Monday, September 26, 2011

Notes on old new little presses part three & parts one, two, four, five, six, seven, eight, nine

Unless I'm mistaken Bob Cobbing purchased his supplies of sundries for Writers Forum (wf) publishing and New River Project printing from commercial stationery suppliers. Whilst limited in just about every sense of description, wf publications were rarely promoted as limited editions in explicit sales pitch as collectable commodities. Eventual collectability may have been implicit in exchange with coin, but everyone who knew Bob also knew he would generously give wf publications away in a public bar, or perhaps a quick deal for a couple of pints and a malt.

Numbering and cataloguing work seemed crucial to Cobbing, as were obtaining an ISBN for each title, along with inscribed wf print/reprint/anniversary month and year on every small print run.

Cobbing also guided the Association of Little Presses (ALP) away from association with the growing organization for 'small presses' although Bob was happy to table wf publications at small press bookfairs. Another contradiction it seems, but all-purpose 'small press' designation favoured in North America during the late 20c counterculture boom did not always include poetry - the mode Cobbing committed his life to.

Small press zines, comics, and books, many conventionally perfect-bound in imitation of corporate publishing house product were usually content-driven. As long as cheap paper supply, word processor with basic font menu, ink cartridge, printer, stapler and clean work-top for collation was readily available - did it really matter what source and measure of each and every item of production was?

Perhaps "no" but for the old new little press producer the answer is surely "yes".

Friday, September 23, 2011

Notes on old new little presses part two
& parts one, three, four, five, six, seven, eight, nine
As the few surviving and dedicated UK-based poetry publishers fight to retain arts subsidies (most commercial publishers have long since dropped their loss-making poetry imprints featuring new work: younger generations of literary agents have been taught not to touch poetry with a bargepole) - it's left to university and small presses to take up the slack.

Veer Books celebrates 'unconforming' writing and the present writer was glad to be invited to produce something more than a 'cheap chapbook' a few years back. MJ Weller's Beat generation Ballads pushed the boat right out in terms of production values. Working editor Stephen Mooney and I worked closely for the better part of 2010, learning new techie skills together.

Stephen offered to produce a disk with the book - giving access to audio and video available on 'beat generation ballad' google blog postings. It is on this blog the sequence was originally worked in preliminary format and EGNEP hasn't deleted them. I wasn't sure where this would have gone - YouTube videos are regularly removed by Google and its users - but it would have been great to have my own home'baked mini-movies published with the book. I do have a slight problem with the aesthetics. Disks come with books and 'zines - separate bird-frighteners of bland and ugly plastic. Total absence of integration and I don't know many people who read and re-read CDs /DVDs unless they're ripping burning and copying down the line.

Beat generation Ballads needed online publication to work as an ebook. Existing electronic platforms have strengths, weaknesses, advantages and disadvantages. Not really good enough.

A basic Veer Book is the conventional perfect-bound paperback, and that's what Will Rowe, Stephen, and myself went for. Veer's printing partners make all decisions on paper stock and reproduction process after a pdf is formatted and delivered. "You never know what you're gonna get," as Stephen says.

My wish was for a square bookwork that could be compared to both a slick 'n' shiny printed CD booklet and a vinyl album sleeve. Heaviest card stock for the cover was requested (Out to Lunch's 2010 Smooch Tentet Resolve ?!#@$ has a cardboard cover but that stock had finished). So 2011's Beat generation Ballads looks and feels just like an oversized slickly printed CD booklet they use to tuck into those plastic cases. But Veer reference number 033⅓ provided vinyl association and WATCH OUT FOR THIS GUY! cartoon became random binary invading my text.

Here's email I sent Stephen on receiving copies printed bookwork.

Have you noticed rogue digit "1" makes sudden appearance in column of four

on 'Ballad of Lisa & Pete' page, then single binary 'Unwarned' appearance before final gatecrash at 'poetry professors' 1967 bash

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

...the typeface sent me...(- - - in progress, Frances Kruk) 

Notes on old new little presses part one & parts two, three, four, five, six, seven, eight, nine

printed zine Herbarium poetry (Capsule Press, 2011) in which present writer contributes, made me think again about 'Notes on an exhibition' written for London's bookartbookshop April 2010 'Home'Baked: literary artzines in the age of the internet' show (see also Openned Zine #1 pdf).

Is Herbarium really a 'zine, or part of a new little press phenomenon? Remembering response to an Ugly Duckling Presse booklet I ordered last year after London's show, I realised I'd left an essential aspect of post-electronic publishing out the picture. The old new little presses.

Dorothea Lasky's Poetry Is Not a Project arrived from The Old American Can Factory in Brooklyn NY, jiffy-packed & mail art address-stamped with brown paper interior wrapping inscribed 'ORIGINAL'. Booklet contained readymade cardboard bookmark; the publication itself part of an imprint Dossier series, quote, The Dossier Series was created to expand the for
mal scope of the Presse. Guest edited by Ben Fama, booklet is stitch-laced collation with content set in arresting sans-serif titles juxtaposed with serif body type plus illustrations by Sarah Glidden. Something old-fashioned, pre-visual poetics about such image/text divisions. Publication First Edition 2010. No bibliographic information, ISSN/ISBN, or catalogue numbering.

The booklet didn't sit well stuffed on a shelf with hundreds of torn and dog-earred comics and fanzines; dozens of Writers Forum (wf) publications; assorted photocopy poetry/art single sheets & zines accumulated over decades.

I felt much the same about Sean Bonney's Crater Press For The Administration (After Rimbaud).Thought and consideration had gone into making a pamphlet that was 'little press' in an older, pre-zine tradition where size, shape, paper, typesetting, stitching, edition numbering, format designation, method of mechanical reproduction and requirement (or not) of paper knife all play equal part in look, feel, overall presentation and reader reciprocity. Can Crater Press Bonney sit comfortably with ziney Sean 1999-2002 wf's, cul-de-qui, quic_lude, and yt's from the 2000's - hang on, yes, that untitled color card cover to Bonney's the Domestic poem (Canary Woof Press London May 16 2001)is a class act alright.

Friday, September 16, 2011

" There's a Vanessa for us,

Somewhere a Vanessa for us. "

Mick after Sondheim

image grab from 'Portlandia' YouTube
thanx 4 'Toni' & 'Candace' ht Crot!

Songs Our Teachers Learn Us, or, Lessons To Be Taught sequence

Saturday, September 10, 2011

good day start blog @New York-based platform. thanx 4 tumblrrrrring ht Crot!

Friday, September 02, 2011


Poetry Kit (PK) site flagged end watch out post here

Jumoke Verissimo featured PK poet September. Attended xing the line July 2010. Verissimo does it better.

Damn the Caesars a highlighted PK website this month. Richard Owens' analysis august London Riots thru Sean Bonney's poetic razor has concentrated radar PK. More recent 'Michael Cross His Haecceities' post @damnthecaesars includes Taylor Brady's "research as song, singing as search" comment on Cross. Good tune to go out on.

Songs Our Teachers Learn Us, or, Lessons To Be Taught sequence