Sunday, December 25, 2016

Gingko Leaves and Cellograss by Laura M. White (1978)

Gingko Leaves and Cellograss
Laura M. White
The Bellevue Press
Binghamton, NY
(c) 1978

Hand sewn chapbook. I am a bit confused as to why the publisher single-sided the poems. A lot of empty pages. The book isn't thick to begin with. The poems are okay. The cover image is good. Nothing remarkable. Perhaps the publisher should have stayed with bringing Ms. White out on broadsides.

Saturday, December 17, 2016

The Women Who Drink at the Sea by Cecile Goding (1992)

The Women Who Drink at the Sea
Cecile Goding
State Street Press
Brockport, NY

Handsome chapbook of fine poetry. The poet-turned-playwright has lived in the Iowa City area for years. This is her earliest book. It's a gem.

Saturday, December 10, 2016

The Man Who Burned Money by Barbara Unger (1980)

The Man Who Burned Money
Barbara Unger
The Bellevue Press

With a drawing by Michael Tanzer. Handsome chapbook. A single poem. This copy signed by the artist. Near perfect blending of art and text. Very fine indeed.

Tuesday, November 29, 2016

who was Hunce Voelcker?

The Hart Crane Voyages
Hunce Voelcker
Brownstone Press

This is a start of an investigation as much as anything. A few months ago, I saw and became interested in reading a book entitled The Hart Crane Voyages published in 1969 by Brownstone Press, NYC. I got the copy I did because it was signed - and it was, by a family member to another family member basically saying "remember our relative". The fact that it was sold suggests that the relative opted not to remember. Sad when that happens.

It turns out that this book is a "biography" of Hart Crane. Prose/poetry/sumptin'. With footnotes. Also illustrated as well. But the illustrations are absolutely terrible. Like bad kid drawings terrible. Dregs. Ugh. If ever a book needed a redo, this one is it. And the funny thing is that this book by Brownstone is a redo - an original version of this book was made by cowstone press (NYC). I wish I had a copy of that version because once I decided to research this 'Hunce Voelcker' person I came to find out that he published other books of poetry and prose and that his first chapbook was called joy rock statue ship and was published in 1968 by cowstone press. It was designed and illustrated by a Don Lewis.

joy rock statue ship
Hunce Voelcker
cowstone press

from a strictly visual aesthetic, the chapbook by cowstone is superior. Every page of the chapbook has an image on it. Beautifully done. This Don Lewis person took great care in putting this chapbook together. It's really something to strive for. I am extremely happy to have it. My research suggests that Voelcker and Lewis collaborated on a few cowstone press books in 1968 - 1969.

Hunce Voelcker was born in Pennsylvania in 1940. He ended up in San Francisco and was part of the Jack Spicer group. There's an established poetry contest bearing his name. He died early, perhaps during the AIDS epidemic.

I will continue to research the man. I am also interested in knowing more about this Don Lewis cat, his work in this chapbook was stellar.

Thursday, November 03, 2016

The Book of Truants & Projectorlight by Joshua Marie Wilkinson (2006)

The Book of Truants & Projectorlight
Joshua Marie Wilkinson
Octopus Books
Lincoln, NE

This is the 8th book in the packet from the Octopus - this one a book of prose poems, primarily. Good stuff. Acknowledgments and hat tipping through misty mornings. Now 10 years dated but still fresh as tomorrow.

Sunday, October 16, 2016

The Tides by Genya Turovskaya (2006)

The Tides
Genya Turovskaya
Octopus Books

Another in the 8 pronged attack from Octopus Books. 31 pages of a splattering of ink on mostly empty pages. The book is good, but sparse. As I am reading through the 8 chapbooks, I am noting the sparseness. More empty space than words. Beautiful covers masking few words.

Saturday, October 08, 2016

a blog as a zine, electronic?

I am currently reading the 2005 book The Rise of Lo-Fi Culture by Amy Spencer and I am reading about zines and while this book is a bit dated now, it got me thinking how blogs have taken over - generally, and quite successfully - for zines. But there is something lost in the electronica; the fact that one is holding something REAL. So, I am wondering if I should make a paper form of this chap*book blog. Who on earth would care to read it? How many? I mean, if I were out there and had this particular interest (the obsession that leads me to do this blog) wouldn't it excite me to see someone else bring out such a zine? Of course it would. But hasn't that ship already sailed?

