Friday, July 12, 2019

ho! watchman of the night ho! by lee ver duft (1944)

ho! watchman of the night ho!
lee ver duft
Gemor Press
New York City

On a recent trip to Ocean City, Maryland along rt. 50 I had the pleasure of spending a good 45 minutes at Unicorn Bookshop in the small "town" of Trappe. There really isn't a town as I think of such places but a number of buildings lining the main road (rt. 50) in a mostly rural region of the state but boy - this was a bookstore to make sellers and collectors salivate. Tens of thousands, if I could guess, of books and maps and all sort of ephemera. I found 4 items (had to limit myself) and one of them was this beat up copy of ho! watchman of the night ho! which was written by someone I never heard of and published by a press I never heard of. It turns out that the Press is the one that Anais Nin ran from 1942 - 1947. Now, I knew that name and vaguely was aware that she had a press since I recall a photo of her operating a printing press while wearing heels. (can't locate the image right now)

I also had no idea who this lee ver duft was until I started researching, and was surprised to find out that he was an artist who switched from paints to words. It was only after finding out more about him that I sat down and read the poems in this collection, and to be honest, some of the phrases he used in these pieces written during 1943 were VERY pre-Beat. I was like "wow". Serious WOW. I have to read the other books that I wrote. There's some great stuff here.

The book itself is in rough shape. Unlikely to ever sell it. Only 300 copies were printed by Anais Nin's press and the 'history' of ver duft on the page I have linked here is inaccurate as it pertains to this book. They have different dates for the release of it. But it clearly states 1944 in the Gemor book I am holding. There are only 30 pages in the book but it has a spine. So it is truly a chapbook or not?

It's a great read, and that's what matters in the end.

Tuesday, March 26, 2019

In the Beginning and the End by Siddharta Beth Pierce (2012)

In the Beginning and the End
Siddharta Beth Pierce
Writing Knights Press
Cleveland, OH

Trees were cut down and turned into paper to make this chapbook, and it was not worth it. Not at all worth it.

Saturday, March 16, 2019

Her BMW and Other Poems by Neva Herrington (2008)

Her BMW and Other Poems
Neva Herrington
Pudding House Publications
Columbus, OH

but - why?

Thursday, February 28, 2019

Diana Press / Lee Lally controversy

I was researching Lesbian presses of the early 1970s for a different subject and found this - 1971 ad promoting the sale of the bootlegged version of Lee Lally's book These Days. It still grinds my socks.

Monday, January 14, 2019

The Fish / The Virgin / and The Lion by Jennie Orvino (1972)

The Fish / The Virgin / and The Lion
Jennie Orvino
Milwaukee, WI
(c) 1972

IN the many years now that I have been writing about chapbooks I have never before seen on that spun on itself like a whirling top quite like this one from 1972. First of all, I never heard of the poet nor of the Press she and her husband were associated with in Milwaukee. Second of all, I never had an appreciation that Milwaukee HAD a literary community at all - let alone a small press community. Thirdly, I never held and read a book that changed as I read it in quite the same way as this before. It is a condensed history of a transformation from a heterosexual woman to a liberated gay woman - while also giving birth to a daughter and starting out as a dutiful wife. It's more like a bullet ride than a rollercoaster. The life that this condensed book covers in all likelihood doesn't do justice for what the poet was thinking/feeling for most of her life. I don't mean to read too much into her verse, but there are also 3 photographs in the book, one in the front and two at the end which emphasize the transformation that occurs through the book. It's just astounding.

Tuesday, January 01, 2019

It's all in a new year - 2019

So, how did that happen? Where did that time go? 13 years now since I started to blog about chapbooks. People, publishers, Presses, and the poetry itself. And I feel like I have only scratched the surface. Hardly gotten a handle on any of it. Every city of size had more than one small press operating and I don't have more than the tiniest percentage of any of those.

What has come of it mostly is the reenforcement of the idea that in this market economy that we live in in the United States, that art (however broadly defined) is a "commodity". People tend not to consider the work involved in creating the work, but just how much "it's worth". That's disheartening for the artist and for the publisher (or gallery; whomever else is involved in the artistic endeavor that is being measured strictly in monetary terms)

I have been working on a book dealing with what artists in this country have to deal with, and I will be spending a good deal of time with those practitioners of the chapbook form for their contribution to the overall "success" of certain poets and writers.