Saturday, April 4, 2009

Aimless Reading: The C's, Part 16 (Joseph Ceravolo)

Ceravolo, Joseph
Transmigration Solo


When Just Buffalo moved a few years ago, we decided that since all the books on our shelves were mostly gathering dust, it would be best to put them out into the world, so we sold the whole lot to Rust Belt Books. I managed to pluck a few goodies for myself before they disappeared, this Toothpaste Press edition being one of them.

According to the colophon:

This book was designed by Cinda Kornblum. The Centaur type was handset by Allan Kornblum and printed on Strathmore Pastelle text. Of this first edition of 1,100 copies, 100 were numbered and signed by the author, and hand bound at the Black Oak Bindery; the remaining 1,000 were smyth sewn and glued into wrappers at the Laurance Press.

Alas, mine is one of the 1,000 and not one of the 100, but it's still a beautiful example of letterpress bookmaking.

I first heard about Joseph Ceravolo's work when I took a workshop at the New School with Elaine Equi during my last year in New York. Elaine had us all buy the Norton postmodern poetry anthology, which I think was brand new at the time. Each week, one or two people in the class were asked to pick a poet they liked from the anthology and to read a poem by that poet out loud to the class. This would lead to a brief discussion of the poet and his or her work before we got to discussing our own.

One week, a guy in the class read the poem "Ho-Ho-Ho Caribou" by Joseph Ceravolo. Unfortunately, this guy was kind of repulsive and creepy, and he read the poem aloud in class with a thick Queens accent that made it all sound kind of horrible and grotesque. It took me years to actually read Ceravolo on my own and to realize that that creepy guy was really on to something.

Transmigraton Solo

See the black bird in
that tree
trying out the branches, puzzled.
I am up here with you
puzzled against the rain
blinking my eyes.

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