I could never write about every single chapbook ever made - no one could. There are chapbooks that have been landfilled, destroyed by fire or neglect. Promised and never brought out. All manner of reasons and excuses. There isn't a single location in the United States where chapbooks are collected. The Library of Congress? um, no. I remember when I was at Robin's Bookstore in Philadelphia, and would spend time in the myriad shelves of the basement there which were filled with small run chapbooks by lesser (or un-) known Afro-American authors. Not collected at Temple University or anywhere else. Not written about or reviewed. Just there on those shelves. Well, that bookstore is going and the space where all those chapbooks were located has been converted into a restaurant. So what became of all those books?

When poet Lou McKee died in Philadelphia I had heard that he had an extensive collection of chapbooks - but that they were kept in a place where they were exposed to moisture and most were ruined. Losses upon losses. The fabulous book A Secret Location on the Lower East Side delves into a good deal of the parallel universe of Mimeo and chapbooks with incredible listings of Presses long gone but relevant. But even that book would have to be dwarfed by an honest full listing of every publisher from every region or state, and a listing of the folks actually published by those Presses. The numbers would be staggering. And we really only know about those who went on to achieve work of greater note. Some poets only published with small presses. Others were themselves established poets who were equally adapt at being publishers.

Should I even think about this further or just publish and move on?

Wednesday, October 05, 2016

The Berkeley Bead Game by Julia Vinograd (1971)

The Berkeley Bead Game
Julia Vinograd
Cody's Books
Berkeley, CA

Ms. Vinograd's entire life has been one of being a street poet and advocate for those society has chosen to ignore. This is her second collection. The pomes remind me of the work of Philadelphia-based poet Charlie O'Hay. A poet of the street. Who lived the street. In the case of Ms. Vinograd, it's been 50 years of labor. Great collection of grit, street, and human cast-aways.

Sunday, October 02, 2016

The Continuing Misadventures of Andrew, the Headless Talking Bear by Jonah Winter (2006)

The Continuing Misadventures of Andrew, the Headless Talking Bear
Jonah Winter
Octopus Books
(c) 2006

Tiny gem. Great collection of work in a small package. Worth the read.

Thursday, September 22, 2016

Th Trancemigracion of Menzu by Charles Potts (1972)

Th Trancemigracion of Menzu
Charles Potts
Empty Elevator Shaft
San Francisco, CA
(c) 1972

Now here's a beautiful object. One of the reasons that I have been blogging about chapbooks is to acknowledge beautiful objects when I see them. This is one. I am aware of Charles Potts, but never heard of Empty Elevator Shaft press. I did a Google search for the press and it seems to have an active press in the early 1970's before disappearing - to resurface in special collections and as individual books for sale at high prices.

The copy I have is signed by Mr. Potts in 1974 and inscribed to a "Alta Kia".

I noticed that there was some corrections to the text using a different type font that the rest of the mss. Interesting to note. Broken english throughout. Maybe I should say brkn englsh thruout.

A fine representation of a "golden age" of chapbook making to be sure. Worth finding and adding to your collection.

Saturday, September 17, 2016

DJ Spinoza's Dozen by Eugene Ostashevsky (2006)

DJ Spinoza's Dozen
Eugene Ostashevsky
Octopus Books
Lincoln, NE
(c) 2006

If Albert Einstein wrote mathematical formulas as poetic verse - it would be like this. The text could have used MORE equations though. Not quite mind altering enough for me.

Friday, September 16, 2016

I and My Chimney by Herman Melville (1856/2002)

I and My Chimney
Herman Melville
The Berkshire Historical Society at Herman Melville's Arrowhead
Pittsfield, MA

Nice bit of synergy here : the very location of this story is a museum dedicated to Melville himself. So, one could read this story while standing in the room and looking at the chimney written about. Good piece of marketing genius! B&W images of house, rooms, and Melville with arms crossed. Very well done.

Saturday, September 10, 2016

The Ohio System by Jen Tynes & Erika Howsare (2006)

The Ohio System
Jen Tynes & Erika Howsare
Octopus Books

a 3rd helping of Octopus Books. A blended brew of two distinct writers working as one. They express it perfectly :

"There is another country underneath, bearing itself up.

If this is an emergency, cut it off. I would.

If I understood what she meant. Cut and cut."

Indeed so. Well played.

Monday, September 05, 2016

Perfect Villagers by Sueyeun Juliette Lee (2006)

Perfect Villagers
Sueyeun Juliette Lee
Octopus Books
Lincoln, NE

It isn't just one, it's a second of eight. All released at the same time, in the same binding. This one by poet Sueyeun Juliette Lee. This one of 300 printed in Lincoln, NE. Ms. Lee is a Korean-American poet and video artist. Some of her work appears on I became familiar with her poetry via one poem, Dear Margaret Cho which is the first poem in this tiny collection.

