Monday, December 26, 2011

Rock The Nation (1986)

Rock The Nation
Black by Popular Demand
Students of the Genesis School, Inc.
Kansas City, Kansas

This staple-bound chapbook was sent to me a by poet-friend of mine who lives in the Midwest. It came from a library purge. Genesis school was/is an early charter school which presented an alternative educational experience. The poets in this collection are from the school. The wrap-around image on the cover is from a mural painted in the school.

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

The Hopi Indians by Ruth Deette Simpson (1971)

The Hopi Indians
Ruth Deette Simpson
Southwest Museum
Los Angeles, CA

This is an informative 91 page chapbook with B&W photos and illustrations throughout. 3rd printing. Handsome, handy and nicely done. This easily could have been a book with a spine - that's an argument that I have made before - but in this case, no matter. It's a great little find. I suppose ideal for the intrepid adventurer keen on walking the lands where the Hopi once lived.

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

After Robinson Has Gone by Kathleen Rooney (2010)

After Robinson Has Gone
Kathleen Rooney
Greying Ghost Press
Salem, MA

Staple-bound chapbook. Cover a movie poster folded and stapled, black plastic under-cover. I have received a packet from Greying Ghost in the past when purchasing one of their items. They are ephemeral-driven. Kitsch or classic, not sure. Intentionally historic or merely whiffing the past, not sure. Publishing good poetry, sometimes. These people are hopefully enjoying the heck out of their efforts, that much as the barest minimum. And they must be - every copy has a different movie poster cover!

#35 of 100 printed. This is less of a review than an acknowledgment. If you are familiar with Kathleen's work, you ought to get a copy of this chapbook!

Monday, December 19, 2011

christmas comes early

i "won" a lot of books on ebay the other day. Treasure trove! I will be going through it for weeks!

thanks for tagging along on my meandering journey through the byways & foot paths of chapbook publishing and some of the incredible finds along the way. It's been more than fun.


Thursday, December 15, 2011

Each H by Samuel Amadon (2009)

Various chapbooks by Samuel Amadon
Each H (2009) Ugly Duckling Presse
Spy Poem (2008) Projective Industries
Goodnight Lung (2006) Octopus Books

Beware! I am taking over and revising completely the 2011 rather pathetic review I did for Each H even though I very much like the work of UDP. I got to bring UDP to Robin's Bookstore in Philadelphia back in the day. They were doing a "anti-reading" event and it was great, really, for the 3 people there who saw it. It was a Friday night in Philly, who does a weird poetry event in Philly? I mean, 'attends'.

I didn't have a lot positive to say about Amadon's effort with UDP or their effort for him. A bit of a dud compared to many of the other things they have published. It felt rushed to me. BUT - I did learn the name Samuel Amadon because of it so that was worth it. No, I mean, not that night in Philly but a few years later when UDP really started cranking out their marvelous chapbooks.

Then I got Spy Poem which came from a Santa Claus in Upstate New York who dropped three bags of treasure on me. I had not heard of this press either but "Hey - remember Samuel Amadon 'Each H'? Have to read that." Well, it misappeared before I read it but I can read this one. And I do, and it's good. Okay, on the cover is a very small Star of David and a slightly larger Sickle and Hammer from the USSR but when reading this I see a rapper with hand gestures rocking these words. They were meant for the stage first, has to be. Pauses to breathe (and think) then another wind up and BOOM!

Back into the vaults with you, a keeper!

And finally, a double surprise for me was realizing that one of the 8 books I got from Octopus Books was in fact written by Samuel Amadon. A definite thread flows from his work. All 3 books are like from the same larger manuscript.

Saturday, December 03, 2011

Faster Than the Limiteds by Thomas R. Bullard (1991)

Faster Than the Limiteds
The Chicago-New York Electric Air Line Railroads and Its Subsidiaries
Thomas R Bullard
Privately Printed
Oak Park, IL

This is an oversized chapbook of 84 pages. It's staple bound, thus the distinction. The author of this book has done a marvelous job detailing the subject with graphs, B&W photos and illustrations of some of the electric train cars used. It's really a wonderful book for those train buffs who have an interest in this field. Bullard has one enthralled with the subject from the beginning. It is stuffed with facts and pictures, a joy indeed for the people reading it.

Sunday, November 27, 2011

"Spermy": A Story For Little Children
Lois B. Chesebrough
The Marine Historical Association, Inc.
Mystic, CT
(c) 1950

This is a darling little kids chapbooks about sperm whales. Nice illustrations. A very cute chapbook. Published in 1950, printed at Mystic Seaport, near the dawn of the mimeograph era. Yet this is not a cheaply made chapbook. It's been lovingly put together. And for kids who LOVE whales, this is a handsome little book indeed.

