Thursday, September 8, 2011

Aimless Reading: The O's, Part 5.24 (Charles Olson)

The Distances by Michael_Kelleher
The Distances, a photo by Michael_Kelleher on Flickr.
Olson, Charles
The Distances

Given to me by Nicholas Laudadio, a classmate in graduate school.

Nick briefly began buying caches of avant-garde classics on eBay when it first opened. He was able to get some amazing deals back then (1997-8) and resell them in the process. I remember he bought a huge cache of Jack Spicer material. I was over at his apartment admiring this when he showed me this copy of The Distances, which he had also just bought. Seeing my delight at putting my hands on it, he gave it to me.

Thanks, Nick.

I love the Roy Kuhlman cover on this one. He designed a lot of the amazing Grove Press covers in the fifties and sixties, most of which are kind of iconic now. There's a flickr set devoted to them here:

And here's a link to the first, most famous poem in this collection, "The Kingfishers."


Thinking I was done with this post, I stepped down the hall and cleaned out the cat box, then carried the bag downstairs and out to the garbage totes. As I descended, I started remembering more about Nick's house. He lived in a house on Livingston St., which has for a long time been a relatively safe and cheap street on the west side of Buffalo. Most of the surrounding neighborhood is pretty rough, but this hidden little street has always maintained a modicum of cleanliness and safety. It's kind of an oasis. Lori and I almost bought a house there once.

Nick lived in a large rental house, at first with several others, but eventually he rented it all on his own. It had all kinds of crazy carpet and paneling all over it, but Nick revelled in the bad taste of the owner and gave the house a personality all his own. He had a recording studio and a print shop and a hammock in the back yard. He threw a lot of parties and barbecues. I think Juliana Spahr lived in the same house when she was in Buffalo.

Too, Nick Published my first non-self-published chapbook in this house. He did a series of very, very short chaps in the late nineties on his press, Trifecta -- I think maybe three poems or three pages each. It might have been called the "Three Poems" series. They were hand-sewn and printed in very small editions, maybe twenty or so. I remember going to Nick's to help him puncture the covers and sew the bindings.  I am not even sure I still have a copy of my own.

Anyhow, it was a groovy little place that I felt I needed to mention before a closed up shop on this particular book.


Kent Johnson said...

Man, you've got some plum copies there. Get your library appraised!

jms said...

56 livingston? it had pink carpet? and sparkle popcorn ceiling? the owner was armin, a video maker. he is now a librarian in ithaca. he lived there when i lived there. but the bad taste wasn't his. he bought it like that. i remember trying to get him to pull up the carpeting and he wouldn't. armin had a video editing whatever in there. i think i went in the backyard 1x max, although i lived there for at least 3-4 years. but still, super fond memories. oh bluffalot! i miss you and your houses.

Michael Kelleher, Buffalo, NY said...

I think that's the one, JMS