I also was familiar with her work from the 2007 Portable Press at Yo-Yo Labs chapbook Mental Commitment Robots. I am happy to have a signed copy of that chapbook which does not seem to have been mentioned in this blog prior, but wow - Ms. Lee can write! Amazing stuff. With amazing accompanying collages by Brenda Iijima herself.

THIS 28 page collection is equally astounding. Her sense of self; of two selves - one American in tone and language and the other, already split in half by ideology and blood, graphic beyond imagining.

Friday, September 02, 2016

The Knife-Grasses by Julie Doxsee (2006)

The Knife-Grasses
Julie Doxsee
Octopus Books

Octopus - 8 arms. Octopus Books - 8 chapbooks released at the same time, in one red binding. This is the first of them. The poet is a Canadian-American who has a few books out now. This might be her first.

It's a staple-bound chapbook. 23 pages. As with many chapbooks I have seen in a particular vein of post-post-modernist writing, the white space is occasionally interrupted with words. Oasis in the desert of white space. The Knife-Grasses is a single poem. Worth the indulgence of sipping at the oasis in the desert. No hurry. Sip slowly. It's worth every swallow.

Sunday, August 28, 2016

Two Views of Pears by Michael Davidson (1973)

Two Views of Pears
Michael Davidson
Sand Dollar
Berkeley, CA

Hand sewn chapbook. Lovely chapbook. Beautiful words as well. A joy to hold (and behold)

Never heard of the poet or the press before but I did a bit of research and found out that the papers of Sand Dollar are in Buffalo, NY. The man behind this press was Jack Shoemaker who is still a publisher in California. The poet, Michael Davidson, is a poet with a wikipedia page that isn't all that informative but it's there is you want to read it. He has published 8 or so books. This seems to have been his first.

Friday, August 26, 2016

Blue Horses by a.m. ingram (1976)

Blue Horses
a. m. ingram
Vagabond Press
Ellensburg, WA
(c) 1976

When I picked this up outside of Philly I had no idea about the author, the Press or anything. It's a bit water damaged on the cover but that's okay. I got it because it was a chapbook in a huge bookstore that didn't really display chapbooks terribly well. Few bookstores do that, actually : display chapbooks well.

Upon closer inspection though I saw that it was brought out in 1976 and typed out on an electric typewriter (am familiar with the font). Then I noticed that Cindy Bennett was created with the cover art. Cindy Bennett.... John Bennett? Yeah, a few minutes of deeper research provided me with a trove of chapbooks produced by Vagabond Press going back to 1960. Not sure if that's the same Vagabond Press but John Bennett was pivotal to the success of Vagabond. Although the Press was located in Washington State a number of Cleveland, Ohio based poets were published by Vagabond.

This is chapbook #4 and consists of short stories by Alyce Ingram who was born in 1914 in St. Paul, Minnesota. It was her first book.

Wednesday, August 24, 2016

First Touch by Glenn W. Cooper (2005)

First Touch
Glenn W Cooper
Bottle of Smoke Press
Dover, DEL

Just getting familiar with BOSP and they do some interesting work. Books in clamshell boxes. Specialized work. Famous poets (and lesser known ones) like this gent, Glenn W. Cooper. Oddly enough, I already wrote about a previous chapbook by this guy. Forgot about that one. This one is signed. One of 200 signed. I am not all that impressed with the work in this collection, sorry to say. It's difficult to separate the blogger/critic in me from the publisher in me from the poetry reader in me. Sorry, not loving this one. But I absolutely respect the work of this press and look forward to reading more of the books they publish.

Monday, August 22, 2016

I am San Francisco by A. D. Winans (2016)

I am San Francisco
A.D. Winans
Bottle of Smoke Press
(c) 2016

This tiny chapbook is a celebration of the life of Winans (he's still alive, just turned 80!) Handsomely done. Only 80 copies were made and all of them signed by Winans himself. Bill Roberts of Bottle of Smoke Press created this gem.

Friday, August 19, 2016

Desert Sequence by Miguel Gonzalez-Gerth (1956)

Desert Sequence
Miguel Gonzalaz-Gerth
Nonpareil Press

Tiniest little sliver of yellow, staple-bound chapbook. The Press seemed to publish a total of 5 books in 20 years of "operation" and most of those in the first 2 years. This chapbook was purchased in Rosemont, PA at the wonderful The Title Page. The author's bio reads like "Dr. Miguel Gonzalez-Gerth is a poet, translator, educator, and editor. He was born in Mexico City in 1926, the son of an army officer of Spanish descent and a musician mother of German descent. In 1940 he left Mexico for Texas, making the United States his permanent home. He received a B.A. from the University of Texas in 1950 and a Ph.D. from Princeton in 1973, and taught at the University of Texas in Austin for over thirty years, specializing in Hispanic literature. He has written numerous critical studies and works of poetry and has been published extensively in anthologies and magazines. He is the translator of Natural Selection (Host Publications), the collected works of Uruguayan poet Enrique Fierro."

