project. In the case of Oppen, Cunningham, and Thayler, poets whose work I never read or had only heard of, it’s a precious moment indeed to hold a finely made book of some of their rarely published work.

Some Salt J. V. Cunningham (1967) 8” X 5”. Olive green cover. 14 pages. Single sided. On hand-made paper. 250 copies printed, letter press.

Eleven Untitled Poems William Stafford (1968) 8” X 5 3/4”. Dark Blue with image on front cover. Uncut pages. #123 of 250 numbered copies. On hand-made paper. Letter pressed.

The Drivers Carl Thayler (1969) 8 3/4” X 5 1/2”. Grey cover with impression of title on front cover. Etching inside front by Jack Damer. One of only 130 for sale. 11 poems. Dedicated to Toby Olson.

Alpine George Oppen (1969) 9 1/2” X 6 1/2”. Tan cover with title imprinted onto front cover. 4 poems. 250 copies printed, letter press.

The dedication of Oppen’s chapbook speaks to all of us who are interested in the work of the letter press printers and “book artists” across the nation. ‘To those who as poets and publishers have rescued a nation’s literature”. Indeed so.

Wednesday, May 09, 2007


Chapbooks 14

Wit’s End with Bric-A-Brac
Jessica Dessner
Green Zone
New York City

What is it about Green Zone that is most intriguing and beguiling? The incredible talent with the complete absence of publishing information? That’s it! Jessica Dessner’s work is funny and profound. The book is another testament to the work presented by Green Zone. It’s a book worth finding, if one can.

Dacotah Territory 6
Special Native American Issue
Dacotah Territory
Moorhead, MN

This small journal, edited by James L. White, has work by Joy Harjo and several other Native American writers included as well as images by Jim McGrath. These 56 pages are stuffed with great writing. It’s a treat for the eyes and the mind. I have been told that the journal is still producing issues at Moorhead State College which is quite impressive in these days of instant gratification and disappearance. Dacotah Territory was a proud member of COSMEP. How many current publications can make that claim?

Axe Factory III
Louis McKee/Joe Farley, ed.
Philadelphia, PA

Published by Axe Factory and edited by Lou McKee and Joe Farley with cover art by Jeff Vetock, this issue is a time piece into the Philadelphia poetry community of 1990. In addition to work by Lynne Savitt, Tina Barr, Greg Geleta, Ann Mennbroker, and others, there are book reviews by books of Greogry Djanikian and Christopher Bursk as well as a listing in the back of received journals and zines. A must for anyone serious about collecting Philadelphia based publications.

Sex Toy
B.L. Kennedy
12 Gauge Press
San Clemente, CA

Don’t let his disclaimer throw you; B.L Kennedy is a serious artist who is intent to follow in the footsteps of d. a. levy and Kenneth Patchen. This small sliver of a book is a fine art book which might have been a little more polished but as it is, is a great book. The pages are a series of “picture poems” done in 2002. It’s an incredible merging of image and text. If you want more than black ink on white paper, this book is for you!

Standing In the Sky
Karen Bashkirew
new moon press
Lenhartsville, PA

This fine book by Karen Bashkirew is quite the find. These 26 poems in this well made little book are accessible and well crafted. I can’t help but also hear Suzzy Roche’s voice since one of Bashkirew’s poems have become a “song” on Roche’s album, Zero Church. I look forward to more work by Bashkirew.

Friday, March 30, 2007



Recognition Amidst Mystery
Nancy Wisser, editor
Kutztown, PA

In truth this is the chapbook that got me interested in the artform. I read an article about a collection being put together by a Kutztown area poet, Nancy Wisser, who was gathering work by a array of local poets which became this chapbook. 20 poets are here represented, featuring a variety of voices, topics, and styles. In addition to a number of poems by each poet, there is a brief biographical note about the writing process by each.

Gorse Cottage Poems
Harry Humes
Banshee Press
Philadelphia, PA

In a natural transition, this chapbook by Kutztown based Harry Humes by published by Philadelphia based Lou McKee’ Banshee Press in 1998. Humes is a widely respected poet who was named the first Poet Laureate of Berks County in 1999. His work reminds me a bit of Billy Collins in its use of simplistic words for deep and effecting observations and emotions.

