Monday, December 15, 2008
The mass email correspondence of cross-country cyclists Meryl Estes, Nicole Grohoski, Caitlin Prentice and Jonathan Stuart-Moore, illustrated by Charles Mahal. New York: Graphic Union Press, 2008. 55 pp.
O, open road, (almost) endless and winding.
Here is the bicycle bell (mini-clarion) of a new generation, out to discover the U.S. of Awesomeness unburdened by cars, gasoline, or that gritty taste kicked up by long miles of high speed driving. This book is a pleasant, present, joyous record of the travels of four young bicyclists who, in the summer of 2005, pedaled their way from Maine to Oregon. It was planned as a project for a Geography course at Middlebury College in Vermont that spring, and then carried out and documented nearly every week for the 100s of people who received their emails. As a travel narrative, it is full of simple pleasures and perplexing frustrations met with wit and humor that speak of a kind of Thoreauean deliberateness. Not exactly a philosophical meditation, it is instead a collectively-authored account (written in the third-person singular) comprising the landmarks, landscapes, and local flavors encountered on the road. The path itself is traced by illustrator Mahal across a large map that spans the final five pages of the book.
As a document, it provides lots of factual detail: a "bikers' index" lists the amount of peanut butter eaten; the cyclists' regimen of diet and daily progress; the aid and comfort given by strangers who unexpectedly encounter the voyagers along the way; and praise for the community of family, friends and supporters.
While this account of a +4000-mile trek is rather brief--so brief as to leave a desire to know more--the combined array of illustrations, introduction, excerpts from the original "guidebook", emails from the relieved and celebratory cyclists' parents and the index provide a diversity of ways to read through what is truly a one-of-a-kind, and awesome, expedition.
Thursday, December 11, 2008
Rikki Ducornet, illustrated by T. Motley. Clean. (an excerpt from The One Marvelous Thing, Dalkey Archive Press, 2008). A small, 5.5"X2", 12-page "freebie" booklet done after the style of Jack Chick's proselytizing, fear-inducing pamphlets. Drives the notion of "cleanliness" to absurd heights: "And Jesus says: 'Do you smell good and are you the color of roast veal?' And the old folks answer 'O yes, Lord, we are clean and Our thoughts are like white sauce and our blood is like water and we are ready, O sweet Jesus." Funny and gross, quite a combo.
d.a. levy. "What can I say?" (poem one-fold excerpt from RANDOM SIGHTINGS WITH NO ONE AROUND, Kirpan Press, 2007). 4 pp. 6"X4". This poem is subtitled "for r.j.s May 10, 1967/imprisoned for making a moral decision to help other young people even if it meant endangering himself". levy's friend was hounded, censored, jailed, etc., in Cleveland, OH. It takes the attitude of Allen Ginsberg's "Howl" and crafts an angry portrait of a loss of identity amidst a culture of fear and suspicion.
this poem is wired
they are listening
they are in the audience
they are in the poem
they are in the words
they are waiting for something obscene
for something un-american
for something about drugs
they dont know
i am as frightened as
Wednesday, December 10, 2008
Jessica Smith. Organic Furniture Cellar: Works on Paper 2002-2004.
This is an incredibly well-made book. An impeccable book, even, if such a word doesn’t sound archaic. From the lush tapestry of green on the cover, the thick black endpapers, the erudite Foreword sparkling with serious insight into the art of poetry, architecture, music and painting, all the way to the poems themselves, each moment of a reader’s looking and touching encounters a new thing of verbal and visual beauty. Jessica Smith has composed a work with a dynamic range rarely seen—a book as a performance, a score for reading which permits wild permutations for each poem, and a poetry of scholarship with continuous insistence on considering the distances from the spoken to the seen, the eye and the ear, the eye as a means of reading language, and the ear as an organ of spatialities. If this book of diverse poems—54 in 6 sections, divided into 2 halves—can be described in a single sentence, it might be: we learn more about the degree to which our senses are cooperative functions of a synthetic relation from their strict separation in a work of art, in a single aesthetic encounter, than we do when they are submerged in a thematic, conventional work in an established genre. We are more lastingly challenged to consider our ways of making meaning to the degree that more of our senses are engaged in simultaneity and succession (terms she defines in her Foreword). This is a book of many places, an artography (drop the see), yet she has assiduously followed Creeley’s advice: keep looking. This is splendid artifice, a painterly architecture, a making, and the site of her έποίησε.
