Tuesday, December 08, 2015

a lot of small presses, a lot of slivers of nothing

Small presses making chapbooks are as numerous a leaves in autumn. I have been attempting to focus on, or perhaps just acknowledge some of them. Some of the authors have gone onto greater things. In other cases, the chapbook was the pinnacle of their writing careers. The same has been true of some of the Presses. But I continue the search and love the adventure.

Over the summer I was able to secure a trove of material from Gil Williams who did Bellevue Press for a long time. I haven't written about any of those books yet. I am easily sidetracked (it's called "life"). Will try to do better as the year winds down.

Sunday, November 01, 2015

Breathing In Breathing Out by Rhona Morton (2001)

Breathing In, Breathing Out
Rhona Morton
Foothills Publishing
Kanona, NY

Hand-sewn chapbook. Unpaginated. While I actually enjoyed many of the poems, having explanations prior to each one is both limiting and space fluffing. Feels more like a personal journal than a collection. Ho Hum.

Friday, October 23, 2015

two chapbooks found in a DC bookstore

Poems by Peppino
self published
Fairfax, VA

One of the poems in this 29 page collection is entitled “Everyone is Born a Poet”. There are more letters of certificate in this staple-bound nightmare than poems. And no, dear poet, you are wrong: not everyone is born to be a poet any more than everyone is born to walk on the moon. And I am being generous to this author. My guess is that he wrote most of his life and wasn’t really taken serious as a poet except by poetry societies around the country. But as Groucho Marx famously observed, “I would never be a member of any organization that would have me as a member.” (Okay, I am slightly paraphrasing). But, alas, I will acknowledge the man. He probably was a dear man at that. His kind of poetry is a disservice to modern poetics all the same and I pulped this chapbook the moment I posted this.

Voices from the Struggle
Poetry from the Movement to End Poverty
Published on the University of Pennsylvania campus

Poems from homeless and former homeless people in the greater Philadelphia region representing a number of End Poverty organizations. It’s an interesting object. The poems come from the gut and the street. They are raw. There is no polish, no attempt at refinement. That’s not what this is about : it’s a call for action. Unfortunately, the action that is what is called for is unlikely to be achieved without a revolution and that won’t end poverty either, really. It is the treatment of the poor that needs to change. These are not lepers, they are fellow citizens who for whatever reason have slipped off the grid. The Wall Street crowd may dismiss them as “takers”, the way Mitt Romney did during the last Presidential campaign but they are like any other citizen of this country – only poorer. Poverty is not in and of itself a sign of failure any more than wealth is a sign of success. Many wealthy people were born into that privilege. It’s a matter of birth. It ought not to be inherited but it is. In the same way, helping people out of poverty ought to be a priority of the policy makers in Washington, DC. but it isn’t. Special interests rule the day. That’s the saddest commentary I can make on this tiny chapbook, it needs to be remade every year! EVERY SINGLE YEAR

Thursday, October 15, 2015

2 from the shelves of a public library....

It's an odd thing to find chapbooks on the shelves of a public library since they are little slivers of nothing and who on earth (besides me, apparently) looks for them? The two I found in Alexandria, VA have been languishing in their nearly invisible state for 13 years or more. I am likely the first person to take them out in a decade. I am surprised they weren't purged, honestly. It must be that they were local and gifted to the library. and they are :
Coming Through the Wry
Viette Sandbank
Praying Mantis Press
Alexandria, VA
(c) 1982

A local author on a local press. Never heard of Praying Mantis Press before. Could be that the author was also the publisher. 1982 is a long time ago now. This copy is signed by the author. 30 page staple-bound chapbook. No meat on the bone here. Am acknowledging the existence of the book.

Ingeborg at St. Elmo's
Ingeborg Carsten-Miller
self published
(c) 1999

This chapbook was created for a specific reading which took place at St. Elmo's (coffee house) in the Del Ray section of the city of Alexandria, VA. So, another local author on a local press. There is nothing rewarding within. It meant something to the author since in 1999 St. Elmo's was a new swinging thing. It isn't anymore. The poetry is very vanilla pudding. There's a poem in the chapbook for the nursing house that the author lived in. YYYYYYYYYEAH.

Tuesday, September 29, 2015

Ezra Pound: A Critical Essay by Marion Montgomery (1970)

Ezra Pound: A Critical Essay
Marion Montgomery
William B. Eerdmans/Publisher
Grand Rapids, MI

Part of the publisher's "Contemporary Writers in Christian Perspective" series of booklets made during that period of time. 48 pages. Staple-bound.
Ah, yeah, there are and have been so many different topics covered in countless chapbooks. This is yet another. I am acknowledging the existence of this particular one so that I can immediately pulp it. Done, and done!

Wednesday, September 02, 2015

In the Fold of a Hill by Desire Vail (2000)

In the Fold of a Hill
Desire Vail
Foothills Publishing Kanona, NY

This one of 3 chapbooks published by Foothills of Ms. Vail's work. Like many Foothills chapbooks, this one is hand-sewn and unpaginated. Foothills has grown beyond its Upstate New York origins. Unfortunately, it suffered a devastating loss a few years back when a fire burned down Michael Czarnecki's house. They have rebounded and continue to produce work to this day. They have been part of that under-acknowledged Upstate NY publishing community. However, I find their choices similar to those made by Finishing Line. Not always keen on the books they bring out.

