Wednesday, November 25, 2009

chapbooks 38

Allan Peterson
Bateau Press
Northampton, MA

One of the most handsome, well made chapbooks that I have seen to date. 20 pages. Handprinted cover. Good poetry, presented extremely well. Find it, buy it, read it!!!

Tony’s Scrap Book
Anthony Wons
Self published
New York City, NY

Back "in the day" of radio broadcasting in the 1920's - 1940's, Anthony Wons was a well-known and respected radio personality. So much so that he was the focus of a 1932 Time magazine article, from which comes "...One volume, however, called Tony's Scrap Book had sold 225,000 copies, was still going fairly strong last month when Publishers Reilly & Lee issued Tony's Scrap Book No. 2. These, along with another published last November with the title 'R' You Listenin'?, are the product of Anthony ("Tony") Wons, a radio performer who has broken all records of Columbia Broadcasting System for sustained fan mail (2,000 letters a week). Self-styled a "peptomist," Wons is regarded by a shuddering minority as the most offensive broadcaster on the air. To his enormous radio following, principally in rural regions, he is a comforter of rare understanding who drops in for a friendly chat. To his critics he is an intruder who slithers out of the loudspeaker, puts his arm across his listener's shoulder and assures him that "all is well."

Broadcaster Wons' books are collections of odds & ends which he recites alternate mornings in the "Tony's Scrap Book" period, and every evening on the Camel Quarter Hour between Morton Downey's ballads. The two called Tony's Scrap Books are anthologies of noble thoughts, snatches of homely humor, tributes to beauty, diligence, nature, perseverance, motherhood, home, etc. Some are from Edgar Albert Guest, Dr. Frank Crane, Ella Wheeler Wilcox. Many, of unknown origin, are favorites of listeners who send them in. Here and there are a few lines from Shelley, Browning, Whitman, A. E. Housman. Wons puts them through a microphone in a voice hushed, saponaceous, insinuatingly folksy, with an ingratiating "Are yuh listenin'?" or "Isn't that pretty?" 'R' You Listenin'? is a book of extracts from "Tony's Own Philosophy," sermonets which he sometimes broadcasts."

The copy I have is from 1930 which is curious as it is a chapbook filled with poems and anecdotes as well as photos of Mr. Wons. As he was receiving 2000 letters a week, it's not surprising that the image on the top of each page in this collection features letters and a scrap book. 58 pages. The most curious thing about this IS that it is a chapbook. 1930 is fairly early in the chapbook development in the United States. This copy is in excellent condition.

These Extraordinary People
Grzegorz Wroblewski
Liverpool, UK

Contrast the previous chapbook with this seemingly Xeroxed collection. 32 pages, white paper. Nearly generic cover design. The poet is Polish, the work has been translated by three individuals. One of the blurbs on the back of the book is by the publisher, seems cheeky to me. The poetry itself is pretty good. I recommend reading this poet. But the chapbook, no great shakes.