The third episode of David Hadbawnik's Primitive Information podcast is now online!
more information on Timothy Yu books, poetry, other elements referenced in this
podcast, visit: http://www.timpanyu.com/
The third episode of David Hadbawnik's Primitive Information podcast is now online!
more information on Timothy Yu books, poetry, other elements referenced in this
podcast, visit: http://www.timpanyu.com/
Burger King asked people to describe the Whopper by heart. The whopper. You can taste the fire. I love the pickles, I love the lettuce and tomatoes. Love those pickles. The sesame seeds on top of that bun. There's nothing like it. Flame-grilled patties. Me encantan. Do you guys have a Whopper? People crave the flame-grilled patty, the freshly-cut veggies, the toasted sesame seed bun with mayo. They crave the Whopper, and nothing but the Whopper. That's why we removed all colours, flavours, and preservatives from artificial sources. Your way. Way better.
how to write about
what you carry but don’t know?
strange inheritance one carries
everyday code understandable if borne of Haitian soil
submerged in salt
sea bracing rivers falls (“origins | beginnings | of sorts”)
Of Haitian ancestry, Désil is “Born of immigrant parents on the Traditional Territories of the Kanien’kehá꞉ka on the island known as Tiohtià꞉ke (Montréal), raised in Treaty 1 Territory (Winnipeg).” “faces blue-glowed / unwavering our pursuit toward more numbness / feel but not too much / don’t look up / wear human-cancelling headphones resolutely / earplugged / hearts too,” she writes, as part of the sequencec “zom-bie | / ‘zambi /.” Utilizing depictions of the zombie, an image centred in Haitian culture but referencing a variety of western adaptations as well, she works to write her way into, or back into, being and belonging; discovering the roots of her displacement and placing them. As she writes: “colonial words crowd your mouth / still your tongue / and / sever the connections / between land language self [.]”
The back cover of the collection offers: “eat salt | gaze at the ocean explores the themes of Black sovereignty, Haitian sovereignty, and Black lives, using the original Haitian zombie as a metaphor for the condition and treatment of Black bodies. Interspersed with textual representations of zombies, Haitian society, and historical policies is the author’s personal narrative of growing up Black and Haitian of immigrant parents on stolen Indigenous Lands.” To zombie is to leave, be brutalized or broken; to zombie is to become changed, often by forces beyond one’s control. To animate, reanimate. To zombie is to become soulless, having had one’s soul removed through violence, or changed through the loss of culture, community or place. How does, through all of this, retain or even regain one’s own humanity? “Just bone on bone,” she writes, “weary grating questions [.]”
There is such incredible pacing through this collection, composing a deeply personal and ambitous book-length poem of great longing, hurt, heart, patience and precision. “this poem you are reading took me three years to write.” she offers, close to the end of the collection. “if we’re counting / and being accurate, it took me over twenty years to write. i took a snapshot / of 2016. i counted over two hundred deaths in one year. if we’re being / comprehensive, this right here does not include the dead from the / transatlantic slave voyage, those who leapt to their deaths, who died / beneath the cargo hold, once stolen from their ancestral lands, those who / died in violent capitalist servitude, who died in violent encounters with / white holders of enslaved Black people, this list does not include those / who died scattered about the various colonialist projects and expansions / on stolen lands.”