This tiny chapbook is not mentioned in his bibliography. The author anchored in Texas, at the University of Texas, so how did this chapbook end up outside of Philly? Well, I happened across other copies of this chapbook on ABE and one was inscribed and signed by the poet to a woman with the identifier of Bryn Mawr (college) 1962. The poet had read at Bryn Mawr in 1962 and this copy had been floating about the Main Line burbs for years until I snagged it. This little chapbook has some history!

I am drawn to books about deserts as I was stationed in the California desert while in the USAF from 1975-1977. This chapbook has that feel, the coloring of the cover looks right, it's a fine little chapbook. Very happy to have it.

Thursday, August 18, 2016

For Bears and Other Animals by Josie Davies (2005)

For Bears and Other Animals
Josie Davies
Feather Books
Shrewsbury, UK

I didn't expect much based on the cover art but I found the poetry in this slender volume surprisingly good. Not every poem in this collection is a grand slam (it's Baseball season) but many of them are at least singles. The quality of the chapbook seems to improve with every page, building - as it were - to a nice crescendo at the end.

Not sure who this chapbook was geared toward but the title and cover image undervalue the work. Too bad. The work deserves a bit more.

Saturday, August 13, 2016

three poems by Tom Raworth / pushing water (part seven) by Charles Alexander (1998)

three poems / pushing water (part seven)
Tom Raworth / Charles Alexander
Chax Press
Tucson, AZ

what a delicious treat : a letter-pressed, hand sewn chapbook with hand-made paper separating the two different works. And my copy signed by both authors. A gem I am keeping, for sure.

Saturday, July 30, 2016

television soup by Anthony Vitale (1995)

television soup
Anthony Vitale
Good Doggie Press
Brooklyn, NY

Not every tree should be felled for every cockamamie idea that passes through one's brain. Even if that idea is well intended, like - say a memorial for a beloved grandparent. This young man's grandfather died in 1994. In his grief, Mr. Vitale decided to write a book in honor of his grandfather. Unfortunately, he produced this book instead. It's not trashy. It's simply bad. Bad poetry. Bad cover design. It should never have left the bosom of the Vitale family. I regret the trees fallen for this absolute fiasco.

And if Good Doggie Press still exists : shame on you!

Wednesday, July 27, 2016

Three Dreams and an Old Poem by Paul Blackburn (1970)

Three Dreams and an Old Poem
Paul Blackburn
The Beau Fleuve Series
Number One

Staple-bound chapbook. Edited by Allen De Loach. Printed at SUNY Buffalo, where De Loach was teaching at the time. Unpaginated. Photo of poet by De Loach on back cover. One of 1,000 printed. Number one in the series. Great way to start off the series!

Wednesday, July 20, 2016

A Veil in the Sand by Susan Smith Nash (1994)

A Veil in the Sand
Susan Smith Nash
Room Press
White Plains, NY

This staple-bound chapbook contains poetry about Lawrence of Arabia. (T.E. Lawrence). Unpaginated. A bibliography printed on the last page is the only hint of what the book is about. The poems are okay. There ought to have been an explanation, an intro - something. Alas, not. The copy I have is signed by the author. That doesn't make it any more revealing than an unsigned copy though. Did I mention that the poems were okay?

Not familiar with the press either, Room Press, nor it's editor, John Perlman. But it's another day of learning.

after a trip to The Title Page in Rosemont, PA

I got a number of chapbooks there:

The Juggler of Our Lady (illustrated by Gus Uhlman), The Rose Valley Press, 1977. Hand sewn booklet.

Desert Sequence by Miguel Gonzalez Gerth. Nonpareil Press, 1956. Staple-bound chapbook.

television soup by Anthony Vitale. Self-published chapbook, 1995.

Blue Horses by a.m. ingram. Vagabond Press, 1976. Staple-bound chapbook.

Wyoming by William Stafford. Ampersand Press, 1985. Staple-bound chapbook.