Here, to the best of my skill in transcribing it, is one of her poems. To set a work like this in a blog takes careful composition, and must be built line by line. This is the poem “Locations along the Rust Belt” from the section “Canal Series” in the division “Chronography” from the book Organic Furniture Cellar:
[i spent an hour trying to format this--couldn't do it. I am not "web ready" as they say. This isn't the poem, these are all the words in the poem, but they bear no relation to what this poem is, or how it should be enacted.]
if you want to remember
glasses with limes at the a loved one, sloss furnace
bottom turn up around the
comfort lose it .let
cities everyday activities.
remembering is suffocating,mementos
7. g dying under
drink recover its name. If someone has diedeveryone
may be red.
It has taken me three years to give Jessica Smith’s poetry a composed response. We went to school together. I consider her a friend. We’ve shared, at some remove in age and space, similar experiences in the attempt to compose distinct careers as writers. We’ve studied many of the same texts, and were trained in the same, distinct tradition of aesthetics, one recognizable by its differences from a more conventional approach to writing, the page, and the poem. One major component of OFC is the way she is able to acknowledge that tradition and take it into the future, deepen it, expand it, fulfill it by exceeding its limitations, by expanding the ground & source from which it emerges.
Tuesday, December 9, 2008
see those amazing-looking books?
Sunday, December 7, 2008
The Gesso Apprentice.
I’m reading a book called The Gesso Apprentice. This book is anonymously written. It is composed of 25 poems. It is a book some people here in this town may own. But other than that, I don’t know if it’s for sale anywhere. Court poets used to circulate their poems in manuscript within a tightly delimited circle of readers. Yet, because of their proximity to royalty, they could expect some degree of legacy for their poems despite their scant readership. At the same time that Marvell and Sidney were writing their poems for the gentry, in
I have twice been told who the author of this book is. But I don’t want to break the anonymity of its authorship, even though I feel that, in its deliberate effacing of an “author” attribute it makes an overwrought gesture towards authenticity. I think this anonymity is certainly meant to be taken as a gesture of humility (or so I guess, though these poems are not at all a questioning of poetry’s ability to speak, enact, or designate), but it could be mistaken for an attempt at deliberate obscurity or the manufacture of mystique. The only reason I say this is because these poems are amazing. There is a long sequence of prose poems that make up the bulk of the book, and they are, too, a kind of enactment of fragility the likes of which I haven’t read before. Perhaps the removal of the author’s name helps keep the gender of the author in suspension, so that we aren’t concerned whether these poems were written by a woman or a man.
The poems before this sequence, while important for their own reasons, seem simply a kind of warm up for the extended portraiture provided in the main section of the book, entitled “The Tyst Poems”. The Tyst Poems describe a character with wings who goes through a startling series of transformations and self-mutilations while engaged in a rather tragic struggle between life and art, flight and flightlessness, waking and dreaming, and strength and weakness. While it seems somewhat akin to the late romantic conceits of the Rosetti circle and their imitators (especially in Swinbourne’s penchant for ekphrastic poems, or poems about a work of art), there is a grittier side to these poems that save them from preciousness or the merely illustrative.
I’ll provide one example from the book, and then leave it at that. I think there is more to say, a lot more, about this book, but I’ve run out of time.
Molten glass at breath’s end. Inside its wobbly swelling Tyst masturbates. When the shop closes, she rides the nose of the mute home to his sister’s house. The saliva that bubbles at his lips while he sleeps she shapes into flightless likenesses of endangered moons.
Okay, one last point: the anonymity here makes of my response a kind of well-defined and specific address—a response to a set of poems that becomes so hard to extend beyond anything more than a personal letter writ large onto the intimate/public screen of a blog. It makes the simplest description of the work seem like a failure of the art itself (the art of criticism, and the art of essay). I feel somewhat compelled to respond in a like form—to compose a letter say, or construct an intact dramatic form in which to stage an overheard discussion between two actors discussing the book’s themes by way of a particular, delimited crisis they are both engaged in, and must figure out together or dissolve away from the stage, let the stage dissolve, and stand there looking at each other as the theater goes black.
Saturday, December 6, 2008
Eli Drabman. Daylight on the wires. Buffalo (?): Vigilance Society 1917, (2007?) 20 pp.
