325 releases later, Kendra Steiner Editions reaches TEN YEARS of contemporary poetry and experimental music in early 2016. It all began when I needed some copies of a new poem (Four Texas Streams) to distribute at a reading I was doing at Viva Books here in San Antonio in support of my Word Mechanics poetry book Twelve Gates To The City: The Labours of Hercules in the Lone Star State. Four Texas Streams did well, so I went on to publish others, then bring in other poets I respected and whose work I felt needed more exposure, from young and relatively unknown poets such as Stuart Crutchfield and A. J. Kaufmann to respected names such as Doug Draime and Luis Cuauhtemoc Berriozabal. Then after a few years we moved into music, with an album by Sir Plastic Crimewave and a 3″ mini-cdr by Derek Rogers. Now we move into our second decade of creation. Thanks to all of you who have supported KSE in one way or another over the years.
I hope we make it through a second ten years. The underground “market” changes from year to year, but the most important lesson I’ve learned in that respect is that YOU BUILD YOUR OWN UNIQUE AUDIENCE IF YOU ARE DOING UNIQUE WORK. And we’ve done that….and on an international level…and for ten years. It’s sad that some of the folks we’ve worked with over the years have changed the nature of their work to suit the “alternative” marketplace or to curry favor with the gatekeepers of “alternative” culture, and in every case they have cheapened or diluted their work and lost the spark which made them worthwhile in the first place….but that’s the way of the world, isn’t it? As Little Richard once observed, some people lose what they have to get what they think they want.
Also, while we are waxing philosophical about the state of the arts and culture, isn’t it kind of ironic and on a deeper level depressing and pathetic that Rolling Stone and The Village Voice and the like are now featuring a “Top 15 Noise Releases” list? Noise? That’s so five years ago. Or is it ten? Jandek and the Nihilist Spasm Band and Mahogany Brain and Fossils and Harry Partch and Sun Ra and Brian Ruryk and Wadada Leo Smith and Steve Lacy never needed labels and names-of-movements to justify their work, as if any name or label could ever encompass what they have done/are doing. I’ve lived long enough to see dozens of movements come and go in the various arts, including my own chosen field of poetry. When I was a teenager in high school back in the mid-70’s, I was carrying around LP’s by Alfred 23 Harth, Captain Beefheart, Anthony Braxton, Faust, John Cage, Kim Fowley, The Spontaneous Music Ensemble, and the like, and I still am today! My core has not changed, but my scope has enlarged and grown exponentially. I’m still as hungry as I was then (perhaps that’s the real key), and I still every month take a chance on books and music and art and film by people new to me. NOT just recommended to me. I plan to continue doing that…As long as people like Massimo Magee and Lisa Cameron and Ernesto Diaz-Infante and Alfred 23 Harth are out there doing important and under-recognized work, I’m going to be out there plugging away for them by championing and releasing their work through KSE. Life is short—-USE every day you have available to you. As Kinky Friedman once stated to justify one of his candidacies, “why the hell not!”
We had 22 music releases planned in 2015 and we managed to get 21 of them out (apologies to Lisa Cameron and Nathan Bowles—-their album will be out later in January), and we issued around 12 poetry chapbooks. That’s at least 33 releases. I don’t see that happening again—-maybe a total of 20 poetry and music releases in 2016. However, we here have the attitude that it’s creation which is important, not reception. Some labels/presses put out 3 or 4 featured releases a year and work the rest of the year supporting them, promoting them, sucking up to the “alternative” powers that be (and some of those “powers” who were our former champions seem to expect more sucking-up-to than I’m willing to provide!), etc. When you consider that someone on the level of fame of John Cage had MANY unperformed compositions when he died and that “new” compositions of his are STILL being performed and recorded today, that Gertrude Stein had 8 large volumes of high-quality unpublished works left when she died AND EVEN AFTER HER DEATH SHE HAD TO PAY FOR THEIR PUBLICATION, and that a small percentage of Andy Warhol’s 1980’s work was ever exhibited in his lifetime and that these later works are amazing in their quality and diversity and originality (and unlike you or me, these are people who had large international reputations…but it’s the WORK that survives, not the reputation)…when you consider that Melville had to privately publish his later poems (some of his greatest-ever work) and when you consider the reception of Emily Dickinson’s work in her lifetime (not to mention recent greats such as Angus MacLise or poet Leland Hickman), the message is….learn your craft to the point where it becomes as natural to you as breathing or speaking, if you compete with anyone compete with the greats in your own pantheon of greatness NOT with your contemporaries, and create create create.
WE WILL BE GONE FROM 4 JANUARY to 8 JANUARY in North Texas (orders received while we are gone will be sent out on Monday 11 January). While up there, Mary Anne and I will present Derek Rogers with the first 20 copies of the KSE 10th ANNIVERSARY COMPILATION ALBUM (pictured below), a project that he and I have been working on for six months. It will be released in the latter half of January….so save your orders until that time. It is a stunning collection of new and exclusive tracks from 10 great talents we’ve worked with in one way or another over the last ten years….and it also totally captures what KSE is about.
