Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Spaceships of the Soul

Spaceships of the Soul
Stanley D. Trefren
self published
Tigard, Oregon
(c) 1958

I found this on ebay. Unnumbered pages. Inscribed and signed by author. Not much in the way of history for this one. I contacted the seller who told me it was part of a lot of books she bought from someone in Portland, Oregon. That would make sense. It was published in 1958 : the year after Sputnik. The idea of Spaceships was fresh on people's minds. I sense that this collection was written by a preacher. It's very Christian and "sermony". Syrupy, perhaps.

If one were a collector of Christian poetry chapbooks, one ought to add this to their collection. It is well made and handsome.

a good friend updated this post by writing "He was a Methodist pastor in Richmond Beach, WA in the 30's through the 70's. He was born 1903 in Idaho and died in 1991. He was married to Hazel Bartlett. This appears to be the only thing he ever published." And in fact, the dedication to the collection is addressed "To my wife, Hazel...". So there you go!

Monday, July 19, 2010

updating chap*book blog

The following comes from an email exchange I recently had with Allan Kornblum, founder of Toothpaste Press and later Coffee House Press :

“Many thanks for your kind words. Actually our last Toothpaste book, Makeup on Empty Space, came out in January 84, and our first Coffee House season was fall 84. We opened with a book of stories by Keith Abbott, a novel by Bobbie Louise Hawkins, and a poetry/art collaboration by Ntozake Shange and her friend, Wopo Hollup.

With regard to the last chapbook printed under the Toothpaste imprint (emphasis his)—that’s an interesting question. I’ll have to do a little research on that one to check it out.

When we began Coffee House, I was hoping to continue printing chapbooks in addition to trade books, and we published about fifteen or twenty chapbooks under the Morning Coffee imprint, before the trade book side of things became so overwhelming that I had to drop the letterpress books entirely. I was sad about it, but proud to see the attention our trade books were getting, and the difference those books made in the lives of our authors.”

I did not know that Coffee House had a chapbook imprint in the beginning and after Googling it, no one else seems to know much about it either. More research will be needed.

Tuesday, July 06, 2010

Anne Waldman

Recently I came upon

Anne Waldman
Z Press
Calais, VT

Anne Waldman has been much published in the small press world and this is a perfect example of it. 21 pages, staple-bound. Cover photo of Ms. Waldman holding a book. It’s a great collection of work. On the last page of the chapbook is a listing of her previously published work, and the last item on that listing is Makeup On Empty Space. This collection is credited as the last book produced by Toothpaste Press in 1984.

Earlier I posted a link to an interview with Allan Kornblum, the editor of Coffee House Press who had previously founded and was the editor of Toothpaste Press. In the interview he mentioned how Makeup on Empty Space was the last book produced by Toothpaste Press. I got a copy of that book and was a bit surprised to be holding a perfect bound book of 75 pages.

Toothpaste Press ended and Coffee House Press began and the transition had actually taken place earlier than the Waldman book, I haven’t been able to pinpoint the exact moment (yet) but at some moment along their publishing path, Kornblum and his staff ceased producing chapbooks in favor of books with spines. “Normal” books. I understand that for financial reasons it makes perfect sense to make the leap to perfect bound books. But what is lost along the way is the immediacy of a chapbook.

Coffee House Press books are slick by comparison. In this, “slick” is not a compliment. A certain degree of integrity is lost when a publisher abandons a style that has made them unique for one that makes them profitable. While I seek out and collect Toothpaste Press chapbooks, I don’t do the same for Coffee House books. Even this final book on Toothpaste, this Waldman book, has character. The cover is matte pink cover stock with a letterpress feel to it. The tell-tale Toothpaste Press logo appears for the last time on the back cover. It’s an end of an era. And in the words of Kurt Vonnegut, “so it goes”.

And so it goes, new presses spring forth with new energy. On into the future!