In fact, I think younger people, younger adults, in their teens, should read lots of books like Drabman’s. And this doesn’t mean that this book is only suitable for readers in their teens. It simply means that it can, at the right time, get you ready for things that will be coming along in your life that you’d be better off thinking more about. At least, for a teen like the teen I was, and maybe at that particular time I was a teen (in the 1980s). It would be cool if the hundred or so chapbook publishers I know of could pool their resources and create an outreach subscription service for readers in early adulthood. Sure, as a young man I needed lots of good solid information, but I also need the stuff of imagination way beyond, and more realistic by way of its surrealistic fabulation, anything I had at that age.
I’m not even sure what transpires, in any realistic narrative sense, in Drabman’s book. But there is a lot of hunger involved, a good deal of anger, or at least bewilderment, and a strenuous desire for an escape from boring, dead predicaments. Beyond these mere hulls of my interpretation, picked up from a less-than-rigorous reading of the book, there is an amazing degree of intricately woven imagery that unfolds in long curling waves from these pages.
…she blames me for
not putting needles in my eyes, for holding a mouse head
as if it were a diamond’s relentless consistency, or angels
posing as grandmothers scrawled their wings across a sky
making sundown shudder like a dawn in camera jaws, hold
furious screaming against the hollow in your chest to see if
you vibrate at that frequency, climb inside a tree, write one
name with a knife and put an arrow through it before the tourists
light you on fire…
Friday, December 5, 2008
Designed by Logan Ryan Smith, the poems in this book continue from the end flyleaf onto the back cover of the book. I'd never seen a book do that before. I've never read poems like these before. Here is a returning book, half of it published the year before, but now bigger, wider, ever & even more generous.
Lowinger doesn't waste a single word, or even a syllable. That I would do likewise in acknowledging his art. This chapbook contains 50 poems, all of them entitled "open night". It suggests "opening night," the big introduction of a new work--art, musical, a play, or the first day of baseball in the spring. Or a request: "open, night". Open all night, like a 24hr store.
Open Night has the recipe, gives you a blend of the finest choicest meters. Creeley's tight syncopation, hip-hop's matter-of-fact skips, samples, and scratches, and watershed meditations nourish every single time scale sermon in smoke of night. My series, "The Table," is a cheap knockoff propped on spindly legs. The Buffalo News should give him $1000.
Yes, Virginia, this book is a tuxedo.
Your mouth opens
like the movies do
your clock continues
you make me feel like sleeping
in different places
speaking many tongues
Thursday, December 4, 2008
Wednesday, December 3, 2008
And ambitious. Because there are about 50 pieces of poetry sitting on my desk--little objects, broadsides, chapbooks, entire books, unexplainable concatenations of verbal intention and dispersion--and I want to acknowledge each and every one. So, if I'm not being too florid in my thinking, I will try to acknowledge, note, gush and analyze 1 (one) new work every day for the next 1068 days. But I need a three-day safety buffer. That means if I go three days, then I will post about three works. And I dedicate the Frisky Ambitious Project to Promote Poetic Living to Miriam. For Miriam.
Monday, November 24, 2008
Wednesday, November 19, 2008
Ted Greenwald read his poetry last night at the Karpeles Manuscript Museum but I was too cold and sleepy to go
thus it happened that, the rain fell
and the man sat
putting a roof on the house of his body
every once in awhile he uttered a thought or two
but most of the time
he was a window for others to look through
Monday, November 10, 2008
The prima materia of poetic emotion is a synesthetic chaos. A confused mixture of diverse emotions is first felt painfully in the body, like a swarming of multiple lives trying to escape. It is usually that uncomfortable feeling that forces the poet to take up the pen, be it as a vague and imperious need to exteriorize himself or in a less coarse fashion.
Saturday, November 1, 2008
Here are some recent readings i attended:
Yellow Edenwald Field. Launch reading hosted by edric mesmer. i heard Lisa Forrest, Martin Clibbens and Kristianne Meal read. The magazine could be had for $2, so i bought one. nicely done book of buffalo poets. i also bought a mysterious book of poems, anonymously written, with a painted cover, entitled The Gesso Apprentice.
October 23. i went to Medaille College to hear Christopher Schmidt at the Huber Library.
October 26. This was my own reading to inaugurate the Sundays at Central reading series. Paul White read as well.
October 29. Michael Ondaatje read in Ashbury Hall at Babeville downtown to a packed house.