Friday, November 25, 2011

Rope as Witness by Melissa Tuckey (2007)

Rope as Witness
Melissa Tuckey
Pudding House Publications
Columbus, OH

Tuckey was part of the group of Anti-Iraq & Afghanistan war movement in Washington DC that led to the formation of Split This Rock festival. Her work appeared in D.C. Poets Against the War(2004) and she served as Events Coordinator at the original Split This Rock festival in 2008. This collection is a great starting point to her work.

At the same time, I won't hide my disgust with anything published by Pudding House Publications. What they do is simply not my cup of tea. Blah! SAVE A FOREST!

Friday, November 11, 2011

Your Introduction to Sovereign Hill, printed in Australia

Your Introduction to Sovereign Hill
Guide to the Goldmining Township
Ballarat Historical Park Association
Ballarat, Victoria, Australia

This very handsome 56 page booklet is a historical account of the town and the region at the time of the goldmining operations that occurred there in the 1850's. It's a beautiful booklet. Many color and B&W plates. If one were to be visiting that part of Australia, and was at all curious about the local history : this is definitely the ticket!

Friday, November 04, 2011

Poet sending gifts (2)

A poet/friend from the midwest sent me a packet of chapbooks that he managed to save from a potential purging. Two of the items deal with the same theme so I decided to speak about them as a group:

Beginnings Endings and Somewhere-in-Between
Judy Clouston
Potpourri Publications
Praire Village, Kansas

Plays by Young Artists
An Anthology
Young Artist Wordshops
De Pere, Wisconsin

Each of these chapbooks show the bravery of those dealing with disabilities as well as the commitment of the entities that published the work. I have a lot of respect for everyone involved.

Monday, October 31, 2011

3 chapbooks from Kamini Press

Somehow the publisher of Kamini Press found out about me and began sending me review copies of his handsome chapbooks. Kamini Press splits its time between Sweden and an island in Greece. They have been around since 2007, I believe, and have published an array of interesting British and American poets. I like the look of each one with its unique watercolor cover image. The most recent that I have received are:

Battle Scars
John Bennet

The Poet Tree
t. kilgore splake

Out of the Woods into the Sun
Guy Beining

for complete information about the Press go to: Kamini Press

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Igitur by Stephane Mallarme translated by Jack Hirschman (1974)

A poet-friend of mine was purging some chapbooks recently and sent me two. They sat on a pile of things I needed to read, review, catalog, post for sale: something had to be done with this pile and yet it kept growing! Anyway, these chapbooks were in the pile and I was watching a film on Netflix called “The Cool School” about the Ferus Gallery in Los Angeles and the artists shown there. The narrator mentioned an incident that took place in 1964 where the vice police arrested an artist whose work was on display at the Fergus, a Wallace Berman and – wait a minute, I thought, wait a cottonpickin’ minute – I frantically went through my pile and there it was :

Stephane Mallarme
Translated into English by Jack Hirschman
With cover by W. Berman
Printed at the Press of the Pegacycle Lady
Los Angeles, CA

W. Berman! Wallace Berman! The father of west coast assemblage art! The bloke arrested in 1964 and found guilty! I have something with his name on it and a cover image he created! Limited edition! #343 of 500 printed! 21 pages, hand-sewn. Mallarme, Hirschman, Berman … all I need is the name of the printer and I will have a complete set!

some bio info on Jack Hirschman

some bio info on Wallace Berman

some bibliography info on The Press of the Pegacycle Lady

Saturday, October 22, 2011

2 items picked up at Occupy Baltimore

as it happened, in the midst of the political upheaval now spreading across the country, that I was in Baltimore overnight last week at a hotel within walking distance to the Occupy Baltimore site. There I found some FREE items. I donated some cash to the cause and took :

Queers Read This
published anonymously by queers
July, 2009

The Straight Mind & One Is Not Born a Woman
Monique Wittig
Pink and Black Distro

These both represent the anonymous nature of what I like to call Kinko's publishing. Publishing done on the most cheap. Nameless, faceless, mass produced information that would otherwise be overlooked or suppressed. The fact that Gay politics is being tied to the Occupy Wall Street movement has more to do with the multiple grievances that have not been given voice since the financial collapse of 2007.

Both of the "broadsides" are reprints of previously published material. The Monique Wittig one in particular is important in that introduces a new generation of Americans to her vital work.

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

two versions of "The Reach" by Robie Liscomb

The Reach
Robie Liscomb
Pentagram Press

The Reach
Fathom Press

Two version of the same poem, I happened to track down Robie Liscomb over the summer and from one of our correspondence comes this description of the versions, “At first I assumed that the version of The Reach that you have is the summer 1979 printing in Japanese paper wrappers containing just the one poem. This was printed by Michael Tarachow of Pentagram Press in Markesan, WI, as a going-away present for me, as my wife and I were about to leave Chicago to live in Taiwan.

I wrote the poem on Jan. 1, 1977, in Chicago and it was first published in what I remember as the first piece published by my Fathom Press (in collaboration with Richard Lin Bodien) in spring of 1977. That little book, identified as “journal II sp 77/baolin books/fathom press” contained poems by Richard, me and Stephen Field. Actually, now that I think of it, your email probably references THIS chapbook rather than the later printing of the poem.

