Monday, December 30, 2013

The Village Painters by David Chorlton (1990)

The Village Painters
David Chorlton
Adastra Press
Easthampton, MA

Handsome chapbook with illustrations by author. Unpaginated. Green cover with image of village on front. Some of these poems first appears in Poets Lore. Nice find.

Wednesday, December 25, 2013

November Fires by Tillie Friedenberg (1998)

November Fires
Tillie Friedenberg
WordHouse, Inc.
Baltimore, MD

This is the second printing of this chapbook. 29 pages. A slightly larger chapbook in size. WordHouse is known in Baltimore for some of the chapbooks they have created. Being Tillie's first book, this is as much testament as document considering that she published this later in her life. Shadows of the Holocaust hang over each page, a past not entirely survived. A remembrance sweet as lemons. Powerful writing.

Tuesday, December 24, 2013

Nancy's magazine : The Mood Issue

Nancy's Magazine: The Mood Issue
San Francisco, CA

Interesting zine. Unpaginated. Pretty cool indeed. Staple-bound.

Monday, December 23, 2013

The Cruelty of the Desert by Michael Wurster (1989)

The Cruelty of the Desert
Michael Wurster
Cottage Wordsmiths
Pittsburgh, PA

Handsome cover to this 48 page chapbook. Cottage Wordsmiths is still around, believe or not, not certain about the quality of their other books but this is a good one. According to a listing I found they do "Miscellaneous publishing". Diverse, perhaps.

I am not a fan of author photos in books, not really convinced that they help at all to "sell" the work. This book has one and no, it doesn't. Some of the poetry is good. Worth finding for the cover art alone.

Friday, December 13, 2013

Familiar Sounds by Marjorie Sadin (2011)

Familiar Sounds
Marjorie Sadin
self published

51 page Kinko's special staple-bound chapbook. On the cheapest paper available. Lord in Heaven!!

Any chapbook that flirts with 50 pages becomes awkward. I can't imagine many copies of this one were printed. The poetry is okay, not stellar. No tree should have been felled for the making of this chapbook though.

Thursday, December 12, 2013

The Gynecologist by Joan Lyons (1989)

The Gynecologist
Joan Lyons
Visual Studies Workshop Press
Rochester, NY

29 page staple-bound chapbook. The following was taken directly from her website "Fanciful historic gynecological representations of women are juxtaposed with a contemporary patient / doctor interview, which reveals the authority a traditionally male medical culture holds in describing and prescribing for an individual body; in this case female. Aspects of the text will be familiar to most women. This book was based on several years of research and was in danger of becoming a ponderous document before I edited it down to what I know best—an artist's book. It echos the structure of historical printed books, with its small text block and illuminated margins."

The work fascinates me. It clearly is an artist book as well as a "historical" document. I am nearly as interested in the Visual Studies Workshop Press as I am in the artist. Ah, they are one in the same. Joan founded VSW in 1971. The Press is still operational. Making fantastic books. A publisher of artist books is rare indeed.

Quite the find!

Friday, December 06, 2013

Greatest Hits 1977-2003 by Mark DeFoe

Greatest Hits 1977-2003
Mark DeFoe
Pudding House Publications
Columbus, OH

This is number 227 in Pudding House 'Greatest Hit's series. Think about that for a second. 227 "Greatest Hits" from poets I have never heard of. 227 self-indulgent masterpiece/train wrecks. "Greatest Hits" my feather-duster! Trite, dribble, a complete and utter waste of tree life UNLESS you are a friend or family member of one of these 227 individuals whom I have never heard of. Mind you, I read a fair amount of poetry, so that's saying something that I haven't heard of these folks. Pudding House exercises zero editorial control, it seems.

This chapbook is 30 pages long. Staple-bound. Cookie-cutter unoriginal cover. But, for folks who know Mr. DeFoe, this one is for you!

Saturday, November 30, 2013

Lemon Red by Cralan Kelder (2005)

Lemon Red
Cralan Kelder
South Tipperary Ireland

Handsome little chapbook from a charming little publisher nestled on a farm in rural Ireland. How idyllic! Coracle is the brainchild of Erica Van Horn and Simon Cutts. They have making these lovely chapbooks since the late 1990s. Brilliant! #150 of 300 printed.

Wednesday, November 27, 2013

Exertions by Scott Glassman (2006)

Scott Glassman
Cy Gist Press

Cy Gist Press is edited by Mark Lamoureux. This is a string-bound chapbook.
(here is Scott Glassman reading with copy of book behind him) Unpaginated. 8 3/4" by 6 7/8"(a differently sized chapbook)

The LANGUAGE in this collection is postmodernistic language to be sure but as a reader AND a publisher I often wonder if the use of "i" is the glue, the anchor word. I find it unnecessary to interject the "i" unless the poems are lifted directly from the author's diary. I doubt that's the case here but that feels like the result.
If you like his work, this is a collection for you!

