Thursday, July 02, 2009
Prose & Cons by Felix Pollak
Prose & Cons
I found this chapbook at the local library being offered FREE. Hey, I thought, it’s a chapbook. What the heck? Well, the heck is that this is a beautifully made chapbook, olive green cover, letter pressed. 52 pages. 6 pieces. Essays or pieces of longer work. Nothing about the publisher or the author so I Googled them and found :
About the Publisher: John Judson, 1930- John Judson has spent his career encouraging others in the creation, publication, and appreciation of poetry. He was born on September 9, 1930, in Stratford, Connecticut. He received his undergraduate degree in English from Colby College, Maine, and his M.F.A. from the University of Iowa. Before finding his niche as poet, publisher, editor, and teacher, he played semi-professional baseball, served with the Air Force in Korea, and worked as an electronics technician.
In 1963, he started the Juniper Press and Northeast, a little magazine. In 1965, he brought his press, his magazine, and his family to La Crosse, where he joined the English Department at the University of Wisconsin-La Crosse. Under the direction of John Judson, Juniper Press and Northeast Magazine supported contemporary writing. It published little known contemporary authors, poets, and artists -- especially those from the Midwest -- at a time when Midwestern authors were ignored in favor of Eastern writers. A series that he edited and published on Juniper Press, Voyages to the Inland Seas, Essays and Poems, is an important source for the study of Midwestern Poetry during the 1970's.
Juniper Press began as a family affair. It operated out of his home in La Crosse and published small books, chapbooks, and limited edition fine-press books. Judson published many of his own poems on Juniper Press as well as many other poems in periodicals and by other publishers.
He encouraged Murphy Library at UW-La Crosse to collect little magazines and contemporary Midwestern poetry. This collection became nationally recognized. He sent his creative writing students to study the poetry and appreciate contemporary writing. Judson's influence included the undergraduates he taught in his poetry classes and those he encouraged in little magazine production.
Currently, John Judson is retired from the University of Wisconsin. In 2000, as an indication of his continuing influence, the Council for Wisconsin Writers awarded John Judson the Christopher Sholes Award for long service and support of writing.
Selected Works Edited: Voyages to the Inland Sea: essays and poems (several volumes in this series) Northeast, 1963 (current issue Jan. 2002)
Authored: Ash Is The Candle's Wick, 1974
West of Burnam, South of Troy (radio drama), 1973
North of Athens, 1980
Letters to Jirac II, 1980
August On A Lone Bassoon, 1981
The Carrabassett, Sweet William, was My River, 1981
Inardo Poems, 1996
Three Years Before The Braves Left Boston, 2000
About the Author: A touching tribute to Felix Pollak is located at Felix Pollak Tribute
The Felix Pollak Prize in Poetry is awarded annually to the best book-length manuscript of original poetry submitted in an open competition. The award is administered by the University of Wisconsin–Madison English department, and the winner is chosen by a nationally recognized poet. The resulting book is published by the University of Wisconsin Press. The prize was founded in 1994 and honors Felix Pollak, a popular Wisconsin poet and former curator of the Rare Book Room and Little Magazine Collection at the University of Wisconsin–Madison Memorial Library. Among his best-known books are The Castle and the Flaw, Tunnel Vision, and Benefits of Doubt.
Usually I run into dead ends when attempting to research the history of a chapbook, so having so much to choose from is a pleasant surprise. If all Juniper Books were this well made and attractive, they ought to be extremely collectible. I tip my quill to Mr. Judson for operating the Press and creating such lovely work.