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.