The Tears of the Blind Lion by Thomas Merton. New Directions, 1949. Staple-bound chapbook.
more details to follow

Sunday, July 03, 2016

Diet Pepsi & Nacho Cheese by Nila NorthSun (1977)

Diet Pepsi & Nacho Cheese
Nila NorthSun
Duck Down Press
Fallon, NV

Pop quiz. Name 10 Native American writers. Any kind of Native American writers, how about just poets? How about naming 10 FEMALE Native American poets? Okay, how about 5? Can you name five? How about three? Can you name just 3? Oh, come on now. They have been here longer than European settlers who somehow created the "American Literary Canon". Of course they didn't write in English. They didn't write at all the way we have told that "writing" is.

Yeah, okay, you cheat and can name one - this one - Nila NorthSun. Not very difficult when it's staring you in the face. And that's part of the issue with having the ability to name Native American writers: they have been so marginalized that we seldom stare them in the face. Or see them at all. Unlike Afro-Americans or Hispanics, or any other minority in this country, Natives don't live among us. They were put onto 'reservations' a long time ago. And frankly I don't know how calling them 'reservations' instead of Concentration Camps allows us to sleep better at night.

That's part of the issue with Native American voices. They are different. Their experience in this country is that of a number of nations that were defeated and removed from their lands and their way of life, their religions, their very language by a relentless 500 year campaign by determined Europeans for the entire continent and everything that was here before their lily-white behinds landed here.

Native Americans' relationship with the Conquerors is complicated. And it's different for all three North American experiences. The peoples who lived in what is now Canada had a different experience than those in what is now the United States, and still different from what the Natives who lived in had been New Spain experienced even earlier.

I have read several Native American writers and poets including Alexie, Silko, Vine Deloria, Jr, Louise Erdrich, Joy Harjo (among the better known Native voices) but also Cheryl Savageau (Abenaki), Margaret Cesa, and Luci Tapahonso (Navajo). Nila's work is right there with them. Brilliant in its simplistic use of English while presenting the constant tension of being Native-born in a country that would rather forget you are even here.

This was Nila's first book. It was published in Fallon, Nevada which is significant since The Fallon Paiute-Shoshone Indian Reservation is located there. A quick look into the back of this chapbook shows that Duck Down Press also published Gerald Locklin, Steve Richmond, John Bennett, and others.

Ms. NorthSun's only book of non-fiction is a history of that reservation and the peoples who live there. Diet Pepsi.. is a fantastic beginning to a well written life. Am honored to have it in my collection!

Wednesday, June 22, 2016

Civil Poems by Josephine Miles (1966)

Civil Poems
Josephine Miles
oyez press
(c) 1966

Staple-bound chapbook. oyez press which had a proud history and an ignominious end (so I have heard). Robert Hawley and Stevens van Strum started the Oyez Press in 1964. The last known book published came out in 1989. Josephine Miles was one of the forerunners of the San Francisco Poetry Renaissance. She was influential and a champion of younger poets. This thin volume gives a taste of her worth and work.

Wednesday, June 15, 2016

The Magdalene Syndrome Gazette Number Three (1967)

The Magdalene Syndrome Gazette Number Three
The Magdalene Syndrome Press
David Tammer & Nick Chavin, ed.
San Francisco, CA

This gem contains work by Clifford Burke, Eugene Lesser, Ho Chi Minh (hey it was 1967), Keith Wilson, Charles Potts and a slew of others. With some B&W photos. Blurred images. Staple-bound. Unpaginated. Great find. Complete with ads at the end of the book. One for Eugene Lesser's first mimeo-chapbook, Poems of an Acrophobic Steeplejack, another for the I/Thou Coffeehouse in the Haight, and two from other small presses.

Tuesday, June 14, 2016

Whetstone Almanac by Charles Tilder (1975)

Whetstone Almanac
Charles Tilder
Pulp Press
Vancouver, British Columbia

This is the other chapbook that I know of by Charles Tilder. It was published in 1975 in Vancouver. There are 12 poems here. Similar in theme and content as the earlier chapbook. Very good poems. The story here in the small Vancouver Press, Pulp. It seems that this press evolved into Arsenal Pulp Press in the 1980s although there is no trace of Tilder on the Wikipage. It was the 11th thing they published. I especially liked the 8th thing they published: a chapbook entitled Crimes, or I'm Sorry but We Do Not Sell Handguns to Junkies. The title alone makes me want to read it.

Monday, June 13, 2016

Straw Things by Charles Tidler (1972)

Straw Things
Charles Tilder
The Crossing Press
Trumansburg, NY

I had previously THOUGHT that I had written about The Crossing Press - but actually had not. The Crossing Press was located in Trumansburg, NY from the early 1970s until about 1980 or so. A press called Crossing Press came into existence on the west coast and published feminist literature from the 1980s on. One of the books that was published by THE Crossing Press was a book by Harold Norse.