I got to know Richard as he was the husband of Carol Lin Bodien who has a graduate student in Indian art history at the University of Chicago, where my wife, Kathlyn, was a grad student in Chinese art history. I was starting my press and had just purchased a little Kelsey tabletop press and some type and Richard and I wanted to collaborate on a printing project. Stephen Field was a friend of Richard’s as was Sarah Burnham Mertz, whose limited-edition etching was used as the wraparound cover.

The typeface is Century Old Style, the only type I had on-hand, as it came with the press, which I bought from the daughter of a printer whose father gave it to her as a present. The text paper is something called Tweedweave that we found at a local paper supplier’s warehouse. I’m not sure whose awkward calligraphy is reproduced. All in all, I consider this to be a rather pedestrian effort, except for the etching, which I quite like.”

And that’s about all one has to say about that – seek and collect! These are incredible chapbooks!

Monday, September 26, 2011

coincidence is the better part of mystery

Noting these two chapbooks: hope you see the same pattern on cover as I have.

The Reach
Robie Liscomb
Petagram Press

A Calendar
Robert Creeley
Morning Coffee Chapbook Five
West Branch, Iowa

So, my curiosity was piqued when I looked at these books - one was buried in a lovely stack of books sent to me by Robie Liscomb and the other, a recent find on Ebay, one of the few chapbooks produced during the transition from Toothpaste Press to Coffee House Press. The Reach came first. It's just interesting to me that both publishers used the identical cover stock. One horizontal and the other diagonal.

Sunday, September 11, 2011

2 Poems by Jeffrey Wright (1982)

2 Poems by Jeffrey C Wright
Drawings by Yvonne Jacquette
The Toothpaste Press
West Branch, Iowa

Very handsome chapbook with ink drawings by Yvonne Jacquette. Signed by author and illustrator. #73 of 375 printed. Designed and printed by Allan Kornblum.

from an email exchange I had with Allan Kornblum, founder of Toothpaste Press & Coffee House Press, "I’m also particularly fond of 2: Poems by Jeffrey Wright and Drawings by Yvonne Jacquette. I finished the latter just before a book fair. The ink coverage was so intense, that we actually baked the pages in the oven at 200 degrees for an hour, to help dry the ink so we could sew them up and bring them to the fair." Beautifully done, rare and worth the search!

Tuesday, September 06, 2011

Here By Choice Agnetha Falk (1980)

Here by Choice
Agnetha Falk
Trigram Press
West Yorkshire, England
(c) 1980

It was nearly a year ago now that I discovered Asa Benveniste and his work. I almost launched into posting info about him and his Press again here when I Google-checked myself. Instead, I will write about a book that I came across sometime later, this chapbook published by Trigram Press! Agnetha Falk was Asa's partner and this book came out in 1980. I got it from a gentleman in England, where Asa lived most of his adult life and where he is buried.

This was Agnetha's first published collection of poems. The image on the front cover comes from a drawing by Ms. Falk. 24 pages. Staple-bound. Ms. Falk originally came from Stockholm. From the publisher Henry Denander I learned that Agnetha was also married to Jack Hirschman. He had met them in Stockholm at a reading once.

Sunday, September 04, 2011

Almost Perfect Forms by Michael Stewart (2009)

Almost Perfect Forms
Michael Stewart
Dossier Series
Ugly Ducking Presse
Brooklyn, NY

The Dossier Series is a relatively new direction for UDP to venture into. This particular effort looks like a dossier in fact. Visually interesting. However, I think the effort is wasted on the subject matter. The word "and" as constellations? really? patterns on the page or in the sky or ???? Not sure.

The work here might have made its way into Stewart 2011 book The Hieroglyphics published by Mud Luscious Press. I can't rightly say. Best to check it out yourself

Thursday, September 01, 2011

Annick Press, Ltd. Willowdale, Ontario, CANADA

Henry and the Cow Problem
Iona Whishaw & Chum McLeod
Annick Press
Willowdale, Ontario, Canada

Jonathan Cleaned Up-The He Heard A Sound
Robert Munsch & Michael Martchenko
Annick Press


The Paper Bag Princesss
Robert Munsch & Michael Martchenko
Annick Press


I found these three mini booklets in the bottom of a bag of books that had been donated to the local library. Wonderful little kids books. 3 1/2 X 3 1/2. Fully colored illustrations. All of them were in their multiple reprintings. Great little booklets.

Thursday, August 25, 2011

Somewhere Music, Somehow Song (1981)

Somewhere Music, Somehow Song
Michael Tarachow
The Fathom Press
Chicago, IL

A few months ago I won a lot of small press books on Ebay and one of the items was by Robie Liscomb. It was published by Fathom Press. So, I sought out and found Robie Liscomb and he gave me a taste of the history of Fathom Press and shortly after indulged me greatly with a fantastic packet of work by Fathom Press which Liscomb was intimately involved with. Among the items sent to me was this fantastic little chapbook by Michael Tarachow.