Désil utilizes archival accounts of insurrections, of the slave trade and colonialism. She writes of men working in the sugar fields, and contemporary violence upon black lives and communities. She writes of Alice Walker and Nora Zeale Hurston; she writes “I can’t breathe.” She writes of western depictions and references to the zombie, attempting to understand how the term has shifted, evolved, and remained intact. “(forgive) the repetitious,” she writes, “a long-winded account / we tell stories twice / sometimes more different angles / so you feel the story” (“transatlantic | zombie | passages”). Or, as she writes as part of the third and final section, a sequence-section that shares the book’s title:
the point of all
this scudding back and forth through history
about secrets in water a piece of lumber with square
nails in it
ghost ship from the 1850s they may not stay submerged
we still need to talk about the ocean
In Why must a black writer write about sex? (Toronto ON: Coach House Press, 1994), Haitian-born writer Dany Laferrière famously wrote that he composed his first novel, How to Make Love to a Negro (Without Getting Tired) (Coach House Press, 1987), in order to save his life. Through eat salt | gaze at the ocean, Désil appears to be driven by a similar impulse, working to regain what she has lost, as well as what a scattered community has lost, through the ongoing violence of colonialism. At the end of the collection, she asks:
if i gaze at the
can i undo the zombie curse
no longer be “proximate to death”
i look at the
it breathes loudly
i stare at the ocean and wonder
when will i feel alive
The modest role of the cataloging librarian is to make things discoverable. How point to items—by author and title, publisher and dimension—thoroughly enough to ensure future researchers discover them in the course of their as-yet unknown quests?
Since mid-March, together with my cataloging colleagues, I’ve been tasked with sorting through our backlog. There is truly no way to collect all Anglophone poetry, from 1900 forward, exhaustively, without the generosity of gifts, as many presses are so small and so far-flung, so many networks ebullient and distant.
Here are notes on (and further appreciations of some) 41 such instances in print, gifted to the Poetry Collection of the University at Buffalo, now culled within the archive, awaiting discovery.
Charles Alexander miniature broadside.
“Letterpress printed in red and black on green handmade paper” reads the tender note from a cataloger at the University of Washington Libraries, entered into the main record for this micro-broadside, the only other library (until now) to hold this item: And Sometimes (for Michael Tarachow), issued by Black Mesa Press. Comments on letterpress items are not uncommon in such bibliographic records, though it’s still soothing to find, to read, to realize the thing at hand is the same (or perhaps different) than the thing in that other anonymous hand. The poem in its entirety is only six lines, all printed in black except one, matching title, in majuscule.
Naropa Institute Summer 1977 [course bulletin].
The covers are coming off, so thin the papers… Course offerings center around disciplines—practices?—of meditation, dance, theatre, Buddhist studies, and philosophy and the practice of martial arts. In 1977, faculty included (among the writers) John Ashbery, Michael Brownstein, William S. Burroughs, Clark Coolidge, Gregory Corso, Diane di Prima, Ed Dorn, Larry Fagin, Allen Ginsberg, Joanne Kyger, Ed Sanders, and Anne Waldman. Also: dancer Meredith Monk; Buddhist priest Jakusho Kwong (a disciple of zen master Suzuki Roshi); and Letitia Bartlett, who “studied pantomime with Samuel Avital and mime and Balinese mask with Leonard Pitt in Berkeley,” and who was “an original member of the Boulder Mime Theater” (41).
The Beard by Michael McClure.
This bibliographic record is from so far back—probably transcribed from card to electronic—it bears no descriptive cataloging code, as well as this older-styled description of extent: 6 plates, 9-82 pages, 5 leaves [;] 20.4 cm [.] The stitches of the signatures are exposed on end; the author has inscribed the front cover; the interior pages remain uncut… Is this one of the 40 copies, specially bound and signed? Unknown [from home, unable to check against other copies in the archive]—the local notes which once described the other two copies held by the library have been lost over years of migrating electronic systems.
Braman, Sandra, A true story.
Ten other libraries hold this, none in New York State.
Much is gleaned from updating a record:
- I can confirm that this is the same author who wrote Geretschky and Spokesheards and trace that to this record.
- Zelot-Tansy Press books were distributed in both Burton, Ohio by the The Asphodel Book Shop and in East Haven, Ct. by the Inland Book Company.
- I expand the contents note: [Albuquerque -- New York -- Petaluma -- Eugene -- Black Mountain] to: [Albuquerque -- New York -- New York -- Petaluma -- Petaluma -- Eugene -- Black Mountain]—
- And add a clarifying note: “Each of the two sections titled 'New York' and the two sections titled 'Petaluma' begin the same but have divergent endings” with a local tag, in case only our copy reflects this; though I doubt it, as the unnumbered pagination is the same.
