norbert blei | a packet from henry denander | kamini press

29 01 2011

PoetryDispatch No. 341 | January 28, 2011

A PACKET FROM HENRY DENANDER
KAMINI PRESS

by
Norbert Blei

This makes my day, something new in the mail from Henry’s extraordinary small press, Kamini Press. www.kaminipress.com

One notices immediately the care he takes in the tight packaging alone. The parcel (usually cardboard, sometimes paper) a minor work of art in itself, enhanced with beautiful Swedish stamps, his own unique rubber stamps (planes, jazz musicians, musical instruments, the KAMINI PRESS logo, etc.); the blue foreign label: PRIORITAIRE 1:a-klassbrev… All of it. Everything, a joy to behold. You’re almost afraid to open it, mess it up in any way. It’s so satisfying as it is.

Should I look to see what little beauty of a book he’s put together now? Wait till later…this afternoon? Maybe tonight…treat myself in the late hours? Save it for tomorrow…or the next time I need a particular lift, since I know whatever Kamini Press does will make my day, my night…make everything in my writing world worthwhile?

Like that time one night I opened a packet from Henry and held BIRD EFFORT by Ronald Baatz in my hand…read it once, twice…three times, four times, five times…God, how many times? Till I fell asleep with a warm feeling like good red wine in me, the poet’s words still murmuring in my mouth:

So much light
so much darkness—
the earth crying out
like a clarinet
left behind

O lord
let me
stay drunk somehow
without all this drinking
now and forever amen

Digging
the canary’s grave
she catches the reflection
of lovely orange feathers
in the spoon

The stars over the lake
so old and brittle looking—
I stop rowing, rest my back
and think of how soft
my ashes will be.

Henry Denander…a one-man band. A singular focus. A testament to just how good, conscientious, a little press publisher can be if he has the vision, passion, energy, direction to publish a book for someone that he, the publisher-writer, would want for himself. It all comes down to that. The secret to successful small press publishing not enough publishers grasp. Would I want my name on this book? Would I love the way it looks, feels? Would I be anxious to put it in the hands of friends and strangers with a bit of a glow on my face? Would it hold a reader’s attention cover to cover in design, content, form?

Instinct. Insight. Style. Aesthetics. Not to publish anybody or anything for whatever or no reason except to be considered a publisher…slap any old crappy art or photo on the cover that says nothing. Some books, poorly envisioned, you almost don’t want to touch, let alone open and try to read. Contrary to old beliefs, you can judge a book by its cover… especially a Kamini Press cover, usually graced by one of Henry’s throbbing little watercolors.

Once you finally invade the perfect packaging I described, once you find each book carefully wrapped and taped tightly in white paper, once you unfold the paper in your hands…and hold the little book (all of them about 4”x6”) it seems to come alive to one’s touch. And there you have it: from Henry in Sweden to wherever you are in the world…the book feels like a good handshake. Welcome. Thank you. How beautiful the cover. Now, what’s going on inside?

How to Make a Rainbow on a Rainy Day

Locate, in the overcast, some thread of
involvement with backlit sheets of crayoned
manila paper vacuum sealed to the yellow
eyes of an elementary school. Open up the
floodgates to the eccentricities of leaves; find
an alcove, an unused entrance, to lean in,
noting the widening concentric circles in
standing water on pavements commissioned
by raindrops. Take the coins out of your
pocket and throw them, one at a time,
into the fountains of Trevi made by the
intersecting arcs of traffic and rainfall; permit
silver spray to have its way with your face.
Wonder at the beaded pearlescence at the
sides of warm Styrofoam. Internalize
windshield wipers and the lift of umbrellas.
Without going overboard, initiate eye
contact, return the wave.

–Tom Kryss

[from SKETCH BOOK]

72nd Birthday

Sitting on
the hill at
sunrise with
my coffee &
cigarettes
thinking
fond thoughts
of all those who
hate my guts.

–John Bennett

[from BATTLE SCARS]

Two Torch Singers (excerpt)

In high school, when I was discovering
That music could be sexy,
There were two torch singers
(Besides Judy Garland, of course)
Whose albums I played until the vinyl wore thin
And the needles went blunt
I don’t know whether I was more riveted
By Julie London’s throaty rendition
Of “Cry Me a River”
Or by her incredible rocket-launcher, film-noir,
Tightly sweatered bust on the album cover,
Not to mention her wasp-cinctured waist.
But she was too much woman for me,
Even in my fantasies. Scary!

–Gerald Locklin

[from TWO TORCH SINGERS]

False Starts

The birds have
already begun
their morning song
and I haven’t
yet been to sleep
the night
a series of false
starts, like the
many journals
I’ve kept over
the years—
one after another
abandoned before
anything was
ever said.

–Glenn W. Cooper

[from SOME NATURAL THINGS]

Childhood

Something out of childhood –
orange streetcars on
Ellsworth Avenue,
and every fifteen minutes an
orange earthquake
rattling my unsteady bed.