Sunday, November 17, 2013

Still Life by Alan Catlin (2007)

Still Life
Alan Catlin
Black Buzzard Press
Austin, TX

This is the first time mentioning this particular Press. Not sure if they are still in operation. Their last web(foot)print was in 2010. Small operation nonetheless. This was one of their 2007 offerings. Unpaginated.

Thursday, November 14, 2013

Learning POEM about Learning about being a POET by Michael Basinski (2012)

Learning POEM about Learning about being a POET
Michael Basinski
Buffalo, NY

I prefer to call this chapbook "Oink! Moo!" since that's what on the front cover but this handsome letter-pressed chap is worth the reading and the finding to be sure. Patrick Riedy has done a lot of good work in a brief period of time up by Lake Erie, and he and his press deserves note.

This limited run chapbook is a great example of that. Meanwhile, Michael Basinski is quite the Every-ready Bunny in Buffalo, where he works as the Curator of the Poetry Collection at the University of Buffalo and has made contributions in both poetics and curation for several years now.

There is an even more limited run of this limited run chapbook which has flyleaves designed by Basinski and signed by both the poet and the book designer. That's my next goal !!!

Wednesday, November 13, 2013

Cries of Flesh and Stone by Richard O'Connell (1962)

Cries of Flesh and Stone
Richard O'Connell
Atlantis Editions
Philadelphia, PA

When I first discovered this little chapbook in rural Pennsylvania, I figured a lost book by an unknown poet. Little did I know.....whatever else, this small imprint, Atlantis Editions, was around for over a decade. The only name associated with the imprint was Richard O'Connell. He did publish a good deal, it does appear. All the same, by the time I moved to Philly in late 2001, his name was not known - this is the first book by the Press that I ever saw or read.

A handsome 7" X 4.75" blue covered chapbook, 32 pages. Staple-bound. The poems are short. They are also good.

This chapbook was published in 1962. Earliest bit of small press happenings in Philly that I am aware of. Who did this poet know, where did he read? Was he part of a group? Where did they meet? (so many questions)

Tuesday, November 12, 2013

Blastin' Out of Abilene by Elliot Richman (1988)

Blastin' Out of Abilene
Elliot Richman
The Windless Orchard Press
Fort Wayne, IN

Unpaginated staple-bound chapbook. With illustrations by Bruce H. Gurly. Interesting little item. I like the illustrations better than the poetry. It happens.

feedback & etc.

one of the positives that I have gotten from this blog is the interaction with poets and publishers who I mention. It's a small field and with few and very determined individuals involved. It's rewarding to me when some of them take the time to respond. I am certain it's rewarding to them to be remembered.

Sunday, October 13, 2013

Taking Notice by Marilyn Hacker (1980)

Taking Notice
Marilyn Hacker
Out&Out Books

Produced at the Print Center,Inc. Brooklyn, NY. In arrangement with Alfred Knopf. 25 page staple-bound chapbook taken from the hardbound collection by the same name published in 1980 by Knopf. A chapbook version of a hardbound book published the same year with permission of that larger publisher? Interesting. I had not heard of that happening. Yet, here tis.

What I find most interesting is that this small chapbook by a press that has no online presence (so when did it go POOF?) was able to do this chapbook and get the author to sign the copy I have! Ms. Hacker teaches in New York and this chapbook was published in Brooklyn. And from the back cover comes a bit of explanation "This is the sixth in a series of pamphlets documenting ideas important in the evolution of lesbian/feminism" Okay, what were the previous 5 pamphlets?

Friday, October 11, 2013

Seventh Sense by Paul Economos (1981)

Seventh Sense
Paul Economos
The St. Andrews Press
St. Andrews Presbyterian College
Laurinburg, NC

Chapbook was part of the Bunn-McClelland Memorial Chapbook Series. Illustrated by Laura Ellis (another Laura Ellis connection)32 page staple-bound chapbook. Part of the North Carolina lot I received a few months ago. Getting to see the work of Laura Ellis, not surprising that she's become a graphic artist talent! The poetic "work" here does not resinate with me, however.

Tuesday, October 01, 2013

The Name Poems by Yvonne Mason (1978)

The Name Poems
Yvonne Mason
St. Andrews College Press
Laurinburg,North Carolina

25 page staple-bound chapbook. Beautifully illustrated by Laura Ellis. The 1978 winner of the Alan Bunn Memorial Poetry Prize. This chapbook was her first publication.