This staple-bound chapbook was by an ex-pat hiding out in British Columbia instead of dying in the rice fields of Vietnam. I enjoy the naturalist tone of the work here. A poet in nature. The beauty of that experience. Very fine writing here. I know that Tilder had another chapbook out; maybe that's all he was able to get out. Pity if that were true.

Friday, June 03, 2016

Poems of an Acrophobic Steeplejack by Eugene Lesser (1967)

Poems of an Acrophobic Steeplejack
Eugene Lesser
The Magdalene Syndrome Press
San Francisco, CA

mimeo! I love mimeos. This is a great example of the form. The only copies of this particular item that I found on the net were in institutional collections. The poetry in this mimeo is quite GOOD. I am impressed. He has not published much. The does have a new collection out of his work entitled The Eugene Lesser or current resident Story: Poems 1976-2015, San Francisco, Marin, Los Angeles and if it's anything like this first published work of his, it's got to be marvelous. (will be ordering a copy as soon as I post this entry) The Magdalene Syndrome Press deserves further investigation - so stay tuned! But, YES, read Eugene Lesser!!!

Friday, May 20, 2016

Dump Truck by Keith Abbott (1967)

Dump Truck
Keith Abbott
Polygon Paperbounds
Monterey, CA

The most important thing to know about this chapbook is that Clifford Burke designed and printed it. Burke was involved in the San Francisco area publishing community immediately after the Beat Generation explosion through his Cranium Press. He is a well known and established writer and printer. Currently he runs Desert Rose Press out of San Jose, NM.

There is a bit of confusion about this publication history, according to Abbott this first published work of his was published by Cranium. According to the chapbook I am holding, it was published by Polygon Paperbounds which could have been one of Burke's imprints. One of 500 printed.
The writing shows great promise which has, over the decades, become fulfilled by many published works. As this is Abbott's first book, it is both rare and valuable. Worth finding. Worth reading. Worth having.

Tuesday, May 17, 2016

Poems from My Mother's Womb by Preston Webster (1967)

Poems from the Womb
Preston Webster
The Willow Press
Sausalito, CA

Cover image by Ann-Marie Webster, and quite a cover it is! With additional images throughout. 32 pages. Staple-bound. Commenting primarily on the fact of this book's existence since I don't favor the work. It exists! There was a press once in Sausalito - I am sure that there have been many, actually. Hurrah and all that.

Friday, May 06, 2016

The Wedding and other poems of war by Carolyn S. Scarr (1991)

The Wedding and other poems of war
Carolyn S. Scarr
Berkeley, CA
(c) 1991

This is an even thinner than a typical chapbook. Self published affair. 6 poems.

The poet has a number of small chapbooks self-published over the years. These days she can be found on Twitter.

Sunday, April 24, 2016

grundig : a zine

Another space loop back through the DIY sphere; this one leading to Portland, Oregon. To a store called "Q is for choir" and a time distant enough past that the dust only appears on the hand of the holder and not the pages themselves. Michael, whoever Michael was, made this zine happen. This is #2. At the beginning of this grand adventure. Into collage and zinedom. Into traveling and consequences. The world is a roadmap, a compass to follow, a north star to find. Zines like these need an archive too. Need to be collected. Replaced in the 21st century with blogs and twitter and "every-which-kinda-next-new-format-mattcha-you" but zines like these, staple-bound physical somethings are going quick into the heap of time. Like wall posters in busy city make overs. One week there and the next plastered over or stripped bare and painted over.All the same, "over" they are. Whatever was inside is forgotten by the end of the next news cycle. Our attention spans shrink to nothing. A zine like this, gone without notice. Someone lands a stash - posts on ebay - and a dunderhead like me decides to collect more relics of the past. 1980's - 2000's. Like I collect mimeos. Like I collect mix tape cassettes. Like I collect Punk/grunge era zines.

Friday, April 22, 2016

Letters to Proust by Barry Gifford (1976)

Letters to Proust
Barry Gifford
White Pine Press
Buffalo, NY

I have written before about White Pine via the trove of material I received from poet Steve Lewandowski. The Press had been in Buffalo and then moved. It's interesting to me that while most of the country thinks of Buffalo as a frozen waste, because of the college there - it really is the opposite of a wasteland for literary types. A number of small presses and well known poets have spent time there. Robert Creeley and then Charles Bernstein were there as teachers. Influential in their own ways.