Beautifully made using a letterpress in February 1981, this book was done by Tarachow and Liscomb using handmade paper and images of pressed plants from around "the house". Money from NEA was used in the making of this chapbook and I must say it was money well spent. The backstory involving the participants, their mutually interwoven Presses, and their histories will be told in greater detail as I go through the treasure trove of chapbooks received from Liscomb.

Handmade green endsheets. Unpaginated. One of 240 made. It's an incredible find.

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Totemic by Deirdra Baldwin (1983)

Deirdra Baldwin
Burning Deck
Providence, RI

Great chapbook. Unpaginated. Not familiar with this poet but very familiar with the Press. I did a quick Google search and found that she is currently a Yahoo contributor and is a published poet with five books, including Gathering Time, The Emerging Detail, An Occasional Suite, Totemic, and Inside Outside, with poems by Deirdra Baldwin and drawings by artist Gene Davis, and ninety individual poems published by regional literary presses, magazines, and journals including Ploughshares and New Directions. She is the recipient of a Wurlitzer Foundation Fellowship and honorary positions as a Poet in the Schools in Maryland, Washington, D.C. and Virginia. She has served on the editorial board of Washington Writer's Publishing House and The Word Works, a poetry publishing house and literary organization of which she is a founding member. She has experience in film, video, and audio production, has produced and directed several independent dramatic projects, as well as radio advertising campaigns, and is currently marketing a novel called EDGY, while working on a second. She lives in Taos, New Mexico, because everyone waves to one another and says hello.

Burning Deck is the handiwork of the Waldrops, Keith and Rosemarie. They founded the Press in 1961. Known for publishing innovative poets, Burning Deck also publishes two series of translation: Serie d'ecriture presents a new book of contemporary French poetry each year; Dichten= presents an annual volume of contemporary German writing

This chapbook is #236 of 500 printed. Prose poetry.

Thursday, August 11, 2011

North Ridge Lore (1981)

North Ridge Lore
Rosalind Bovey, Chairman
North Ridge Citizens Association
Alexandria, VA

72 page chapbook of local history. Wraparound photo on front cover. Filled with B&W images, maps, and remembrances throughout.

Local histories do well in the chapbook format. I have been collecting them for awhile. There is interest in them from collectors. This one is 62 pages of history with 3 pages of ads, which are now dated, signifying a moment in time. The area involved is a section of Alexandria between Duke Street and King St. (route 7) which was developed in the 1920s. This history is fairly extensive and important for anyone interested in the history of Alexandria as well as Northern Virginia. Worth the while!

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

The Complete Failure of Everything Jose Padua (2008)

The Complete Failure of Everything
Jose Padua
The Apathy Press Poets
Baltimore, MD

In addition to being a blogger on the subject of chapbooks, I am a publisher and I have been handed my share of Rap/ Spoken Word/ Slam poetry over the years. My response has been that most of the poets who work in this field ought not have a book but need a CD so that the "reader" can appreciate the work as it is performed. Mostly the poets who live in this world think of their work on the page as secondary to their performance of the work on stage. For cash prices. I remember the scene in the film 'Slam Nation" in which an editor at St. Martin's Press is commenting on the lack of sales worthiness that slam poets are on the page. I have to agree to a point. I haven't seen a book of poetry that does justice to the performative nature of a good Spoken Word poet.

This brings me to the wonderful poet Jose Padua who is not being served well by the 2008 chapbook The Complete Failure of Everything. The quality of the chapbook is minimal, to be kind. Jose needs a CD to capture him at his best. His voice is just incredible. His work when spoken makes the experience nearly perfect. On the page, on the page as presented by The Apathy Press, I would not be interested in his work. They don't present him well. If I didn't know who he was, I wouldn't bother finding out anything else about him. However, I do know his work and have heard him read and that experience is incredible! A must for any lover of poetry.

Tuesday, August 02, 2011

Medieval Scenes by Robert Duncan (1978)

Medieval Scenes
Robert Duncan
The Kent State University Libraries
Kent, Ohio

Preface by author, Afterword by Robert Bertholf. Unpaginated. Staple-bound chapbook. Containing material from the 1950 publication as well as work from 1959. Much has been made of this collection. A definite "find".

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Toothpaste Press, Ugly Duckling Presse, Fathom Press

plenty of chapbooks to discuss including fabulous chapbooks by Toothpaste Press and until recently unknown Press, Fathom Press, and one of its foremost persons in Robie Liscomb, as well as a stack of newly published chapbooks by Ugly Ducking Presse.

coming up soon!

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

Swarming Buzzwords for the HoneyBlood (2006)

Swarming Buzzwords for the HoneyBlood
Marvin Scott Marvin
self published
Las Vegas, NV

32 page staple bound chapbook. Others have expressed admiration for this one. I don't see it. The quality of the presentation is god awful. The poetry isn't very good. SAVE A TREE!!!

