Kendra Steiner Editions (Bill Shute)

March 13, 2009

Back from Lubbock…and into Year Four of KSE

Filed under: Uncategorized — kendrasteinereditions @ 2:09 pm

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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