–Samuel Charters

[from THE POET SEES HIS FAMILY SLEEPING]

last clarksville train

washing down aspirins
warm blue ribbon suds
damp gray first light
jerry lee’s cassettes silent
black terminal loneliness
yesterday wife saying
“things got to change’
squeeze the trigger
gain methodist salvation
promised better life

–t. kilgore splake

[from THE POET TREE]

Unwritten poems—
so many of them
hanging like bats
inside the darkness
of me

–Ronald Baatz

[from BIRD EFFORT]

Confession. I truly envy what Henry Denander is doing. This is the way I intended to go when I got into small press publishing back in 1995. Do the little book, the little work, and do it well. Make is beautiful to behold. Something to glow in the dark.

Then I reflected on all the new and old writers with bigger appetites seeking, needing pages and pages for larger works. Novelists, short story writers, poets with books of poems…essayists, experimental writers, artists, photographers. They needed to be honored as well. There was not enough attention paid them.

Lately, given all I’ve done so far, thirty-four books, given my present circumstances–age factor, health issues, financial circumstances, limited time to write my own stories and books–I see again the beauty and attraction of publishing the little gift, and may in time (“simplify, simplify…”) honor that first dream…find my way down that road of small, fluttering white pages, words enough to lift the spirit in short, deep breaths. –Norbert Blei

Finally
winter is losing its grip—
in my sleep
I hear the pond’s spine
cracking

–Ronald Baatz, BIRD EFFORT





henry denander | 6 poems on writing, writers, fatherhood, marriage, jazz, jazz musicians, fame & much more

30 04 2009

Henry Denander by Henry Denander

Poetry Dispatch No. 279 | April 30, 2009

HENRY DENANDER

6 Poems
on
Writing, Writers, Fatherhood, Marriage, Jazz, Jazz Musicians, Fame
&
Much More

My first encounter with Henry Denander was not the written word but the image.

Evidence of him. His art. His watercolors. In the summer, 2007 issue of my friend, t.k. splake’s (and artistic ed., Jikiwe’s) putting-it-all-together, as they did, in a lively, color drenched, fine-papered, got-your-attention little ‘off-the-road’ lit-mag from Up-North/copper-country, Michigan: THE CLIFFS, “Soundings”. (That may or may not still exist, given the short life-span of these heartfelt, time/dollar-wrenching, often thankless endeavors).

A treat to the eye. A keen eye to the ‘Beat’-ing word. I saw Henry’s front cover of a guy with a tall, yellow hat, a hand, a blue rabbit-cat, a couple of mountains off in the distance, a house, maybe the sun (and saw something/someone in this instantly), then flipped it over to the back cover, and…ah, Jazzy…sax-man in blue, blowing fire down his horn, blowing his scrambled gold head off. Yes. I’ve been here before. I know the color of this music…

Bring front and back covers together and what I saw/see in Henry, was one I’ve harbored in my imaginary/image-marrying of words and paint, of my own self for more than forty years: Miller time. (Not the beer.) But the Henry Miller time-man who taught many a writer: Though it’s all in the words—it’s in the watercolor too. Drink it all. Work a little color in those hands.

What I’m saying is I found another compadre. Immediately. A writer-painter-man after my own heart. And if there was any doubt, all I had to do was open the front cover, and there it all was on the fly-leaf. Miller’s Greece. Henry’s Greek Island of Hydra; my Greek Island of Rhodes, village of Lindos. All the white houses watercolor-washing down to the blue Aegean.

One way or another all that we love…we meet all again–in spirit. It’s not a matter of being unable to go home again. It’s a matter of knowing where to find it—the words and pictures that put you there when you need it.

I HARDLY KNOW THIS GUY! But I do. In that instance of image alone. And know him even better as I grow more familiar with his written lines. You’ll see what I mean, those reading him for the first time. You’ll find yourself smiling when you least expect it. (Oh, yeah…he got that right.) Smile..

It was not my intention to say much here. I’ve said enough already. Henry can more than speak for himself in words and images. I just want to introduce or re-introduce you to delight. In case you need it. Or are looking.

There are those, I know, who may find these poems too simple, too easy, “just talk.” I think Locklin put it best in his Foreword to Henry’s, I KNOW WHAT SHE WILL SAY: “…contemporary poetry can be about anything and it can be in any format and style (as long as it has the properties of music, and even they may be inconspicuous).”

Even so, I still see at least one critic “harumpfing” in the distance, not buying it, whether the music goes ‘round an’ round” or not.

‘Hey,’ I’m fixing to say: “Everything’s a poem. When you’re there, it’s there. The problem is getting there. –Norbert Blei

Airhead by Henry Denander

synonyms

for some years i have been trying to write
poetry, my literary heroes like bukowski and
locklin and fante (both John and dan) were
writing in english and all my friends in the
literary world were in america so i started to
write in english as well.

when i recently read a poem by locklin i felt how poor
my language was when i saw how beautifully he writes
and how broad his language is and how he uses words
that i didn’t even know about.

being Swedish my english vocabulary is not
very big of course.

now i’ve bought a synonym lexicon, suddenly
i realize there are many words to choose from,
many of the words i find in this book i have
never seen before but they sound really nice
when i try to pronounce them.

i will use some of them in my next poem.

conceivably the solitary negative aspect is that
my acquaintances who appreciate me and my
written and verbal communication will not be
sufficiently proficient to recognize my
technique in my forthcoming poems.

