Kendra Steiner Editions

March 29, 2008

KSE #49 discussed at Kenyon Review online “Small Press Notes”

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Nice surprise to see last summer’s KSE #49, ROCKET ATTACK USA!!!, reviewed this week in the “Small Press Notes” section of the Kenyon Review blog by noted small-press publisher Sean Casey (note: see Sean’s personal blog and Chuckwagon Press listings here: http://valleyarts.blogspot.com ). Here’s the review:

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Small Press Notes

                          March 27th, 2008 by Sean Casey                        

Rocket Attack U.S.A. !!! | Bill Shute |

San Antonio, TX: Kendra Steiner Editions, 2007

Bill Shute’s chapbook length serial poem, inspired by the Barry Mahon film of same name, is less sci-fi than current event. Bad news is indeed afoot and imminent, but also under wraps. “Monochrome men” abound in “monochrome suits,” and they’re “armed with maps but no compasses.” Unfortunately, I’m unable to approximate here the poetry’s visual arrangement, which is vital to its meaning. No two words closely abut. Instead, the poems space themselves across the page to create a ruptured, syncopated read. If you’re in Glasgow, buy your copy here.

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Gee, with this mention at Kenyon and the review in Arthur Magazine, we’ll have to make this out-of-print chapbook a candidate for the reprint series! A few copies are still available at Volcanic Tongue, though (hence the Glasgow reference).

recent KSE chapbooks available through Volcanic Tongue

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Our friends at Volcanic Tongue in Glasgow, Scotland have four recent KSE chaps now available:

#87, DOUG DRAIME, last may (1968);

#83, GLENN W. COOPER, rimbaud in the city: 10 snapshots;

#88, BILL SHUTE, luna americana (creel pone sound study #8);

#84, BILL SHUTE, pulses of time (creel pone sound study #7).

and in about two weeks, the following two recent chaps will be available:

#90, MK CHAVEZ, visitation;

#86, BILL SHUTE, slash & burn (sound library series, volume 28).

You can check VT’s massive new release list by visiting

http://www.volcanictongue.co.uk/recent.php

March 24, 2008

De-mystify the process

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If Kendra Steiner Editions and my own work as poet and publisher leave any legacy, I hope that it is a can-do spirit and a demystification of poetry and the arts in general. With academic poets attempting to cloud the process with references to French literary theorists and then attaching an entire literary-criticism superstructure to their works, functioning like thorns on a rose, and with so many poets both academic and non-academic being on such an ego trip or wanting to form daisy-chain cliques to exclude you and me so they can feel special about themselves, today’s poetry scene is often its own worst enemy.

However, if you read and closely study post-WWII poetry and the arts, if you detach yourself from the media and from automatic ways of doing and thinking, if you dialogue with other writers and musicians and artists and people who live their lives as their artwork, you can do this too.

Remember the old saying that everyone who bought a Velvet Underground album in the 60s and 70s wound up forming a band? Well, in my case, in my teenage years, I bought old 60s poetry books by Paul Blackburn, Ted Berrigan, Diane Wakoski, Frank Samperi, and Robert Creeley, and I started to write. While my present job requires me to design web pages and to use Publisher, Adobe Acrobat, Photoshop, and various publishing software, I make a point of NOT using any of those with KSE product. I keep it simple and primitive with Microsoft Word, taking it to its limits. Paul Corman-Roberts hit the nail on the head in his recent piece about KSE where he said we were attempting to follow in the tradition of the 50s/60s/70s mimeo’ed homemade chapbook tradition associated with various pioneering beat and new york school writers/publishers. To make a more contemporary reference, much of my music budget goes to homemade small edition (often less than 50 copies) CDRs and cassettes from various noise/drone/electronic/psychedelic artists. They can issue whatever they want in exactly the form they want–they have total control over their art, including distribution. They can totally make real their aesthetic vision. KSE is, to my way of thinking, a literary equivalent to that movement in music. Any of you can do the same. KSE uses a $129 Dell printer and materials from standard office supply stores. The plastic sleeves in which we place the sale copies of the books are just a smaller size of the plastic sleeves available at any comic shop. Like a good neighborhood pizzaria or a mom’n’pop hardware store or meat market, KSE tries to deliver quality handmade goods without any fancy packaging or any pretentious clique-ish imprimatur. You don’t eat the brown paper bag, you eat the delicious chilaquiles tacos inside. F**k the self-serving writers’ groups and the “quality” indie presses. Let them publish each other’s works, praise each other’s works, and invite each other to their own readings—–it’s the literary equivalent of licking each other’s a-holes and then rhapsodizing about the taste.