Sunday, August 30, 2015

Peaches: The Yes-Girl by Shelly Taylor (2008)

Peaches: The Yes-Girl
Shelly Taylor
Portable Press at Yo-Yo Labs
Brooklyn, NY

I meant to write about this chapbook several months ago but it got lost in my many stacks of things, unfortunately. What prompted my interest in writing about this chapbook is that I went to Ms. Taylor's website and she lists this chapbook as "out-of-print". Well, I have a copy of that right.....it was just, it is right....somewhere, and that somewhere kept not appearing anywhere. Bother!

The chapbook was published by the incredible Brenda Iijima at her Portable Press. The work is likely good, a mix of poems and prose poems. Great starting point, as with every poet; first books are in some ways the most unique. It's the starting point. Needle on the record, first sound - first rush. Amen.

Friday, August 07, 2015

All Fall Down by Bernadette Mayer (2015)

All Fall Down
Bernadette Mayer
Benevolent Bird Press
Delmar, NY

Benevolent Bird Press is the publishing arm of Rootdrinker Institute located in Delmar, New York. They have been a very busy and productive press since emerging. This is #127 of 200 printed. Bernadette Mayer is a highly influential poet and the publication of this chapbook is quite the coup for the Press. Kudos all around.

Lightfall by J. Phoenice (1957)

J. Phoenice
The Guild Press
Crayke, York, Great Britain

First off: J. Phoenice is a woman. Second off: I have never heard of the Guild Press nor the Guild Poets before this writing. Thirdly, it's a handsome chapbook. Hand-sewn. 15 pages, with multiple poems per page. Thus: teeny tiny poems. They are well crafted.

Wednesday, July 22, 2015

St. George's Castle published by The Lisbon City Council (1974)

St. George's Castle
Published by the Lisbon City Council
Lisbon, Portugal

Handy little history book of the castle complete with enclosed map. Originally printed in 1959. Printed in English for us tourist types. Staple-bound. 26 pages.

Monday, July 20, 2015

Houses by Joel Oppenheimer (1981)

Joel Oppenheimer
White Pine Press
Buffalo, NY

Joel Oppenheimer was, among other things, the first director of the St. Marks Poetry Project. He was associated with both the Black Mountain and New York School poets. This single poem chapbook was published in 1981 by White Pine Press. It had appeared in a different form in the Chicago Review. The existence of this chapbook does not appear on his wikipedia page. I suppose that makes this rare. It's worth having. Truly.

Monday, July 06, 2015

Cherokee Legends and the Trail of Tears T. Underwood with Amanda Crowe (1956)

Cherokee Legends and the Trails of Tears
Adapted by Thomas Bryan Underwood
Cover design and illustrations by Amanda Crowe
S. B. Newman Printing Co.
Knoxville, TN

Next to the deplorable history that the United States has with it's slave population (a history still being rewritten and re-fought) is the even more deplorable history that the United States does not accurately teach and all too quickly dismisses: how the Europeans stole the very land that makes the United States from the Natives who were here for hundreds if not thousands of years before. One of the most painful episodes of that long and terrible conflict was the "Trail of Tears", the forced relocation of entire tribes of Natives to what would eventually become Oklahoma by order of Andrew (the Indian Killer) Jackson.

This 32 pages booklet adds to the tears. Adapted by T. B. Underwood from the Nineteenth Annual Report of the Bureau of American Ethnology, this telling account of the Trail is based on the first-hand witness Private John G. Burnett, Captain Abraham McClellan's Company, 2nd Regiment, 2nd Brigade, Mounted Infantry, Cherokee Indian Removal 1838-39. It is a damning accounting. I had to fight back tears reading of the senseless loss of lives. Manifest Destiny had many victims. Since Natives never really counted in the country from the very beginning (3/5 of a man in census taking)

It's an important document. It should be a MUST read for all students in the United States.

Monday, June 29, 2015

how dusk sweetens the meadows by Haniel Long (2013)

how dusk sweetens the meadows
Haniel Long
Rootdrinker Institute
Naples, NY

Such a tiny little chapbook provoking such a big ripple.

The ripple is not from the work itself. This unpaginated staple-bound collection is what it is: a decision by the publisher to bring this forward. Objectivity versus subjectivity. Did the publisher have a personal relationship with the author? Rootdrinker and Benevolent Bird Press are intertwined, and this is the grape of that binding.

What motivates a publisher? What criteria does one follow? This poet, Mr. Long, died in 1956. This tiny collection was published in 2013. Was it published because the work had to do with "place"? Which place then - he died in Sante Fe, New Mexico. The publisher is in upstate New York. Ah, there is a connection to place after all; Mr. Long wrote about the Finger Lakes. He came from the region. Some of his poetry sings of that earth - praises that land. The Finger Lakes. Okay, that makes sense.

That this tiny collection was published for a specific presentation also makes sense. Regional interest. One of their own. As such it is worth finding and reading. It is slight, though. Both is size and in scope. Tiny poems in a tiny book. All too easily overlooked.

Tuesday, June 23, 2015

Hill Farm by Kathleen M. Tenpas (1985)

Hill Farm
Kathleen M. Tenpas
Arachne, Inc.
Jamestown, NY

I have to admit that I like this collection very much. The work is solid. I had to remind myself that a woman wrote these poems. Her work has a no-nonsense air to them that is appealing and none of the poems deal with "women's issues" directly.

