Cover photo by Shelly Vogel

Everything Else

Darrell Gray & G. P. Skratz, Everything Else 72 pp., paperback, $18. Illustrated with photographs by Shelly Vogel, and with an Introduction by Dave Morice

It's always a pleasure and a joy to read Darrell Gray's poetry. Allan Kornblum & I talked about doing a Collected or Selected Poems for years for the many fans and readers of Darrell, however that did not happen. Meanwhile, musician and author G.P. Skratz submitted a manuscript to me that consists of collaborations he wrote with Darrell in the decade between 1975 and 1986 (the year Darrell died). Darrell lived and breathed poetry so it was hard not to be involved in collaborations with him: whenever you visited him there would be a sheet of paper in the humming Selectric on the kitchen table and as the wine flowed, & the stereo blared, crazy ideas would be committed to the paper. I printed my own collaborations with Darrell -- Wreck O'Lections (see the artist book page) -- soon after he died, but here 25 years further on are some gems that were the fruitful result of many sessions with G.P. Skratz and the odd line from Pat Nolan or Andrei Codrescu, who happened to be present at the time. The book is divided into five sections; one of them the spurious translations from the French of Anton Laplace, inventor of the shoe-horn and gnasher of the ankles of princesses. It also includes a wonderful expansive introduction by Skratz on the history of Actualism, the mysterious poetry movement that Darrell founded in Iowa City in 1972 while he was a student of Ted Berrigan and Anselm Hollo at the Iowa Writers' Workshop. Another of the key exponents of Actualism, Dave Morice, aka Dr Alphabet, provided two drawings to accompany Skratz' introduction. In order to create a parallel visual narrative I invited New York-born photographer Shelly Vogel to contribute some of his dramatic city nightscapes and urbane California moments to the book.

Joanne Kyger broadside

August 2010, I printed "Fact Checking," a piece by Joanne Kyger with a two-colour linoleum cut by AJ and added gouache, in an edition of 50, of which only 26 are for sale. It is large, measuring 15 x 22 inches, and is printed on 100% rag paper. It's a humorous poem about traveling in India in 1965 with Gary Snyder. Cost is $55, post free in the USA. Limit one per customer.

Halos of Debris

Author: Darrell Gray
Illustrator: Cover photos by Kathryn Silva
Size: 15.6 x 23.5 cm
Binding: Smythe-sewn paperback (Cloth is Out of Print)
Pages: viii + 68
ISBN: 0-918395-00-3
Price: $20
Description: These 58 poems by Darrell Gray constitute the last collection by the founder of the Actualist Movement in Iowa City. Gray was a solitary voice in American poetry until his tragic death in 1986. Handset in Sabon type, and printed letterpress in two colours on Mohawk Superfine text, this lovely tribute to the hilarious and spontaneous combustion of words is a fitting remembrance of the man who invented "Mental Floss," and wrote "Rooting for the Mutants."

Here is the title poem:

Photo: Shelly Vogel


A burst of energy, and then we fall asleep.
Outside it is almost night -- thunder & bugs
intersected, then taken away.
While thought is real, birds
keep going beyond it. They
are a form of language the landscape
uses to stay awake.
But we disappear into
the spaces they forget to nest in;
passed from one brain to
another -- so that
truck-stops stay open all night,
the plains quiver and flower,
and pearls form at the bottom of the sea.

Simply to See

Author: Poems of Luxorius, translated into English by Art Beck.
Illustrator: Alastair Johnston
Size: 15 x 20.5 cm
Binding: Coptically sewn into Indian Bagasse paper, that was spray-painted with Vandalic motifs
Pages: 64 pages of Frankfurt Cream laid paper, letterpressed in Monticello & Bell types
ISBN: 0-918395-12-7
Price: $125
Description: There is some question as to whether Luxorius ever existed or whether he was a pigeonhole invented by medieval monks to secrete copies of their erotic poems. Legend has it that he lived in North Africa in the fourth century, while Rome was under control of the Vandals. This book, produced an edition of 125 copies in 1990, prints the Latin on the left pages and the English en face.

Mutabilitie of the Englishe Lyrick

Author: Tom Clark
Illustrator: Alastair Johnston
Size: 21.4 x 14 cm
Binding: Marbled paper over boards
Pages: 36
Edition: 200 copies were printed in 1978, in a syncretic Dutch Old style type invented by the compositor.
Price: $75
Description: The typography and content were created as a tongue-in-cheek homage to the quincentenary of printing at Oxford. This copy signed by the poet, Tom Clark, and the printer, Alastair Johnston, below the spoof colophon image of a monkey and mermaid.

Reviews: "At Poltroon Press ... Frances Butler and Alastair Johnston have printed and published a range of books that dance between classical typography and concrete poetry in an altogether delightful way. Tom Clark's The Mutabilitie of the Englishe Lyrick is a good introduction to Poltroon work." --Roderick Cave, The Private Press (Second edition), Bowker, 1983

Muted Hawks

Author: Tom Raworth
Illustrator: Alastair Johnston
Size: 16.5 x 24.4 cm (closed)
Binding: Cased into flexible boards in two kinds of Thai crumpled paper, inside a silver letter-press printed slipcase, with blind-stamped type on the upper cover
Pages: 26
Edition: 40 copies, a long accordion-folded book
Price:Out of Print/Price On Request
Description: This is the fourth Poltroon Press publication written by Tom Raworth, the great English poet who, alas, is without honor in his own land. The other three titles, "Logbook," "The Mask," and "Nicht Wahr, Rosie?" are among the most sought-after Out of Print Poltroon Press books. "Muted Hawks" is a serial poem that has the rapidfire logic bursts familiar to fans of Raworth, balanced with abstract typographic prints by Alastair Johnston, who was inspired by the poem and the work of Hendrik Werkman in his efforts. The book unfolds to 416 centimetres, about 14 feet in length. Signed by Tom Raworth.