1. To Max Douglas / ǂc Ken Irby.
[Lawrence, Kan.] : ǂb A Tansy 4 / Peg Leg Press Publication, ǂc 
34 unnumbered pages ; ǂc 26 cm
[Tansy] ; ǂv [no. 3]
Received as no. 3 of Tansy.
2. To Max Douglas / |c Kenneth Irby ; [with an introd. by Edward Dorn].
[Lawrence, Kan.] : |b [Tansy-Pegleg Press], |c ©1974.
 pages ; |c 21 cm
[Tansy] ; ǂv [no. 8]
Ed. statement and publisher from publisher slip inserted.
007 & 008
Two chapbooks by Mary Fabilli—
Winter Poems (Berkeley, CA.: Inverno Press, ©1983)
Simple Pleasures (Berkeley, California: Ferron Press, ©1987)
The first with “decorations [line drawings] by the author.” Stapled in ivory papers with black line-drawing cover illustrations by the author; these in and of themselves circulating small press reading culture in Berkeley.
Borrow yourself a herd of sheep,
one hundred in number or more
spray paint their fleece
with your favorite words.
Watch from a distance as the sheep
arrange themselves into poems.
Angel Hair sleeps with a boy in my head.
LRL e-editions, in print.
In the continual incongruity between digital and print, sometimes you get the best of both worlds. This is the case with these chapbooks from little red leaves press, which were e-editions that could also be purchased in print (via a print-on-demand service). The editions are of simple design, not quite perfect bound, as they’re stapled in covers not quite matte, giving off a certain sheen of light. Crossing another divide, it’s like that chapbook that doesn’t get lost when stood on your bookshelf.
- Technique of Bandaging and Splinting / Harold Abramowitz 
- Everything We Could Ask For / Sarah Campbell 
- Any Time Soon / Gloria Frym 
- L&O / Pattie McCarthy 
- Remembrance of Things Plastic / Eléna Rivera 
& some perfect bound monographs too:
- Prosthesis : : Caesarea / Susan Gevirtz [1993, 2009]
- Three American Letters / Brian Mornar 
- Sound Noise / by Mathew Timmons 
- Painting is Finite / Hugo García Manríquez 
- On Michael Cross's Haecceities: A Group Review & Sourcebook / David Brazil, Thom Donovan, Brenda Iijima, C.J. Martin, Kyle Schlesinger, Jamie Townsend, Michael Cross, and Taylor Brady.
- The First Three Books / Beverly Dahlen 
Lorine Niedecker: an original biography by Jane Shaw Knox. (Fort Atkinson, Wis.: Dwight Foster Public Library, [1987?])
Written just after Niedecker’s death but published sixteen years later, this densely-illustrated pamphlet contains a biographical sketch with remembrances by Wisconsin friends, excerpts from poems, a chronology, a bibliography, excerpts from letters (including two to Zukofsky), and a remembrance by Cid Corman; it also revealed [to this reader] that Kristine Thatcher, “an actress with the Milwaukee Repertory Theater,” had written and put on a play about the last years of the poet’s life.
Z"L: for the family of CJ Martin & Julia Drescher. ([Texas]: Ash Smith, [Summer] 2013)
The beauty of community is everywhere manifest in this volume, produced as fundraiser for the family of poet-publishers C.J. Martin and Julia Drescher after the tornado outbreak of May 15-17, 2013 in Texas, Oklahoma, and elsewhere. Gathering together poems from over 50 contributors, the volume is both scrappy and lush, with poems quickly and tenderly arranged and photocopied by Ash Smith, bound in minimalist if opulent letterpress papers by Michael Cross. The overall effect is one of doing whatever one can do when feeling there is so little one can do. In sum, with love.