Arachne Inc. is/was a not-for-profit quarterly published in Jamestown, NY. This is the first awareness I have had of the publication or of the poet. Glad to mention them both.

Friday, June 19, 2015

russian folk music song book (1947)

The Thrift Press
Ithaca, NY
(c) 1947

So, once upon a time there was a press in Ithaca, NY which specialized in not only regional but ethnic chapbooks as well. And not only that, but songbooks. This one has music notation and table of contents in Russian and English language lyrics at the end. 1947 staple-bound. The publisher probably didn't think of it as a "chapbook" but as a cheap, sturdy music book for their distinctive cliental.

No indication who transcript the Russian into English nor the name of the printer. But it's very interesting, and if you like Balalaika music, you probably need this book!

Thursday, June 18, 2015

road/house 7 (1979)

road/house #7
todd moore, editor
Belvidere, IL
(c) 1979

20 pages stapled journal. Irregularly published. 9 of these pages were dedicated to one poem, The Farmer's Manifesto by Tom Montag. Cover illustration of man next to a tracker, sort of visually sets the tone here.

Tuesday, June 16, 2015

Found Gil Williams (in upstate NY)

A simultaneous thing happened when I took a chance and contacted the poet Steve Lewandowski: it opened up the entire upper half of New York State to me. I had not thought that there was much regional poetics happening outside of "the apple" and Buffalo, but further north toward the Lake and Canada were in fact many Presses and poets. As I have been learning.

I mentioned earlier that I had a chapbook from Bellevue Press by Al Glover entitled Paradise Valley. I hadn't thought to try and contact the publisher of that chapbook until my interest in Upstate New York was piqued. I also mentioned that I had bought some photo postcards from a seller on ABE who turned out to be the Williams'. Deborah and Gil. They have since responded. Not surprisingly, the Press did not make them any money. Chapbook/small presses are supposed to make money? No, I didn't think so.

There is now something called Bellevue Literary Press which has nothing to do with the Williams' operation. I have yet to ask for the history of the Press so I don't know their start and stop dates. I am interested in what they might have left from their inventory. I am, after all, a collector as well as a publisher on hiatus.

If you are interested in learning more or seeing their books, you should contact them : Gil's Book Loft/PO Box 365/Binghamton, NY 13905-0365. Gil likes mail, you know, the kind with actual writing and stamps and that? Send him something. Oh, Bellevue Press did several series of poetry postcards - so send him a postcard!

Friday, June 12, 2015

Apple: An Anthology of Upstate New York Poets (1979)

Apple:An Anthology of Upstate New York Poets
Judith Kitchen,editor
State Street Press
Pittsford, NY

This is a very concise anthology of 22 poets in 26 pages ably (or perhaps, "appley") assembled by Judith Kitchen and published by State Street Press. Pittsford, NY is in the extreme northern section of NY close to Lake Ontario. There is a loose network of poets and other regional presses located up there. I came to know even this little bit from my on-going correspondence with poet Steve Lewandowski. Along with Lewandowski, this collection is graced with work by Joseph Bruchac, Carl Dennis, and Carol Frost (among others).

I notice that the printer of this collection was The Geryon Press in Tunnel, NY which printed a number of books of this region and that's really what this collection embodies; place. Also, apples. At least in this collection. Apples. Everywhere. No need for Johnny Appleseed, this book has a bushel full.

Sunday, May 24, 2015

Not the Same Tramp You Dumped by Andy Doyle (2011)

Not the Same Tramp You Dumped
Andy Doyle
self published

I am sad that trees were felled for this chapbook. Yuck.

Wednesday, May 13, 2015

pack rat sieve by Mei-Mei Berssenbrugge (1983)

pack rat sieve
Mei-Mei Berssenbrugge
Contact II
Bowling Green

There once a small press in a city of Publishing Megatrons, and this tiny little PO Box location press brought out some stellar little bits - like this one. Mei-Mei's Wikipedia page lists the publisher of this 17 page chapbook as "Cambridge Graphic Arts".

Her work is generally associated with both the New York School and LANGUAGE poets. A shadow across both fields. The work in this chapbook had previously appeared as a special supplement for Contact II issue No. 27/28/29.

Wednesday, May 06, 2015

Barbaric Yawp vol. 10 #1 (2006)

Barbaric Yawp
Volume 10 number 1
May 2006
BoneWorld Publishing
Russell, NY

This staple-bound journal is from a Press I didn't know about before, a town I never heard of before, and publishers I was completely unfamiliar with. New York up-State. 53 pages. Published by John and Nancy Berbrich in Russell, NY. Disclaimer: one of the poets in the journal is Kenneth DiMaggio, who Plan B Press published in 2007. The interesting thing for me is that John Berbrich wrote a column in the journal called "Book Beat" and some of the books he reviewed I have also received that year. Ah, 2006. Yes. Klyd Watkins, t kilgore splake. The column provides me with names and chapbooks all new to me. Within a journal, fresh nuggets.

Great stuff. Great, great, good and so-so. The rainbow of criticism. I will focus on the new stuff. There's even a writer in here from the tiny town of Adelanto, California where I was stationed in the USAF from 1975-1977. High Desert.

No matter - more for me to learn about!