Saturday, July 09, 2011

Now I Become Myself by May Sarton (1992)

Now I Become Myself
May Sarton
rumble press
Burlington, VT

Hand printed. Designed, set, printed and bound during the winter of 1991-92 by Bruce Conklin. This is number 334 of a run of 400. Unpaginated. Purple hand made cover paper. Beautiful chapbook.

Wednesday, July 06, 2011

Two From the Book by Hal W. Trovillion (1956)

Two From the Book
Hal W. Trovillion
Trovillion Private Press
Herrin, IL

Staple-bound chapbook. Christmas gift by printer Hal W. Trovillion to friends of his and his wife, Violet. This copy is #32. Unpaginated. Yellow cover stock. Extremely rare item.

Thursday, June 30, 2011

The Scottish Cafe by Susanna H. Case (2002)

The Scottish Cafe
Susanna H. Case
Slapering Hol Press
Sleeping Hollow, NY

The cover is a perfect representation of a composition book. 37 page chapbook well-made by Slapering Hol Press, the imprint of the Hudson Valley Writers Center. The chapbook was the winner of their annual contest. All the same, it's glaring to see that her name was misspelled on the cover, title page, and throughout : It's Susanna, not Susan. Yet there it is: neon flashing MISTAKE MISTAKE MISTAKE.

Friday, June 24, 2011

Land's End by Gwen Worley (1976)

Land's End
Gwen Worley
The Four Oceans Press
Maplewood, NJ
(c) 1976

8 page Lesbian story. Chapbook from a very small press. Not much known about author. Cover design handsomely done by Philip Coppola.

Thursday, June 23, 2011

Pantomime by Wayne McNeill (1974)

Wayne McNeill
Scarsborough, Ontario, Canada

Unpaginated. Staple-bound chapbook. Nice little collection of poems, I especially like "The Reading". Rare chapbook.

Sunday, June 12, 2011

the silver book by Jen Bervin (2010)

The Silver Book
Jen Bervin
Ugly Duckling Presse
Brooklyn, NY

It seems a simple enough chapbook to write about : this book represents the physical manifestation of an installation by Jen Bervin entitled Mississippi, or does it? I wanted to make sure that I sound the least bit intelligent when writing about the chapbook so I contacted Ms. Bervin who told me that chapbook was a “through-line” more than a representation of another work, like, say the installation. He

This confusion or hesitation on my part comes from the timing of receiving a packet of chapbooks for reviewing from Ugly Ducking Presse at roughly the same time that Plan B Press was releasing the first chapbook by Paul Fauteux entitled “The Best Way to Drink Tea”. Fauteux’s chapbook is basically a Play Bill for a performance piece created for the poem “The Best Way to Drink Tea” by Paul Fauteux. He collaborated with his mates Ben Nicholson and Spencer Leach to create a multimedia conceptual piece (film + reading + music). Having witnessed the performance piece and published the text for it as a book, I was interested in how Ms. Bervin and Ugly Duckling Presse handled a similar situation with her The Silver Book .

I received a review copy from UDP which I found wanting. The cover was white with silver lettering, stating the title and words REVIEW COPY at the bottom. At the end of the copy were the publisher info and description of the book which included the following: “the covers are printed on the same silver paper used in bervin’s installation, the river, 230 ft. panoramic scale model of the Mississippi river composed of handsewn sequins, silver paper, and thread”. Okay, fine, I suppose I was suppose to imagine the cover and the installation while reading the text – since the text was all that was present in front of me.

But knowing that there was more I needed to see the “whole package”, the chapbook was it was released to the world. I bought a copy – silver paper cover with letter pressed title on front cover. Otherwise, it looked nearly identical to the review copy. Okay, there was one noticeable difference: the paper stock was marginally better. I now reference Ms. Bervin’s own description of the text as a “through-line”. It is not an exact representation of the installation nor was it meant to be. I have to contrast this with “The Best Way to Drink Tea” which uses a still from a film by Nicholson for the piece: the visualization of the poem, itself altered to include a teabag in water, tinted blue, added by the Creative Director of Plan B Press.

What I am curious to examine in these cases is how one medium is presented in another. How is an installation “presented” on the page, how a performance piece can be “presented” in book form. Do they capture the other art form or merely document the existence of the other? Can words alone describe images, visual arts?

Thursday, June 09, 2011

Greying Ghost Press

During the summer of 2010, I discovered Greying Ghost Press and got a small booklet from them. I didn't just receive a booklet however. I got a packet of material. Some that made sense and some truly bizarre pieces of ephemeral. Theirs is an interesting tale, you should check it out here:

Greying Ghost Press

Monday, June 06, 2011

afterlife 9 by s. c. virtes

afterlife 9
s. c. virtes
self published

The chapbook proves (again) that anyone with a computer and printer can produce a chapbook. It looked better on ebay than it does in hand. Photocopy express, I'm talking! SAVE A TREE!