This particular item was illustrated by Mike Neff. It's the 4th chapbook that White Pine put out. Unpaginated. Handsome little "sliver of nothing". Now it's quite possible that the name Barry Gifford is not unknown to you - he's a screenwriter and novelist. He wrote David Lynch's 'Wild at Heart' as well as the Sailor and Lula novels. This had to be an early work of his. Highly collectible.

Deeper Into Woody Chaos by Walt McLaughlin (1997)

Deeper into Woody Chaos
Walt McLaughlin
Wood Thrust Books
Burlington, VT

This 24 page chapbook by the guru of Wood Thrush, Walt McLaughin, shows all the promise of this small press. Glad to know that they are still around and doing great work. It's refreshing to write about a book so dedicated to the earth on Earth Day!

Wednesday, March 23, 2016

Life is a Joke by Joe Franke

Recently I noticed a listing on ebay for some punk zines and to me that's about as cool as it gets because the entire realm of punk zines is entirely DIY and the DIY universe is extremely awesome. This cat, Joe Franke, started his zine in 1989 while living in Northern California. He was in a punk band (he still is) and he formed Axis Records. He moved from Northern California to San Francisco to Southern Maryland to Las Vegas. Now, Punks in Vegas to me is just weird but hey - he made at least 10 issues of Life is a Joke, plus other one-timers or knock-offs.

Zines, especially the work of an individual. The lay-out, the content, the name and images are all the work of one person. Twisted, illogical, awesome or scary: one person! These are the work of one person who delved in black humor. What writer of punk songs doesn't delve into black humor, I ask you? Well, Mr. Franke certainly does. Keep on keepin' on, Joe Franke. Kewl that.

Friday, March 18, 2016

Mountain Walks by Richard Hartigan (1979)

Mountain Walks
Richard Hartigan
Canton, NY
(c) 1979

A small chapbook of images of mountain terrane with haiku-like text(poems?) on opposite page. Beautiful little book.

Friday, March 11, 2016

Dragons of Mist and Torrent by Teo Savory (1974)

Dragons of Mist and Torrent
Teo Savory
Unicorn Press
Greenboro, NC

Unicorn Press has a storied past which I have to admit not being aware of until I went through a trove of chapbooks that I got last year and just am now researching. Any small press that began 60 years ago and is still going gets the tip of my hat, for certain. Al Brilliant and Teo Savory were the linchpins to this operation which began in Santa Barbara before moving to Greensboro, NC in 1972. What an incredible run of stellar work this tiny press has presented to the world! (Including work by Raymond Queneau!)

This chapbook is no exception. Japanese binding. Should be subtitled "The Canons of Hsieh Ho". Unpaginated. #278 of 450 pages (without signature). Beautiful chapbook.

Friday, February 26, 2016

3 books that got away (from Plan B Press)

I want to look like Henry Bataille
Michael K. Gause
Little Poem Press
Falls Church, VA
(c) 2006

I mentioned on the Facebook webpage that is associated with this blog that in addition to blogging ABOUT chapbooks, I run Plan B Press and in that capacity we read a lot of manuscripts. Some are incredibly good and some of are simply terrible. And some simply get away from us. We pass on them even though they are good or the poet has submitted to other presses as well as ours and someone else agreed to publish them before we even read the work - ah, simultaneous submissions! Here are three examples of some that got away from us.

First, I want to look like Henry Bataille which was published in 2006 by Little Poem Press. Apparently that press is now "misappeared" as my daughter would say. While I am happy that Michael Gause found a publisher for his book, I am disappointed with the appearance of it. The cover image is a pixelated mess. It has the feel of a Print-on-demand job which I can not find rewarding at all. And, as a publisher myself, having 15 completely empty pages at the end of the books is really unforgivable. So now the book is not a chapbook, per se, because it has a "spine". But there is no writing ON the spine, so why exactly did you create one? It's a little thicker "sliver of nothing".

The writing I liked very much. I still do. But the "it" of it? We could have done better.

Freaking Out the Neighborhood
Benjamin DeVos
Flutter Press

Okay, this one is more my fault since I didn't leap on the mss. the second I got it from Temple-grad Ben DeVos; my bad. He's a Philly boy and this book reeks of the city. Not in a bad way either. Just a great slice of the city. Like any book by Ryan Eckes or A Whole Armada of Loss by Blaine Martin, for instance. And there's the first line from his poem, The Painter, "A neighbor is not a nearby friend, but bystander" which is so deadly accurate to anyone who lives in a city (or for that matter in the burbs as well) Yet here again, the book is just wrong. The cover images does not reflect the book title or the work inside. It's another slick POD production (the cover is already curling and the book was printed in 2015) STILL, I can't complain because I am happy that he found a publisher right out of the shoot and, well, his second collection will be published by Plan B Press this season. If we screw it up, he has permission to kick my ass! I will have deserved nothing less.

