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





gerald locklin | it gets done & I still don’t write itself

3 12 2007

barwomen.jpg

Poetry Dispatch No.162 | April 13,2007

Today’s poem and note go back to a previous Poetry Dispatch (No. 151, February 10, 2007) titled “Doing It” where the topic at hand was yet another reflection on a rather obsessive main theme of mine: “The Writing Life”. The poem discussed in No. 51 centered on writers who do it (write), and those who merely talk about it, not to mention just how or why it gets done. Here’s a reprint of the that Locklin poem from No. 151 to refresh everyone’s memory. Followed by the poem for today’s dispatch. Norbert Blei

strichstrich.jpg

It Gets Done by Gerald Locklin

a friend of mine, george carroll,
has this phrase, “It gets done.”
he means it in the sexual realm,
that before the bar closes
you will somehow end up with a woman.
it always does seem to be the case for him.
somehow it never happens to me.

but I like the extension of his idiom
into other areas, like writing.
if you’re a writer, the writing gets done.
if you’re not a writer, it doesn’t.
the non-writer can site innumerable valid reasons
why it isn’t getting done,
such as wives, kids, jobs, distractions,
unconducive working conditions, broken typewriters,
and the heartbreak of unrelenting rejections.
the writer will,
in spite of all of the above,
write.
no, let me return to the periphrastic passive:
it gets done—no one quite knows how.

from, CHILDREN OF A LESSER DEMAGOGUE, Wormwood Review Press, 1987

strichstrich.jpg

The subject for today’s Dispatch, N o.162 is yet another Gerald Locklin poem, and yet another idea worthy examination in any writer/artist’s life: what we write about. And what (for whatever reason) we will not allow ourselves to write about. Norbert Blei

strichstrich.jpg

IT STILL DON’T WRITE ITSELF by Gerald Locklin

some of my young friends
think you can be a writer
without fucking up your life.
they don’t want to write any poems
that will hurt anyone’s feelings
or be an embarrassment to themselves
or their families.
they don’t want to waste time writing
that could be better spent with the kids
or making a few extra bucks or making
someone or other a little happier.

I like my kids and I scramble
around for money too, and I generally
try to keep the peace,
but if I get too far from writing
I’ll still pick a fight with a wife
or mother or girlfriend or best friend,
or all on the same day,

just to have something to write about
and nothing else to do
but write about it.

from CHILDREN OF A LESSER DEMAGOGUE, Wormwood Press, 1987

strichstrich.jpg

My only disagreement with the poem above are the last two stanzas: the idea that a writer would/should deliberately create an experience for the purposes of later rendering into writing—or hopefully “art.” That, to me, is a false as choosing to write about the bluebird of happiness in your eyes rather than the hawk in your heart. Norbert Blei





gerald locklin | it gets done

26 11 2007

barscene.jpg

Poetry Dispatch No.155 | February 10, 2007

Doing It

Readers ask: “Where are you lately?” — with the Poetry Dispatches, the Notes from the Underground, and new blogs on two websites www.norbertblei.com (months behind) and www.bleidoorcountytimes.com — even further behind , considering all I’ve been wanting to write.

Well, there’s much to be said for silent writing. But that’s another essay entirely.

I’m still here. And the work is “being done” (in notes, in my head, in my few hours of dreamtime each night) though there has been little to show online the last two weeks.

Some of my energy lately has been diverted to preparations for my annual, week-long (favorite) writing workshop at The Clearing, here in Ellison Bay, where I have taught one week every June since the 1970’s. A year’s work goes into this: reading, planning, note-taking, ‘recruiting’ (as I see it) writers (all ages, all kinds), especially those trying to find the way through themselves, their work, their personal lives, some “thinking” they want to write more than anything else, others knowing and needing to do it, but not sure #1. They have it in them. #2, They can afford to sacrifice what it takes to spend a life doing what you love for little or no reward—financial or just plain recognition. THAT’S the tough one. And because I’ve lived through all of this, much of the agony, some of the ecstasy, love to write, love to teach–I sometimes think I can help them –though I certainly don’t have any final answers. Occasionally I suggest: “It might help to take writing with me at The Clearing sometime.” And leave it at that.

Teaching anywhere is usually a hassle for me, but more to my liking at The Clearing than being hog-tied to an academic institution or other workshop atmosphere where one’s every move is monitored by some half-ass director or committee. I’ve never been good with administration. I always forewarn people intere4sted in hiring me: “Listen, I’m a pain in the ass to work with. Just leave me alone. Let me teach. I’ll give you more than your money’s worth. No bureaucratic bullshit, please, and we’ll be fine.” And The Clearing, through the years, has respected my wishes (mostly). Which is why I keep coming back, year after year. Why I may have taught there longer than anyone else at this point. Why it has something to do with the quiet beauty of the natural setting—the bluffs, the water, the woods–my love of teaching, and the writers who show up year after year.

To get back to the main thrust of what I’m getting at here…the silence at this end the past weeks, all the busyness of writing-related maters (publishing),. much of this Clearing stuff to get in motion, including a pitch to my former students to pass on the info for this year’s class to anyone they knew who was seriously interested in writing, cautioning them: “But no hobby writers, please.” A comment which brings both praise and criticism whenever I mention it. My point being, I don’t have time to deal with writers who only write when they take workshops; writers only interested in writing for fun and profit; writers who wanna to be writers but don’t wanna write; writers who don’t have the time; who want their name in print, but don’t give a damn if they have anything to say. And spare me, please, people who don’t read, have never read a goddam book of any value, never knew what it meant to live on the edge; never lived ‘without,’ never felt there’s more darkness than light. And writers who think ‘religion’ is the answer.

Writing is religion.

There’s more to say, but I’ve spent more time than I can afford on this already by way of an explanation, apology, practicing/preaching. But that’s how it goes. Gets done. Which reminds me of a poem…Norbert Blei

strichstrich.jpg

It Gets Done by Gerald Locklin

a friend of mine, george carroll,
has this phrase, “It gets done.”
he means it in the sexual realm,
that before the bar closes
you will somehow end up with a woman.
it always does seem to be the case for him.
somehow it never happens to me.

but I like the extension of his idiom
into other areas, like writing.
if you’re a writer, the writing gets done.
if you’re not a writer, it doesn’t.
the non-writer can site innumerable valid reasons
why it isn’t getting done,
such as wives, kids, jobs, distractions,
unconducive working conditions, broken typewriters,
and the heartbreak of unrelenting rejections.
the writer will,
in spite of all of the above,
write.
no, let me return to the periphrastic passive:
it gets done—no one quite knows how.

from, CHILDREN OF A LESSER DEMAGOGUE, Wormwood Review Press, 1987








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