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 :


Kosho said...

I was a friend of both Joel and Randy at Penn State University and stayed in touch for awhile afterwards. Joel drove out to the West Coast in a VW Bus and was drawn to Mount St Helens when there were news reports of an impending eruption. He was close to the mountain when it exploaded and his remains were identified through dental records. I visited Mount St Helens in 1992 and even though vast areas were still covered in very deep ash, many trees and plants were pushing green shoots up from the ground below.

Dave B said...

Are there copies of the Chap Book available? If so, where?

Dave B.

stevenallenmay said...

Dave B. - I have no idea. My guess is that some copies might be floating around the Philly area.