October 30. Geraldine Monk read eerie poems and sonnets at the Hallwalls Cinema.
i've also been receiving a lot of books in the mail recently. i'm puzzling over ways to respond. One thing i had hoped to do was publish my reviews in Celery Flute, which as yet, has about 20 different notices that will have to wait until that magazine can be printed. On the other hand, i'm wavering over what to say here, as i have written lots of responses to books before, and the circumstances of web reviewing still leads me to have reservations.
All of the readings in the past two weeks were in different places--a used bookstore/theater space, a remodeled church sanctuary, a small college library, a big public library, a small dark cinema/stage. Each of these spaces lent a different character to the readings, and, typically, the audiences were strikingly different in size and character, class and community. Each author presented a distinct style--just as the books i am given, now piled around me, traverse vastly different ground.
Because of its brevity, i was able to read through all of issue 15 of 6X6, a well-crafted literary object in its own right, from Ugly Duckling Presse. The poems did maintain a kind of character, as of a time, if not slightly tilted by the inclusion of newly translated poems by the Russian poet Mikhail Lermontov (1814-1841).
[Oh, i don't know if i can stand it, there's just too much here on my desk!--a weight of compiled intentions, forms of intensity in conjunction, disjunction, and that, that. . .what is the word for the unsewn hem? Scurf? Beyond a fringe. i can't even take a running leap towards all of these books!]
Okay, i'll try. Here is 6X6: Anne Heide--a poem called "The Gold Planet" in six sections. The form reminds me of a sequence called "Cinnabar Verses" in another recent book, Rhrubarb, by Robert Kocik (Bowdoinham, Maine: Field Books, 2007), in its use of short, enigmatic lines. Gold and Cinnabar also seem to go together, as the use of cinnabar in the old alchemists' art was to lead eventually to the production of gold. Here is a line from Heide: "Planet renames the mine a possible clot like a lucky horse wouldn't step on it." And here is one from Kocik: "Load unicorn with broken horn sidewise into back of battered station wagon". Mere coincidence? i don't think so. Will Hubbard gives us a six-poem cycle called "Ordines". Now, i don't even know what this word means. Instead, i will talk about Hubbard's chapbook The God Is Quiet That Would Have You, from Brooklyn's CapGunPress (2007). This is a top-stapled book not unlike a restaurant server's order pad. It contains 26 poems. i like the title, because it has the word "God", which can mean anything, and the word "You" which can also mean anything, including "God". It's a cool title because it has a kind of smirk about it, like it knows something that the reader doesn't. In his introduction, Jaye Bartell calls this poetry "vulnerability enacted." With his reference to Henry Miller, i think of a kind of poetry of the heroic as found in bohemian life. The shortened lines disguise the fact that some of these poems are modified iambic quatrains. There are many references to French films, like those of Catherine Breillat, famous for her near-porn film Romance X. The influence of Hubbard's onetime teacher, Robert Creeley, also appears rather frequently, especially in a reference to Bresson's film about Sir Lancelot, which was the source of Creeley's great poem "Bresson's Movies". This chapbook is instead a kind of chiseled notebook, aimed as it is to achieve an interrelation, abounding with hyper-minimal, fractured line endings. The highpoint for me names a condition based on the drowning, treacherous, transgressive ground of love called "Walk the Plank". Vulnerable, and yet, not. The rest of 6X6 #15 is tidy and oblique, confessional, but yet witholding. Poems by David Goldstein, Lawrence Giffin, and Emma Rossi (my favorite of the issue--a poetry of discouraged attempts to articulate something foundering into a bliss of potential statements, never accepted, but let loose into their own pinball ricochets.) (If we get to soi disant nth-gen newyawk school as a label, can we finally talk about something else?)