Sunday, May 03, 2015

Total Stranger by Terence Winch (1982)

Total Strangers
Terence Winch
The Toothpaste Press
West Branch, Iowa

Terence Winch was one of the linchpins of Some of Us Press. He and Michael Lally, and Ed Zahniser. The story of SOUP is an important story which I will be releasing like air bubbles from the deep archives. There are several books published by them that are rarer than hen's teeth. Toothpaste Press is one of my favorite small presses. Their books are works of art. This one is a hand-sewn chapbook with illustrations by Gaylord Schanilec. This copy was numbered (259) and signed by Terence.

The writing is crisp. Here's the opening sentence of his piece Low Life : "The rock and roll jellyfish virgins, eating the socks off the commuters, licking the little black hairs off their shins, biting on their ankles till they start to smile, begin to dance." So does the language throughout; it begins to dance. Right off the page.

Saturday, May 02, 2015

Vital Steps to Chastity (1954)

Vital Steps to Chastity
Mission Helpers of the Sacred Heart
Towson, MD

120 pages of fear and loathing by a nameless Catholic front organization that wants little Catholics to love God more than the opposite sex, that's for sure. I was not raised Catholic. This staple-bound chapbook (it's not really a chapbook at 120 pages. It's a staple-bound anti-sex tract) is a complete waste of paper. It's fear of sexuality. It's hatred of one's own body. It's remarkable in its "group-think" collectively written by women who love God more than their own bodies, as you should to, horrible child. It's designed to brain-wash the student of Catholic school against loving their own bodies and from loving the opposite sex for their own bodies. Afterall, what good will come of this? SEX ! BABIES ! ABORTIONS !

One should love God and God alone. Can't say that's a successful strategy for procreating future generations but - ah - get married to someone who God has deemed you should, even if the two people end up loathing each other. Ah, yes, the loathing again. The Catholic Church's position here is circular and not really open to independent thought. Do as you are told and don't think about it. Don't listen to that girl or boy you love. Listen to your Priest or Nun, who as we know, neither of whom has experienced sex or childbirth or any of THAT. (This is 1954, no pedophilia yet - we are to believe) I am tired about it already. This chapbook. The recycling bin awaits.


[anti-eratio] by Christina Strong (2005)

Christina Strong
Portable Press at Yo-Yo Labs
Brooklyn, NY

2005 - endless war - Bush Presidency. Christina Strong is not having it. She sees Ronald Reagan resumed and revived. Cult of dis/misinformation and disjointed text. Text Luther. Bald evil. Majestic surprises. Muted opposition. Limp language can not shield us from the brutality of naked Nationalism. Truth lingers in the shadow of words. Words quiver in fear of discovery. Librarians protecting their patrons from the NSA. Illegal phone call taping, a government spying on its citizens. Protecting itself from its citizens. END THIS WAR CALL slip-in with #s for the President, for Senators, a prayer against waking.

a smaller trove from Steve Lewandowski

a secondary second trove has arrived from Upstate New York. Even more to consume. Fantastic!

Tuesday, April 28, 2015

These Days by Lee Lally (1972)

These Days
Lee Lally
Some of Us Press
Washington, DC

I wrote this about this 'infamous' chapbook in July 2013 on my chapbook Facebook page: "Publishing pettifoggery: not everyone is on the level.

Back in 1972 Lee Lally published "These Days" with Some of Us Press, a press that she was personally involved with. The way that SOUP worked was that any profit from one book might earn would be used to publish the next book. Pay it forward.

Unfortunately, Lee's book became the best seller that SOUP would ever have and the Diana Press of Baltimore decided, without contacting Lally or anyone AT Some of Us Press, that IT would bring out ITS OWN version of the chapbook with the discreet proviso "Diana Press FOR Some of Us Press" on the publisher's page. However, no money was ever sent to SOUP nor to Lally.

All this happened 40 years ago - still, pretty underhanded, if you ask me."

Here is the cover image of that pirated copy. Some of Us Press was a collective. The proceeds from one book went toward publishing the next book. This chapbook was their best seller. Their best known. Their own pirated one as well. One of the people to whom this collection was dedicated to is Tina Darragh and Tina told me about the strife that the pirated copy caused within SOUP (the press's working initialized title). Lee was upset to the point of crying over this sorted affair. Diana Press did not pay Lally or SOUP a dime in compensation. How nice of you, Diana Press, may you sit on a poisoned quiver.

I don't know if Joan Hanor was part of SOUP or of Diana. She is credited with the back cover image which I have seen on other SOUP chapbooks. This is a 36 page, staple-bound chapbook. Chronically, it was one of the earliest chapbooks published by SOUP. As the chapbooks were brought out, they listed those previously published ones as well as those forthcoming.

This is an important collection in feminist writing. I will share with you one of the poems in this collection:


The woman will miss the typewriter.
The fence will miss the cold of steel and cash.
The junkie is on the street again
and the poems are harder
like a bad vein
every minute.

Monday, April 27, 2015

Max by Ray DiPalma (1974)

Max : A Sequel
Ray DiPalma
Burning Deck

(I love it when I am right.) Staple-bound chapbook. Unpaginated. Burning Deck, 10 years in.

What on earth am I talking about? Burning Deck started in 1964. This is actually a sequel to his first published chapbook, MAX, which was published in 1969 by the Body Press. (Okay, so how are you right?) Well, I was getting ready to write about this chapbook and Ray DiPalma and I noticed that on neither his Wikipedia page nor his Poets & Writers biography page is there a mention of him as a publisher, yet I know I remembered that he was.

