Saturday, February 27, 2010
David R. Godine
Previously I have discussed briefly the seeming non-literal interpretation of the word “chapbook” to include nearly anything. Case in point is this hard-bound “chapbook” with a dust cover and a photo of Logan on the back.
Yes, this is an incredibly handsome book. 40 pages of fine paper. Nice endpages. Binding tight. Part of a 4th series of “A Godine Poetry Chapbook” line of books. I would argue that this is not a chapbook. It’s the Godine version of an Easton Press book. A highly collectible book, certainly. But it’s laughable to compare this “chapbook” with something made by any number of actual fine small presses. This is not –despite its name – a chapbook.
Cattails Knee-Deep in Water
This seems to have been a “beginner” book, a test run. NO publisher info, no year of publication. NO author info. NO pages count. Poems that span pages and multiple poems to other pages. It’s a mess. SAVE A TREE!!!
Party of Black
Well-made chapbook. 41 pages. Staple-bound. Author has a connection to Washington DC, which is where I found it. Great find!
The Southern Temper
Motive Book Shop
This is the first chapbook by Judson Crews. The Cover is blank, front and back. 32 pages. An illustration is on the last page. Written in August 1944. Motive Book Shop was run by Crews. After the publication of this chapbook, he moved his operations to Taos, New Mexico. This is a rare chapbook from a relatively unknown author. However, an increasing amount has been written about Judson Crews , some of which is here included:
Judson Crews, poet, editor, publisher, and book dealer, was born June 30, 1917, in Waco, Texas, to Noah George Crews and Tommie Farmer Crews. In 1947 he married Mildred Tolbert, a photographer and writer who also contributed to her husband's early publications and works. They had two children, Anna Bush and Carole Judith, before divorcing in 1980. Crews received both the B.A. (1941) and M.A. (1944) in Sociology from Baylor University, and during 1946-1947 studied fine arts at Baylor. In addition, Crews did graduate study at the University of Texas, El Paso in 1967. He has worked as an educator at Wharton County Junior College, New Mexico (1967-1970), the University of New Mexico, Gallup Branch (1971-1972), and at the University of Zambia (1974-1978). He has also been involved in social work. After two years in the U. S. Army Medical Corps during World War II, Crews moved his family and business, Motive Press, from Waco, Texas, to Taos, New Mexico, where he began his writing and publishing career in earnest.
Judson Crews was a prominent figure in the Southwest poetry scene as a poet, editor, and publisher of contemporary poetry and art magazines. Crews is known as an original and innovative poet applying the 20th-century poetic techniques of poets like Pound, Williams, and Wallace Stevens in an idiosyncratic way. Since 1935 he has contributed to a large number of little magazines, journals, and anthologies. These include Beloit Poetry Journal, Evergreen Review, Poetry Now, Wormwood Review, City Lights Anthology (1974), Poems Southwest (1968), and An Uninhibited Treasury of Erotic Poetry (1963). His published chapbooks include A Poet's Breath (1950), Come Curse the Moon (1952), The Wrath Wrenched Splendor of Love (1956), The Ogres Who Were His Henchmen (1958), and The Stones of Konarak (1966). Crews' more recent works include the chapbook, Nolo Contendere (1966), edited by Joanie Whitebird and a 1982 collection of poems, The Clock of Moss, edited by Carol Bergé.
Crews admittedly wrote under numerous pseudonyms. Of these pseudonyms, Willard Emory Betis, Trumbull Drachler, Cerise Farallon (Mrs. Trumbull Drachler, maiden name Lena Johnston), and Tobi Macadams have been clearly identified. In the instance of these, and possibly many other pseudonymous names, Crews created a fantasy world of writers to encompass, perhaps, the breadth of his literary ambitions.
Crews' fiction and non-fiction writing includes two unpublished novels and numerous essays. Crews was a crusader in various causes related to his writing and publishing activities. These causes include such topics as obscenity and censorship, freedom of sexual expression, and women's reproductive issues including abortion, contraception, and forced sterilization. Other essays include literary criticism, such as book reviews, as well as regional topics as found in The Southern Temper (1946), and Patocinio Barela: Taos Wood Carver (1955). In 1976 Crews began an extensive memoir which remains unpublished.