Thursday, June 02, 2011

37 Psalms from the Badlands McCreesh (2008)

37 Psalms from the Badlands
Hosho McCreesh
Kendra Steiner Editions #85
San Antonio, TX

Staple bound chapbook. Single sided poems. Poorly designed booklet, done on the cheap. The poetry isn't bad. McCreesh is worth reading.

Tuesday, May 31, 2011

parrot on a motorcycle (1924/2010)

Parrot on a Motorcycle : On Poetic Craft
Vitezslav Nezval
translated by Jennifer Rogers
Ugly Duckling Presse
Brooklyn, NY

I have a soft spot for Ugly Duckling Presse. I got to witness one of their "anti-readings" in 2002 and found it refreshingly unpredictable. I have favored their chapbooks and enjoyed their aesthetic, as best as I understood it. This short essay on the "craft of poetics" was originally written in 1924 and was included in Nezval's book Pantomima along with plays, prose pieces, and music. It appears in this form in English and Czech. The cover is a brightly colored image of a bicycle tire. It looks good.

But let me go back to an earlier statement of mine; "I......enjoyed their aesthetic, as best I understood it". I don't see that this very short piece, regardless of the accuracy of its translation and its visuality is worth the effort. Nor the price. As an outsider to their collective effort and mind-set, I don't "get it". So be it. I am not familiar with the work of Nezval and this piece doesn't do much to enlighten me. However, for those who love the work of Ugly Duckling Presse, you ought to find a copy of this one as well.

Monday, May 16, 2011

Two Books by Idiots' Books

Facial Features of French Explorers
Idiots’ Books
Volume 1
Robbi Behr and Matthew Swanson
Chestertown, MD

The Vast Sahara
Idiots’ Books
Volume XIV
Robbi Behr and Matthew Swanson
Chestertown, MD

What a bunch of Idiots! This tag-team of illustrator and writer has produced an interesting line of books that are beautifully made and visually astounding. I met these Idiots at the AWP convention in Washington, DC in Feb. 2011 and was immediately drawn to their books are a great example of the synthesis between image and text. A wonderful blend. Captivating. I recommend you check out their wares at

Wednesday, May 04, 2011

Joel Colton/Randal Rupert (1979)

The Night Becomes Thick and Comfortable
Joel Colton/ Randal Rupert
Philadelphia Eye and Ear
Philadelphia, PA

This unpaginated chapbook is a nearly perfect merging of text with image. Joel Colton was a poet and photographer who died at Mount St. Helens on May 18, 1980. He was well known and respected in Philadelphia and had collaborated with a number of artists in an effort to present his work in a greater artistic context. Here, the handwritten text with images by Randal Rupert completely captivate the imagination and broaden the range of the possible in terms of how poetry can be SHOWN on the page.

This brave chapbook was printed at the Print Center in Brooklyn. The publisher’s name indicates the direction that the Press was aiming toward. It’s a direction I fully appreciate. The “Stay-at-Home” division of Plan B Press is also interested in pursing visual work with text and poetry with images. The interesting thing about this Colton/Rupert collaboration is that each spread is completely different and unique within the book. The handwriting on some spreads is like calligraphy. On other spreads, it’s like someone’s hand written letter to their mother.

I first heard of Colton from Philly poet Jim Cory who mentioned him in one of Cory’s poem. That was in 2002. Since Joel died, his work has been fading into the dustbins of time. The work deserves wider recognition. Hopefully these brief words will help in that effort.

Here is a spread from the book :

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Sorcery Part 2 Hugh & Mary Behm-Steinberg (2007)

A second Book of Days
Hugh & Mary Behm-Steinberg
(c) 2007

This is a follow-up to Sorcery Part 1 which was written in 1997-98. Hugh provides the text and Mary creates the images. This book was laid out in Word, which Hugh acknowledged was very difficult indeed as there are a least two images on every page. Unpaginated. 5 1/2" X 8 3/4". Green cover. Staple-bound chapbook. Meant more as an experiment than for a wider audience. The chapbook retains a sense of book creation in the late 1990s - early Internet period. The countless images, all Black & White apparent clip-art versions of highly colorized Medieval images, are either overly dark or washed out. This does not take away from the writing but it doesn't enhance the experience in a way that I am certain that the Behm-Steinbergs intended either.

Sunday, April 24, 2011

The Jack Kerouac Upper Peninsula Diary (1998)

The Jack Kerouac Upper Peninsula Diary
T. Kilgore Splake
Angst Productions
Calumet, MI

I first became aware of T Kilgore Splake's work from some broadside published by Alpha Beat Press of New Hope, PA. I wrote to "Splake" and he replied with a letter and some of his other work. One of those items was this chapbook.