We have a lot of surprises in store for 2016, but first comes the 10th Anniversary Album in mid-January. Then our first featured poetry chapbook will be a new collection from one of the greats, Luis Cuauhtemoc Berriozabal. If I could put a poetry book in the desk drawers of motel rooms the way the Gideons do with Bibles, I would put a collection of Pablo Neruda. He was a master of the use of natural and everyday particulars, and that’s what poetry is about, particulars which resonate. Luis is one of the finest post-Neruda poets, a man with deep and profound roots, sipping from the underground streams which transcend time and nationality, and it’s a pleasure to continue to present his work. Watch for this collection, which should be out in a month or two. Also, I will be moving in some new directions and exploring some new publishing platforms and performing venues with my own poetry in the next two years (stay tuned for that), and KSE may be doing a few European-based events in 2017. Hope we’re all still standing…and even if we all don’t make it, some of us will…
Our releases tend to stay available for 3-6 months. Be sure to stock up on quality experimental music and contemporary poetry for the new year now.
Here’s what’s available, including the newest releases from the last few days:
CDR ALBUMS ($8 US postpaid / $12.00 elsewhere postpaid)
KSE #327, BELLTONE SUICIDE (aka Mike Barrett), “Wave Table Erotica”
KSE #324, FOSSILS, “Modern Architecture”….cover art by Wyatt Doyle
KSE #326, MORE EAZE (aka Marcus M. Rubio), “Abandoning Finitude”….cover art by Bob Bruno
KSE #322, WEREWHEELS (Sir Plastic Crimewave & Dawn Aquarius), “Live, Raw and Psycho In Japan”
KSE #320, MIKE BARRETT & TOM CREAN, “Casual Luddites”
KSE #318, ALFRED 23 HARTH & JOHN BELL, “Camellia”
KSE #316, MASSIMO MAGEE & DAVID W. STOCKARD, “Interrogatories”
KSE #314, BELLTONE SUICIDE, NON-CONFORMIST SESSIONS
KSE #310, MORE EAZE (Marcus M. Rubio), “Accidental Prizes”
KSE #305, RAMBUTAN, “Remember Me Now”
KSE #296, THE GARMENT DISTRICT (featuring Jennifer Baron), “Luminous Toxin”
KSE #298, GIFT FIG: ALFRED 23 HARTH and CARL STONE, “Stellenbosch,” live in South Africa, September 2014
NEWEST POETRY CHAPBOOKS:
($6 US ppd/$7 elsewhere ppd)
KSE #319 (poetry chapbook), BILL SHUTE, “Sculpture Garden In The Snow” Creel Pone Sound Study #11
KSE #317 (poetry chapbook), BILL SHUTE, “Inventing One’s Own Land”
KSE #306 (poetry chapbook), BILL SHUTE, “Manipulating Ambiguity”
KSE #302 (poetry chapbook), BILL SHUTE, “Satori In Lake Charles”
payment via paypal to django5722(at)yahoo(dot)com
Please include a note with your paypal order including the items ordered AND your mailing address (which Paypal often fails to provide me)….thanks!
Questions? Write to django5722 (at) yahoo (dot) com . Thanks for your support!
Remember, as bad as so much in society is, we are in the midst of a golden age in the arts, and it will take 70+ years for future anthropologists-of-culture to wade through and make sense of all the micro-press and micro-label and self-issued works which are coming out daily. We are all living through and part of this period, each of us a stone in the mosaic, a torn piece of throwaway newsprint in the larger collage—-we are all literally making history and building bridges into the future.
And let’s not ever forget that it’s the workers, the most bashed group in society in our present set-up, who make all this possible. The overnight crew at your local supermarket who stock the shelves; the agricultural workers who grow and pick those strawberries and grapes and coffee beans that start our mornings; the bus drivers who get up at 4 a.m.; the no-benefit, 30 hour-a-week day-care workers who without knowing it are molding the future of those runny-nosed and overflowing-with-life two and three year olds who will grow up to, I hope, not screw up the world as much as my generation and the one before me have; the bartender who serves you that local-brew at the end of a long work week—-those are the heroes of everyday life. Those of you reading this on a portable device at 3 a.m. while you are working as a security guard at a building you as a citizen would not be welcome in, I’m talking to you. Those of you up with a fussy infant or toddler at 3 a.m., trying to make their world better and their life more pleasant and their future brighter than yours was (ours was/mine is), thank you. I try to be a positive person in my daily life. I’m not going to be able to overthrow capitalism or do away with militarism or imperialism or fundamentalism or bigotry, and I’m not going to do away with that percentage of the population who are jerks and a**holes and egomaniacs, but the majority of people aren’t, and I try to view every person I meet (worker or customer) at the driver’s license office or the convenience store or the post office or the bus stop as a brother or sister, a comrade in the fight that is getting through daily life in the US circa 2016 (or anywhere…most have it worse than we do), until they prove otherwise, and unfortunately many do prove otherwise, often those who make the loudest pronouncements about how wonderful and how correct and how progressive they are. That was one of the first “dirty little secrets” of life I learned, probably while still a teenager. As Louis Armstrong and many others in many other walks of life have observed, those who talk don’t know, those who know don’t talk.
First, do no harm.
Off to North Texas….see you in a week or so….