The Jargon Idea by Millicent Bell (Providence, Rhode Island: Brown University, 1963).
Fascinating document, reprinted from Books at Brown, Volume XIX, May, 1963…was this publication an internal document? Or an advertisement for researchers? Citing correspondence (specifically, William Carlos Williams to Jonathan Williams), Bell gives an overview the Jargon project (similar to a finding aid) as an example of noncommercial publishing more generally, with excerpts from and acute commentaries on Duncan, Layton, Levertov, and Creeley, together with a Jargon Checklist.
The Venice poem / Robert Duncan ([Place of publication not identified]: Bibliophasia Reprint Service, 1993).
From the same publishing outfit that brought you The Little Golden Book of Lesser New York School Poets ([1988?])—which I’ve never had the pleasure of seeing—comes this bootleg-esque “edition” of Duncan’s poem, “composed in 1948 and first published in Poems 1948-49 (Berkeley Miscellany Editions)," per the title page verso. In the circulatory life of a poem, sometimes the sort-of authorized is produced as a way of releasing the poem to wherever it needs to go… This fresh iteration of “The Venice Poem” is the third [known] stand-alone edition, the first being from Prism (Sydney, 1975), and the second from Poets’ Mimeo (Burlington, Vt., ) in an edition of only 48. (The Picaron (Amsterdam, 1986) is its own thing, being extracts from.)
WIP (works-in-progress), volume 1, issue 5, fall —Special “Printer’s Devil” Poetry Issue.
Handsomely letterpressed, “No. five” in orange stiff papers. Non-cynically speaking, this kind of little magazine (“a brown university little magazine,” appearing quarterly) shows the interlaced networks of mentors, cohorts, student-editors—
- staff: Ray Ragosta
- with contributors, beside the students, including: Denise Levertov, William Bronk, John Martone, Michael Gizzi, Rosmarie Waldrop, Kenneth Irby, David Rivard, Keith Waldrop, Ray Ragosta, with artwork by Ippy Gizzi [Patterson].
Reduction in force / Daniel Borzutzky
Was this printed in Chicago?—by the author?—around 2010? I like a cataloging mystery, and this fine, folded broadsheet lends such, with its columnar stanzas, one per each unnumbered panel, hewn into shapes convex, concave, and slanted, one to the other; each stanza fitting together, panel to panel. On the reverse, a drawing (by the author?) reminiscent of the work of the late Buffalo artist Mark Freeland: a figure a-sea in boxy labyrinth. This kind of hand- and post-circulated edition—published by virtue of being—is the stuff readers’ desk drawers are crammed with; let us count ourselves lucky at least one copy fell into an archive. Collected Works go uncollected without it.
Notes, N° 3 - Juin 1990 (Malakoff [Paris]: Raquel Levy, 1986-1996).
This third issue (apparently of 6) consists of “Charles Bernstein on Charles Reznikoff,” a transcription of a lecture by Bernstein in English with Pierre Alféri translating into French (plus a commentary by Emmanuel Hocquard, also in French). Not only an outline of Reznikoff’s life, Bernstein offers a context for the poet in American modernist writing, and within the “nexus” of the Objectivist poets. Partly a transcript to an audio recording, we also hear [in print] Oppen introducing Reznikoff, and Reznikoff beginning to read. Bernstein draws out several qualities of the poet’s work, including Jewish themes and the blessedness of the everyday, the collage of found materials, and connections to Ginsberg, Jabés, Rakosi. Take this comparison between Testimony and other long works like “The Waste Land” and the “Cantos”:
By surface/depth, I think Reznikoff was not interested in a certain kind of realist or mimetic depth that would occur if you thematically linked all of these different items, and I think one of the reasons that his work could not be understood so easily […] is that by constantly intercutting and jump-cutting between the materials, the status of the detail and the particular gains primacy as opposed to some level of rhetorical depth and narrative closure […]
Serious Iron (Port Moody, B.C.: Iron, ).
