Thursday, February 19, 2009

poetry books arriving in the mail

Since Christmas I have received 4 poetry books of note in the mail. I usually frown on getting books online since you don't know, really, what you are getting until it arrives and you open the packaging. So, it's either perpetually Christmas time or it's another sad April Fool's joke that I have paid for.

In these cases, I have been lucky to have received 4 additional Christmas presents inside of practical jokes. The first is Left Hand by Margaret Cesa. This book appears to have been self-published in 1974, with illustrations throughout by Nancie Gunkleman. The copy I got was signed by Margaret Cesa in 1974. There is no publication history nor name of Press, nor contact info listed anywhere in the book. Its pages are unnumbered. Nice clean copy.

I got this book as well as the next two through ebay, which as many people know, is on a downward spiral. I "won" an early Copper Canyon letterpress chapbook, signed, by Richard Shelton. 12" X 5 1/2". Beautifully made Tree Swenson. I had another early Copper Canyon book - Soie Sauvage by Olga Broumas - which was published in 1979. It looks more "professional" than the Shelton chapbook published three years later. Odd, that.....

I got A Kind of Glory published in 1982. It reminds me of chapbooks created by Toothpaste Press and the Perishable Press Limited. Handmade paper, letterpress text. Uniquely made books. However, this little story had a strange twist in it; the seller initially sent me the wrong book. I was sent James Laughlin (with Vanessa Jackson) book The House of Light, published by The Grenfell Press, New York, in 1986. This book is astounding in its production. I had not heard of Grenfell Press before but this is an incredible book that I was only too happy to receive, even by accident. I was able to keep this book in addition to receiving the Shelton chapbook. Fantastic.

But one can not expect too many "happy accidents" to come. Indeed, shortly afterwards I "won" a signed Theodore Weiss collection of poetry which was returned to the seller in an mangled condition by the USPS. While I was refunded fully, I wonder what the rate increases actually PAY FOR since improved service is not evident. And postal employees are generally an unhappy bunch. Just grinds my socks that they increase rates while volume declines and service fails. If the USPS was a stand-alone company, it would likely be forced under.

The final book I received was Pieces of Sissy Lee by Kathryn Burkett. This coffee-table sized self-published book is a hodge podge of art book styles and broken poetics. Glossy cover. Unnumbered pages. Visually interesting.

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