i keep wanting to put another two books in dialogue with each other: Kim Chinquee's first book Oh Baby (Spokane: Ravenna Press, 2008) and Jason Irwin's first book Watering the Dead (Montpelier, Ohio: Pavement Saw, 2008). They couldn't be more unlike each other, though, in terms of voicing, the line, description. And yet, each is an attempt to reconstruct narrative form. Chinquee's book contains around 80 flash fictions and prose poems, while Irwin's book collects 45 poems into three sections. i guess the clearest intersection of content in these books is the prevalence of references to alcohol. There are very pertinent differences: Chinquee's prose-poems range wide and far, yet keep bringing me back to a sense of the subaltern, the way serious human situations can only find us by way of consumables and products, and in this way i am impressed with Chinquee's ability to hone plain language (Great Plains language?) into resonant descriptions. Here are emotional realities trapped in the transgressions of things: eating, drinking, and loving mean Denny's, vodka, and fucking. Here is the detritus of a world all wrapped up in a menacing Walmart happyface. Kill your emoticon. This work is closer to Brenda Coultas' than George Saunders'. But the real background I keep thinking of is Charles Reznikoff's Testimony: The United States. In a way, i want to scream and throw the book at something, if only to protest the world as i find it there. But that is its effectiveness--you can not not want what this book discloses. Which makes it function on that fine line between irony and ridicule, what we most recognize brought close to an edge of near illiteracy, between a deep sympathy for what cannot be articulated except by way of a consumer society's detritus of consumption and the dismissal of a satire that furthers the burn. All of these poems are pre-consumed or about the pre-consumed, and the work it takes to find the art is almost the same as the work we are asked to accept as our actual enjoyment, which, in reality, is a preconsumed happiness. A kind of poetry working backwards, but not as far afield as Acker's "writing stupid". In contrast, Irwin works from a more familiar space: remembrance. Here, the goal is to build a set of portraits, mostly self-portraits, that will stand as confirmation of the facts of one's place, family, and activity. This impulse overwhelms the fact of the lineated text. The question of its poetry hinges mostly on the very fact that the author chooses when the line must end, rather than accepting as default the frame provided. While this is something in itself, and shouldn't be discounted, i tended to ignore line endings completely while reading the book, and instead read it as a set of prose elegies.
now i must take a walk. please read books. write books. eat well. vote for Obama. It ain't gonna be paradise if he wins, but it ain't gonna be a bridge to nowhere, either.
Monday, October 27, 2008
Friday, October 24, 2008
Monday, October 20, 2008
It took place on September 20.
Here is the link: http://www.housepress.org/BoogCity/WTBC/36Manson.mp3
There are also recordings from many other poets: http://www.housepress.org/BoogCity/WTBC/
Sunday, October 19, 2008
Mining the College, Boy
My mines troubled with wrath,
my lines treacly with thefts.
Stolen: musty lathe of steel,
that a.m. shy penny profile
accused of sprocketry
in the dim melancholy
of false sirens
with true import.
That soap really takes a layer off.
Thanks for the tip on bankruptcy.
Which part didn't you like?
This is your defense,
so why are you so defensive?
I didn't dream it but saw
somewhere projected on the old beach-towel screen
the chin-thrust face of a woman in shame
like a profile on an old penny.
Slack again in various week-timed
month dredge and fact of one's whole private world
cumbered and yet the veil torn and less
strength to continue, to push through.
It is about interior integrity.
Hand it across with your penny.
I looked somewhere crawly
for my soul
almost to address it,
things at hand feeling corroded,
mechanistic, as though imagination had fallen
Our ginger footsteps say what in the
great cold outside has more durability
than the flash of light,
the photographer's flash,
or the bubble-fluff concentration, illusory found sound
of a siren on a rock leading us to memories
of when the keys belonged to each of us,
and all was held in trust,
like a penny.
I guess, reflecting back on the amazing readings I heard last night at Medaille College in celebration of Raymond Federman's 80th birthday, this is a poem that halts midway between a "saying" and a "playing"--it stops to look around after going only so far on its way towards the full pleasures of a writing that says as it un-says, a poetry-performance that can invoke the space of literature even as it empties out any assertive writerly function (as in "authority") by way of content-ment. I was directed to this poem by a line in something Steve McCaffery had read last night--and this is crude paraphrase--to the effect that "Heaven is a bank in which God has failed to invest."
The young man of the house where I lived liked to defend the penny, and would proclaim his cause loudly--"SAVE THE PENNY!" with hand raised in the air. It was fun to bait him sometimes as to the value of using pennies. In the end, I gave him a few buckets of pennies I'd saved up over the years. As an adjunct, the money was tight. Poetic values were uncertain and could fluctuate madly at any point. What was a dollar-value to the mining it would take to make my lines & references add up? "Expenditure without reserve" was the claim made for culture, but that seemed a supply-side injunction. What a crazy line of work!! The college boy had dug down deeply in order to coin the metal within him, though it would have been a lot more fun to swirl around on the multicolored film-surface of the bubble. That way you have air within, and air without, a balance of pressures, and smoky Brownian complexities to keep you from realizing you're about a quarter mile above the earth. If anything, I learned last night (and have to thank Jaye for pointing this out) that the mere context for a story just about brings all the pleasures of storytelling into view, and the more we find genre frames to push through, the more we gain a vantage of just how easy it is to unravel a genre through the slightest tear at its margin. Even though I wasn't drinking last night, I got ripped! The margins let you know the mettle of what's inside them--and yes, I do trust. What was Joyce's first book called? Pomes Pennyeach.
