Thursday, October 06, 2011

Notes on old new little presses part five
& parts one, two, three, four six, seven, eight, nine

Just like catching a thorn on a beautiful prize rose I've made my right forefinger bleed on a sharp sticking-out Klatch 'zine staple. It's a piece. Klatch is an uncommodified living bookwork.

press free press produced a publication as performative background to Beckenham Bubble 2 (July 4, 2011). With the speed of experienced zine-making symposium workshop facilitators to be and to be a book was authored, printed as limited edition, distributed and performed within an hour and a half. to be and to be a book can be read and re-read for content, form and living bookwork properties.

I re-read publications as artwork bits and pieces. In wartime council requisitioned suburban house the present writer lived as small child there was only one book. How it got into the house and why is unknown - The British Countryside in Pictures (Odhams Press, undated).

This formative deprivation of literary ownership has been compensated for - no - overcompensated for, by filling every corner, every shelf and cupboard space in small domestic units over decades with books, zines with sharp rusty staples, comics, and more books. When I re-read publications I mean I read their presence as pieces. A colourfully illustrated but ripped paper dust jacket just about clinging to a plain blue, green, red, brown or black hardbacked cover. Paperbacks-a-plenty - many pristine or well preserved except for bent corners: perhaps creased, torn, stained: perhaps unbound with broken spines, in literal bits and pieces held together clumsily by sellotape, and after a decade, yellowing into unsticky back plastic, in bits and pieces again or hopelessly re-sellotaped. A book-love for the unstitched and unglued through constant referral - all in varying stages of disintegration through age and damp.

Becky Cremin and Ryan Ormonde have eaten their Press Free Press bookworks at a launch and spat out the bits, commodifying bagged results as having identical consumer value as unchewed chapbook version.

All little press art objects now - as preciously fetishistic and uncommodified to an appreciative reader in his or her subjectivity as objective exchange market commodity value is nil to book collectors (way beyond 'poor condition'). Publications reduced to paper and card, ready to throw into the rubbish skip or trashcan recycle. Although comics and zines can be preserved longer in clear mylar bags (polyester resin) archivists of comics and cheap paperbacks will tell you it is still an uphill struggle to preserve wood pulp product.

In recent email appealing for unsoiled copy of Herbarium poetry anthology that could be displayed during a Royal Horticultural Society poetry reading - contributor matt martin writes ... my own copy got rather muddy in the excitement of the launch reading. I was happy about this at the time (it means the book will forever bear traces of the Urban Physic Garden that inspired it).

Curious thing about vegetables submitted in competition for prizes is they don't look edible. Giant leeks on show at RHS when I read yesterday looked differentiated from smaller, mudded, rusty leafed, grit-embedded, weevil-bitten plant I yank from ground. Possible to clean, cook, eat tasty leeks AND grow them for show. I'd argue publications can also be differentiated for reading as books, and for reading as objects. Text read as 'wave' and text read as 'particle'.

London E1 Carnivale launch night stock of Openned Press's first perfect-bound shiny publication 'from The Mountain of California ...' (2010) by R.T.A. Parker (Richard Parker who runs aforementioned 'old new' Crater Press), had spill with overturned wine glass later evening - turning remaining paperbacks into 'objects' (at least in present writer's perception). Openned Press's representative for the night Amy De'Ath carefully and coolly explained details of wine spill incident offering generous discount on stained copies left. Guess Amy, Alex and Steve may have been thinking -

Fuck. Damaged stock. Now I've got to flog'em at fucking discocunts - shittttt!

Similar reaction runs through every small press producer's mind when money, care, hard work and effort goes into reproducing texts in multiple edition then an experience of upset when stock becomes damaged or spoiled in accident or by chance.

'from The Mountain of California ...' is a labour of love - a beautifully written, designed and edited paperback, fully copyrighted and ISBN catalogued. It's the first-ever copy of a printed Openned Press book with brilliant poetry and poetics. I read the content, read & re-read content. Wine-patterned outerbound roséd leaves make it an even greater joy to read
& read and re-read.

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