The archive collected the little magazine Iron (English Department, Simon Fraser University), but this one is “[a]pparently an unnumbered issue,” edited by Linda Parker (Oct. 1971, Bagdad, Massachusetts), which thankfully Brown University has cataloged with a monographic record, giving fuller access to an otherwise slippery volume which was somehow missed by subscription. Readers and researchers might find of interest: “Notes made after visiting Charles Olson on Saturday 6 June 1969” by Ralph Maud; Jeremy Prynne on Maximus IV, V & VI, as transcribed by Tom McGauley; “An alternative for opposites” by Robert Creeley; and poems by Maud, Gladys Hindmarch, Derryll [Derryl] White, Brian Fawcett, Victoria Walker Margesson, Brett Enemark, and prose by Tom McGauley; with translations from Rilke by Karl Siegler.
Wisconsin Academy Review, volume 32, number 3, June 1986 (Madison: Wisconsin Academy of Sciences, Arts and Letters).
Is there ever compensation for the neglect of a compelling writer’s work? Likely not. Though I always find it heartening to watch the slow growth of “recovery” as a writer receives their due. In this issue, “Getting to Know Lorine Niedecker” by Gail Roub; also, “One By Herself: the Achievements of Lorine Niedecker” by Karl Gartung.
033 [& 034]
[Poems by Jack Collum, Jenny Henry, and Gloria Frym] ([Texas?]: [little red leaves], [about 2011]).
These four leaves—issued as two sheets, adhered, within folio (31 x 23 cm)—are printed on reused pages from various magazines featuring commercial illustrations advertisements (some in color). [So, is this the same press that published Shin Yu Pai’s four poems on animals, printed in similar fonts over reused signatures from The Old Print Shop (New York, N.Y.) catalogs, pagination inconsistent throughout, with maps and pictures of wildlife?] Two works by Collom, the other two coauthored with either collaborator, the folio functions as an icon to network or artistic community but also as small press publishing possibility, and an intentional (re)use of the means on hand.
Sand Dollar Books, Catalog One: Modern & Postmodern Literature (Berkeley, Ca., [about 1974?]).
Secondhand sales catalogues are often an invaluable source for research, revealing all they do about publications, locating and tracing authors and presses, descriptions, and what they reveal about the bookseller. Here’s a sample from this one, an early publication from the magnificent Sand Dollar Books (run by Jack Shoemaker, who, later, with Peter Howard of Serendipity Books, forged Small Press Distribution):
Gertrude Stein, A Bibliography. Compiled by Robert A. Wilson. NY: The Phoenix Bookshop, 1974.
Stooge. Num[b]ers 1-11 plus Ice Cream Stooge. San Diego/Santa Barbara/Hong Kong/Albuquerque/Oconomowoc Lake, 1967-1974. Edited by Geoff Young and Allen Schiller.
Taggard (Genevieve) Long View. [SF]: Book Club of California, 1947.
Taggart (John) To Construct a Clock. New Rochelle: The Elizabeth Press, (1971).
The list goes on…
The Literary World of San Francisco & its Environs / by Don Herron; edited by Nancy J. Peters. San Francisco: City Lights Books, .
This fascinating guide, formatted like the MIT architectural Baedekers, moves neighborhood by neighborhood through the literary history and happenings of the city like a massively illustrated whodunit—
MARKET STREET: the Hearst building; home to the Heart Examiner; featuring the first American newspaper column, the “Town Crier” by Ambrose Bierce.
RUSSIAN HILL: Where Jack Kerouac stayed with Neal and Carolyn Cassady and their family, 1952.
NORTH BEACH: City Lights Pocket Book Shop!
MISSION: Where did Emma Goldman live in 1916?
HAIGHT-ASHBURY-FILLMORE: The Zen Center of San Francisco, where Philip Whalen lived for years—down the street from Diane di Prima’s—around the corner from Jack Keroauc’s digs in 1968.