42 page diary, staple-bound book with B&W images. The writing, in the manner of Jack Kerouac, is interesting. For myself, the enlightening - the peeling back of the onion skin - is itself part of the back story which is something I am always eager to find. For example, one of the presses that brought out some of Splake's books is called enigma press in Philadelphia. I lived in Philadelphia for two years and was in charge of the chapbook section at the venerable Robins Bookstore and I never saw anything by enigma. In fact, I never heard of enigma until I looked over the material I received from Splake over a decade ago.

I found a wikipedia page on Splake which indicates that he is editor in chief of Angst Productions. Angst Productions just happens to be a publishing company that has produced a number of his books. I am just saying....

Friday, April 22, 2011

Magpie's Box by Kate Schapira

Magpie's Box
Kate Schapira

This is one of the smallest books I have yet seen or received. 2 1/2" X 2 1/4" booklet. Good poetry. Interesting cover and tiny format. Wow!

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Emily Dickinson: Profile of the Poet as Cook (1976)

Emily Dickinson:Profile of the Poet as Cook
with Selected Recipes
multiple authors
Amherst, MA

Fascinating subject! I had never thought about Emily Dickinson in this regard. The authors were all connected to the Dickinson Homestead in the Bicentennial year. A well researched and illustrated chapbook. 28 pages. Staple-bound. Text mingled with recipes. Pretty awesome indeed.

Sunday, April 10, 2011

Twenty-Five Poems of Protest
Rewi Alley
The Caxton Press
Christchurch, New Zealand
(c) 1968

This fairly rare chapbook published in the midst of the Vietnam War, in the critical year 1968. These poems were written in China by the author who has spent a good portion of his life living there. 41 pages. Cover of unknown origin. Possible woodcut of Chinese or Vietnamese solider waving. Fascinating look at "life during wartime" from a different perspective.

Sunday, April 03, 2011

Poetry Baltimore: poems about a city

Poetry Baltimore: poems about a city
Sam Schmidt and Virginia Crawford, editors
Baltimore, MD

The backstory here is this : I was attending a poetry reading in Annapolis the same week that a reading had taken place in Baltimore for the 10 year anniversary anthology of Beltway Poetry Journal, edited by Kim Roberts. I had met Kim three years previously and we had exchanged infrequent emails during most of that period, until she contacted me about the possibility of Plan B Press publishing an anthology. Our meetings turned into a series of proposals and counter-proposals leading to the creation of Full Moon on K Street: poems about Washington D.C. (Plan B Press, 2010)

It became obvious to me that the anthology was going to hit the space in Washington, D.C. when an article on Kim and her anthology appeared in the February 7, 2010 edition of the Washington Post. Moreover, Kim had researched earlier anthologies of Washington DC poetry and had posted her findings in an incredible entry on her website - Kim Roberts on DC Poetry Anthology

I had never attended a reading in Annapolis but there were a few featured poets that night I wanted to hear, so I went. Earlier that same week, a piece appeared in the Baltimore City Paper about the tie-in reading occurring in Baltimore for Full Moon. In the piece the reporter bemoaned the fact that there was nothing like Kim’s anthology for Baltimore. I mentioned what this reporter had said to a couple I had met that evening, and they got very dejected. It turned out that the couple I was saying this to was the couple who had put together Poetry Baltimore : poems about a city in 1997. They were understandably a bit upset by the exchange and I offered them a copy of Full Moon…

A few weeks later I received a very nice copy of Poetry Baltimore in the mail. This handsome book contained 30 poems by poets with a connection to Baltimore including Lucille Clinton, Barbara DeCesare, A. V. Christie, Linda Pastan, and Kim Roberts – wait, that Kim Roberts? Yes, it turns out that Kim was friends with Sam and Virginia. Had attended their wedding.

This anthology is 36 pages long, in the universe of chapbooks, but perfect bound. The publisher, WordHouse, Inc. was a new organization in 1997 when this anthology came out. It was one of a handful of books that were brought out by WordHouse. However, there are faint traces of them on the internet. Like so many good ideas, things happened.

I am glad that Virginia Crawford was able to track down a copy of this great little collection. Copies are scarce. But isn’t collecting at least half the search? It’s worth the find!

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

poemns by Bob Grumman

Bob Grumman
the Runaway Spoon Press
Port Charlotte, FL

unpaginated. 4 1/4" X 5 1/2". This is a 1997 reprint of a book that was originally created over 30 years previously. Grumman was and is affected by ee cummings. It shows. For any fan of cummings and spatial poetics, this short collection is a MUST. It's akin to visual poetry without attempting to be cute or obtuse. It's a great little book, go forth and get yourself a copy!

Sunday, March 20, 2011

3 tiny chaps by Caleb Puckett

Caleb Puckett
The Feral Press
Oyster Bay, NY

Caleb Puckett
The Feral Press
Oyster Bay, NY

Caleb Puckett
The Feral Press
Oyster Bay, NY

Caleb Puckett is a poet on the move, many seeds planted in the rich soil of the Plains. He’s been poetry editor of Nimrod Magazine, has had several books of various sizes published in the past 5 years (including Desertions by Plan B Press) and is expecting his first child later this year.