Saturday, October 18, 2008
What I did lately: I have been working, but, oddly enough for me, having some fun.
I spent a few days trying to learn all the ways and whys of how the economy is failing. Then I watched some presidential debates, shouting out "LIAR" a lot. I am very impressed by Cynthia McKinney of the Green Party, as I've been watching the parallel debates on Democracy Now! I am less dismayed after hearing more candidates.
Then I went camping for three nights. It was amazing. I was taken. I was given amazing gifts. I was happy to give in return. Trains thundered in the distance. The weather was perfect, and the moon lit the night. We built fires on shale creeksides. We cooked simple meals and made coffee. We camped in a wild garlic patch. Spiders and chubs danced merry jigs to our wild ukulele detunings. Green pools chilled us to the bone. Conversations took entire days to unfold.
Later today I will be pouring champagne at Raymond Federman's 80th birthday party.
Later this month I will be designing and publishing a small anthology of poems by poets who live in Buffalo. Jonathan Skinner's new book, With Naked Foot, will be available from little scratch pad editions very very soon.
On October 26th, with Paul White, I will help inaugurate the "Sundays at Central" reading series at the Buffalo and Erie County Central Library at 3:00 PM. 1 Lafayette Square in downtown Buffalo. The reading will take place in the West Room, next to the Cafe.
Then in November, on Sunday the 23rd, I'll be reading at Rust Belt Books with Martin Clibbens and David Tirrell.
I'm ready to publish Celery Flute 2:1. I swear.
Wednesday, October 8, 2008
i believe the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan should end immediately
i believe the wall st. bailout is the single biggest rapid transfer of wealth upward (and outward) this country has ever seen
i believe that the system that created our economic and social problems is the least likely one to solve them
i believe in mildheartedness
i believe in hard work, and an honest dollar
if you know of a candidate i can vote for in November who may support my beliefs, please let me know, because i haven't seen one mentioned on my nightly news
i'd really like to vote, too
Sunday, October 5, 2008
Tuesday, September 30, 2008
On the bus from Buffalo I read Lyn Hejinian’s My Life in the Nineties which was a beguiling read, as I couldn’t determine whether, as a “text” it was presenting a question of the poem in the domain of philosophy (questioning the poem), or a question of philosophy in the domain of the poetic (questioning philosophy). Personally, it was an event of reading in transit, and so I decided that the real beauty of the work lay in its bringing the question of the sentence into view. This is a tension that art is consistently asked to dramatize for us: a form in tension with content. As autobiography, the details of the work disclose some events that may or may not occur to the writer as a human being traveling and living a literary life in the
The bus trip took far longer than I had expected, so I had missed both the opening night of the
I didn’t even know where I was going to sleep that night as I got off the bus next to the port authority terminal. I was going to meet a friend at the Café readings and Lou Reed cover-band show, but she wasn’t feeling well and didn’t want to come into the city. So I called another friend who lived closer to
Saturday, September 27, 2008
A few days later I sat down to participate in a historic conversation with 9 other Buffalo poets at the awesome Bon Vivant performance hall/art gallery/poetry showcase space. To hear our thoughts, in a raw recording, please visit
Once at their site, you can find the file by clicking on Susan Marie's "This is NOT the Apple" show.
Hear me feverishly read prepared statements while all the other poets comfortably discuss their writing life with relaxed, eloquent ease!
Saturday, September 20, 2008
Wednesday, September 17, 2008
I'll be posting more about this event in the coming days.
Here is, as far as I can remember off the top of my head, all the little scratch pad books I've ever published:
Self-publishing era (1996-2004):
Eating a Stone. 1996. Single copy of various modes of writing. Maximum pathos, widest set of styles. Really my first attempt at collecting and binding my poems into a book. I gave this to a friend, it went with her to Rochester, and then I asked for her to mail it back.