POINTS NORTH: Napa, where Jessamyn West lived, and where Robert Louis Stevenson spent time (recuperating) in 1880.
Certain authors are a neighborhood unto themselves, such as Jack London, John Steinbeck, Mark Twain, and Dashiell Hammett—thanks to whom, the plaque on Burritt Street reads: “On approximately this spot Miles Archer, partner of Sam Spade, was done in by Brigid O’Shaughnessy.”
Doughboy Doggerel: Verse of the American Expeditionary Force, 1918-1919 / Alfred E. Cornebise, ed. Athens, Ohio: Ohio University Press, .
You won’t find Owen or Sassoon in these pages, warns the jacket flap. These Army poets were first published on the pages of The Stars and Stripes, a weekly newspaper of the American Expeditionary Forces. Chaptered thematically (patriotism; overseas; soldiering; fallen heroes; coming home; romance; “Allies and Enemies”; humor; plus a miscellany), the anthology offers a rank-and-file of verse, to complement, or complicate, or make non-complacent, our canon of poetry from World War I.
Ocean Hiway: 8 Poets in San Diego. San Diego, CA: Wild Mustard, 1982.
Contributors: Melanie Neilson -- Peter Dragin -- David Sternbach -- Don Eulert -- Steven Roberts -- Shelley White -- Ted Burke -- Paul Dresman.
Collaboratively edited, per the collective statement; I first came across Shelley White’s writing some years ago, by way of her chapbook A February Activity (La Jolla, CA: Parentheses Writing Series, 1990), and immediately sent a hello, by way of Pasquale Verdicchio. Consider the many layers that reveal themselves—dried silver dollars—in “Knowledge of the Sphere”:
Page 9, Oceans
Pacifique et Indien –
cerulean shallows lie warm over the top
of the albatross cordillera
which can describe the flight, the pattern
of those birds who cannot pass
the doldrums, but knew perhaps
these submerged peaks at colder times than ours. (72)
Even better to find White’s poems in a local context of choir, voices familiar and not. (Were all of these friends, I wonder, students of Fanny Howe’s?)
Soundings: Ives, Ruggles, Varèse / [edited by Peter Garland, with cover by Alison Knowles]. West Bath (Maine): Soundings Magazine, 1974.
The title for this issue comes from the opening essay by Lou Harrison—and has ever an issue presented so much as a full-on monograph?! Densely composed of musical notation, diagrams, painting, and by way of critical apparatus, the measure in its multifariousness presents a radical mode of sentential breath.
The Gulf of Maine [A Blackberry Reader] / collected and edited by Gary Lawless. Brunswick, Me.: Blackberry, 1977.
Cross-disciplinarity is foregrounded here by the regional. Poems, music, and “maritime matters” coalesce around a notion of locale, also featuring illustrations and color plates (see: “Lobster, Homarus americanus, at 40 feet, Cobscook Bay Maine” by Jon Witman). Consider that one such anthology [originally intended to be a magazine, though I find no record of an Issue 2] can include—and not as found, or source, or sampled text—a chart from the Gulf of Maine Whale Sighting Network.
Fluxus: Selections from the Gilbert and Lila Silverman Collection / Clive Phillpot and Jon Hendricks. New York: Museum of Modern Art, 1988.
With fastening flap folded from inside front reaching around to buckle into back cover, this catalog makes the effort to enact a Fluxus gesture; for the editors are trying to catalog art that took aim at classification and disciplinary containers: to read, the reader must unbuckle! Performance may present the epitome of Fluxus, where fixity of the work is most unloosed from closure/container. The concept of “the work” exhibited herein challenges categories like book, text, visuality, sound, utterance, and hierarchies among. For more on hierarchies, consider the flat, linear subject headings from the Library of Congress that may speak to what slips between…
– History – 20th century – Exhibitions.
Art – Private collections – Michigan – Detroit – Exhibitions.