These tiny chaps were published by Feral Press which is the brainchild of John Digby and his wife, Joan. John Digby's collages have been exhibited widely in the UK, France, USA and Korea. All of his work is exclusively black and white and composed of archival papers and pastes. The Feral Press is a small press publishing unique stories, essays and poetry, illustrated in black and white by a variety of artists working in various media. Both his studio and press are in Oyster Bay, New York.

These items are quite collectible as both the poet and artist/publisher will be around for some time to come.

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

In the Particular Particular by Stephanie Anderson

In the Particular Particular
Stephanie Anderson
New Michigan Press
Grand Rapids, MI

38 page standard chapbook. Unfamiliar with author and Press. I liked some of the poems quite well. It's a decent find.

Saturday, February 19, 2011

Plants of Sun and Sand (1939)

Plants of Sun and Sand
The Desert Growth of Arizona
Stanford Stevens
Illustrated by Gerry Peirce
The Print Room
Governor’s Corner
Tucson, AZ

My wife found this unique 48-page chapbook in the discard section of the Philadelphia Library a few years ago. It’s unique primarily due to the fact that the cover is made of wood. Plywood. There are B&W illustrations throughout but the plywood is what I keep coming back to. I had read that some Futurist books were made with tin covers, I have never seen one of those but this was 1939 – Arizona. Not what I would call the “cutting edge” in any way, but there it is (was), a beautifully made chapbook. The topic of the book is cacti, native plants of the desert Southwest. It’s an interesting and unique book, a real find.

Sunday, February 13, 2011

Leaving by Dennis Cooley

Dennis Cooley
Chapbook #8
Turnstone Press
Winnipeg, Manitoba

This is the first collection by Manitoba-based poet Dennis Cooley. One of the driving forces behind Turnstone Press, Cooley has gone on to publish 13 books of poetry. Turnstone Press began in Manitoba in the 1970s and is still in operation. This book is 31 pages long. #8 in the series.

This is a must-have for any completist, a rare first chapbook by this prolific poet.

Monday, January 31, 2011

Only as a Body by Jennifer Young

Only as a Body
Jennifer Young
Bateau Press
Northampton, MA

I love Bateau Press. I love that they are ecologically friendly, that their books are made with soy ink and that their offices are powered by renewable energy. I love the look and feel of their books. What's not to like?

Well, content; there's that. The whole El Lissitzky thing, his quote about how a book has to have good content as well as good visual presence. Yeah, well..... Jennifer Young won the Bateau Press 2009-2010 BOOM chapbook contest for this collection. However, to me it's a glorified batch of journal entries. I am not impressed. I tried reading the pieces aloud: no, still journal entries!

I am certain that my view is a minority one, but it's mine and I will stick to it - this is a wasted opportunity from a otherwise outstanding small press. SAVE A TREE!

Sunday, January 23, 2011

Later by Robert Creeley (1978)

Robert Creeley
The Toothpaste Press
West Branch, Iowa

Unpaginated. Beautifully made chapbook. Cover and title page drawings by Louis Picek. Hand-made paper. Hand-bound with string. This is clearly The Toothpaste Press at full stride as a maker of unique chapbooks. Later in this form was the first printing of the single poem by this title. It was published as a full book by W.W. Norton in 1979 and by Marion Boyars Publishers Ltd (UK) in 1980. It was the first of two collaborations between Creeley and The Toothpaste Press; the second being Echoes in 1982.

rare - worthwhile - collectible.

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

a god-awful waste of paper

St. Elmo's Coffee Pub Anthology 2000
Jeanne Butler & Jean Leyman, editors
self published
Alexandria, VA
(c) 1999

This is a chapbook anthology of persons who had read at the St. Elmo's Coffee Pub from 1997-1999. The work is not in any way exceptional. Live trees were felled to make this self-indulgent bit of crap. It would be of interest to cultural archivists in the Alexandria, VA community but I doubt anyone else, other than friends and family, would be the least bit interested in this rubbish. SAVE A TREE!

Sunday, January 02, 2011

Heartbreak Hotel by Tom Clark

Heartbreak Hotel
Tom Clark
Toothpaste Press
West Branch, Iowa

Unpaginated. 5” X 5” , handmade paper. Hand sown binding. #294 of 500 signed copies. Very handsomely made chapbook, which was the trademark of Toothpaste Press. 5 very short stories with illustrations. Wonderful little book. By collection Toothpaste Press books, one can observe the variation of styles and appearance as publisher Allan Kornblum tinkers with the form of the books he is producing. It is no wonder that he reached a decision within 5 years of this chapbook to recreate his press as Coffeehouse Press and to produce full collections. There are physical restrictions to the chapbook form, not to mention financial considerations, that lead a publisher to change course. STILL, this is a beautiful chapbook. A real find.