Indeed so, A few years ago I found a chapbook of Asa Benveniste, which really was more of a mimeo sized book than a more familiar sized "chapbook" but the listing had misspelled his last name so I bought the chapbook for $0.99 and later traded it to Kyle Schlesinger for a box of poetry bumper stickers (okay, ask him about them). That mimeo/chapbook was published by Doones. Doones was Ray DiPalma's press.

Yet either he has decided not to mention it in his current bio or those bio-creators have not done their homework all that well. In either case, Doones Press did exist from 1969-1976 and published some of the voices which became L=A=N=G=U=A=G=E poetry as well as short run magazines, including 'Shelter'.

Friday, April 24, 2015

Sorting Facts; or, Nineteen Ways of Looking at Marker by Susan Howe (1996, 2013)

Sorting Facts; or, Nineteen Ways of Looking at Marker
Susan Howe
New Directions Poetry Pamphlet #1
(c)1996, 2013

New Directions made poetry pamphlets? I didn't know. Of course, this isn't one. Not really. It's an essay about the films of the French director Chris Marker. One of his films was reimagined by Terry Gilliam as the 12 Monkeys. This essay was written BY a poet, a poet whose work has been published by New Direction fairly often and whom I admire greatly, Susan Howe. But it's not a collection of poetry although the language is lucid enough to pass as poetry.

63 page, staple-bound chapbook. Using Marker's two critically acclaimed films, Le Jetee and Sans Soleil as her baselines, Howe weaves a mental tapestry as only she could. It's excellent writing. The production of this item, as a chapbook, is more in the "shrug-who-cares" category (if such a title existed). After all, New Directions did not start as a chapbook publisher so the finer points are missing here. But since the substance is what is important here, I am willing to overlook the generic presentation. But only this once. (Did I mention I am a big Susan Howe fan?)

Wednesday, April 22, 2015

a treasure trove from poet Steve Lewandowski

This particular episode began a few years ago when I found, and bought, a chapbook entitled Visitor by a poet named Steve Lewandowski on a press called White Pine that I never heard of before.
Fast forward to March 2015 and a different poet whom I know was boasting a bit (deservedly) for winning an award and having a reading at State College, PA. I like this guy's work and while I wasn't going to be able to attend, I wanted to see where it was that he was reading. I went to the website of the location and looked over their upcoming events and there was going to be a reading by a Steve Lewandowski and I thought "there can't be two poets with that name" so I looked around a bit online and found him, and wrote him; he wrote back. A conversation began. He liked this blog and asked me if I was a librarian. I am an archivist who will be getting my ever growing chapbook collection to an academic institution, I said, which is true.

He said he would some me some stuff.

He did. Jaw dropping. I have so much new material to investigate and write about, and archive! The first thing I have discovered is that Steve has opened up the entire State of New York out of city small press publishing world to me with this trove. As well as small presses from New England and one from Canada as well. My ever expanding universe of knowledge!

Tuesday, April 21, 2015

Myths & Texts by Gary Snyder (1975)

Myths & Texts
Gary Snyder
Totem/Corinth Books

It's Gary Snyder
It's Gary Snyder first published in 1960 and this copy, being the 6th printing, comes at us in 1975
It's a great collection
It's what one would have hoped for and expected in the Gary Snyder who read with Allen Ginsberg and the rest at the famous Six Gallery event just 5 years prior.
It's a book originally published by Leroy Jones's Totem Press.
It oozes history and importance, and it doesn't fail to deliver.
My chapbook fairy sent it to me, thanks chapbook fairy.

Fossil Record/Cabin Fever by Dan Brady (2014)

Cabin Fever/Fossil Record
Dan Brady
Flying Guillotine Press

It's fitting that a collection of poetry published by Flying Guillotine Press would be two separate collections, separate covers and texts upside down from each other. Janus face. The Press itself is two homes half a continent apart. Denver, CO and Rosslyn, VA. Split by land and sky, rivers and asphalt. Unpaginated. Hand-stitched. Brilliant writing. (disclaimer - Dan Brady and I attended and graduated from George Mason University in the same initial class of the Master of Arts Management program)

It seems that FGP has slowed down since the spring of 2014, but Dan Brady certainly hasn't. He's the poetry editor of the Barrelhouse. He's a man about (Washington,DC) town. A mover and shaker. DC is better for it. As you will be when you get a copy of his awesome chap.

Sunday, April 19, 2015

Paradise Valley by Al Glover (1975)

Paradise Valley
Al Glover
The Bellevue Press
Binghamton, NY

This chapbook arrived in a mixed lot I won on ebay about 2 years ago and while it interested me, I didn't write about it until today. An oversight. I have a lot of chapbooks to write about. (so much to do, so little time) Anyway, this copy was signed by Al Glover on the back page. There was 350 copies printed, 50 of which were signed. So this is one of 50. That alone makes it fairly unique.