Monday, September 30, 2013

Book As Art XIII (2001)

Artists' Book About Artists
Books As Art XIII
The National Museum of Women in the Arts
Library and Research Center
Washington, D.C.
Jan. 22 - May 13, 2001

Exhibition booklet with text by Krystyna Wasserman. 20 pages. B&W images throughout with description of some of the featured work presented during the exhibition. Including pieces by Carol Schwartzott, Elizabetha Gut, and my favorite, Gloria Persiani. Very fine indeed.

Tuesday, September 17, 2013

A New Cold by Judith Soucek (1970)

A New Cold
judith soucek (illustrated by abigail pope)
University of North Carolina YMCA-YWCA
The Pitcher Poetry Pamphlet series #1

Interesting blending of illustrations by abigail pope with poems by judith soucek. They handled it well. 40 page staple-bound chapbook. First chapbook (pamphlet) in series. Ms. Soucek seems to have been most productive in 1970 when she had two books out on the same Press (UNC-YMCA YWCA) and not much since. The Press itself is not in operation currently. Perhaps it was her press or she was one of the founders of the imprint. In either case, the trail disappears in the underbrush of time.

a chapbook exchange in Alexandria, VA on Nov. 23, 2013

There will be a chapbook exhibition, conversation, and exchange at the Martha Washington library, 6614 Fort Hunt Rd. Alexandria, VA 22307-1710 featuring a number of small presses from the Northern VA/Washington DC area. A display of unique and distinctive chapbooks will be available for viewing from 11AM-12:45PM with the exchange, discussion, etc. beginning at 1PM across the hall.

Open to the public, free of charge.

contact for more details.

Wednesday, September 11, 2013

Tar River Poets

Tar River Poets
Regina Kear, Vernon Ward, John Woods
East Carolina University Poetry Series No.9
Greenville, North Carolina
publication date unknown

This chapbook is part of a series of work produced or read on the campus of East Carolina University during the 1960s into the 1970s. I have never heard nor previously read any of these poets. All were connected to the University. 26 pages. Staple-bound. This came from my North Carolina lot a few months ago.

Monday, August 05, 2013

Electric Banana by Mary Beach (1975)

Electric Banana
Mary Beach
Cherry Valley Edition
Cherry Valley, NY

This is a prize for some of us collectors. Mary Beach was an American artist much forgotten in her homeland. This chapbook is a collection of cut-ups she put together in a similar fashion to William S Burroughs, who wrote the intro to this chapbook. Mary Beach was also the shadow behind "Beach Books, Texts and Documents" which printed a paperback version of Minutes to Go in 1968. In fact, many of Burroughs work in the 1960s were translated into French BY Mary Beach and her press published a few additional works as well.

This particular chapbook was published by Cherry Valley Edition which is the imprint for Charles Plymell. His press started in 1974 so this is an early chapbook. It's printed on brown paper. Some merging of mimeo with "standard chapbook formatting"?

My poet/friend Michael Gushue sent me a link to Lost Recordings which lists and describes The Lost Tapes of Carl Weissner, Claude PĂ©lieu and Mary Beach, 1967-1969. There is a 12 minute recording of Mary Beach reading from Electric Banana and it's interesting to try and read along with the text only to notice that the text was published differently than on tape. Ms. Beach's name ought to be better associated with Burroughs at least (except that Burroughs never met a woman he liked, that he didn't shoot in the head). The link with the Beach and other recordings was set up and is run, nominally, by Jeb Birmingham who additionally is the cofounder of Mimeo mimeo.

Wednesday, July 31, 2013

Nine Men Against America by Rosalie M. Gordon

Nine Men Against America
Rosalie M Gordon
America's Future, Inc.
New Rochelle, NY
(date unknown)

23 page anti-government pamphlet. Before "birtherism", around the time of the rise of the John Birch Society, came this lovely little booklet suggesting that the Supreme Court was anti-American. I seem to have heard that recently, in fact. There was something in the water in New Rochelle. Something very distasteful.

Thursday, July 18, 2013

3 forms by Marten Clibbens (2012)

3 forms
Marten Glibbens
Buffalo Ochre Papers
Buffalo, NY

This tiny booklet was created for a reading at Rust Belt Books in downtown Buffalo on 12/16/12. The reading showcased the collective work of the author and Edward Gates, Anne Reed, and Richard Scharff. One of 250 printed. 3 poems short. Collectible, rare, and very Buffalo.

