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.

Saturday, January 16, 2016

Jackhammer by Michael Miller (1972)

Michael Miller
Helikon Press

This is the second chapbook in the only 5 book run that Helikon Press had. The path by which it got into my hands is a longer story than the unpaginated staple-bound chapbook I am currently admiring.

It started a few years ago when I happened across a book published by Bellevue Press, which is not the same as the Bellevue Literary Press. This Bellevue Press was run by Gil Williams and his wife in Binghamton, NY. This first exposure to the Press was entitled "Paradise Valley" and it was written by Al Glover. I liked this chapbook, so I kept it.

A few years later I saw that a poet I knew from Philly was reading at State College in PA and I clicked onto the website of the place where he was reading and in the upcoming events section was a notice for a Steve Lewandowski. "Wait, I have one of his chapbooks!", I said. Yes, I had his Visitor from some other previous purchase. So, I searched him out and contacted him. He sent me a TROVE of stuff including something from The Bellevue Press which triggered me to find out more about that press, which in turn led me to the Williams' ABE page. I contacted them. I ended up buying one of every copy of their books and their postcards. YES, it turns out that they made a run of poetry postcards. Active poets whom they had either published or known at the time they made their run. One of the poem postcards was by a poet I never heard of, William Coakley, and it turned out that he and his partner had had a small Press in the 1970s called Helikon. I had not heard of that Press either, so I asked Mr. Coakley if he had anything by his press - and he sent me a Press copy of this delightful chapbook.

The poetry is tight, and urban. The cover and paper are handsome. It's a great piece. If you choose to google the author, I suggest you use Michael and not Mike. There is a Mike but he's kid compared to the elder Mr. Miller. Recommend!

sometimes a review is the best that can happen to you

Beat Attitude by John Burroughs

I often hear that bad press is really good press and that NO press is the worst of all. Not sure that's true though.

Friday, January 15, 2016

Some Body's Poems by Connie Sellers (2005)

Some Body's Poems
Connie Sellers

I wrote on my Facebook chapbook page (that's awkwardly phrased but...) "so, I don't mean to rail - okay, I do mean to rail against Print-On-Demand operations but also those misguided individuals who believe that if they self-publish a chapbook of their work that they will be discovered or something. I mean, it's the same as the Steve Martin character in The Jerk : just because you are in the phone book doesn't make you special. Just because you self-publish doesn't mean anyone will care, or see, or read your book. It's true. It's just that true. Besides, trees were felled for your piece of crap chapbook, you know. You killed a tree for that. Congrats."

To which someone took exception to my negative tone, but really that person has never come here to read my entries or they would know that negative comments is part of what I present but I feel strongly about a chapbook, as I sometimes do. This chapbook, for example, is dreadful. Just dreadful. I can acknowledge the existence of it without offering the slightly bit of praise for it. SAVE A TREE!

Saturday, January 09, 2016

Dream Rim Instructions by Tina Darragh (1999)

Dream Rim Instructions
Tina Darragh
Drogue Press

48 page chapbook brought out by Drogue Press. It's a signed copy. I got to know Ms. Darragh by attending a rare reading by two other LANGUAGE poets: Bruce Andrew and P. Inman a couple of years ago in Georgetown at Bridge Street Books. This book came out the year I first "logged on": 1999. She was talking about "cyberdreams" and Cyborg language and I had quite independently come to the notion that it wouldn't take long for there to be "Cylish" (cyber english).

While researching the SOUP anthology which may/may not ever come about, I got to meet and talk a few times with Ms. Darragh and found her to be warm and quite generous with her time and resources. Her involvement with Some of Us Press came later on in the existence of the Press and, as with all things SOUP, through Michael Lally. She helped to work on some of the last releases of the Press and still lives in the DC area. She works at Georgetown (the university) in fact. What I appreciated about this particular work is the visuality of it. She has experimented with image. While some of the poems in this collection are fairly straight forward, others are visual chaos. (stop making sense) Very much, in some way, to the work of Susan Howe who also "plays about" with collaged text and stolen lines, twisted to a point only she fully appreciates. Even Ms. Darragh's notes at the end are entitled "Annotated Bibliography" and deal exclusively with this one book and it's text. I am very much talent with it. It foreshadowing nearly 20 years of writing "in the future tense" as writing in the computer age truly is. It's thought-provoking and challenging at the same time. After all, she is considered one of the founders of LANGUAGE poetry herself for a reason!

find, and buy!

