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".