[from: I KNOW WHAT SHE WILL SAY, Foreword by Gerald Locklin, Bottle of Smoke Press, 503 Tuliptree Square, Leesburg, VA 20176, $5 ]

Keith Jarrett? | by Henry Denander

headache & a cup of coffee

keith jarrett is fingering away
some well known melodies
all by himself
more controlled than he usually is
hesitating to take off without the bass
and the drums
perhaps waiting for them
to arrive

trying to get the guts to go to the office
and do some work this Saturday but i ‘ve got a headache and
i ended up in front of the computer

my wife and young son are visiting the Mother-in-law
over the weekend
i will call them later
tell them i have been working all day

i am surfing on the net and sending emails and answering letters and
writing a long poem
about the time i met chet baker in london
in 1986

making a cup of coffee from the greek coffee that we brought home
from hydra
it’s nescafe but in the greek way

tastes great
stir it into hot milk and you are
in java paradise

it started to snow again yesterday
bad news
now it’s five in the afternoon and
still light outside
i think the winter
wtil slowly leave now

thinking of writing a poem about just nothing
or perhaps about the things i have been doing today

i’ll think about it

we’ll see

[from: I KNOW WHAT SHE WILL SAY, Bottle of Smoke Press, 2002, 503 Tuliptree Square, Leesburg, VA 20176, $5 ]

The Denander family by Henry Denander

The last stanza

I had a letter from a magazine editor
saying he passed on my poems, which
is fine of course, but in the end he
added that he really liked one of my
poems up to the last stanza which he
didn’t like at all.

I liked the letter from the editor except
his last stanza.

[from: WEEKS LIKE THIS, Poems & Artwork, Bottle of Smoke Press, 2005]

Blue Guitar by Henry Denander

Cool

I told my wife about the incident at
our son’s school today when a new
girl in his class asked me if I was
William’s grandfather.

-If it had been someone else
maybe they would have taken it
really badly but for me it was OK,
I am cool, I said

-But you’re not THAT cool about it
are you? my wife said, rubbing it
in.

And later when I shaved off my three
weeks old grey beard I thought that
maybe she was right.

Maybe.

[from: WEEKS LIKE THIS, Poems & Artwork, Bottle of Smoke Press, 2005]

Miles Davis by Henry Denander

Jazz memory

I called Anders and we tried to remember how many times
we had seen Miles Davis in concert in Stockholm over the
years and we double-checked with a discography of all
his live recordings.

Anders was not sure but he vaguely remembered that we’d
been to the concert in 1982 at Konserthuset when Mike
Stern and Marcus Miller had been in the band.

I wasn’t sure at all.

But Anders remembered that one time we had been out
drinking before a Miles Davis gig and we had been really
drunk at the concert. This must have been the 1982
concert.

It must have been a great concert—we don’t remember
anything.

[from: WEEKS LIKE THIS, Poems & Artwork, Bottle of Smoke Press, 2005]

Blues for Retirement – based on Gerald Locklin’s poem by Henry Denander

Fame

Our neighbor on the next floor is a well-
known author. His latest book was a big
event here in Sweden. It’s 794 pages
long and I am mentioned in the book. In
one sentence he writes that he wakes up
in the middle of the night and can’t go
back to sleep because his neighbor is
snoring so loudly. If these were my
fifteen words of fame perhaps I was
expecting something more.

[from: I KNOW WHAT SHE WILL SAY, Bottle of Smoke Press, 2002, 503 Tuliptree Square, Leesburg, VA 20176, $5 ]

Kamini Press by Henry Denander

was started in 2007, named after a small village on Hydra island. The editor has had his summer house there for 12 years and the name is in homage to some former “neigbours” in the village. In 1939 Henry Miller arrived together with Katsimbalis (the Colossus himself) to visit the artist Ghikas in his mansion overlooking the Kamini harbour. Miller describes this in “The Colossus of Maroussi”. The ruins of Ghikas’ house are still there. The poet, author and singer Leonard Cohen’s house is also close by in the Kamini village. It was there that he wrote many of his songs and books. The beautiful photograph on the back cover of “Songs From a Room” was taken in his Kamini house.

Kamini Press publishes fine poetry in handmade, self assembled chapbooks, usually together with original cover art. Most books also come in limited editions with watercolors.

No rush jobs, one book per year was the idea, but this is flexible and we try to keep up the tempo.

We like to present the poetry in a good way, to respect the writers. We agree with the great publisher William Packard of the New York Quarterly, who said he wanted to present the printed poem in the best possible way; he thought that “bad printing and mediocre book design inevitably militate against a fair reading of a poem”. He even found different typeface for each poem in his magazine. We don’t do that, but we agree on his thoughts.

We do not take submissions at this time, as we have plans already for the next two years.








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