Monday, January 04, 2016

what Santa Claus brought me for Christmas

yes - a chapbook rack

on the cutting edge by Margaret Gibson (1976)

on the cutting edge
Margaret Gibson
Curbstone Press
Williamtic, Connecticut

A few years ago, perhaps two years ago now, I was reading an on-line article about the influence of Michael and Lee Lally on the publishing community of Washington, DC and at the bottom of the article were some comments and one of them wondered where the anthology of Some of Us Press was. I looked around and noticed that there wasn't one. In addition to all this chapbook blogging I do, I also run Plan B Press and I thought it might be a good idea to purse such an anthology. (I should have read Don Quixote first!)

Most of the poets who were published by SOUP are still alive but due to the fact that the Press only existed for 3 years in the early 1970's, most of those published are well beyond the reminiscing phase of their lives. One of those is the poet Margaret Gibson who has lived in Connecticut most of her adult and has been published most often by Louisiana State University. I had a brief conversation with her while researching the SOUP anthology project but she was overwhelmed with the care of her ailing husband. She was polite enough but greatly disinterested in the project. She did say that she was published by SOUP due to the asking of Michael Lally who seems to have been the linchpin to the organization of the press as well as the primarily talent scout.

Her first chapbook, the one published by SOUP was entitled Lunes and it came out in 1973. The one I am writing about might have something to do with where Ms. Gibson ended up: on the cutting edge was published by Curbstone Press of Williamtic, Connecticut in 1976. (It's not even listed on her Wikipedia page)

The poetry here is strong with slight hints of something in the air at that time: the beginnings of LANGUAGE poetry. Poems like 'Apples', 'on the cutting edge', and 'A Grammar of the Soul' should a range of images and emotions. A Solid early book of her work.

For a variety of reasons I decided to drop the SOUP anthology project. It didn't feel like it was mine to do, frankly. At the same time, I do feel that I owe the poets whose work I did collect some notice for books that came out over 40 years ago, as I shall be doing very soon.

Saturday, January 02, 2016

corrections needed for Chapbook 28 (1/17/2009)

I was commenting on

Dying to be Released
Francis Davis
Word of Mouth chapbook series
Meridian Writers Cooperative
Philadelphia, PA

and I got a few things wrong.

The Francis Davis who wrote this book is not the same person as the Francis Davis who writes about Jazz and is married to Terri Gross. So, I am going to alter my posting shortly. Also, I heard from one the founders of the Meridian Writers Cooperative, Denise Larrabee, who informed me that the Press only made 6 chapbooks. 4 from the series that the Davis chapbook was from and two others. I have to find out who the others were. Interested.

Additionally, I wanted to add the image of the chapbook here.

Sheenjek & Denali : Alaska Poems by Ed Zahniser (1990)

Sheenjek & Denali: Alaska Poems
Ed Zahniser
Atlantis Rising Communications
Shepardstown, WV

This lovely chapbook, illustrated by Grace Oehser, was the work of one of the many co-founders of the poetry collective, Some of Us Press, which was instrumental to the founding and expanding of both LANGUAGE poetry and feminist poetry through the work of the individual poets involved. Michael Lally, Lee Lally, Bruce Andrews, P. Inman, tina darragh, Margaret Gibson, and others were at the forefront of these movements before they were even movements. And the Press was located in Washington, DC! Ed Zahniser was basically the financial "guru" (such as that word applied to poets) who oversaw the humble beginning of the Press.

This collection of Alaska poems was published by a small West Virginia press. The poems are touching in a Thoreau kind of way. Natural and earth-bound. The only zingers are delivered by Nature itself. Unpaginated. Great images. Great little book. Recommended.

I will be writing about Ed, and SOUP, again soon.

Friday, January 01, 2016

Blonde red Mustang ... by Art Stein (2005)

Blonde red Mustang...State Trooper
Art Stein
Slate Roof
Northfield, MA

This is a 29 page chapbook formatted in a way which allows it to have a spine. (but it's still a chapbook). Slate Roof is/was a publishing collective located in Western Mass. This collection of short poems has the feel of haiku without quite achieving - so close. It's worth having if you collect chapbooks from small presses of New England. The poems are not bad.