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!