Third Factory/Notes to Poetry

art is autonomous

Attention Span – Andrew Rippeon

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(symmetry, reciprocal community)

Jed Birmingham & Kyle Schlesinger, eds. | Mimeo Mimeo vol. 1 | Brooklyn, NY | 2008

Saddle-stapled, glossy covers, 8 by 11, with essays by Christopher Harter (mimeo history) and Jed Birmingham (Burroughs and My Own Mag), an interview conducted by Kyle Schlesinger with Alistair Johnston, and a hybrid piece by Stephen Vincent reading Jack Spicer. Harter notes the importance of locale, community, and affordable technology; Birmingham’s essay details the potential for author-editor relationships in the small press world, and Schlesinger’s Johnston interview is incredible at once for the gossip, the shop talk, and the lesson in how much energy it really takes to make something great. And if you’re looking to map the field, the dozen or so pages of ads in the back are a great place to start.

Kyle Schlesinger | The Pink | Kenning Editions (ed. Patrick Durgin) | Chicago, IL | 2008

Ten poems in a variety of registers, from manipulations and repetitions in the mode of a poet like Ted Greenwald to poems that demonstrate a belief that a poem might be a place where we can find each other. But this is also a bookmaker’s book, full of “the serif[s] in / the surf’s curl,” and here it’s important to point to Quemadura’s book-making and design-work. The Pink is saddle-stapled and bound in what feels like a shirt cardboard, with titling running from back to front in what appears to be a thin plastic appliqué on the rough cover. With the poems printed on a marled, cream-colored stock, the page is completely opaque—the poems are really there. I’m unsure to what degree Schlesinger was involved in the design, but I can’t imagine any poet any less than completely thrilled to find their work in a container so perfect. It feels like opening a box in which the poems were shipped.

David Hadbawnik, ed. | kadar koli 1.2 | San Marcos, TX | 2007

“kadar koli” = “kuhdur coly” = “whenever.” Rumor is, this magazine used to be produced after-hours on borrowed copier time, and slipped into the mail bin when no one was looking. Featuring Mary Burger, Marcus Civin, Tom Clark, Nick Courtright, Lauren Dixon, Amy King, C.J. Martin, Andrew Neuendorf, Rich Owens, Tom Peters, John Phillips, Micah Robbins, Marcia Roberts, Elizabeth Robinson, Kyle Schlesinger, and Mathew Timmons, the magazine is notable at once for the range of emerging and established writers, the number of contributors who are literary publishers or promoters, and the range of formal-generic experiment across the contributions. Recently relocated from San Marcos, Texas, to Buffalo, hopefully “whenever” now means “more often” and “under less duress.”

David Hadbawnik | Ovid in Exile | Interbirth Books (ed. Micah Robbins) | Austin, TX | 2007

I picked this up at the Buffalo Small Press Book Fair this year. Rich Owens had raved about the book, and there’d also been a review here and there. Forty-four pages of incredible poetry blending over half a dozen personae and collapsing two millennia into a multiply inflected palimpsest that most registers the erotic charge of time laying on time, persona on persona: “That awkward dance / is a kind of looking / that takes place / at the end of the smile / gradually takes the place / of it caries the I / back into sleep.” And there’s nothing chaste about Robbins’ book design, either. Hand-sewn, five signatures (red thread), wrapped in exquisite boards, and unless I’m mistaken, the pages are deckled by each of them being hand torn. Ovid, priapic, wilts by comparison.

Michael Cross, Michelle Detorie, Johannes Göransson | Dos Press Chapbook, no. 2, ser. 1 (ed. Julia Drescher and C.J. Martin) | San Marcos, TX | 2007

At this point, more people need to know about this series, and more people need to be writing about it. Dos no. 1, ser. 1 was mentioned here last year (featuring Carter Smith, Hoa Nguyen, and Andrea Strudensky), and the project continues—one book, two spines, three authors—as one of the most interesting publication venues for emerging poets. The featured author in no. 2 is Detorie, and her “A Coincidence of Wants” is a twenty or so page collection drenched in assonance and imagery: “…Anyways, it is // us in the underneath aftershock sucking / pink and pretending everything is ours.” Turn the book over, and the Cross/Göransson signature holds Cross’s ten-poem “Throne” and Göransson’s “Majakovskij en tragedy.” Göransson’s piece is devastatingly corporeal: “I repeat with pig meat / I have blond hair blue eyes / and the crackliest carnation / you’ve ever dug a shovel / through I have a ribcage / and a stripped woman I hold / with my fire arm and / a shuddered woman I kiss / with my pet mouth”. And with regard to Cross’s “Throne,” I can only say that in the weeks before he left Buffalo, a reading of this sequence sparked a conversation that left a head-wound in its wake. Which is finally to say, thinking of all three writers here, that Drescher and Martin have put together a beautiful collection of work that names its own stakes. And these stakes are high.

Julia Drescher | Mock Martyrs / Abound | Dancing Girl Press (ed. Kristy Bowen) | Chicago, IL | 2008

Drescher one time told me that the poems she’d given me were designed to make publication problematic. I’m still impressed and bewildered by this, now more so by the fact that I can see nothing compromised in Mock Martyrs / Abound, and yet, here it is. It’s part of an ongoing project that’s thinking really, really hard about how words, even down to the single word, make it onto the page. And once there, if they have the merit to remain. Bowen’s design is right on the mark here: At first, it seems appropriately stark: covers black on charcoal (almost black on black), and the book is small and square when closed. It’s after reading the book, closing it, and regarding the cover again—no images, (no serifs, even), just title in caps, that virgule, and the author’s name—that we see in Bowen’s design an exquisite reading of Drescher’s project: the text becoming, throughout the book, an image of itself and what it’s meant to contain:

knowing in some other darker place this : is what a face looks like
: growing : her hair in her / on her & : using touch to hear (i.e. : her
threads) soft some- : what blind delineations : common enough : some
misplaced private life that is : she builds her wheel between : trees
: though someone is : bound to tangle : through :

C.J. Martin | Lo, Bittern | Atticus/Finch (ed. Michael Cross) | Buffalo, NY | 2008

In the two or so years I’ve been reading Martin, the work has always stunned. It’s generous in that it gives new resource to the lyric, and demanding, as it asks the lyric to earn what he gives it: “This in a cluster cut for you from parcelside: / We were never littles for bigs, / who formerly share- / cropping, monument, for a day’s work / – whose thought alone, who / loved you better”. Here is the gift and the demand—both freight and circumstance declare themselves in the verse, and yet neither the act of carrying, nor what must be carried suffer to each other. This leaves the urge to get behind, into, the work, and Cross’s design—metallic pink covers in cellophane sleeves, titling cut across the signature, and perfect dimensions for these small poems that are only small in size—has done exactly this. If you put your hands on this book, you put your hands on the poems themselves.

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The goal was to think reciprocally, working the space between poet-publishers, and this list could just as easily have been a list of Birmingham, Durgin, Robbins, and Bowen. One of the joys that is also one of the risks of community is that there’s always another formulation of it.

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More Andrew Rippeon here.

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