For the Salamander
Git Ott
Slash and Burn Press
Philadelphia, PA

Gil Ott was an institution in Philadelphia. His untimely passing was most unfortunate and his presence is sorely missed. This Slash and Burn chapbook speaks volumes about his versatility and vision, as well as the ability of the publisher of Slash and Burn Press. It’s a thin little slice of nothing and not overly wordy as was his technique at that time but it is complete in its form. A great little gem. Cheers to Sally Jo Sorensen for the design of this book, and for the Press itself. (Sorensen was Slash and Burn Press)

Connie Fox
Kangaroo Court Press
Erie, PA

I found this lonely little chapbook in the back of a crowded stack of chapbooks on the bottom shelf at an old bookstore in Philadelphia, and only years later when this alter ego was revealed to me did I find that the true author of this single long poem about a grandmother was that of…

No, I can’t tell you. It’s a well-made little chapbook. Nice paper. Well designed. I suspect that the Press is gone since it has no e-presence. I Googled, nothing came up.

Wizard Poisonings
Mohammad Ali Niamand
Insurance Editions
Jackson Heights, NY

What is it about Insurance Editions? Such good work. Such interesting poets. So well made.

Tuesday, January 23, 2007



Strangers in a Homeland
Jeffrey Loo
The Ashland Poetry Press
Ashland, OH

I had the opportunity to meet Jeffrey Loo/Lee as he was leaving Philadelphia for the Rocky Mountains. This collection shares some general themes with a CD that he released around the same time called ‘Identity Papers’. The sense of being an alien in a culture that proclaims unity, but falls quite short of delivering on that claim. The disconnect between knowing ones cultural background, and witnessing it as Loo/Lee did by returning to Taiwan, his “Homeland”. There is great depth in these mere 25 pages and I am glad to have this early work by an author who has gone on to greater things. Two additional books have been published and he now teaches at the University of Northern Colorado. I recommend this fascinating book.

The Murderous Clown
t. kilgore splake
Athena Angel Productions
Calumet, MI

Clowns are weird. They creep people out. A book titled ‘The Murderous Clown’ reminds me of a certain serial killer and that doesn’t make me want to read the book. A book with a B&W cover image of an obvious color painting doesn’t do anything to help. The poems were not breathtaking in a good way. Um, SAVE A TREE!!!!!

natural selection
Karin Randolph
Green Zone

This tiny, 5 1/2” X 4”, book by Green Zone is wickedly cool. There is precise little about the author or the Press anywhere within the book but the writing is stellar and that is what one is most interested in anyway. The prose poems are completely worthwhile. My only concern is storing books so small. They play havoc with my shelving. No matter, get a copy of this book!

Jack Gillespie
Poets at Work
Portersville, PA

Every chapbook is, in a way, a shout out – a spray-painted tag on the wall of life. This book is just that. Gillespie came from the same region of the country as I did. I remember reading about him and this book in the local newspaper. The references within the book are to people from the area as well, part of the group of poets that he belonged to. There is no publication date but the font suggests an electronic typewriter from the 1980s. There is no cover design – just the title and the author’s name. The poems are laid out as though following the sun across the sky, perhaps in the life cycle of the Mayfly itself.
There is no bio of the author, not acknowledgements. Yet, it exists. It says that Jack Gillespie lived and wrote poetry and here is his book. In that sense, he won’t be forgotten.

falling dreams
Alison Hicks
Finishing Line Press
Georgetown, Kentucky

Recently I finished reading Virginia Woolf’s A Room of One’s Own. One of the benefits to having read it is that I am now very mindful of the fact that a mere 80 years ago, at the time of Woolf’s writing, it was still uncommon for women to be accepted as authors in their own right. It has been an endless struggle for recognition, and still, for a room of one’s own. That said, approaching a book as full of estrogen as ‘falling dreams’ by Alison Hicks is as off putting as women of the Nineteenth century being subjected to tomes of military history. One can only stomach so much.

This is doubly unfortunate since there are fine pieces of writing in the collection, as in ‘Breaker’ and others. Yet, the collection is primarily a book of “womanness”. There is nothing wrong with this but it is outside of the experience of most men.

The book is divided into four sections. The middle two ‘Music of Birth’ and ‘Red of Transition’ are particularly laden with overwhelming sense of the female. Some poems were simply too much to get through. One poem, “Red Song” used the word “red” TWENTY SIX times in the poem when the word “menstrual” would have sufficed. And as a quark of design, or perhaps as intention, the book is bound with red string which just happens to run through ‘Red Song’, giving the reader a string of red to additionally think about while seeking a sanitary napkin to clean off before continuing. And really, one should, the poems at the end of the book are quite strong.

As for the publisher, what little I know about them is that they bring out a lot of books each year and they all look remarkably alike. One could say “cookie-cutter” and be not far off. Overall, I am glad to have “read” it and will certainly recommend it, which I just did.