by JONO TOSCH (KSE #164)
As I look at America today—-wacko tea-party types wanting to “lighten” the faces of students on a school mural in Arizona; hundreds of miles of the Gulf Coast becoming environmentally dead areas, probably for decades; multi-millionaire candidates for office dropping $70+ million of their own money in pursuit of vanity campaigns while working people are losing their houses and sleeping in their cars; major-party candidates for office sounding like John Birch Society lecturers circa 1964; people dying for lack of medical care when pharmaceutical companies spend hundreds of millions of dollars advertising boutique prescription drugs as if they were toilet paper or peanut butter—-sometimes I feel as though the absurdist approach to the arts is perhaps the most on-target approach. Something like Richard Brautigan’s novel SOMBRERO FALLOUT, or the later plays of Edward Albee, or episodes of South Park or the film TEAM AMERICA, or John Waters’ films from SERIAL MOM on….these seem to nail the state of things and the national state of mind and to make sense as artistic mirrors. In 2009, I had the privilege of reading a chapbook published by Sean Casey’s CHUCKWAGON press (http://www.chuckwagonpress.com/) , UNDER SEA by Jono Tosch. In a series of beautifully composed, elegant three-and-four line stanzas, Tosch takes historical figures such as Tolstoy, John Crowe Ransom, Turgenev, Mondrian, and (in the title piece) Jacques Cousteau, and he inserts them into situations such as washing cars, cleaning the kitchen with Comet, opening a liquor store, and taking a cat to the vet. Somehow, he manages in this book to capture the essence of each character and also capture—-in some kind of mad, surreal, zen-koan manner—-truths about everyday life and about society: universal truths. AND the book is funny, and the book has a classical attention to form and craft. For me, it was one of the three or four best poetry chapbooks of 2009 (and I read HUNDREDS last year, trust me!), and a wonderful admixture of elements I would never have expected, but in Mr. Tosch’s hands, this unique form seemed completely natural, even inevitable. Needless to say, I bought a number of copies to give to friends, and soon after that, I just had to approach Jono to see if he’d like to do a chapbook for KSE. Fortunately, he accepted the offer, and that chapbook is PROBABLY (KSE #164), available now for only $4 US/$5 elsewhere.
Jono Tosch offered me a wide variety of work with which to assemble this book, so while UNDER SEA was a conceptual book with a unified form and theme, PROBABLY shows a much broader sampling of his work, getting into the world of narrative and the world of phenomenological explorations of the psyche (the Gertrude Stein influence is clearer here than in the previous book). And speaking of Miss Stein, there is a wit and musicality to these pieces that make reading a complete joy.
PROBABLY has already been praised at Orange Alert (the review is at http://www.orangealert.net/node/668 ) and by poets such as Doug Draime and K.M. Dersley, who read advance copies. I think it’s one of the most original and beautifully crafted and transcendent poetry chapbooks KSE has ever published.
Get your copy now–only 67 copies, hand-assembled and hand-numbered.
Cost is $4.00 each or 3 for $10.00 (only one copy of any book per customer) postpaid in the USA. Send a check (or well-concealed cash) made payable to Bill Shute, 14080 Nacogdoches Rd. #350, San Antonio, Texas, 78247. OR chapbooks are available to non-US readers DIRECT FROM KSE postpaid for only $5 each. Overseas orders should write to django5722 (at) yahoo (dot) com and request a paypal invoice for whatever you’d like. You’ll save money that way!
OTHER CHAPBOOKS NOW AVAILABLE:
#164, BILL SHUTE, “oneness and the sun” (sound library series, volume 55) ;
#162, MICHAEL CERAOLO, “cleveland scores early” ;
#163, BILL SHUTE, “deep focus” (sound library series, volume 54) ;
#160, JOHN SWEET, “this moment, reflected in ice” ;
#161, BILL SHUTE, “lament for the living: Chet Baker’s Final Session” (sound library series, volume 53) ;
#158, ZACHARY C. BUSH, “is this deformed?” ;
#155, JIM D. DEUCHARS, “monongahela abstract construct” ;
#156, BILL SHUTE, “the mosquitoes of La Marque” (sound library series, volume 50) ;
#152, K.M. DERSLEY, “many septembers” ;
#150, MICHAEL LAYNE HEATH, “loons of a dogman” (sound library series, volume 48) ;
#151, A. J. KAUFMANN & BILL SHUTE, “twombly’s siracusa” (inspired by the work of Cy Twombly) ;
#144, ZACHARY C. BUSH, “spin” .
Questions? Write to django5722 (at) yahoo (dot) com . Thanks for your support!
Don’t miss the write-up on Kendra Steiner Editions in the January 2010 issue of THE WIRE (UK).
and finally, check in regularly at Jono Tosch’s food blog, OIL CHANGES, which you can find at http://oilchanges.blogspot.com/ . A poet with a surrealist eye writing about food—–generally, home-made food made with easy-to-find but unexpected ingredients—-is a win-win situation for all, and if that’s not enough, Jono provides oversized color photos of the items he prepares, so the blog also works on a food-porn level for those wanting such a thing.
I really believe in Jono Tosch’s work. You will too after reading PROBABLY (and also UNDERSEA and the Oil Changes blog).