Crews' publishing activities began in earnest after his move from Texas to the Taos area. He started the Este Es Press in 1946, which remained in operation until 1966. The little magazines with which he was involved from 1940 to 1966 include The Deer and Dachshund, The Flying Fish, Motive, The Naked Ear, Poetry Taos, Suck-Egg Mule: A Recalcitrant Beast, Taos: A Deluxe Magazine of the Arts, and Vers Libre. Together with Scott Greer, he was co-editor of Crescendo: A Laboratory for Young America, and worked with Jay Waite on Gale. Crews published not only his own chapbooks and magazines but also those of his friends and colleagues, including the Zambian poet Mason Jordan Mason, among others. In conjunction with this printing activity, Crews operated the Motive Book Shop which became a focal point for the dissemination and advocacy of avant-garde poetry, important little magazines and literary reviews, as well as so-called pornographic materials. The material that Crews sold ranged from literary classics such as the works of D. H. Lawrence and Henry Miller, to hard-to-obtain domestic and foreign avant-garde journals, and nudist magazines. Crews was also a friend as well as an advocate of Henry Miller and continued to sell Miller's works after they were banned in the United States.
The text below is from an interview was first published in Mesechabe: The Journal of Surregionalism. In the words of Robert Cass: "Judson Crews was one of the first people to write to me. There was a black poet over there, that had a couple of poems in here, that wrote crazy, really good stuff. Mason Jordan Mason. You ever heard of him? He was living in Taos at that time, I don't know where he is now. He was black. And there was in that one yellow issue of Neurotica, they've got two little ones in there of his: Redbone Legends.I wish I'd a had some of those. I printed whatever Judson sent me. And I literally just got stuff from people I knew."
Judson Crews (born 1917) is an American poet, bookseller and small press publisher.
Crews was born and raised in El Paso, Texas, where he first opened his Motive Bookshop and issued his first Motive Press publications. In 1947 he moved both concerns to Taos, New Mexico. In addition to writing poetry, Crews' activity in Taos over the next three decades included editing the poetry magazines Suck-egg Mule, The Deer and Dachshund and The Naked Ear (which published poetry by Robert Creeley, Stuart Z. Perkoff, Vincent Ferrini, Larry Eigner, LeRoi Jones, Jack Anderson and Diane Di Prima, among others); and issuing his own work and work by his friend Carol Bergé, among others, through his Motive Press and Este Es Press. He has been a frequent contributor to Poetry Magazine, and has had work published in many other literary journals. Besides operating his bookshop and press, he worked in newspaper production, as a teacher (including as a lecturer at the University of Zambia, 1974-1978), and as a social worker and counselor, until his retirement.
Crews has written and published under a number of pseudonyms, including Cerise Farallon and Charley John Greasybear. It has been speculated that work published under the name Mason Jordan Mason is also Crews's, but he has never acknowledged this.
A long-time proponent of the work of his friend Henry Miller (a reprint of Miller's Maurizius Forever was one of Motive Press's earliest publications), Crews has been a lifelong activist against censorship in publishing. Much of his own output as an independent, small press publisher has been short-run, inexpensively produced literary chapbooks and magazines, making him a notable figure in the 1960s-70s movement known as the Mimeo Revolution.Select Bibliography
The Southern Temper (Waco, TX, 1946) No is the Night (Taos, NM, 1949) Patrocinio Barela, Taos Wood Carver (with Wendell B. Anderson and Mildred Crews, Taos, NM, 1955) Inwade to Briney Garth (Taos, NM, 1960) A Unicorn When Needs Be (Taos, NM, 1963) Selected Poems (Cleveland, OH, 1964) Three on a Match (with Wendell B. Anderson and "Cerise Farallon," Taos, NM, 1966) Nolo Contendere (Houston, TX, 1978) Songs (as "Charley John Greasybear," Boise, ID, 1979) The Clock of Moss (Boise, ID, 1983) Against All Wounds (Parkdale, OR, 1987) Dolores Herrera/Nations and Peoples (Las Cruces, NM, 1991) The Brave Wild Coast: A Year with Henry Miller (Los Angeles, 1997)