Thursday, June 27, 2013

Brief Weather & I Guess a Sort of Vision by Anthony Robinson (2006)

Brief Weather & I Guess a Sort of Vision
Anthony Robinson
Pilot Books
Lewisburg, PA & Portland, OR

Pilot Books came and went. It's gone now. It started in Lewisburg, PA at the college there; Bucknell. This book was among the first things they created. It's akin to a flip book. It was designed by August Herling. Unpaginated. Staple and tape bound. All the pieces were created in 2006. #36 of 200 printed. I like the concept, and wish they had managed to survive. However, they have gone puff. Look for the poet elsewhere, he's out there and worth finding. In 2006 he was an editor at The Northwest Review and lived in western Oregon.

Tuesday, June 25, 2013

Death Angels by Alan Catlin (2004)

Death Angels
Alan Catlin
Four-sep Publications
Friendship, Indiana

43 page staple-bound chapbook. This publishing firm has brought out at least 4 collections by Alan Catlin, a bartender/writer. Fairly standard in design. Uncertain what to call the text; Prose with poems? Poems ladened with prose? I didn't connect with it. Sorry to say.

Sunday, June 23, 2013

5 part investigation (Cape Cod) V

Finding Her Voice.....
Jadene Felina Stevens
Salt Winds Press
East Harwich, MA

The fifth series of clues are found in the last of the chapbooks from this lot. I found Jadene Stevens to be an alum of Cape Cod Community College. There is a listing of 6 collections of poetry, several from Salt Winds Press. East Harwich is on the Cape. Most importantly, the inscription to "Mark" mentions the Community College. So, "Mark" was at the Community College, as a teacher.

At this point I do some serious Googling and find the Mark in question. Mark Doty.

This chapbook is a study in Lavender and Pink. I had not seen a chapbook so PINK before. The author admits in her inscription that some of the poems were "far from finished" (so, why include unfinished poems?) Perhaps Ms. Stevens was directly involved in the operation of Salt Winds, that's a different puzzle.

I understand the need to purge, even gifted items, as a person needs to get to moving weight somehow. It's unfortunate that anything had to be jettisoned, but I know that feeling. Not everything can be saved. No one has THAT much room in their house (lives).

Sunday, June 16, 2013

5 part investigation (Cape Cod) IV

Little Ideas About Roads
Jonathan Wilks
Stop Light Press
Bronxville, NY

This is the fourth part of my little chapbook lot investigation, this one a chapbook by Jonathan Wilks who doesn't seem to have a presence online, nor does "Stop Light Press". Unpaginated. Cover image that doesn't relate to the title, or the work. Chapbook is dedicated to a Mike Heller. Inscription is the key again; inscribed to Mark alone. Not much else here. The work is thin.

Saturday, June 15, 2013

5 part investigation (Cape Cod) III

Sarah Randolph
Cosmos Press
Provincetown, MA

Small (5 1/2" X 4 1/4") hand-sewn booklet, very nice indeed. 8 haiku. Single sided. Not much in the way of history about the Press or the author. The inscription is to "Mark & Wally". Mark & Wally again. Provincetown, Cape Cod. Also in the inscription, "from the poetry table" - hmm, a book fair? Unknown. I do know what a gamelan is: "an Indonesian orchestra of gongs and chimes: its insistent, reverberating music". Learn something new every day, right?

Thursday, June 13, 2013

5 part investigation (Cape Cod) II

a Cardboard Suitcase Full of Ghosts
:the bad city & suicide poems
joshua m. wilson
jumping bad press
Seattle, Washington

Presentation-wise, this chapbook is every bit the wreck that the first one was. The clip art of an Ark filled with animals relates to the title of book NOT AT ALL. Here is what happens when the technology for anyone who can make a book does so - there were no brakes or editorial control exhibited anywhere in the 49 pages of self-indulgence. There is an introduction by J. Wesley Fullerton who has been published since 2000 but the author seems to have "misappeared" into the fog of time.

The clues again are in the inscription, this time to Mark alone. The author was a student of Mark's in Prague. Okay, so now we are getting somewhere. Prague. Mark taught a class in Prague. Earlier than 2000. Also, jumping bad press was in Seattle and Fullerton lives in Washington State. So there are a couple of clues. Fullerton and someone named Mark.

Wednesday, June 12, 2013

5 part investigation (Cape Cod)

A Slim Volume of Banal Carnalites
Jon O. Smith
self published

I open my 5 part investigation into a 5 chapbook lot that I got from someone on ebay with all items having a connection (or several) to one another. This particular dud should never have been printed. It's horrid. A waste of the life of a tree. Ugh!

Yet there are clues here, none about the author nor the details of the production of this piece of crap but it introduces us to "Mark and Wally" who the book is inscribed to, and there is a copyright mark of 1991. So, there's a year and two names. Apparently the author knew the gents he adds a note to. The person I got them from was located in Massachusetts, this person confirmed that the 5 chapbooks came from a bookstore on Cape Cod that had closed a few years earlier. So, there's a Cape Cod connection.

