Kendra Steiner Editions (Bill Shute)

December 16, 2008

Building a Kendra Steiner Editions bibliography

Filed under: Uncategorized — kendrasteinereditions @ 8:46 am

Those who know me know that I’m always thinking about tomorrow and do not dwell on yesterday, except perhaps to learn what NOT to do in the future based on what I’ve learned from yesterday. I first published something in a local newspaper when I was in high school in Colorado in the 1970’s, and since then I’m sure I’ve had over 500 publications of various sorts, but I rarely save them or do more than toss a copy in a box, which then gets tossed in the garage. When I’ve needed past writings of mine, I’ve usually had to call upon one of my longtime readers or friends to xerox something for me.

In that tradition, I’ve done little to document the history of KSE in its 3 years of operation and its 120+ poetry chapbooks. I’ve kept no ongoing list, and I don’t even have copies of many of the earlier releases. However, I can still remember the creation of each book well and also the circumstances of the production and distribution of each one. So before my premature-Alzheimer’s mind begins to blur all the details together, I’ve decided to start compiling a complete KSE bibliography. To do this I’ll need to enlist the help of KSE readers/collectors, so Steve, David, Jeffrey, and the other devoted readers who have nearly 100 KSE chaps each will no doubt be hearing from me with questions. I did not start numbering chaps until the 30th or so, but the later copies of the earliest I did retroactively number. Other chaps are in non-traditional sizes. One was distributed only in Canada. One was distributed only at a local political event in San Antonio. One was only available briefly as a giveaway from one of our distributors. Some were  distributed mostly at readings in support of my two books from Word Mechanics, Twelve Gates to the City and Point Loma Purple (those who purchased a WM book at a reading would get any two KSE chaps as a free bonus). Some were  sold mostly at book-fair and small-press events where KSE had a table. Some have special printings done expressly for readings or events. Two that I can remember have covers that were changed mid-way through the printing. Some of the most successful ones went into second and third printings. Two books had numbers assigned before they were finished (and were even listed in promo cards at the time), but were never actually released. Some books with “distributed in Europe by Volcanic Tongue” on the back were not actually distributed by VT, and of course many that did not have that written on the back  were distributed by VT. And let’s not forget the black & white reprint series we offered in late 2007 and early 2008 in editions of 18 copies each that sold out quickly. If I were the only one involved, I would say “what the hell…” and just keep producing new work and not worry about any of this, but with over 30 poets (I stopped counting earlier in 2008) part of the KSE stable and more joining all the time, and with our works getting a lot of attention in a lot of places both here and overseas (and, topping it all, getting a permanent link on the Silliman blog!), and with KSE being an important part of OTHERS’ publication histories and writing lives, I’m taking the plunge. The KSE bibliography will be a work in progress and will probably be listed as a “page” on the right side of the blog. Please check it from time to time in future months/years. I’ve also had offers from other presses to republish some earlier work, and this bibliography will make it easier for anyone in the future to make a request about that.

KSE issued its first chapbook in March 2006, FOUR TEXAS STREAMS. Last week we issued #124, A GIFT OF STARS. Yes, it’s been a long strange trip, but it’s a trip that’s ongoing. And you can get on the bus anytime by picking up some of most recent releases (see AVAILABLE KSE POETRY CHAPBOOKS page to your upper right) and then getting into the KSE habit. There is no other press like KSE and no other press that issues work like what we issue. And on top of the content, each book is hand-made, hand-numbered, an artifact issued in a mylar sleeve to keep it in fine shape for future reading. Each is a small but high-specific-gravity morsel meant to be savored.

Thanks to everyone for your support over these three years. We’ve had almost 13,000 visitors to the blog, and we’ve distributed OVER 6000 poetry chapbooks that are now in readers’ hands. All from a cheap $129 Dell printer, but animated by a vision and by a consistent aesthetic.

2008 was a good year for KSE, all things considered, but we hope for 2009 to be a better year, and Kendra, Mary Anne, and I wish you all a satisfying and productive 2009. It’s always been about appreciating what you have and what you are, and about seeing the beauty and the poetry in your own little postage stamp of soil. With so many out of work, underemployed, broke, unable to afford medical care or medicine, living with extended family, or homeless, we’re forced to re-evaluate our priorities, to dissolve our various forms of attachment, to erase the ego, and to re-connect with what truly matters, however we choose to define what truly matters. Art provides us with a tangible and permanent way to document that struggle for meaning and to create works that can evoke in others the textures/sensations/insights/flashes of recognition we’ve experienced along the way. That’s what KSE is all about

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