Kendra Steiner Editions (Bill Shute)

March 31, 2009

Spring Ahead with KSE!

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April will be here in a few hours, which means 1/4 of 2009 has passed, and we at Kendra Steiner Editions are trying to make it a great poetry year for you . New projects, new blood, new concepts, new distributors, new artistic challenges, and a steady stream of new chapbooks.

These are challenging times, and many small press poetry operations are cutting back or going on hiatus. Fortunately, KSE is a low-budget operation and we also have a core of dedicated readers, so we really don’t need to make big sales to continue the work. People will look back on this period and scratch their heads in disbelief, so it’s important that we provide poetry from the trenches, capturing both the texture of reality and the seemingly ineffable spirit of 2009 and beyond. The majority of internet and “small press” non-academic poets continue to write talent-free imitations of Bukowski with a twist of Carver or Burroughs or Kerouac or Patti Smith (take your pick), not realizing that these folks were originals when they did what they did. They created their own forms.  Those of us who are stretching, who are trying to go beyond those who went beyond in previous generations, who think tough-guy posing and ass-kissing clique-building have nothing to do with creation and everything to do with insecurity and mediocrity—-we feel that poetry, an art that emphasizes succinctness of expression, sensitivity of form, and multiple layers of form/content weaving, has a place at the table in the alternative arts community. Whether my own work is mediocre, fine, or lousy, I do feel an obligation to those poets of the generation or two previous to mine—-the Ted Berrigans, the Paul Blackburns, the Diane Wakoskis, the Stuart Z. Perkoffs, the Robert Creeleys, the Joanne Kygers, the William Wantlings, the Larry Eigners—-an obligation to take the valuable lessons they taught, and then bend and extend and rethink and multiply them, in the process creating my own unique system of poetics. Better to fall on one’s face attempting to create something that did not exist previously than to find immediate acceptance polishing derivative turds.

Poetry is about expressing the inexpressible. Writing juvenile scatological prose or bumper-sticker quality aphorisms, and then arbitrarily breaking them into artless “lines” that are chained to the left margin is not poetry, no matter how many of your friends review your books or how many facebook entries you write.

Free verse does not mean without form, and it doesn’t mean having the rhetorical qualities of prose or aphorisms. It means being free TO CREATE A UNIQUE FORM. I tend to respect poets who create new means of expression, and then use those means as a foundation on which to build a sparkling new poetic building full of rooms and halls and closets and windows and basements and cubbyholes and open spaces. And there are lots of poets out there doing lots of great work in that manner: poets as diverse as Mark Weber and Misti Rainwater-Lites, as Paul Corman-Roberts and A. J. Kaufmann, as M. K. Chavez and Richard Wink, as Christopher Cunningham and Michael Casey, as Glenn W. Cooper and Zachary C. Bush, as Ronald Baatz and Bob Arnold, as Julie Lechevsky and Luis Cuauhtemoc Berriozabal. And many others, some of whom I’m sure I have not heard about, and my life is no doubt poorer because of that.

Time is short. Every day is precious. Go for it now. Do what needs to be done, start your own press in your basement, and get it out there BY NON-TRADITIONAL MEANS. And piss in the face of the self-appointed gatekeepers of “alternative culture.” Don’t validate them by sending them your work. Become what your artistic heroes were or are. I can assure you they weren’t ass-kissers or “joiners” or people who gave a f*ck what others thought about what they did. They were not competing with their contemporaries; they were competing with Hart Crane or William Blake or William Carlos Williams or Picasso or Charles Ives or Eric Dolphy.

You/we/I can do no less.

March 25, 2009

KSE #131, ACRES reviewed at Full of Crow

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Insightful review by Lynn Alexander of my ACRES chapbook at the recently launched Full of Crow blog-literary journal:

And if that’s not enough, Lynn wrote a beautiful analysis of my book-length poem POINT LOMA PURPLE, published by Word Mechanics in 2007.

Full of Crow seems to be shaping up into an essential read: new poetry by Edward Churchouse and Andrew Taylor, and much more.

KSE #126, GREY RAGE (DYED) reviewed at Counterexample Poetics

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Very perceptive review  by Gail Gray of Michael Layne Heath’s new GREY RAGE (DYED) chapbook at Counterexample Poetics. Check it out:

Get YOUR copy now. See GREY RAGE post below for ordering information.

March 20, 2009

Michael Layne Heath’s GREY RAGE (DYED) now available

Filed under: Uncategorized — kendrasteinereditions @ 6:26 pm


KSE #126 (cover photographs by Mira Horvich)

Edition of 77 hand-assembled, hand-numbered copies.