Honey & Bandages
Katie Longofono & Mary Stone
Folded Word
Meredith, NH

This is a handsome chapbook that Plan B Press did not act on in a timely manner and the authors, a number of years later, found a better home for it at Folded Words. The work is very good. The presentation is lovely. My only observation is that the chapbook size was reduced to bulk it out a bit in order to justify a spine. Of course it is a spine with no text on it. Book title does not appear on the spine. But that's a minor grievance for a wonderful little chapbook. Something that only a publisher might note. It's a great little book.

Saturday, February 06, 2016

A Puncher's Pen by Bill May (1995)

A Puncher's Pen
full of Poetry, Prose and Cow Ponies
Bill May
self published
Colorado (?)

I got this one because his last name is my last name. I come from a family that had 8 generations of William May's. This guy ain't any of those guys. 89 pages of yellow paper. Illustrated by family members. This Bill May has two other volumes of his work. All the pieces here are hand-written.

It's sumptin.

Wednesday, February 03, 2016

Making Something With the Stars (1975)

Making Something With the Stars
Santa Fe Public Schools
Santa Fe, NM

Clever book for getting young teens interested in poetry, language, and visual arts. Even concrete poetry is represented here! 42 pages. I don't recognize any famous poets or artists within but that isn't what that was about. It was about turning on students to language arts. It's a noble effort.

Tuesday, February 02, 2016

The elusive Jean Stair

Sometimes the find are so unique that the internets provide no useful information whatsoever.

Like these two - I got them from a Bookstore in Amherst, MA. The listing suggested they were Beat or New York School. I somehow doubt that. There is no publisher information which suggests to me that they were self-published. The Printer was located in Connecticut. They were both published in 1955. Whoever the poet Jean Stair was remains a mystery. There is no information about the elusive author here. This a mystery I will be attempting to uncovering for a long time.

Saturday, January 30, 2016

the mystery of life and death (amongst old publishers and Presses)

everyone is getting up there in years. Since I started my chapbook blog in 2006, a handful of well known and established publishers have past into the reeds. Judson Crews, Allan Kornblum (toothpaste press), Bob Grumman (Runaway Spoon Press), Paul Foreman (Thorp Springs Press) and others. A few of them had actually written me notes on the blog, thanking me for remembering them and their presses. I think it's important for where we are to remember where we all came from. It's why I do this, I am part of the history and I am trying to both collect the history as well as contribute to it. Learning about the past and presenting works for the future. Thanks to all who have published, to all who are publishers, to all who were publishers.

Friday, January 22, 2016

Kowboy Poems by Stuart Z. Perkoff (1973)

Kowboy Poems
Stuart Z. Perkoff
The Croupier Press
Golden, CO
© 1973

I first learned of Stuart Perkoff by reading Venice West: The Beat Generation in Southern California by John Maynard, published in 1991 by Rutgers University Press. Even though I lived in Southern California in the 1970’s, I was unaware of the whole “West Coast Beat” scene. (I was in the Air Force, my mind was elsewhere at the time). I was intrigued about this voice, this Beat Generation voice, that I had not heard before.

As luck would have it, sometime after reading the Maynard book, I won a lot of poetry books on Ebay and among those books was Specimen 73 edited by Paul Vangelisti and published by the Pasadena Museum of Modern Art in 1973. In addition to poems by Perkoff are work by Bukowski, Jack Hirschman, Charles Wright, and others.

There are 7 poems in the staple-bound chapbook. The work was written in 1959-1960. It was one of 3 slim volumes to appear in 1973. He was gone by the end of July 1974. Puff of smoke gone. Living too hard for his body to take. Died of Cancer.

Cover drawing by John Fish. Photo on back by Eloy Hernandez. Quite collectible.

Wednesday, January 20, 2016

her cold martini: haiku by Marsh Muirhead (2013)

her cold martini
Marsh Muirhead
Arrow Publishing Co.
Bemidji, MN

45 pages of haiku. Slick cover. The poet was inspired from a Billy Collins reading in his town. It's a nice story. Better than the haiku that resulted. I can take haiku collections as well as I can take an entire album of steel drum playing - good in small doses. Beyond that - my eyes glaze over, my ears are screaming for me to leave the room. Happy to know that this book came out and am happy for the author. But I am not a fan. Sorry.