Whatever it is that life has got you doing to survive can be the training ground for your art and can also provide you with the raw material for your art. Let me use an example chosen at random from my sordid past. Back in the mid-to-late 80s, after my first child Eric was born, up through when Kendra was born, I lived in southwestern Virginia. I usually juggled a few lousy part-time jobs and tried to take a few classes in the evening when I could. I spent a year working as a checker/bagger (and later in the produce department, although I preferred the checker position) at a Food Lion store. Remember the 20/20 expose about Food Lion selling the tainted food items, cutting the rotten parts out of meats and vegetables and then reselling them, re-coloring spoiled and discolored food items? Yes, that Food Lion. Although I was paid the minimum wage and was even forced to work periods “off the clock,” there was nothing I could do about that, so I didn’t let it get me down. Instead, I gave my focus to the many interesting people I’d meet each day. Every customer had a different array of items to purchase, and each item seemed to say so much about that person. And when I’d try to engage customers in smalltalk, each customer had something unique to say. Even if it was a cliche or a parroting back of what someone else had said, it was delivered with a unique spin and speech pattern that made it individual. Looking at and dealing with each customer, and noticing what each customer bought, was a lesson in particulars , and particulars are the tools of the poet.

Also during that period, I saw a job listing for a position as youth minister at a relatively middle-of-the-road, open-minded Protestant church. I had no background in that denomination, and although I am a spiritual person, I have never been a churchgoer or a joiner, and I reject hierarchies of authority in the spiritual realm (I feel as though I’m a member of the “priesthood of all believers”). However, the position had been open for a while, I had worked with children and teens before, and I seemed sincere, so I was offered the 20-hour-a-week position. Hey, it was better than janitorial work (in some ways, in some ways not), so I took it and stayed for a year-and-a-half. One of my jobs was to deliver the children’s sermon every other week (the alternate weeks were done by the pastor, Wayne). I would sit at the top of the stairs leading up to the altar, and the children would come and sit around me, and I would deliver an “object lesson,” where I took an object and used it as a symbol for whatever spiritual quality I was emphasizing that particular day. Each Saturday night, the night before the Sunday service,  I would walk around my home looking at the items there, and thinking about how I could use a particular item as a symbol of God’s love or Jesus’s sacrifice, etc. I remember using a clock, a battery, popcorn, a belt, an apple, and an issue of TV Guide. I got to the point where I could choose ANYTHING and find parallels in it to the Gospel lessons I was hired to deliver. In fact, I challenged my wife to grab something from around the house that she thought WOULD NOT WORK for an object lesson, and I would manage to come up with the metaphors, the parallels. And I did! That was a great lesson in poetic technique, and I still use it today in everything I write and in my design of the covers and creation of cover images.

I could just as easily have chosen a thousand other life-experiences and jobs to make my example, whether it be 20 years ago or yesterday or tomorrow.

Remember the words of George Maciunas: “purge the world of bourgeois sickness—-intellectual, professional and commercialized culture….promote a revolutionary flood and tide in art, promote living-art, anti-art, promote non-art reality to be grasped by all people, not just critics, dilettantes, and professionals…anything can be art and anyone can do it.”

You do not need ANYONE’S validation!

Look at how artworks are constructed—-music, film, visual arts, poetry, sculpture, pottery, anything—-and find a way to capture that structure, that juxtaposition of elements, the grouping of contrasts, that use of color and tone, of sound and silence….find a way to apply what you see to whatever artistic discipline in which you choose to work. Practice, practice, practice. Test your product in the marketplace of ideas. Make your presence felt and become someone who can be relied upon to produce interesting work at regular intervals. Don’t kiss anyone’s rear or suck up to anyone, and you won’t “owe” anyone anything. And if you do owe anyone, payback is always a bitch!

Do what you need to do, and don’t look back.

March 23, 2008

KSE #91, AFTERGLOW, now available

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My latest offering, the five-poem suite AFTERGLOW, is now available for order. Taking a setting that could have come out of a Harold Pinter play—an anonymous young man renting a room from an older lady in return for minor chores and conversation—-I present a somewhat expressionistic series of extreme close-ups of the house and the situation. It’s not unlike a poetic version of cinematographer  C. Davis Smith’s work in Doris Wishman’s mind-blowing mid-60s films such as ANOTHER DAY, ANOTHER MAN. A world of garlic yawns and silverfish, of elderly who can’t afford their medications, of lavender soaps and torn windowscreens. As the heat rises, smell the insecticide, feel the afterglow.

This is Volume 30 in the Sound Library Series, inspired by the grey sounds and dry silences of Austrian composer-trombonist Radu Malfatti’s recent CDR release Claude Lorrain 1 on his own B-Boim label ( http://www.bagatellen.com/archives/reviews/001911.html ). Malfatti’s work speaks volumes without ever raising its voice.

