by Kirpin Press. PO Box 2943,Vancouver, WA 98668-2943
Book Review by Michael Basinski
Notes to Cleveland: Correspondence from Jim Lowell to Tom Kryss 2004 26 pages. $12.00 includes shipping. All proceeds go to Tessa Lowell. Kirpin Press. PO Box 2943,Vancouver, WA 98668-2943 ’ make checks payable to A. Horvath. Notes to Cleveland - Selected Correspondence from Jim Lowell to Kent Taylor. 2004. 70 pages $17.00 proceeds from this book go to Tessa Lowell. Kirpin Press. PO Box 2943,Vancouver, WA 98668-2943 ’ make checks payable to A. Horvath. Until the Last Light Goes Out by Alan Horvath. 2004 20 pages $12.00 includes postage. Kirpin Press. PO Box 2943,Vancouver, WA 98668-2943 ’ make checks payable to A. Horvath.
Kirpin press books are always beautifully designed, illustrated, assembled, and they are limited in number, and are always beautiful, always sensitive and made in the tradition of the best of small press and always publish those heroes and poets and protectors and lovers of poetry. These books are that homage. Two of these books are comprised of letters written by Jim Lowell to his poet friends. Let me tell you, Jim Lowell, himself, and his bookstore, The Asphodel Book Shop, were an outpost in the midst of the formation of the New American poetry. He loved literature and he loved poetry and remained faithful to poetry and poets. He owned and ran the bookstore, the Asphodel Book Store in Cleveland Ohio where in the wild 1960s the d. a. levy community congregated, and he was arrested for selling poetry that the Cleveland cops considered obscene. It was levy’s work and Duncan’s work and the poetry of others. It was that poetry which now is the cannon, academic and outlaw. FYI, Bukowski and west-coasters new him. Eastern poet folk also and in Cleveland, he was a center of small press and new American poetry vitality. He died this year. Recently I read an interview with poet Irving Feldman in which he said that a poet’s audience is really just 8 or 9 friends and that’s it. While Lowell continued to support all progressive poetry, underground, small press, New American, he remained faithful to his 8 or 9 Cleveland friends. And to some of these friends he wrote letters and Kirpan press has now brought forward these two fine collections of letters by Jim Lowell to poets Tom Kress and Kent Taylor. In these collections a reader finds the stuff that cements poetry friendship. There is lots of talk of new books and gossip about visiting poets and travailing and seeing other poets across the decades. It is so good to have this honor to read about the network/community as it was forming and evolving. One can go on and on, and I guess I could. But these letters, let me write, are both literary letters and friendly letters and that is what makes them so attractive. We are not just writers of poems but citizens of poetry in communication. Here, in these two books, is a glimpse of our citizenship. And it carries on. Jim Lowell was married for decades to Tessa and Tessa will benefit from any sales. This is as it should be. A. Horvath, poet, wrote with the Cleveland crowd and was part of this Cleveland group and he now lives in Vancouver Washington where he makes these wonderful Kirpan books. He has just published a new book. Until The Last Light Goes Out is a long, single narrative poem that chronicles a camping trip poet Alan Horvath ventured south of San Francisco. In the adventure he encounters this, that and number of things, pulling this out of that, finding the stuff of life all about him, wandering about the campsite, making friends with a woman and her son from the next site over, momentarily, they join, as people sometimes do bump into each other and there seems to be no reason or rhyme within the encounter, but it happens. It happened. And it occurred without purpose of judgment as part of the great circle rhythms of life. It is average as you and I and those things that you remember, like your grandmother buying you moon shaped cookies at Kowalkowski’s bakery ’ wait that is in my mind, just an incident there ’ All of it ’ I will never forget. Ah, the endless bakeries that make up our lives and our moons, which seems one purpose of this writing, let me write it out: remember, remember it all ’ so sweet and odd and unexplainable but still. Still there. Still. Narrative it is a poetic activity created via memory, as Horvath writes,
I stare awake the coals until the tiny embers have gone black & then leave whatever is left as a memory, because that is the fire that burns the longest