Thursday, August 23, 2018

The Metaphysical Salvage & Scrap Language Yard by Kenneth DiMaggio (2007)

The Metaphysical Salvage & Scrap Language Yard
Kenneth DiMaggio
Plan B Press
Alexandria, VA

I am wearing a t-shirt right now that has the slogans “Made in America Store” on the front and “Because China Is A Long Drive to Work!” on the back that was made by the Save Our Country (company). At the time I bought the shirt, it reflected a knee jerk reaction on my part about how everything that we used to make in this country was no longer made in this country but was being produced EVERYWHERE ELSE. Now the store still exists, in Elma, NY and they still have a website but I remember feeling cheated about a store that proclaimed its “Made-in-America”-ness that basically was selling bobbles. Kitch. Grab bag stuff, nothing substantial or essential to my life in America was being sold in this store. But I bought a t-shirt to express my outright at – globalization? In this context all “globalization” means is that corporations and companies make deals to produce good in foreign countries to screw American workers out of decent paychecks to improve the bottom line for CEOs and shareholders. And, I fell for it.

But that knee-jerk reaction, that Nativistic impulse to flip someone off, that comes from somewhere in this country’s experience too. As the head of Plan B Press, I realize that I in fact published a chapbook that dealt with that “somewhere” when we published Kenneth DiMaggio’s 2007 The Metaphysical Salvage & Scrap Language Yard.

DiMaggio is an educator and he wedged these poems together out of left over bits of unfinished and unpolished pieces that in hindsight presented a lead up to the current “know-nothingness” of the Donald Trump supporter. It starts right away with the first poem : PROPAGANDA which contains the lines

Oh don’t tell me your
ideology or your religious
affiliation just quit your
job and let someone else
clean up the mess

the future is not our responsibility

the future is our ongoing art project
titled Anarchy

In the poem INSOMNIA DiMaggio wonders

where did your education disappear
but into an electric TV-screen
of quicksand

And as sharply as the pointed tip of the reality we are living through right now, he presented us this Polaroid image of the future in his poem THE LAST CLASSROOM CHALKBOARD:

Johnny may not be able
to read or write
but so long as he knows how
to salvage pieces of the Emancipation
Proclamation and the First
Amendment into marijuana pipes
and Kalashnikov rifles illegally made
in metal shop then he will still
have learned his lessons

DiMaggio leads us “astray” through the lens of an educator who is being outflanked on all sides by forces indifferent to values and principles that made this country the envy of the world – once – asking at the end of the last poem in the collection, WHERE IS PARADISE?

so don’t we need
to embalm

what was once vital and alive

Friday, August 17, 2018

Robert Lawson / Blue Bathtub Books

Robert Lawson
Blue Bathtub Books

I don't recall exactly when I met Robert Lawson electronically because I never met him in person but I met him a handful of years ago when he was just starting his Blue Bathtub experiment of creating a book of poems a month for something like 3 years. (Correct me if I am wrong, Robert). Lawson is a teacher of English in Spain. A Brit. A man of boundless energy and a bit of Brautigan/Bukowski in his soul. The books he created and sent me in the mail monthly were both explosive and more than occasionally written on a typewriter with drunken fingers.

The covers began humbly but over time became more distinctive and dare I say it - professional looking. The poems were mixed but definitely immediate. I completely enjoyed Robert's experiment and results thereof.

Once his project was completed, he went silent. Onto his next endeavor. Whatever that might be. It will be nearly impossible to find any of these chapbooks since he didn't mass produce any of them. What was most important was immediacy and that he accomplished.

Thursday, August 16, 2018

Rough Cut : Independent Japanese Animation by Stephanie Weissberg (2017)

Rough Cut: Independent Japanese Animation
Stephanie Weissberg
Pulitzer Arts Foundation
St. Louis, MO

This thin pink booklet is an exhibition guide to show by the same name held in St. Louis. The booklet is tiny thin since it online deals with 3 animations and some additional words which to a non-film maker read like "blah blah blah".

Wednesday, August 15, 2018

The Life Story of Charles Dickens 1812-1870 by Walter Dexter (1937)

the life story of Charles Dickens
Walter Dexter
The Dickens House
London, England

A staple-bound biography of Dickens with B&W images. Very informative booklet.