An edition of only 29 copies, AFTERGLOW has been available for a week or two already, and I’ll be sending a stack of them to Volcanic Tongue, so order yours now. As always, $4 postpaid in North America, $5 elsewhere.

March 22, 2008

NEXT EXIT: EIGHT (Hosho McCreesh/Caleb Puckett)

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KSE #89, NEXT EXIT: EIGHT, featuring New Mexico’s Hosho McCreesh and Oklahoma’s Caleb Puckett has been out for a few weeks and we’ve already moved 1/3 of the printing, so act now if you’d like a copy.

Hosho McCreesh writes beautifully about his home state of New Mexico—-if there is any poet out there who is at one with the place he or she calls home, it is McCreesh. I’m reminded of the best work of Gary Snyder in the combination of particulars and the spiritual quality of the land, and I’m also reminded of the great but underrated New Mexico poet Judson Crews, but ultimately Hosho McCreesh has his own instantly recognizable style.

From Tulsa, Oklahoma, Caleb Puckett is a new addition to the KSE stable of poets, and I felt that any NEXT EXIT chapbook dealing with the American Southwest needed Puckett’s unique perspective and voice. He is a master of language tone and texture, and he possesses that unique Oklahoma sense of humor (I lived there for six years) seen in Oklahomans as diverse as Gary Busey, the late great Will Rogers, and The Flaming Lips. His seven new poems in this collection show an incredibly diverse stylistic palette—one moment gushing with a Ginsberg-like flow, the next one channelling a surrealist Spoon River worthy of James Tate. Often, writers capable of the kind of verbal gymnastics Puckett seems to spin so effortlessly wind up being all style and no substance, but Puckett’s work has blood flowing through its veins, it grows out of the absurdity of the human condition and of the societies we’ve constructed, but the author is part of that same world…he is our neighbor.

Although NEXT EXIT: EIGHT contains only 11 poems, you will close the book feeling completely satisfied. The American Southwest—-two state united by Route 66—-is viewed through two VERY different lenses.

Both of these gentlemen are in-demand writers, and I thank them for taking the time to compose all-new material for Kendra Steiner Editions. Hosho McCreesh has a chapbook from Bottle of Smoke Press coming out any day now, entitled MARCHING UNABASHED INTO THE WEEPING, SEARING SUN… (not yet available, but check out the BOS website at http://www.bospress.net/order.html ). Caleb Puckett’s most recent offering is the poetry chapbook DESERTIONS, published by Plan B. Press, available from Plan B’s website: http://planbpress.com/puckettdesertions.html . It’s hard to pull of being both quirky and real, but Puckett is an accomplished tightrope walker, and I’ve spent many a thoughtful and enjoyable hour with my copy of DESERTIONS.

NE8 is an edition of 76 copies. As always, it’s $4 postpaid in the US—-or any 3 different KSE chapbooks for $10 postpaid. Check (or well-concealed cash) to Bill Shute, 8141-B Pat Booker Rd. #399, San Antonio, Texas, 78233. Overseas, chapbooks are $5 each postpaid—-write and request a paypal invoice.

Our next edition of NEXT EXIT will appear in July 2008. Stay tuned.

March 18, 2008

mid-March 2008 notes; April-July upcoming releases

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We’ll be taking off for a mini-vacation to the Texas Hill Country—-any orders rec’d in the next five days will be shipped on Monday 24 March.

Don’t forget the March releases: NEXT EXIT: EIGHT from Hosho McCreesh and Caleb Puckett; VISITATION from MK Chavez; and two new ones from yours truly, LUNA AMERICANA and now KSE #91, AFTERGLOW. I’ll provide write-ups about NE8, VISITATION, and AFTERGLOW in the next 10 days if I can.

Reading-wise, I’ve been finishing the editing/sequencing of Doug Draime’s Oregon poems, which will come out in April; Jim D. Deuchars just sent me an amazing sequence of eight poems, based on various conceptions of “eight”, which will be the May release; Adrian Manning has now finished a stunning suite of poems inspired by Sonic Youth’s “Daydream Nation” album, that chapbook coming out in June; and Luis Cuauhtemoc Berriozabal has given me a number of poems set in both California and Mexico for NEXT EXIT: SEVEN, which will come out in July.

