One glance at any bestseller list could sour most bookworms. Voracious readers of poetry and fiction turning the pages, they can’t get enough great literary lingo for their reading pleasure. It’s no secret that Amazon has monopolized the book publishing industry. How many books do you read?
With the dumbing-down of the world at large, recent trends in banning books, deemed obscene, or inappropriate, it’s best to keep in mind the ramifications of e-book publishing. There’s nothing better than a book you can hold in your mitts, get lost in it, and absorb the knowledge. That is if you can sit still longer than your attention span. The demise of daily newspapers, and journalistic integrity notwithstanding, it brings me to my own forays in the diverse world of independent small press. Underground and alternative publications that have a prominent niche, sailing in the counterculture evolution on oceans of DIY markets. Washing up on the shores of shameless promotion (I know many of the recommended authors), I’m flouting local small press offerings in my minuscule orbits of poetic existence. It’s like small batch, boutique booze, without the hangover.
The first offering comes fresh out of Baltimore’s Furniture Press Books. Founding editor Christophe Casamassima is a maverick poet, young Turk publisher of handmade chapbook editions, numerous tomes of poetry paperback titles, and a passion for preserving the archival history of Baltimore’s numerous small press collections, dating back to the 1950s. His latest addition, a handsomely hand-crafted, limited edition release, Split Series, a nifty fistful of serial poems. The cover (pictured above) is a cryptic photo of Christophe. There’s no accompanying text titles to distract. You must crack the spine to reveal what’s inside. This approach to poetry is like opening a door to discover the prize behind it. Simplicity is Christophe’s forte.
Furniture Press Serial Pamphleteer Editions consists of eight publications per year, two per season, of poetry, poetics, essays, text experiments, and anything related to “creative writing, literacy, and aesthetics.” All chapbooks covers feature a halftone image of the author in profile, and each annual series will be designated by a color. The 2022-2023 edition is the Green Edition. Each book is pressed in editions of 120, the first 26 of which are lettered A though Z and signed by the author. This is the link to the Editions:. I recommend checking it all out. To paraphrase Casamassima, “Poetry is not the locus of activities, but a possibility. Language is our anchor.” The Baltimore Poetry Archives, contains thousands of small press titles. They’ve recently found permanent residence at Towson University. It’ll be available to the viewing public, unveiling in 2023, once the collection's cataloged. They’re actively seeking partnerships and collaboration across all genres, examining fields of creative research and exploration.
Baltimore’s first underground small press, Apathy Press Poets, recently published two new poetry titles, NYC poet Carl Watson’s Stage Fright, and native Baltimorean William Moriarty’s new collected texts, Knot In Time. Other upcoming releases for this year include, Baltimore poets, Jennifer Kieth, and Chris Ciattei, and my own series, The Baltimore Kid, Shootout In Tinytown. Plus, from Paris, Dick Turner. NYC poets Jennifer Blowdryer, and Sparrow X Carter, another installment from Watson, L.A.’s Saint James Howard, and Gettysburg's Brian Wolle, with more new book releases to follow, throughout 2022. For more info: https://apathypresspoets.wixsite.com/poets/contact
One may say it’s small potatoes, insignificant, not worth the time or trouble. It’s true, most bookstores won’t even bother with independent press books. They consider it a nuisance. They may take one copy. Those trendy bookshops that’re too cool for poetry. Go into those places, many of them don’t even carry poetry. The ones that do relegate them to a bottom shelf, next to the graphic novels. Those comic books for grown-ups, soon to be a Hollywood movie. Next to the action figures, and coffee mugs that say something stupid, slogans or have a great work of printed art stuck on them. A world without poetry is plenty enough for most. Too bad for them. We’re still here.