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.