One can easily see that this item was self published: a line of poetry was hand written on the last page of the book (apparently forgotten)Ooops. Yeah, that's how I feel about the chapbook itself - SAVE A TREE !

Sunday, June 02, 2013

back stories

Every chapbook has one - or many. Every author has one, every publisher has another. Every artist whose image or work adorns a chapbook cover has a different one. Books are often dedicated to someone, they each has one as well. Many people list the places where individual poems have previously appears, be it journal or magazine. Guess what? Each of those publications have their own back stories to tell. Publications as run and edited by people with different lives than the poet. Ripples across a still pond. And then you, the reader, pick up a chapbook and flip through it or study the cover or see if it's signed or written in at all. Layers of complexity, endless things to note or think about, or research.

That's where I end up going : into the rabbit's hole. Peeling onion skin layers down to the nub of nothingness. To this thin slice of nothingness that chapbooks are anyway. This is my endeavor which I have opened up for others to observe, witness, and possibly connect with. I am surprised by what is responded to, and what isn't. I guess most publishers feel the same way; it's a crapshoot. One really doesn't know what is going to "sell" or be written about, or connect with people.

This is especially true of the small presses that specialize in chapbooks and the poets who work best in that form. Allan Kornblum was great at it when he started Toothpaste Press. He ran that pony as far as it would go and then re-imaged the Press right into Coffee House Press. There are so many others. The guys behind Mimeo Mimeo do an incredible service in helping to name names and list small presses. Still....I wonder when the actual "revolution" began - which is the first press or operation to use the mimeograph for poetry? How did that all start?

We are the children of those first innovators. Those of us who collect, read, publish chapbooks. We walk a path that they blazed.

Monday, May 13, 2013

Axe by Charles Tillman (2002)

Charles Tillman


One of a kind, 6" X 4.5" hand-made, single-sided item. Not exactly a chapbook. Not exactly a booklet. Hard to define but not hard to appreciate. This item was made same year as his Trade Names chapbook which I first encountered in Philadelphia during a Ugly Duckling Presse/Loudmouth Collective event.

Similar to that book, this one uses randomized text, hand-written (sometimes smudged) on unidentical pieces of paper. Hole punched, bound by a piece of denim jeans, knotted with contact info on back. Perfectly primitive. This item is part of a long tradition of self-made books that predated the Mimeographic Revolution. Much of this "print primitivism" has been lost since many were single copies which disappeared over time.

Charles Tillman is an artist of diverse interests and completely worth following. As with many artists who cross genres and interests, sometimes the results are murky. While I don't completely understand the puzzle of words here, I greatly appreciate the effort.

Sunday, May 12, 2013

All the Aldas by Daniel Kane and Gillian Kane (2002)

front and back covers of All the Aldas

All the Aldas
Daniel and Gillian Kane
Evil Twin Publications
New York

Evil Twin Publications - unique/bizarre tag-team of Amber Gayle and Stacy Wakefield Forte - making primarily "artist" books although a quick glance on their website showed books with dogs on the cover (umm....) The one I have and wish to mention is Daniel and Gillian Kane's twisted effort called All the Aldas. Collage images throughout. Fold-out pages as well. Design difficulties not scored well by the East German judge but really a very engaging effort. Bizarre path to take but worth the time in getting there.

Sunday, May 05, 2013

The Nailed Down Cloud by ben tibbs (1979)

The Nailed Down Cloud
ben tibbs
Stovepipe Press

I had not heard of nor read ben tibbs before receiving this chapbook. Nor had I heard of or have found anything about this Press, Stovepipe, prior. ben tibbs seems to have been much published. This particular chapbook is not so much a collection of poems as a miscellany of one liners. I know that Mr. Tibbs is deceased and as far as I can tell the Press was a one-time blip. There is no address listed nor any other publisher information. I am here to say it exists. That's about it.

Friday, May 03, 2013

"Lipsmack! A Sampler" edited by Diane Borsenik (2012)

A Sampler Platter of Poets From Nightballet Press
Year One 2012
edited by Diane Borsenik
Nightballet Press
Elyria, Ohio

The world sometimes flows into my hands, like this little chapbook, and all I can do is write. I don't have a lot of information about the small Press out of Elyria, Ohio. I have this chapbook. I am taking the time to write about it because it's an tiny anthology worth finding. It's some talent in it that I am familiar with. Ralph LaCharity of Cincinnati. Alex Gildzen who apparently grew up in Elyria. Lyn Lifshin who hasn't met a single small press she didn't want to be published in. She is the Queen of the Small Press for a reason!

