Saturday, May 24, 2014

A Ship of Bells by George Hitchcock (date uncertain)

A Ship of Bells
George Hitchcock
San Francisco, CA
date uncertain

I just got a huge lot of books and among the items is "a ship of bells" by George Hitchcock who also ran Kayak - his own imprint. There are woodcut prints by Mel Fowler throughout. The 61 page staple-bound chapbook does straddle the line as far as I am concerned regarding size but that's his decision as Publisher/Poet. Since is wearing both hats, more power to him. It was his first book. The is some guessing as to when this was published, the best guess seems to be 1969 but there is no date in the book itself and Google searches have been inconclusive. However, the book is beautiful. It's an incredible chapbook. The artwork by Mel Fowler is exceptional. Wow.

Thursday, May 22, 2014

Sextuples Are Not Heavy by Danielle Roderick (2010)

Sextuples Are Not Heavy
DoubleCross Press
Single Sheet Series No. 4
Brooklyn, NY

3.5" X 4" tiny chapbook accordion-style printed Feb. 2010 at the Minnesota Center for Book Arts. Linocuts by Jeff Peterson. Overbeaten flaxabaca paper made at Lost Arch Papermill, Tuscaloosa, AL. Doublecross does some interesting work. I have noted them before when I wrote about Brandon Shimoda's little chap, The Grave on the Wall. This one is just as well done and handsome.

Tuesday, May 13, 2014

Obit for the Warehouse by Jaime Niedermeier (2006)

Obit for the Warehouse
Jamie Niedermeier
Duplex Press

I found this little nugget via ebay. It has led to an interesting bit of detective-ing in the sense that Ms. Niedermeier is present on the Net in various places. This thin booklet is her only book to date. I saw a short film she posted in 2012 of her in a temporary homeless situation - hopefully that's all changed now. She's living on-line. A lot of people do that. Not that she is doing it intentionally but that she is sharing her life on-line, likely as a way to promote herself as an artist. The film was pretty interesting, I have to say.

This is a single poem booklet. The poem is filled with interesting language. I appreciate it. I like it. The visual presentation is shit though. Separation of the visual from the linguistic is obvious. I can see this poem in a larger book should she get to that stage. However, text is not her primary medium. All the same, I like the poem. And wherever you are, Jaime, I hope you have landed on your feet!

Wednesday, May 07, 2014

Off Flaw by Dawn Pendergast (2009)

Off Flaw
Dawn Pendergast

tiny tiny tiny "chapbook" measuring in at 3.5" X 3". Braille-like cover. Experimental work and experimental design. This is her first chapbook. Sparse text for the small space. Interesting work. I have read an interesting review of this tiny tiny. Ms. Pendergast seems to be most present on (personal preference?) I have riffed a poem from one of her lines, I will admit. Collectable!

Tuesday, May 06, 2014

it bears repeating....

It bears repeating: I am not a cheerleader. I am a publisher as well as a poet. I write this blog to acknowledge the work of publishers and poets and "one-time" presses that bubble to the surface through the existence of the work. If someone thinks I should only focus on the poems, they miss my point. Or rather, they are not aware of the quote by El Lissitsky that is a guiding principle of mine:

The book must be the unified work of the author and the designer. As long as this is not the case, splendid exteriors will constantly be produced for unimportant contents, and visa-versa.
El Lissitzky
from Do Not Separate Form from Content!(1931)

If a chapbook visually sucks but the words are good, I will say so. If the chapbook is stunning but the words are god-awful, I will also say so. No tree should ever be felled for tripe or self-serving navel-worshipping. If you have a friend whose work you like a lot and it doesn't matter to you what their chapbook looks like: that fine, but that's not my "job". I respect the people who have taken the time and considerable effort to make a thing of beauty. Putting out a book on the cheapest photo-copy paper available with the grainiest picture imaginable and touting it as your "work of art", I will decline climbing on your bandwagon.

Certain publishers from the past, say from the late 1970s through today, deserve to be recognized as establishing the structure by which "the bar" is placed, let alone raised. The truth is that they publishers cared what their chapbooks LOOKED LIKE as much as the words or images, or both, were INSIDE. I have listed some of these presses before but it is worth mentioning again: Toothpaste Press (Allan Kornblum), Perishable Press Limited (Walter Hamady), The Fathom Press (Robie Liscomb), The Portable Press at Yo-Yo Labs (Brenda Iljima), Pentagram Press (Michael Tarachow), and many others.

I would urge lovers of the chapbook form to image that there is a history to this all, that you are part of it, and that you haven't created the wheel. It's been done. Dozens of times over. Hundreds of times over and then some. There is a historical element to my blog that I perhaps haven't overtly presented but I think it's time that I did. We are all part of something that dates back to the 1940s. If you wish to consider the chap(ter) books that were published in England earlier, then we are talking about the 1600s.

My particular focus is poetry chapbooks of the second half of the 20th century and now into the 21st.