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.