Nightballet Press has been around since 2011. So, they are newbies. But this is quite a collection so they are also talented and one needs to acknowledge Diane Borsenik who is the driving force behind the Press. She seems to be the "do-all, be-all" of the Press. But Elyria, Ohio as a publishing capital of Ohio?

Yes! I remember now! Crisis Chronicle Press! John Burroughs! They came from there. They are all over Northern Ohio and into Western Pennsylvania. Burroughs is also a force to be reckoned with/acknowledged. So this town has given birth to two small presses. How literate they are in Elyria!

If this anthology is any indication, I would wager a bright future for Nightballet!

must atone for a single posting in April

busy - distracted - lazy


promise to do better


Friday, April 26, 2013

Death in a Rifle Garden by John Vincent Greco

Death in a Rifle Garden
John Vincent Greco
self published

this DIY effort came from a DIY distributor. Some people try too hard to be interesting, or basic, or well something. This fall well below the "all the above" category. Thankfully the pain ended in 23 pages.

Monday, March 25, 2013

Pro Femina by Carolyn Kizer (2000)

Pro Femina
Carolyn Kizer
BkMk Press/University of Missouri Press

I have seen many copies of this chapbook around and while not really enjoying the cover, I have thought it important enough to mention here. Probably not surprisingly there are no review of this chapbook on Amazon; after all, who reviews chapbooks?

This one has a bit of history to it that ought to be brought out. There are 5 parts to this piece and they had not been published together in 35 years. This 30 page chapbook represents a period of time when Feminism was emerging in the US and women were still feeling their way. Kizer wrote part of this piece as an homage to Fanny Stevenson, the wife of Robert Louis Stevenson, and noting the years she spent in his shadow; caring for him, etc.

There is a depth in these 30 pages that belie the thinness of the work. It is merely thin in number, not in substance. It's worth a careful reading.

Wednesday, March 20, 2013

The Story of the Campaign and Siege of Yorktown (1931)

The Story of the Campaign and Siege of Yorktown
H. J. Eckenrode
Presented by Mr. Swanson on Feb. 17, 1931
71st Congress, 3rd Session
United States Government Printing Office
Washington, DC

54 page historical document with illustrations. Wonderful copy of a document entered into the Senate (Senate document 318) in 1931. Great slice of American history.

Wednesday, March 13, 2013

down spooky by shanna compton (2003)

down spooky
Shanna Compton
self published

Shanna Compton has become a known commodity. This brief chapbook isn't. If one ventures over to Ms. Compton's website there is no mention of it. There is a good deal written about the full-length version of a collection of poetry with the same name as this, Down Spooky, which was published by Bloof Books in 2005 but this is an earlier (and I assume more rare) version. The cover is unique to the chapbook.

The chapbook is 16 pages. It begins with an empty crossword puzzle and ends with a now full crossword puzzle. There's a concept to this chapbook that was mothballed by Bloof once a full collection was forthcoming. I find it curious when the original version of a work is "reinvented" by a larger publisher, sometimes despite the effort and thought-process that went into the earlier version.

In some respects a chapbook is a more pure form for a concept piece than a full length book. The making a book of 70-some pages is like making sausage. It's a grind. The end product doesn't represent the sum of the individual poems but the thickness of its spine. Unless poems are arranged in the original order as they appeared in the chapbook, the uniqueness of the chapbook is lost. Completely.

To most people, and to most poets themselves unless they also published their chapbook "in-house" this all might be academic but as a publisher who has seen entire chapbooks swallowed whole into larger books with none of the images or uniqueness that went into the chapbook, it's awfully depressing to see one's ideas flushed for "uniformity" as defined by the Big Fish Press which has published the whole Big Book of poet (whomever)

The Big Book is the brass ring, I understand that. At the same time, what makes a chapbook special is what large books don't attempt to do. Whether that is alternating colored pages, or covers, or illustrations which will never be attempted to be recreated, or any number of other "bells and whistles" and have them in hand so much quicker than books with spines. In some respects, I find big books to be BORING visually because it's "costly" to be otherwise. Okay, then boring it is!

This chapbook is not boring. This chapbook is a priceless example of the little sliver of nothing that compels me onward to seeking out chapbooks wherever I can.

Wednesday, March 06, 2013

Words & Food by Robie Liscomb (1981)

Words & Food
Robie Liscomb
Fathom Press
Chicago, IL

There was some kind of magic happening with Michael Tarachow and his associates, as in this case with Robie Liscomb. I have had to the good fortune to be able to communicate with Michael and through him understood the near-gyspy manner of his Press (they had many homes). One thing that travel did not diminish was the quality of the books that were made. Liscomb himself was a publisher, Fathom Press, at the time. Both men are happily still alive and have multiple copies of their (and their presses') books.

Words & Food is a beautifully made chapbook done on hand-made paper in an edition of 200 copies. Without offending anyone involved, there is great craftsmanship involved in the production of this book. For those in the biz, and collectors in general, all I can say is that it feels like something. You can feel the cover, the pages. Nothing slick. Nothing plastic. It feels, and reads, very REAL.

Google these guys, they are worth getting in touch with. I know that Michael was selling off some of his inventory. Maybe you can still get some of the wonderful Fathom Press chapbooks. Completely worth the effort. (blogger made correction on 5/6/16)

Tuesday, March 05, 2013

The Hotel Wentley Poems by John Wieners (2006)

The Hotel Wentley Poems
John Wieners
Joy Street Press
Boston, MA

This is a recreation of the 1965 publication of The Hotel Wentley Poems that was published by Dave Haselwood. I have read a critique of this particular reproduction as somehow misleading or left wanting since the complaining person thought that any reproduction should offer something new, different, or some such thing. I am glad that additional copies have been created for general readers. Isn't that what it's supposed to be about? Getting books into the hands of readers?

The front cover photo was by Wallace Berman with details by Robert LaVigne. Unpaginated. Staple-bound.

Saturday, February 23, 2013

Poetry Is Not a Project by Dorothea Lasky (2010)

Poetry Is Not a Project
Dorothea Lasky
Ugly Duckling Press
Brooklyn, NY

a handsome 6" X 5 1/4" hand-sewn chapbook. Great little chap. Completely worthwhile.

Sunday, February 17, 2013

Trees were felled for these?

Trees were felled for these? Seriously?

I was sent some chapbooks that really ought to be have pulped. I will list them only to attempt to warn others:

Josh Cotter & Shafer Hall

I Want to Fuck a Redneck
Shane Allison
Scintillating Publications
Burlington, VT

Exit 2
Moonshine Shorey
little vanity press
New York, NY

The Day Reagan Died
Chris Martin
boku books
New York, NY

Kiss Me With the Mouth of Your Country
Amy King
Dusie Chapbook

reflector by Roberto Harrison (2008)

Roberto Harrison
House Press

reflector is a hand-sewn chapbook by House Press. Unpaginated. A few short weeks ago I had no idea who Harrison was nor his Bronze Skull Press. That has changed. I have become familiar with Harrison, his press, and House Press (the publisher of this chapbook) since they also have published work by Michael Carr and Dana Ward. Layers upon layers, peeling back the onion skin. Learning about one press and those published by it leads to discovering others. And that leads to more discoveries as well.

Here's a voice deserving to be heard on a Press worth watching.

Tuesday, February 12, 2013

Strongest of the Litter by James Franco (2012)

Strongest of the Litter
James Franco
Hollyridge Press
Venice, CA

I get it: James Franco is a name. It's like a book of poetry by Jewel. Except that Franco isn't a female singer-songwriter. He's an actor (and more) but a poet? No, he isn't. This book proves that. Oh, he has an MFA from a well known college that has MFAs of worth? How nice. The "poems" in this collection are not worth the hype that the publisher had hoped his name recognition would bring forth. The poems are crap. Any publisher/editor worth their salt would have passed on this manuscript. I think it's telling that this one didn't.

The book looks exactly like every other book I have ever seen by Hollyridge Press. It's print-on-demand garbage. It's a waste of a tree. I won't speak of it again.

Sunday, February 10, 2013

Maybe A Painter by Christina Fisher (2009)

Maybe A Painter
Christina Fisher
Auguste Press
San Francisco, CA

9 3/4" X 8" mimeo throwback. Cover image by Sunnylyn Thibodeaux. Single sided. Unpaginated.

As observed by the dimensions and appearance of this book, the publisher is attempting to revive the "classic" mimeo form. It does beef up the heft of the book without providing additional work. It's alright. Heft doesn't equal depth. I do like the cover image.

Tuesday, February 05, 2013

one person's literary masterpiece..... another person's junk. I knew this for years, but it has really come back like a steel tipped boomerang recently when a poet/friend of mine from NY state sent me a large trove of goodies, which on closer inspection didn't seem so tasty. A fair amount of it was absolute garbage and it made me wonder about the collector's etiquette. I assume this is such a thing.

Specifically, I was thinking about how it is inappropriate to throw away something just given to you (be it pamphlet, booklet, chapbook, or flier) by "an artist" within eyeshot of that person. But why would one keep the item for years before deciding to purge it particularly if one knew it was garbage from the first moment they flipped through it? Are we by nature hoarders? Do we hoard things we like to collect simply because they managed to land in our hands?