I’m also working my way through the Complete Poems of Frank O’Hara, containing a number of lesser-known pieces I’d not read before, and I’ve read  AT HERRING COVE by Ronald Baatz about ten times so far. In concept, it’s not unlike my 44 HARMONIES or Hosho McCreesh’s 37 PSALMS FROM THE BADLANDS, but the result is completely different. In this work, Baatz combines the poetry-in-the-everyday-detail brilliance of a Mark Weber with the transcendent Zen humor of Brautigan at his best, but it’s always completely Baatz. I think I’d recognize him after 3 lines. When I spoke with the late composer and theorist John Cage in 1989 in Virginia, he told me that if he were really doing his job as a composer—-helping people to hear the music in the supposedly non-musical and getting people to “listen” to their world—-he might eventually put himself out of business (I published a piece in BLACK TO COMM magazine back in the early 90’s about my conversation with Cage—good luck finding a copy!). The same is true for Ronald Baatz. He does not fetishize or enshrine the artifact of the poem, although his literary work is elegantly sculpted yet spontaneous, like the best jazz. His work leads us to see our immediate world with a poetic eye as he does. If we read enough Ronald Baatz (or Mark Weber), perhaps we all would perceive the world as poetry—but since that hasn’t happened yet, we can still savor Mr. Baatz’s work now for its freshness and insight and wit.

See you all in five days. I’ll have a drink for you here while I’m gone…

http://www.realalebrewing.com/brewery_tours.php

Two New Flash-Fiction Pieces from Caleb Puckett

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Congrats to Caleb Puckett, co-author of one of March’s featured KSE releases, NEXT EXIT: EIGHT, on these two fine pieces of flash fiction published at The Paris Bitter Hearts Pit:

http://parisbitterheartspit.blogspot.com/2008/03/flash-fiction-by-caleb-puckett.html

After reading those two place-oriented pieces, you’ll want to read Mr. Puckett’s poetic meditations on the state of Oklahoma found in NEXT EXIT: EIGHT. Just four dollars postpaid in North America (to Bill Shute, 8141-B Pat Booker Rd. #399, San Antonio, TX, 78233).

Poesy on NEXT EXIT: FIVE (Christopher Cunningham)

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Thanks to Brian Morrisey/Poesy for this write-up on Christopher Cunningham’s NEXT EXIT: FIVE (KSE #69)

http://poesy.org/reviews.html

Well-deserved attention, I’d say. Congrats to CC—-great to have him on Team Steiner!

March 13, 2008

new interview with Doug Draime at Orange Alert

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Legendary west-coast poet DOUG DRAIME is featured author and interview subject this week at What To Wear During An Orange Alert. It’s a wide-ranging, fascinating interview in which he discusses his background, his earlier years, and his current activities—-his forthcoming book from Tainted Coffee Press, his recent KSE chapbook LAST MAY (1968), and his work on the KSE NEXT EXIT series. Thanks to the folks at Orange Alert, who always ask superb questions and have great taste in literature/music/art/culture. I’m always learning about musicians and visual artists who are new to meat OA, and OA also features a wide variety of writers, not just those conforming to one style or belonging to one clique, which is what happens at 80% of the literary websites out there. Here is the link:

http://wearduringorangealert.blogspot.com/2008/03/reader-meet-author.html

 Doug’s fifth chapbook for Kendra Steiner Editions, a selection of poems about Oregon, will be released on April 20. His previous chapbooks for KSE are

EYESTONE (out of print);

NEXT EXIT: ONE (out of print);

NEXT EXIT: THREE (w/ Misti Rainwater-Lites), which is still available!! ;

and LAST MAY (1968), which was just released last month and is still available.

Doug’s excellent SPIDERS AND MADMEN is still available from Scintillating Publications, which has other highly recommended works by Misti Rainwater-Lites, Miles J. Bell, and Zachary C. Bush. Check out Scintillating at

http://www.freewebs.com/scintillatingpublications/titlesnowavailable.htm

March 9, 2008

VISITATION (KSE #90) by MK CHAVEZ now available

Filed under: Uncategorized — kendrasteinereditions @ 3:52 pm

After some last-minute tweaking of the text and a change to the covers, MK Chavez and I have got VISITATION ready to go now, and the first copies are coming off my printer as I write this. I’ll do a separate post later about this chapbook and MK Chavez’s work, but you can order VISITATION and the other two March releases—-NEXT EXIT: EIGHT and LUNA AMERICANA—-now, all three for $10 postpaid in North America.

This eight-part suite of poems is spare and haunting—-the 14-point Lucida typeface and the cover images help create a disquieting feeling, and in addition MK has the poem flowing from the right-hand margin of the page, forcing the reader to adapt his/her way of reading. We feel the same discomfort as the poem’s speaker. Limited to 77 copies, VISITATION is one of KSE’s best-ever releases. Thanks to Ms. Chavez for entrusting this work—-which would have been welcomed at much larger and more established poetry publishers—-to San Antonio’s Kendra Steiner Editions! Act now…

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