Kendra Steiner Editions

June 6, 2008

as we enter June 2008

Filed under: Uncategorized — kendrasteinereditions @ 12:11 pm

Thanks to all who sent e-mails and messages while I was down after surgery—-all very much appreciated! While I could not DO much, I could still think and plan…and it also allowed me to watch a number of films, particularly silent films, which demand total concentration.

We’ve been moving a lot of the recent books this week, so act now for any that interest you. I have very little free time in June and July due to the nature of my job, so although I’ll be writing and editing during that period, there probably won’t be many (or any) new chapbooks until mid-July, and in the July-August period we may well have five or six appearing. New solo chaps from Luis Cuauhtemoc Berriozabal and Debbie Kirk and Christopher Cunningham, some collabs, my solo FACE TO FACE, and a collaboration I’m doing with the legendary Ronald Baatz called THE COMPANIONSHIP OF THE PLUM. It’s an honor to work with Mr. Baatz, and this new duo-chap (which is about 1/2 done) will be awesome…I can already feel it. It’s also forcing me, here in South Texas, to work in a setting of East Coast Winter, which is certainly a challenge. But challenge is good and forces us to evolve and to change. That’s why I’ve thrown myself into three different collaborations for this summer—-the one mentioned above, another one with Zachary C. Bush, and a third with Stuart Crutchfield. Collaboration involves having to meet those poets halfway and on a turf neither mine nor theirs (kind of like two teams playing neither a home or away game, but a game at a third location), according to rules/formats/prosodies/image patterns/etc. that we establish in advance through negotiation. Artistically it’s a challenge, but is very rewarding.

I’ve also been reading and would like to champion three fine books that you can order easily online…and should.

First, I just re-read for the fifth or sixth time the amazing THE FILMS OF LARRY BUCHANAN: A CRITICAL EXAMINATION by film archivist/scholar/critic Rob Craig. Maverick Texas director Buchanan has always been a huge influence on my own work, with his unique vision of Texas as a wasteland of sprawl and suburbs and stripmalls and a shadowy military presence. Also, his films have such a distinctive look and feel and construction—-for instance, no one who has seen the first five minutes of IT’S ALIVE, with its stark minimalism worthy of a Warhol or an Antonioni but done on a Texas exploitation film level, ever forgets it. Surely many change the channel when confronted by an unhappy couple sitting rigidly in the front seat of a car driving in a rural area with the camera focussed on windshield wipers going back and forth and back and forth over a dirty windshield, smearing the dirt and producing an annoying “squeak” with each pass, but it’s an amazing image and totally sets the tone for the work we are about to see. Rob’s book covers Buchanan’s fascinating personal history and also features a detailed chapter on each extant film. Highly recommended to anyone interested in regional and independent film-making! Order from the publisher, McFarland, at www.mcfarlandpub.com .

Next is the new one from New Mexico’s great poet HOSHO McCREESH, author of two KSE chapbooks, 37 PSALMS FROM THE BADLANDS and NEXT EXIT: EIGHT (w/ Caleb Puckett), both now out-of-print, which is even more reason for grabbing this new 100-copy edition from Bottle of Smoke Press (http://www.bospress.net/order.html). MARCHING UNABASHED THROUGH THE WEEPING, SEARING SUN… is a series of poetic reports-from-the-frontlines from a man who has been to the edge, stared into the void, and come back to depict it in verse. The painterly style of his KSE chaps mixes here with a more epigrammatic style (as seen in his recent GPP broadside “Crux”), creating precisely chiseled miniatures burning with both New Mexico heat and with righteous anger. There’s also an undercurrent of violence running through the pieces, but McCreesh knows that from violence comes change, comes creation. For only six dollars plus postage, MARCHING UNABASHED is a necessary purchase from one of America’s most essential poets. And while you are at the Bottle of Smoke ordering page, why not also purchase a copy of Adrian Manning’s REPEATING THE MANTRA, another essential poetic work.

Last but not least  (and I can’t imagine any book following this one!) is the recent anthology SIRENS: FIVE FEMME FATALE POETS, available from http://www.sirens5.com/ . With a society built around the needs/wants of males and with so many laughable male tough-guy-posers in the small-press poetry world, who can blame these ladies for letting out a howl of indignation, but it’s also a howl of liberation, of self-identity, of creation. A sexual howl, a siren song calling us…into a vortex…a 300 page vortex. SIRENS collects the poetry, art, interviews, and prose of five major femme poets:

Debbie Kirk’s poems are charged with concentrated energy, formed on the page like open wounds…vivid, precise, searing, not a word wasted. Debbie takes us on a guided tour of the parts of life we often choose to look away from out of cowardice while they are happening to us. I feel revived after reading Debbie Kirk’s poetry, as if I’d just seen James Brown or Stiv Bators in their respective primes. She’s also got a great acid wit. This is a dynamite selection, a fine intro to Debbie’s work. “Not even serpents/ will keep me company / and this gun / is my four leaf clover.” Be sure to check out her website, http://www.tntkirk.com/ . Debbie will have a chapbook of all-new work coming out from KSE this summer!

