Wednesday, May 14, 2014

My first chapbook: phases of the harpsichord moon (serif of nottingham, 1985)

Today, I discovered the page proofs (typewriter and White-Out) of my first chapbook, phases of the harpsichord moon. I created this chapbook in a class with the writer Frank Davey while studying with him at York University in 1985. He invited us to connect with the Meet the Presses monthly book fair down at Scadding Court Community Centre, run by Stuart Ross and Nicholas Power. It was through that I connected with them and with the Toronto small press community which inspired me then, and continues to inspire me now. I am currently—nearly 30 years laters—part of the collective Meet the Presses which runs the Indie Literary Market, which is the descendent of that monthly book fair. 

Below are scans of the chapbook. I'm so delighted to have uncovered these pages, buried in a bankers box piled high atop a broken fridge in the basement. It's strange to feel that your past is now 'historical.'

The poem clearly shows the influence of bpNichol who I had studied with the year before and would go on to study with the following year. It also shows the influence of Frank Davey and other writers that both he and bp had introduced me to. There's the concrete poetry, the process poetry aspect, and the Canadian historical content (Laura Secord.) I was also a music student and so the work engages with harpsichords, J.S. Bach, and even Jimi Hendrix. I used an ink calligraphy pen that my composition teacher at the time, James Tenney, had taught me to use when preparing scores. Additionally, much of my work engaged with issues of birth, childhood and fertile psychic ground of the fact that my father was a gynaecologist and fertility specialist. The poem was written on a little Olivetti typewriter that I was given for my Bar Mitzvah.

Some time that year, I had put on a poetry art show at York University's Calumet College which featured huge blowups of some of these pages along with some other texts. 

(click on the images to enlarge and then scroll through)


This is a receipt also from that time. I guess that the book was placed on consignment in a bookstore back then. I wonder if they ever sold, or if I were ever paid? [Update: I posted this image on Facebook and Charlie Huisken, co-owner of the very important This Ain't the Rosedale Library, a tremendously supportive bookstore for the small press, has identified that the signature on this receipt as likely his bookstore partner, Dan Bazuin's. Amazing.

No comments: