Time to stop for a while, take a breath, and take stock (both figuratively and literally) of the year so far here at Kendra Steiner Editions…
After an eventful and productive first-seven months of 2012, I’m going to Florida for 11 days for a kind of recharge that will allow me to step out of my usual life and into a different environment. One of my long-time desires has been to take a week or two and do nothing but hit the dog-racing tracks of Florida (about 75+ % of the active greyhound racing tracks in the US are in Florida), stay in cheap motels, drink mojitos at 11 a.m., write poetry, take photographs (which you’ll then see for the next year as poetry chapbook and cdr covers), and explore the back roads and small towns of the unique state of Florida—especially the Central Florida area, where the tourists do not go as there are no beaches, with many of those places still looking like it’s the 1950′s, and also with Florida having European roots going back to the 1500′s. I don’t know how many people would consider such a sojourn to be a spiritual experience, but it is to me, so wish me well.
Related to the Florida trip, a few months ago I planned and did the advance work for a four chapbook series of Florida-related poems, collectively called the FLORIDA NOCTURNE POEMS. Two of those are already finished—SHADES OF NIGHT DESCENDING (KSE #234) and, most recently, MONDO DAYTONA (KSE #241), which I’ll release when I get back.
The next two, PEACH COBBLER IN THE POKER ROOM and SECOND STOP IS JUPITER, I will work on while in Florida and presumably finish and edit when I get back to San Antonio. Each is a stand-alone volume (my pieces in some ways fit the “serial poem” classification of Jack Spicer, but in some ways do not), the speaker/narrative-persona is different in each, the poetic technique is different in each, but I do intend the whole set of them (if I were pretentious, I’d call it a tetralogy) to work as a unit, as a kind of “exhibition of four new works,” and it’s possible that someday I will publish the four in book form, but that’s not going to be happening any time soon, so be sure to get the individual chapbooks as they come out. I feel as though I’m doing some of my best work ever recently, and also I feel that these works are a kind of barometer or core-sample of 2012 America . My poems document a character being affected by and trying to make sense out of the various happenings and societal changes were are going through. In some ways, the last 10-15 years have brought about far bigger and far deeper changes than the 1960′s did. That there is a fundamentalist/know-nothing/reactionary/predatory-capitalist/militaristic blowback to these changes should come as no surprise. Time and long-form change, writ large and thus not visible to many of us while it’s happening, and inevitable demographic and cultural and societal evolution will eventually do what needs to be done no matter what any of us think about it. The best any of us can do is to fully experience and fully engage with and fully make our mark upon today.
In addition to Mondo Daytona, there are two other new poetry chapbooks coming out in August, when I get back from Florida, and each is a unique and important work from an original and significant American poetic voice.
John Sweet, based in south central New York state, is a master poetry craftsman and a master of terse, understated righteous anger at the state of things in our culture and among our relationships. His clinical dissection of small details and small moments which are charged with emotion and which signify deep-rooted pain and dysfunction is distinctively John Sweet. I often read John’s work aloud to friends when they visit, and they tend to be speechless after each one. His new work for KSE is BRAVE RETREAT (KSE #216).
We’re proud also to have a brand new work from Pittsburgh’s JIM D. DEUCHARS. Jim has spent at least a year on this work (when I visited him while in Pittsburgh in May 2011, he was starting it), and it’s an entry in the Sound Library Series which is perhaps one of the purest examples of what that series (now up to 71 volumes!!!!!) is all about. People tend to associate me with that series, but there have been a number of other poets who’ve done Sound Library entries—Brad Kohler, Christopher Cunningham, Adrian Manning, David Keenan, A.J. Kaufmann, Stuart Crutchfield, Michael Layne Heath, etc.—and the basic concept of the series has been a suite of poems inspired on some way by a piece of music or a body of musical work. Poets can run with that any way they wish. In the case of Jim’s new chapbook, THELONIOUS FAKEBOOK (KSE #236), he has quite literally attempted to take the form and structure and aesthetic of pianist-composer Thelonious Monk and transpose them to the world of poetry. Years of thought and decades of listening have gone into this, and IMHO, the chapbook is an amazing success. Jim is one of the most creative thinkers in poetry today, and I’m proud that KSE has been behind his work for a number of years now. And don’t fret: we have not forgotten his Pittsburgh trilogy, the Western Pennsylvania post-modern answer to W.C. Williams’s Paterson. Now that the Thelonious Monk book is done, Jim is going back to the third and final volume in that series, and he hopes to have it ready for publication in the second half of 2013.
Near the end of 2012 we will be presenting a brand-new collection from San Francisco poet Michael Layne Heath called Unbroadcast Reruns. I can’t imagine KSE without the voices of John and Jim and Michael, and we are honored to provide an outlet for their newest works. Please try these chapbooks, and/or one of mine. The poetry chapbooks are only $5 each postpaid anywhere and provide hours and hours of engagement and enlightenment and entertainment. To paraphrase and misquote the old music-industry tagline of the 1970′s, “KSE POETRY CHAPBOOKS ARE YOUR BEST ENTERTAINMENT (AND ENLIGHTENMENT) VALUE!”
And don’t forget the music half of this operation. 2012 has been a great year so far: important new releases from HEATHER LEIGH and ALFRED 23 HARTH and MASSIMO MAGEE and others; the KSE 6th Anniversary Concert at the end of April in Austin; the Jandek concert in Austin in mid-June, which I co-produced with Church of the Friendly Ghost; and the many wonderful new experimental-music releases on CDR that will be issued soon (although most are available for order now…”issued” means they are officially “released” and I have a write-up about them on the blog).
Coming soon are
from Austin, UNMOOR, the heavyweight psych-drone tagteam of Eva Kelly and Andy Hendrix with NIGHT DRIVER (KSE #228)
from Western Massachusetts, experimental music and forward-thinking culture renaissance man MATT KREFTING with SWEET DAYS OF DISCIPLINE (KSE #220)
from Los Angeles but with decades of Texas roots is DEREK ROGERS, a longtime friend of KSE, with his newest work BORN INTO SYSTEMS (KSE #226), a heartfelt and mind-blowing tribute to the late Lee Jackson, and an album that somehow packs everything that’s great about Derek’s large body of work (60+ releases) into one album, if that’s possible
later as Fall begins, you can expect more fine releases….from Hamilton, Ontario, the experimental duo FOSSILS with BELLS AND GULLS
from all over the world, literally, the fourth KSE release from free-music heavy-hitter ALFRED 23 HARTH, ”THE EXPATS,” a live concert where A23H comes together with Carl Stone, Samm Bennett, and Kazuhisa Uchihashi (note: the latter’s name is NOT mis-spelled on the actual cover as it is in this pic)
When I get back around August 10, I’ll post a list of all the new items available for order and then I’ll get each one properly written about on the blog so they will be technically “released.”
I’m not doing any readings while in Florida—I did have a reading/performance scheduled in Jacksonville, but the travel schedule I’d locked in already (and could not change without costing me money) did not allow that to happen, alas—but I will be doing a reading in Austin on Monday 17 September, at Headhunters at 7th and Red River, as part of Michael Casares’s “Austin Salon Poetic” series. I go on at 7:30, so please arrive by 7:10 or so to get a good barstool and get your drink order in…as usual, I’ll be premiering some of the new pieces written in the months since my last reading.
I’m also hoping to get back to the Northeast again in the summer of 2013, but it’s too early to talk about that now…I do hope to do a few readings and/or music-poetry performances back there as I did in May 2011. We’ll see how that works out.
Also, I’ve been working with San Antonio composer-musician Marcus Rubio on an exciting new project, a poetry and electronic-music album, and we expect that to be available some time in the Fall of 2012. Marcus discusses it near the end of this interview: http://2laborand2wait.blogspot.com/2012/07/in-flight-10-questions-with-marcus-rubio.html
Much more is planned for 2012 and of course much will come out of the blue and surprise all of us (positively, I hope). Thanks to all of you for your support over the years. This is a totally DIY operation. Everything is done in-house. Every page of every book, every cdr cover, every disc, everything is done by hand here at my San Antonio home. We DO NOT use the usual alternative/underground distributors because we want to circumvent that whole system of distribution/promotion/marketing. We do not play that game—if others do, they are certainly welcome to. Not all indie distributors are crooks…just about 70% of them, and most of the rest are pri*ks on ego trips, loving the power they wield as self-appointed tastemakers for the underground. If you play their game, you validate them. We choose not to.
Well, I’m off to Florida….the dog-tracks of Florida are calling….I will have NO internet access (thank the Lord) while I’m gone, so just imagine me pencil in hand, alternately handicapping the races and making poetry notes, sipping on a mojito, and living the Life of Riley…why am I doing it? As children often say, “because I can!”