Wednesday, January 21, 2009

chapbooks 29

Pattie McCarthy
Potes & Poets Press
Elmwood, CT

This chapbook appears to have been made around the time Ms. McCarthy completed Grad School. It has quips on the back from two of her heroes, Rachel Blau DePlessis and Ron Silliman. A few of the pieces had appeared in ixnay journal. I mention this because these all represent or present a particular style of poetics that I acknowledge but don't exactly admire. Once upon a wintry day, I attended a poetry reading in Lancaster, PA held by a group of poets who sounded exactly alike. Their phrasing, their speech patterns, their wording was all vertically the same. I remember how I thought of the word "precise" when I recall that reading, and the endless poem I wrote about it contains the line "precision devoid of blood makes no sound/".

Yes, this collection is precise and not written for the 'common reader'. It was a graduate school thesis in chapbook form. It does not have a pulse. It is brilliant and unapproachable. Within a certain circle of Ivy League writing programs (Brown, U Penn) this work would have been well received. I don't think that poetry ought to be read with a dictionary under my arm, however, nor a copy of Bulfinch's Mythology.

The cover was created using period clipart which is, well, very pixelated. I know people who covet this chapbook as it was at the beginning of her writing career. Contact me, I will sell you this copy.

Warrior Writers
Edited by Lovella Calica
Iraq Veterans Against the War
Burlington, VT

I found this chapbook in a second hand shop in Fairfax, VA. Brown lettering on plain brown cover. Incredible collection of writings about and against the US military involvement in Iraq by some of the soldiers who have served there. 29 pages. Anyone interested in this organization should contact them online at IVAW.

Various Sex Acts
Kostas Anagnopoulos
Insurance Editions
Jackson Heights, NY

I am often pleasantly surprised by the chapbooks sent to me from Insurance Editions. However, this one didn’t impress me beyond the look of the chapbook itself. Very well done, but the poetry didn't connect with me.

Too Close to Count
Jennifer Thomas
Self published

This thin little chap came from the dusty recesses of the Robin’s basement. It was published in 1973. No publisher name, no info, no contact info. No page count. Very mimeo – produced. I look at this and can almost hear the machine at work.

Draft, Unnumbered: Precis
Rachel Blau DuPleassis
Vancouver, British Columbia

Fantastic chapbook. First time I have seen anything by Nomados and it’s simply a pleasure to hold a well made book as this. The poems are wonderful, a must for anyone aware of and a reader of DuPlessis’ on-going “Draft” project. A real collector’s item.

Saturday, January 17, 2009

Chapbooks 28

Playing the Game
John DeWitt
Designed by Keith Newhouse
Cold Chair Books
Moore College of Art
Philadelphia, PA

This small, even by chapbook standards, is 4 pages. FOUR. This is a single poem with art work and design by Keith Newhouse. I found no online presence for “Cold Chair Books”. The much published poet John DeWitt, who has taught at the University of the Arts in Philadelphia since the 1970's, informed me that he was part of Cold Chair Books. Along with Bill Walton of Moore College, they produced a number of fine chapbook including one I have held in my hands before (wanting to steal it from the library too, bad boy) Alexandra Grilikhes City Poems . I will have to do more research, but I have to say that Cold Chair Books was well ahead of their time and I am grateful to have one of their incredible booklets on my shelf!

Dying to be Released
Francis Davis
Word of Mouth chapbook series
Meridian Writers Cooperative
Philadelphia, PA

There is great history in this chapbook. Meridian Writers Cooperative was active through most of the 1980s in Philadelphia. They published a few collections of poetry and some chapbooks of short fiction, and this is among the latter. Meridian was run by Joy Stocke, Sandy Crimmins, Fran Metzman, and Denise Larrabee.

Their chapbook series was called ‘Word of Mouth’ and this was #2 in the series. Francis Davis has gone on to publish several books, including In the Moment (1986), Outcats (1990), The History of the Blues: The Roots, the Music, the People From Charley Patton to Robert Cray (1995), and Bebop and Nothingness: Jazz and Pop at the End of the Century (1996). One of only 50 printed. Wonderful little chapbook. Unnumbered.

corporate geese
Christopher William Purdom
226 Press
printed by

Just received this. 27 pages. This is volume 5 in what may be an endless series of self-published verse that may appeal to the friends of Mr. Purdom. The press, is the publishing front for Mr. Purdom and no one else. Only his books are on the website and only his name is listed as “Poets”.

CafePress is the ‘publisher’ of this chapbook. CafePress is a vanity press. There are on their website 717 books that they have published listed there. Really? Editorial control is exercised rigorous there at CafePress? No, I sincerely doubt it. This is a POD chapbook. I have strong negative feelings toward POD books, have I mentioned this already?

For some reason, Mr. Purdom quoted on the back of his book as well as on his website a non-review from an unidentified (perhaps Mr. Purdom is merciful) reviewer. I will paraphrase it here, “I….am sorry to say….(I) will not be doing a review.” Neither will I.

To Stop the Arms Race, to Prevent Nuclear War….
L. I . Brezhnew
Novosti Press Agency Publishing House
Moscov, USSR

Love these time capsules. This bit of “propaganda” in response to “propaganda” from the United States during the negotiations for the Nuclear Test Ban Treaty that was happening at this time. Agitprop cover art recalling earlier work by Constructionists, who were Russian afterall, although many died believing that art could move the Revolution while their leaders nakedly ruled with iron fists, but I digress….

Well made, as most Novosti produced books were. 54 pages. Staple-bound. To some, quite collectible.

who sees?
Mike Stiler
Self published
Monhegan, Maine

Here’s another self-published book. Interesting combination of words and images. Apparently Mr. Stiler is apparently a visual artist who also write poems. He practices Zen Buddhism which affects his work in this book. Unnumbered pages. Images accompany each poem.