Perhaps the most-awaited KSE chapbook of 2009, this new 4th book from San Francisco’s MICHAEL  LAYNE  HEATH (his 2nd for KSE) contains all the qualities that led to his previous KSE chap SACRED GROUNDS to be ranked as one of the “best reads of 2007” by Arthur Magazine. A battle-scarred but always-landing-on-his-feet guy in his 40’s tries to assemble a life in 2009 America, full of the “grey rage” of a man old enough to have lived through the 70’s, but “dyed” enough to still be on the prowl for someone delicious to sleep with (and maybe even talk to!). A man who walks the city streets fueled by the inspiration of a Robert Mapplethorpe or a Patti Smith, by the elegance of a Brian Epstein, and by the activism of Paris 1968 or Stonewall 1969. A man who is sensitive to the small things, the beauty of the cracks in the sidewalk, the consideration of a partner who uses mouthwash before kissing, the sense of triumph in being mostly broke but  finally able to afford dinner and  drinks.

Like Brad Kohler and yours truly, Mike grew out of the punkzine writing world. His late 70’s VINTAGE VIOLENCE  ‘zine was pioneering, and when I started INNER MYSTIQUE in 1981-82, Mike’s example was a great influence on me. He’s continued to do hip, thoughtful, beautifully crafted music writing through the years (including some great sets of liner notes), and he’s earned the respect and admiration of his peers in that world. He’s still much sought after as a reviewer, and he’s got an excellent arts and culture column ” The Groover’s Grotto,”  at the website of much-acclaimed fantasy novelist Tad Williams.

As Mike has a lifelong involvement in music, both as a writer-historian and as a musician-songwriter himself, it’s not surprising that there is a musicality of phrase and a wonderful sense of tone and modulation to his verse. SACRED GROUNDS contained a moving tribute to P. J. Proby, and this new chapbook concludes with a powerful two-page poem in honor of the late Brian Epstein, long one of my own personal heroes.

Whether writing about sex or longing or poetry readings, or describing the yuppie condo block that now sits where SF’s legendary Winterland once rocked, Michael Layne Heath is an original. He manages to nail the uncertainty and ennui of this curious age in which we live, but he remains positive because the future always has promise, and that next cigarette or the next poem or the next attractive guy met at a watering hole just might bring some kind of salvation…or at least keep one occupied!

Mike will be supporting the release of this book with some readings (check his myspace page for details, or write me) in the Bay Area. Finally, I’ve been pestering him to do a volume in the Sound Library Series, and he has agreed to, perhaps for release in late 2009? Personally, I can’t wait!!!

Don’t miss this one. $4.oo postpaid in the US, check payable to Bill Shute, 14080 Nacogdoches Rd. #350, San Antonio, Texas, 78247. Outside the US, it’s $5 postpaid, via paypal. Write to django5722 (at) yahoo (dot) com and request a paypal invoice. And don’t forget, in the US you can get any three different chapbooks for $10 postpaid. Along with Mike’s GREY RAGE (DYED), pick any two others from this list:

#127,  BRAD KOHLER, dog nights, dog days ;

#131,  BILL SHUTE, acres (sound library series, volume 40) ;

#129,  MIRA HORVICH / BILL  SHUTE, suspension ;

#119,  A. J. KAUFMANN, satori in berlin (x-berg songs) ;


#116,  MISTI RAINWATER-LITES, next exit: ten ;

#34,  STUART CRUTCHFIELD, shack simple (reprint).

As always, thanks for your support of KSE’s poets and of small press poetry.


Earlier chapbooks by Michael Layne Heath:

COUNT TO FIVE AND TELL THE TRUTH (Feudal Gesture Press, 2006)

PUT IT THIS WAY (Feudal Gesture Press, 2006)

SACRED GROUNDS (Kendra Steiner Editions, 2007—-out of print).

JANDEK in Houston, TX—-5 April 2009

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JANDEK will be doing his first-ever Houston concert on Sunday 5 April, at Rudyard’s, at 4 pm. Doors open at 2 pm. No word yet on what instruments he’ll be playing or who, if anyone else, will be in the band.

If anyone in central Texas would be interested in going to Houston together via San Antonio, please contact me. I wouldn’t miss this event—Jandek’s first-ever concert in his hometown—for anything.

March 13, 2009

ACRES (KSE #131) now available

Filed under: Uncategorized — kendrasteinereditions @ 2:51 pm

Bill Shute,  ACRES (sound library series, volume 40),  KSE #131

The real featured chapbook right now is Michael Layne Heath’s GREY RAGE (DYED), so let me give a brief introduction to my own new chapbook, ACRES, before I move on to Mike’s exciting new offering.

The 40th entry in KSE’s Sound Library Series (using John Cage’s 1991 composition for cello ONE 8  as the musical prompt), ACRES deals with externals, with things, and with environment…in this case, the environment of the acres and acres of steel and glass and concrete and asphalt found in the Stone Oak medical area north of San Antonio’s outer loop, highway 1604. I spent an afternoon up there a month or two ago, without transportation, and one of the few human beings on foot,  not to be found in an office building or a hospital/clinic or in a car going to or from the area. This gave me an unusual perspective, and out of that perspective ACRES grew.  John Cage’s austere composition ONE 8 was the perfect musical piece to mirror what I felt and what I put on the page in similarly austere form. Incidentally, this is my second chapbook in the last six months to use a misquotation of William Carlos Williams’  line “no ideas but in things” at a climactic moment in the text.