Snack Size. 1997. Compiled after taking my first official graduate creative writing class, in which I received a grade of "B". I didn't make this book for the class, but rather was influenced mostly by the poets reading at the coffeehouse just over the border from the University. When Starbucks bought the building and ended its long tradition of music, art and poetry, the music moved to an old theater and became The Kent Stage, and the poetry moved to the Standing Rock gallery. There was an education professor who graded papers at the coffeehouse every day, Doc Zuckerman, who helped me design it. I made 25 copies, misspelled Charles Olson's name on the back cover, and then it was photocopied in an edition of 250 by Impetus Press. I've only this year finally run out of these. A month ago I read from this book for the first time in Buffalo in a dark room (Bon Vivant) while reading by candlelight (I had to hold the candle in order to see the text). I was sweating profusely. I felt like a brand new poet somehow.
Pulling the Long Face. (24 poems). 1998. Jayce Renner was crucial to this book. He set up a photo shoot based on my poem "Hats Off to Jacob Nibenegenesabe" a shaggy dog tale of going on the road overburdened by unsold artworks and a giant armoire. I only made 25 of these.
Edge of Perception. 2000. A little book that I don't have an enormous love for, but respect greatly. It marks my first real grappling with my move to Buffalo and the hypercharged atmosphere of intense philosophical and experimental poetry. Mike Kelleher helped me edit it, or at least encouraged me to think of a book as a complete artistic event. He also got me to change the name of the book, originally titled: Douglas Manson Verses Himself.
Topographic Resolution. 2000. Compiled for the Elevator Box Project, so, in a way, co-published with the ephemeral Elevator Press--a "box" project of art & poetry developed by Michael Kelleher and Brian Collier. One of my most favorite books. My text compares our "carbon economy" to the last days of the Aztecs, looks at gender identity, and also includes a catalog of 40 objects collected exactly one mile from my house in 40 directions, each one named for a poet, and given a weather. In the box were works by Rosa Alcala, Chris Alexander, Joel Bettridge, Michelle Citrin, Kristen Gallagher, Ike Kim, Brian Lampkin, Tim McPeek, Linda Russo, Jonathan Skinner and Roberto Tejada. 40 copies made. Ric Royer and Chris Fritton began the Ferrum Wheel art/poetry object-magazines soon after. And Damian Weber then began compiling found text for his "Source Material" magazine.
Love Sounds (Like Perfidy). 2002. Only 25 copies made, but quite a blast. I genetically designed a new letter for this book. I power-drilled every copy. I had great help from Eliza Newman-Saul in design work. The poem ended up as the central work in my book Roofing and Siding in the complete sequence of the "Sines Poem". Sinne's pome. Signs Poem. Synespoem.
The Flatland Adventures of Blip and Ouch. 2004. Sort of like a play. But really a kind of inverted Wizard of Oz TV commercial. I made an audio recording of this.
A Book of Birthdays. 2005. A work from the archives, compiling of lines. Not really a publication, but a way of giving. Cover designed by Theresa Rico.
Small Press era (2005-present):
Autobiography 1: Perfect Game by Aaron Lowinger. 2005. 27 poems organized around the game of baseball. What a work! 200 copies (100 of these with color covers).
Sections in Four Seasons by Douglas Manson. 2006. first part of to becoming normal. 26 copies.
TwentyTwo (first pallet) by Kristianne Meal. 2007--the small edition, "buff & rust" only 22 copies.
At Any Point by Douglas Manson. 2007--the small edition, "buff & rust". 25 copies.
TwentyTwo (first pallet) by Kristianne Meal. 2007. "editions #1". 100 copies.
Accidental Thrust by Nick Traenkner. 2007. "editions #2". 25 copies.
Of Venus 93 by Michael Basinski. 2007. "editions #3". 200 copies.
At Any Point by Douglas Manson. 2008. Expanded edition (text & prints). "editions #4". 100 copies.
NTR P C E ST R by L.A. Howe. 2007. "editions #5". 100 copies. A procedural work on the poem "Easter" by Frank O'Hara.
Words in Season by Tom Yorty. 2007. "editions #6". 200 copies.
Imaginary Poems for my Imaginary Girlfriend Named Anabel by Elizabeth Mariani. 2008. "2.1". 100 copies (green cover). Note: a new edition, with yellow cover, now in print from semperverdi press.
Ever After / Never Under (20 choruses) by Jaye Bartell. 2008. "2.2". 200 copies.
(forthcoming) With Naked Foot by Jonathan Skinner. 2008. "2.3". 100 copies.
Okay, I lied--I had to look up some of these books.