How long, once you have identified a piece of tripe for what it is, must you keep it before the eventual PURGE? Why send something you have thought of as garbage to someone you know? Do you not think they would also believe it to be shite?

For me, any chapbook or booklet that contains pages of rejection slips from magazines or journals is in itself a good indication of being complete CRAP. If others have thought so, but the author doesn't, whose judgment are we supposed to trust?

I have a motto here on this blog, SAVE A TREE, and I felt that any number of the "authors" are so arrogant that their shitty poems were more important than the life of any number of trees that they are blind to the possibility (or reality) that they were in fact terrible at what they did. Just because a person possesses the technology or ability to publish doesn't mean they ought to. But this doesn't stop someone determined to make the world love their horrid poems. It should allow for people interested in the craft of chapbooks, or collectors in general, to recycle these items as soon as humanly possible.

Saturday, February 02, 2013

Ash by David Pavelich (2004)

Ash by David Pavelich
Bronze Skull Press
Milwaukee, WI

Bronze Skull Press is the brainchild of Andrew Levy and Roberto Harrison. It hails from Harrison's hometown of Milwaukee. This particular chapbook has coverwork by Harrison. Staple-bound chapbook. Unpaginated.

Following a path of snippets (accredited), these pieces are wafer thin. More blank space than text. Almost a celebration of white emptiness.

Thursday, January 31, 2013

Tarantulas on the Lifebuoy (1993)

Tarantulas on the Lifebuoy
Thomas Lux
Ampersand Press
Creative Writing Program
Roger Williams University
Bristol, RI

Originally published in 1983, this copy was published ten years later. It is a 6th printing. For any chapbook to be printed that often is remarkable. 23 pages. Staple-bound chapbook. Cover is grey. Nothing but text on front. A fairly boring cover, I have to say. The poems are good. Redeeming quality for certain. I do find it curious that these poems held together in chapbook form for a dozen years and 6 printings. I might have thought they would have been sucked up into a bigger work.

Sunday, January 27, 2013

Man Joanne Kyger / Women Michael Rothenberg (1987)

Man by Joanne Kyger
Women by Michael Rothenberg
Twowindows Press
Berkeley, CA
Second Printing
Illustrated by Nancy Davis

2 years before Davis and Rothenberg started Big Bridge Press, this tiny chapbook appeared. Twowindows Press may have been a forerunner to Big Bridge. This handsome chap is extremely rare.

Wednesday, January 23, 2013

Prognosis by Ellen Aronofsky Cole (2011)

Ellen Arnonsky Cole
Finishing Line Press
Georgetown, KY
(c) 2011

If ever a book deserved a different publisher! There is much discussion these days about Finishing Line, much of it having to do with its status as a Vanity Press (which it seems to be) and the recent death of its Publisher.

I have long wondered about the business operation of a Press that had a cookie-cutter approach to the DOZENS upon DOZENS of chapbooks that it publishes each season (or is it month?)

The tell-tale bit of ribbon in each book was enough to make me cringe. That said, the work in this chapbook should be read. It's strong, poignant, and heart-felt. The "prognosis" here is Cancer and the way the author deals with the entire process is remarkable. At the same time, I don't know that the cover image has anything to do with the contents.

It's a good read of well crafted poems, I just wish someone else had published it.

Tuesday, January 22, 2013

A Child's Christmas in Wales by Dylan Thomas

A Child's Christmas in Wales
Dylan Thomas
New Directions
first printing - 1954. This is the 12th printing

As often happens when I volunteer at the library, I find interesting items at the bottom of the donation bins; like this book! Designed like a kids book but far too nice, this handsome book with woodcuts by Ellen Raskin is stunning. A joy to hold and read. Mind-boggling to think that New Directions could, when it felt like it, make beautiful near-letter press quality books. This is an example of it. I could hardly believe it, yet there it was.

Unpaginated. 5 1/2" X 5 3/4". Designed and illustrated by Ms. Raskin. A great and rare find.

Tuesday, January 01, 2013

Elyria:Point A in Ohio Triangle by Alex Gildzen (2009)

Elyria: Point A in Ohio Triangle
Alex Gildzen
Crisis Chronicle Press
Elyria, OH

I first learned of Alex Gildzen in 2008 when a poet/friend of mine sent me a copy of one of his earlier chapbooks. I was somewhat surprised to see this particular chapbook listed on Paperback Book Swap website since I don't think of chapbooks are items one can swap from there. I was not familiar with the Press but they seem to be pretty active in the North Central part of the state.

Staple-bound, unpaginated on copy paper (bleed-through) with a drawing by author (at age 6) on front.