The epigraph this time is from William Bronk: “The tree embraces the house. In a long time / the house will lose itself in the tree’s embrace.”

Hand-made, hand-numbered edition of 37 copies, 17 of which have already been sold.

In the US, $4 check to Bill Shute, 14080 Nacogdoches Rd. #350, San Antonio, Texas, 78247. Or any three different KSE chaps for $10 postpaid. In addition to ACRES, you may choose from

#126,  MICHAEL LAYNE HEATH, grey rage (dyed) ;

#129,  MIRA HORVICH / BILL  SHUTE, suspension ;

#128,  BILL SHUTE, hours past sunset (sound library series, volume 39) ;

#119,  A. J. KAUFMANN, satori in berlin (x-berg songs) ;


#118,  BILL SHUTE, venetian sage ;

#116,  MISTI RAINWATER-LITES, next exit: ten ;

#34,  STUART CRUTCHFIELD, shack simple (reprint).

Outside the US, $5 for each chapbook, postpaid. Write to django5722(at)yahoo(dot)com and request a paypal invoice.

Back from Lubbock…and into Year Four of KSE

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We’re back from visiting Kendra in Lubbock, where she is a music student at Texas Tech. She is in an amazing music program there and is able to live in an all-music environment there that challenges her daily and causes her to  grow as an artist herself and to present to her a level of achievement to which she can aspire as the years go by. We spent a memorable evening at Tech’s production of Bach’s “St. John Passion” that, truly, reminded me of the potential power of art. I never had the opportunity to attend a college with that kind of environment myself, having gone, off and on,  to an urban college that catered to adult and “non-traditional” students, with a campus scattered over various neighborhoods. It made me what I am today, going to college with all those thirty-year-old divorced women and Vietnam veterans, but on some level I envy those folks who were able to exist in an artistic enclave where they were living in that environment 24 hours a day. When I would visit my son Eric (who was a biochemistry major, now graduated) at the University of North Texas, a school legendary for its music program, I would always attend multiple senior and graduate recitals, and I was always blown away by these virtuosi performing compositions by obscure Renaissance composers all the way up to obscure post-modern composers. I was often the only non-family, non-friend in the audience. These performances not only took me into another world, but reminded me of the commitment and pursuit of excellence that I needed to continue bringing to my own art, poetry. I felt the same way when I spent a day at the Rhode Island School of Design last year. How wonderful it must be to live and to create in that environment. However, I never had that chance. I had to make my own artistic enclave within the general world of minimum wage jobs and travel by bus and grody efficiency apartments and people who could not care less about literature and the arts. And in hindsight, that has made a better artist and a stronger individual. Remember the old line about “anyone can be a saint in a monastery”? It’s being a saint in the REAL world that’s a challenge. Similarly, as someone on the outside who has always (and who continues to) scoffed at writers’ groups and arts organizations, I modeled myself on those people such as, say, Jandek and Fred Cole and Frank Samperi who were and have been always independent and who have never been tempted to “join.” When I have actually met some of my heroes in the arts—-John Cage, Ted Berrigan, Alex Chilton, Cecil Taylor, Jonathan Richman, Russ Meyer, etc.—-I approached them as a peer.  A less advanced one, to be sure, but a fellow craftsman. “Seek alliances, not followers”  has always been my philosophy. We at KSE will always be independent and work independently. We do not want to be part of any “community of writers.”  We’re now in our fourth year of operations, with over 130 chapbooks of poetry and over 7000 copies in circulation, and we will continue to do what we do well—-small, home-made, hand-numbered editions of honest, cutting-edge contemporary poetry that needs no introduction or bio material and that speaks for itself. Chapbooks that have a consistent, immediately indentifiable look and a consistent yet flexible aesthetic. Chapbooks that will appeal to the serious poetry enthusiast, but also to the experimental music and contemporary art fan…and to the proverbial man/woman on the street. Our works belong to no clique, they validate no little literary daisy chain, and they sell to a wide variety of people, only a small fraction of whom are other poets. I wish anyone in any branch of the arts well, and I feel no sense of competition with anyone.  The work is what matters, and that’s larger than any of us individually.

As we enter Year Four of Kendra Steiner Editions, we thank all those who’ve purchased, reviewed, and enjoyed our chapbooks. 2009 is shaping up to be a great year, so stay tuned as we bring out some amazing works over the coming months. And remember, ours are limited editions that sell out in a month or two. When they have sold out, they are gone…forever.

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