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!

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