However, I was just as interested in the Press and that was challenging since there wasn't a whole lot about the Press that I was able to find 2 years ago - so I put it aside. Then, this month I decided to try to present a daily blog entry and I pulled this one out again (blew off the dust)and started looking on-line again. This time I was able to find a name, Gil Williams, who seems to have been the publisher. It also seemed that the Press never left Binghamton, NY. Other presses move with their owners : Pentagram moved several times, as did Robie Liscomb and his Fathom Press, and my own Plan B Press which started in Lancaster County, PA - Philadelphia - and finally Alexandria, VA before going on "hiatus".

I find a listing for a photo of his Gil Williams person taken by Gerard Malanga (wait, I know that name!) Yeah, Malanga was part of the Warhol Factory world and he took photos of this Williams person? The listing was on ABE which I have never used even though I had known about them since logging on in 1999. So, I opened an account and bought the photo

It wasn't until a packet of photos, the seller sent more than one item, did I realize that perhaps I was buying a copy of the photo from Gil Williams himself. The invoice was from Gil's Book Loft in Binghamton, NY and a quick note was included on the invoice from Deborah Williams. Gil.......Williams. Whoa, wait, cool, I - I immediately sent off a card in that direction and now am writing about this chapbook.

Paradise Valley is an 18 page prose poetry "story". Hand-sewn. Nice presentation. Well written. A foreword was written by Rutherford E. Delmage in 1973. There is an image of a horse inside. It's relevant. (I hate when there are images that have no bearing at all to the title or the content of a book, even a chapbook). I still don't know much about Al Glover but I do know a bit more about Bellevue Press, and I might know more soon should the folks at Gil's Book Loft respond. Fingers crossed.

Saturday, April 18, 2015

...but for a Brief Interlude at Versailles by Travis Cebula (2011)

...but for a Brief Interlude at Versailles
Travis Cebula
Highway 101 Press

Handsome little chapbook of poetry and images by author. 36 pages of wow.

Thursday, April 16, 2015

melissa & smith by Ntozake Shange (1976)

melissa & smith
Ntozake Shange
Bookslinger editions
Toothpaste Press
West Branch, Iowa

At it's best, Toothpaste Press brought out some of the most ideally crafted chapbooks. This is among those. Letter-pressed cover. Hand made paper. Hand sewn binding. #187 of 300 printed. Some of the copies were given to friends, others were donated to Mixed Blood Theatre which was just starting in 1976. I imagine that donation came from Ms. Shange's involvement with this project. Another 225 copies of this chapbook were put on sale at Bookslingers Editions in Minneapolis, MN. The copy I have is signed by Ms. Shange.

This is a beautiful chapbook. (I wish you were here to see it!)

Wednesday, April 15, 2015

Two Geese by Theodore Enslin (1980)

Two Geese
Theodore Enslin
Pentagram Press
Markesan, WS
This 2 poem, hand-sewn tiny chapbook (7.5 X 4.25) is a gem. I have written previously how I had a number of conversations with the primary publisher of Pentagram Press and how the Press had a number of different locations, one of which was Markesan Wisconsin.

I did not register that Theodore Enslin had died in 2011. I am doubly grateful to Michael Tarachow for including this little item in the packet he sent me a few years ago. It was one of 275 copies printed. Glad to mention it.

Countries by Anne Waldman (1980)

Anne Waldman
Toothpaste Press
West Branch, Iowa

Anne Waldman had several of her early books published on Toothpaste/Coffee House Press. This tiny sized, 5 X 6.5 inches with linoleum blocks by Reed Bye, falls in the middle of their working collaboration. One of 1,000 printed. Short pieces. Tight, compact, ready for travel.

Monday, April 13, 2015

Application Counter by Matthew Wascovich (2002)

Application Counter
Matthew Wascovich
Slow Toe Publications
Cleveland, OH
Matthew Wascovich published a number of books of poetry, before starting the band Scarcity of Tanks. The poetry in this book is clean and tight. 35 pages, stapled-bound chapbook with cover art painting by Catherine Langsdale. It's a fine collection and if one looks at the work knowing that he morphs into a lead singer, it's easy to see these as chunks of lyrics as well.

EarDada #1 (2000)

editor: Re'Howse
Gardenia, CA
Volume 1 Issue 1

This staple bound zine was the handiwork of Re'Howse who, I believe, is alive and well and living in Louisiana where she is makin' some art. 15 years ago, she put together this tiny zine of art, prose, and poetry. A piece I wrote was in it. The concept of "flash" writing was already around and I wrote a piece that took only half the 50 words allotted. I called the piece
27 Left
Tattooed anarchy circle
on her neck.
Three piercings in right
Metal slash
industrial music
rattles the chandelier.
Her hand
jerks the wires
when she sneezed;

I even scored a Tshirt (a special EarDada shirt) which I wore out. There are so many small zines and journals out there. I just happened to be in this one. It was a pretty cool experience.

Friday, April 10, 2015

Sir by H R Hegnauer (2011)

H R Hegnauer
Portable Press at Yo-Yo Labs
Brooklyn, NY

A short story with experimentation in white space? Possibly. Unpaginated white pages of decent writing in a lovely, typical of these books, presentation. A beautiful object. But the writing did not impress me; either as prose or - was it meant to be poetry?

Thursday, April 09, 2015

Notice the Star by Dan Carr (1976)

Notice the Star
Dan Carr
The Four Zoas Press

Another ebay find. I am always surprised how little sellers learn about the things they sell. Especially chapbook. "little slivers of nothing". I swear that most people think that way about chapbook. This little one was printed in 1976. Linoleum cut by Parnell Rogers.

