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 www.idiotsbooks.com

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 :