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.


denise said...

Dear Mr. May:

I came upon your blog and read your entry about the chapbook series Word of Mouth. I am so pleased to learn that Francis Davis has gone on to publish several books. The Meridian Writers Cooperative (later changed to Collective) was actually active in the 1990s. We lasted for ten years, and celebrated our tenth anniversary with Meridian Bound, a collection of many of the stories, poems, and essays read at events we sponsored during that time. Over our ten years together, MWC pubished 6 chapbooks, four in the series and two other titles. I'm so glad you liked Dying to be Released. I took great pride in all of our chapbooks, as I served as in-house designer, printer, and bookbinder. If you are interested in the others, let me know. I may have back copies somewhere. All the best, Denise Larrabee

Christopher William said...

I feel compelled to correct some technical ambiguity here. provides on-demand printing and a storefront for ordering on-demand printing. is not a publisher. They are not registered with Bowker, nor do they provide ISBN numbers. They do not provide editorial control, book design, cover art, document preparation, or any other services one might normally associate with a publisher. I on
the other hand am registered with Bowker, do provide ISBN numbers, book design, cover art, and document preparation, and I have first readers who provided editorial feedback on my work. When and if I get a manuscript from somebody else that I like, and who is willing to also print on demand, I will provide editorial feedback to them.

Publishing my own work under my own imprint is admittedly not traditional, but I have no illusion that I'm ever going to gain money or fame with this project, plus I'm old, and I really don't have time to subject myself to the esthetic of magazine editors and book publishers who are worried about whether something has a market or whether it's going to make money,
an exercise that could take years if it ever happened at all, and if it did happen would gain no more exposure or readership
than doing it this way and would dillute poetry that's written to be read in book form.

Francis Davis said...

Dear Mr. May,

I'm so happy that you enjoyed my chapbook Dying to be Released, but the Francis Davis that published that work is not the same as the Francis Davis that published the books you cited in the post. Those texts, mainly critical works on the history of Jazz, are the work of another Francis Davis, also from Philadelphia. How do I know this? I am Francis Davis, the author of Dying to be Released. And in case anyone is interested -- I've gone on to publish nonfiction in The Sun, The San Francisco Chronicle, and The San Jose Mercury News, among other publications. My latest fiction publication is the short story, "Grief Marginalia," in the Fall/2008 issue of Natural Bridge, the literary magazine from The University of Missouri-St. Louis.

Francis Davis said...
This comment has been removed by the author.