Letter-pressed cover. Nice quality. Good read. Rare, good luck finding a copy.

The Landscape of Mind by Jianqing Zheng (2001)

The Landscape of Mind
Jianqing Zheng
Slapering Hol Press
Sleepy Hollow, NY

#340 of 500 printed. 29 pages. Hand-sewn binding. This book is the winner of the 2001 Slapering Hol Press contest. Mr. Zheng was born in China and was forced into "re-education" from farmers. Jianqing Zheng, Greenwood, Mississippi, is professor and chair of English at Mississippi Valley State University. He is the editor of Valley Voices: A Literary Review. A noted Wright scholar, Zheng's work on the writer has appeared in the Explicator, Southern Quarterly, Modern Haiku, Frogpond, Notes on Contemporary Literature, and other periodicals.

These poems are luscious. Well worthwhile. DO find and read.

Wednesday, April 08, 2015

little mysteries by ken mikolowski (1979)

little mysteries
ken mikolowski
toothpaste press
West Branch, Iowa

With illustration by his artist/wife, ann mikolowski. Another beautiful like chap from Toothpaste Press. Designed by Allan Kornblum. This copy is part of the 2000 copy second run of this little gem. Ann Mikolowski went on to do a number of covers and internal illustrations from other Toothpaste Press.

Monday, April 06, 2015

when we were together in 1954 by Patrick Riedy (2012)

when we were together in 1954
Patrick Riedy
Buffalo, NY

#55 of 80 made. 5" X 5" (how square). Riedy put down markers in Buffalo, NY which is a good place to do it in upstate out of New York City kinda way. We communicated with each other by mail and chapbook exchanges in 2013 after Ryan Eckes, who Plan B Press published in 2007, did a reading in Buffalo. Riedy has since moved on to Syracuse. Buffalo shakes off its poets, and more come to fill the void.

Letterpressed cover, hand sewn stitchery, unpaginated pages, and pages of few words. But of the words that are there! They float, flutter, and meander. A book with a title that includes a year does so, indirectly and inadvertently, like nailing a marker into the soft ground of memory. To many born in or around 1954 (including this sod), that isn't just a year - it is THE year, our year. It's a year that left a mark, a "before 1954" or "in 1954", followed by "after 1954". 1954? It's not an idle insufficient series of numbers.

It's the year that Rock and Roll began. The year the French lost Vietnam and American "advisors" took over. It's the year of polio shots and color TV sets, and frozen dinners. Matisse died. The first nuclear sub was launched. On The Waterfront. Senator McCarthy. Brown vs. Board of Education. Oppenheimer is stripped of his security clearance - cut out of the debate, America detonate bigger bombs over Bikini islands.

Riedy, without digging through historical documents, nonetheless brilliantly states :
when we were together
in 1954
we weren't born yet

which is both a truism and deeper statement about how every successive generation can not fully comprehend or appreciate the previous one. The Political columnist, Gail Collins, wrote that no one grows old in the country that they were born in. Sage brilliance. Because rust never DOES sleep. There is always some younger, smarter, generation of fresh faces and stupid responses pushing up from "the future". And the future itself is not a static collection of datum. It's happens right now - and then, now - and again right now - no, I mean, NOW (snap your fingers, you have already missed it)

and when he concludes "everything had meaning/nothing was worth nothing/and these words/meant something" he summed up a good deal more than he imagined.

Sunday, April 05, 2015

Why Jesus? by Nicky Gumbel (HAPPY EASTER)

Why Jesus? Nicky Gumbel
religious tract

It's Easter Sunday and back when I was started Bardfest in Berks County, PA it was always tricky to have a 30 day poetry month with a poetry reading every day of the month when Easter fell in April which is why I am including this little tract. My first question is why green? Why is the cover and the lettering green? well, Green is the color of plant life, abundant in spring. It is used to represent the triumph of life over death. Green is the liturgical color for the Trinity season in some traditions, and may be used during Epiphany in others.

Ben Franklin and other early American printers stayed in business and prospered from the printing of religious tracts like this one. This particular one was printed in the UK. But no matter, it part of a long history of religious printing going back to the original Gutenberg Bible. It's likely that more religious items have been published since the invention of the Press than any other type of material.

It's not poetry to my ears, but it's designed to resinate with many a reader. Here's to publishing religious tracts!

Saturday, April 04, 2015

The Yellow Wallpaper by Charlotte Perkins Gilman (1993)

The Yellow Wallpaper
Charlotte Perkins Gilman
Orchises Press
Washington, DC
(c)1993, (c)1891

I am writing about this story by Charlotte Gilman because it was published by Orchises Press which publishes primarily poetry which is the main focus of this blog. Orchises is the brainchild of George Mason University professor, Roger Lathbury.

This 16 page staple-bound story has this description from the Orchises catalogue: "This unforgettable tale of madness and repression, first published in The New England Magazine in January 1892, was praised by William Dean Howells as a tale to “chill the blood,” but it has also been viewed as a study in progressive madness, a text that destroys itself in the telling, and an early instance of feminist fiction."

Gilman was known for this story from the time it first appeared in print. However, these days she is also know for Herland. She wrote 4 volumes of poetry as well as several books and collections of essays.

Here is the original cover for the book for of The Yellow Wallpaper.

Orchises Press has been publishing since the early 1990s.