Iris Berry offers a number of extended pieces with a great flow through a world of binge drinking and dysfunctional families and children whose dreams are shot down and characters who are their own worst enemies. Well-known for her spoken-word work and her acting as well as for her fiction, poetry, and non-fiction prose and columns, Iris Berry is yet another L.A.-based artist who has not yet gotten her due. Her nine-page “Greetings from Branford Park” is a modern classic, as are a number of her other pieces here. I’m drained after taking this ride with Iris, but I want more.

Each of Cynthia Ruth Lewis’s poems taunts the reader, challenges us to question our assumptions, to look at the arbitrary nature of our “reality.” She also takes the reader into, very much into, personal and intimate sides of the speaker’s life. It’s a combination of hard and soft, just like sex or art or life. Lewis probes into the psychology of her characters, masterfully assembling the daily-life details about what f**ks us up, thus offering us a way to take a step outside of our selves and do the same analysis on our  fears and phobias and obsessions. After reading Ms. Lewis, I feel as though I just downed a bottle of scotch over six hours of intimate talk from the heart and from the gut with some passing ship in the night whom I’ll never see again but who will change my perspective on everything. However, I hope I see her again in print…soon!

Misti Rainwater-Lites is no stranger to KSE, having done two chaps for us, with a third coming in November/December. Nobody nails the pain and cheap thrills and existential nausea of American (and, more specifically, Texas) life better than Misti. Reading the poems here, many of which I’d read before but are always welcome back again, I’m struck at how clearly this lady weaves statements of her poetic aesthetic into everything she writes, alongside the empty sex to which we are drawn like moths to a flame, and the images from dollar stores, strip bars, and trash culture, in between the TV-dinner trays and cockroach corpses. Misti is the poet laureate of beaten-down working-class America.

SIRENS closes with the poetry and prose of Jude Lynn, a Guinness-drinker (I’ll raise a glass in her honor!) working out of Kent, Ohio. In her two-page prose piece “Swell and Hatch Into The Fold,” she captures the development of a three-year relationship totally, instead of wasting our time with a full book as some novelist would do. Images such as the beer-pi*s golden sh*wer will not go away…as much as I may want them to! And the M&M image in “All The World Wants An*l”—-well, you’ll just have to read that one for yourself. The scalding “Tough Guy: A Three-Part Observation in Reverse” should be required reading for all us guys if we really want to know how we are viewed by the women we hang out and/or sleep with. There’s more useful wisdom about why the world’s the way it is in the three paragraphs of “O, We’re All In Trouble” than there would be in 15 years of Oprah shows and all the pop psychology books and CDs in the world. It’s there for the taking—-Jude Lynn has offered it to us, and it’s up to us whether we’re gonna learn anything from it or continue to be self-absorbed a-holes. I wasn’t familiar with Ms. Lynn’s work prior to this book, but a good anthology always presents writers unfamiliar to us whom we NEEDED to know about but just didn’t know it.

This anthology is 300 pages of raw power for only $7.99 and $2.99 postage ($10.98 total), and you can pay via paypal at the website or send a check to Sisyphus Press, P.O. Box 10495, State College, Pa. 16805-0495. It’s only June, but I can surely say that this is one of the best anthologies of the year, an essential and primal blast of supercharged girl power that will strip the paint from your safe assumptions. Bravo to editor Victor Thorn and to these five poets—-KIRK, BERRY, LEWIS, RAINWATER-LITES, and LYNN—-for producing a work of real substance. I have a feeling that this SIRENS anthology will be a defining work of this age, the way films such as RIVER’S EDGE, BLUE VELVET, NATURAL BORN KILLERS, or SERIAL MOM were defining works of the 80s and 90s. There was a seminal anthology put out in 1962 by Totem/Corinth called FOUR YOUNG LADY POETS, best known today for introducing Diane Wakoski (and the ladies in SIRENS are certainly daughters of Wakoski’s MOTORCYCLE BETRAYAL POEMS-period) and the late Carol Berge to the general poetry world—-maybe SIRENS is the 2008 energy-drink fueled answer to that classic work.

Back to the business of KSE—-sending out orders, working on editing the upcoming collections, writing pieces for the Baatz/Shute collaboration. Have a great weekend. I’ll also give Brad Kohler a call for his “tips” on tomorrow’s Belmont Stakes…will Big Brown continue to dominate, or will Casino Drive or Ichabod Crane show Brown to be over-rated?

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1 Comment »

  1. that’s my girl!

    Comment by Jane Crown — June 13, 2008 @ 12:19 pm | Reply


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