Friday, April 03, 2015

Cherry by Barbara Jane Reyes (2008)

Barbara Jane Reyes
Portable Press at Yo-Yo Labs
Brooklyn, NY
(c) 2008
I liked the poetry very much in this small collection and decided to let her website speak for itself: "Barbara Jane Reyes is the author of Diwata (BOA Editions, Ltd., 2010), winner of the Global Filipino Literary Award for Poetry and a finalist for the California Book Award. She was born in Manila, Philippines, raised in the San Francisco Bay Area, and is the author of two previous collections of poetry, Gravities of Center (Arkipelago Books, 2003) and Poeta en San Francisco (Tinfish Press, 2005), which received the James Laughlin Award of the Academy of American Poets. Her fourth book, To Love as Aswang, is forthcoming from PAWA, Inc. She is also the author of the chapbooks Easter Sunday (Ypolita Press, 2008) Cherry (Portable Press at Yo-Yo Labs, 2008), and For the City that Nearly Broke Me (Aztlan Libre Press, 2012).

Her work is published or forthcoming in Arroyo Literary Review, Asian Pacific American Journal, Boxcar Poetry Review, Chain, Eleven Eleven, Fairy Tale Review, Fourteen Hills, Hambone, Kartika Review, Lantern Review, New American Writing, North American Review, Notre Dame Review, Poetry, TAYO, Unpublished Narratives, xcp: Cross Cultural Poetics, among others.

An Andrew W. Mellon Foundation Fellow, she received her B.A. in Ethnic Studies at U.C. Berkeley and her M.F.A. at San Francisco State University. She is an adjunct professor at University of San Francisco’s Yuchengco Philippine Studies Program, where she teaches Filipin@ Literature in Diaspora, and Pinay Lit. She has also taught Filipino American Literature at San Francisco State University, and graduate poetry workshop at Mills College, and currently serves on the Board of Directors for Philippine American Writers and Artists (PAWA). She lives with her husband, poet Oscar Bermeo, in Oakland, where she is co-editor of Doveglion Press."

Completely worthwhile.

Thursday, April 02, 2015

Now Poetry by Xerox Education Publications (1974)

Now Poetry
Xerox Corporation
Xerox Education Publications
Columbus, OH

This is an interesting and overlooked item. Overlooked in the sense that it should be in every chapbook collector's archives. This 63 pages booklet is as much a promotional tool for Xerox as it is a collection of poetry. The work included is concrete poetry as well as more formal styles but the eye-catching element is that there are images on every page. Xerox is showing off a bit but it works! Since this booklet is part of the Xerox Educational Publication services, the poems are actually primarily from kids. There are some poems by adults in here but it's primarily a collection of kid poems. Some of which are very good.

The booklet is produced on Xerox paper stock meaning it's thin and can be easily damaged. Yet this copy is in great condition. What better way to celebrate National Poetry Month than with kids' poetry!

Wednesday, April 01, 2015

Shards by Pat Sadowski & Al Nadolski

This is National Poetry Month in the USA so I am going to write about a poetry chapbook a day for the month. Ambitious? Perhaps a little, but it's worth doing. So here goes:

Pat Sadowski & Al Nadolski
publishing date unknown
unknown publisher

We'll start with a mystery. This one more than others IS a mystery. The ebay seller had no details about this book except that he thought it was made locally and locally for him was Milwaukee. Staple-bound chapbook. Unpaginated. Each poets few poems in this volume are good. Topical and geographical. Were I to guess, I would place this collection in the 1970s. Little more than unearthing a lost gem, really. I will return to this chapbook if I ever find out more.

Wednesday, March 25, 2015

Anna Gurton-Wachter
Portable Press at Yo-Yo Labs
Brooklyn, NY

Sometimes one just tries to do too much, spread themselves too thin. This tiny chapbook is an unfortunate example. It's not prose-poetry. It's surface writing. It lacks depth. I did not connect with the writing at all. SAVE A TREE.

Thursday, March 05, 2015

Trailer Trauma by Robin Axberg (1995)

Trailer Trauma
Robin Axberg
Milwaukee, WI

This is one of the oddest chapbooks I have yet to find. It's a collection of poetry with B&W photo images and drawings done by friends of the poet and assembled - interestingly. At first I didn't know what to make of it and then I spied the dedication to "Larry and the Cafe Melange poets". Ah, a clue! Cafe Melange has a history! This can be seen as much as a historical document of Milwaukee history in the early 1990s as anything. Ms. Axberg signed to the book to a friend using her (then/NOW) married name. This chapbook is something alright. Glad I got it.

Saturday, February 21, 2015

Fervent Remnants of Reflective Surfaces by Evelyn Reilly (2006)

Fervent Remnants of Reflective Surfaces
Evelyn Reilly
Portable Press at Yo-Yo Labs

This work, like so many books published by Yo-Yo Labs, has the fingerprints of Brenda Iijima all over it and that's not a bad thing. The work itself is a fun exercise in marginalia, reductionism, and playfulness. It is as though the author has gone outside after a significant snowfall and left her singular footprints in the white both for herself and her readers with a hot chocolate GLEE. Ms. Reilly incorporates some Moby Dick text in the second section (Lesser Levithans)to get Mr. Melville involved. It works well at every level. Unpaginated. All images by Ms. Iijima. Score one for the Labs!