Saturday, October 27, 2012

Book Launch Dec 2, 2012:With Robert Lowell and His Circle Sylvia Plath, Anne Sexton, Elizabeth Bishop, Stanley Kunitz, & Others by Kathleen Spivack

Please celebrate with us!
The Harvard Bookstore and the Grolier Poetry Bookshop
invite you to the book launch of

With Robert Lowell and His Circle
Sylvia Plath, Anne Sexton, Elizabeth Bishop, Stanley Kunitz, & Others
by Kathleen Spivack
A memoir of a famous poetry circle
published by the University Press of New England, November, 2012

Sunday, December 2, 2012, 4-6 p.m.

Co-hosted by the Harvard Bookstore and the Grolier Poetry Bookshop
Refreshment, books, and celebration at both locations

The Harvard Bookstore: 1256 Massachusetts Ave, Cambridge, MA, 617-661-1515
The Grolier Poetry Bookshop: 6 Plympton St, Cambridge, MA, 617-547-4648



The book is available for pre-order through the University Press of New England, and will be released on November 13.
Call toll-free, 1-800-421-1561, email, or visit their website here.
Also available at your local bookstores and online.


"This book is absorbing and alive, human and compelling . . . the best memoir yet about Robert Lowell."

-- Steven Gould Axelrod, University of California, Riverside

"A portrait [of Lowell] that serves to define his role as poet and teacher in fresh and significant ways . . . . This is a memoir that will make an impact right away and that will be referred to by scholars, readers and biographers for many years to come."
-- Thomas Travisano, Hartwick College

"I devoured your book in one sitting last weekend; it's extraordinarily evocative of the poet and his time, your time. Thank you so much for writing it . . ."
-- Don Share, Senior Editor, Poetry Magazine


With Robert Lowell and His Circle
Sylvia Plath, Anne Sexton, Elizabeth Bishop, Stanley Kunitz, & Others
by Kathleen Spivack

A memoir of a famous poetry circle

In 1959 Kathleen Spivack won a fellowship to study at Boston University with Robert Lowell. Her fellow students were Sylvia Plath and Anne Sexton, among others. Thus began a relationship with the famous poet and his circle that would last to the end of his life in 1977 and beyond. Spivack presents a lovingly rendered story of her time among some of the most esteemed artists of a generation. Part memoir, part loose collection of anecdotes, artistic considerations, and soulful yet clear-eyed reminiscences of a lost time and place, hers is an intimate portrait of the often suffering Lowell, the great and near great artists he attracted, his teaching methods, his private world, and the significant legacy he left to his students. Through the story of a youthful artist finding her poetic voice among literary giants, Spivack thoughtfully considers how poets work. She looks at friendships, addiction, despair, perseverance and survival, and how social changes altered lives and circumstances. This is a beautifully written portrait of friends who loved and lived words, and made great beauty together.

A touching and deeply revealing look into the lives and thoughts of some of the most influential artists of the twentieth century, With Robert Lowell and His Circle will appeal to writers, students, and thoughtful literary readers, as well as to scholars.


Friday, October 26, 2012

At the Feet of the Master: Designer and Publisher Steve Glines

At the Feet of the Master: Designer and Publisher Steve Glines
Doug Holder

 One of the major reasons the Ibbetson Street Press of Somerville is still around is because of Steve Glines. Glines has been in the business of designing and publishing since the 1970’s when he had a small shop in Harvard Square. Since those days Glines has worked for magazines, high tech companies, taught college and did consultation work worldwide. I met Glines some years back at a meeting of the Stone Soup Poets at the Middle East Restaurant in Cambridge. Since then Glines and I have collaborated on a number of projects, but the most consistent one has been publishing poetry books, and putting out the lit mag Ibbetson Street. Glines, 60, is an energetic man with an easy laugh, and is the kind of guy who likes to have a lot of things on his plate. Glines founded the Wilderness House Literary Review  and has his own publishing press the Wilderness House Press. Glines is a member of Somerville’s literary group the Bagel Bards that meet at the Au Bon Pain in Davis Square, Somerville. I recently caught up with him to chat about publishing, design, and whatever came to the Master’s mind.

Doug Holder:  What is a good product?

Steve Glines
: A good product is one that everyone is happy with and sells well into its target market: well written, well edited, well designed and well marketed.

DH: Which printers are responsive?

SG: That depends. Every printer has slightly different equipment, expertise and focus. The most responsive printers are the ones that sell only in their sweet spot. By that I mean one printer may have a good offset press and a full case binding setup. You wouldn't send a short run
paperback to this printer because he can't utilize his equipment
effectively. The printer I use most effectively is one that has a modern
efficient digital web printer with directly connected paperback binding
system. This printer can effectively print from 100 - 10,000 books in a
couple of days but don't even ask him to quote on a case bound book.
DH: Should a small press use digital or offset?

SG: The breakeven between offset and digital has gotten blurred to the point where for runs under a few thousand there isn't much difference in cost although digital has become the better quality in the short run. By that I mean the quality of good quality short run digital printing (1-500
copies) is better than short run offset (500-5000 copies).  At larger
press runs offset is by far cheaper and quality offset can be near
perfection. Offset also offers many different choices with regards to
paper and ink. Digital printing is limited to very flat paper, Xerox
style paper, and 4 color printing. Digital printing can look great but
offset printing can be extraordinary.
DH: What are the pitfalls of e-books or cheap hard copy printing?

SG: The hardest part about e-book printing is cleaning up the manuscript.
Authors are known to change their minds (often in the same page) about
what constitutes the end of a paragraph. The end of a paragraph may be
signaled by a carriage return, a carriage return (or two) with one or
more tabs and/or multiple spaces. The manuscript should be just the
words with as little formatting as possible to suggest to the designer
how to design the book. Writers who try to "design" their books in
Microsoft Word just create a lot of extra work (and expense for the
publishers) for the real designers.
Before a book can be designed for hard copy printing the MS has to be
cleaned up anyway and once it's cleaned up and rendered in RTF (Rich
Text Format) it can easily be converted to an e-book, any version.
One thing that bothers me is that major publishers are charging far
more, relatively speaking, for an e-book than they are for hard copies.
For example a 300 page hard back book might cost about $8 to
manufacture. The list price is $25.00 and the publisher gives up 55% to
a distributor/bookstores and/or Amazon. The publisher will make about
$3.00 per book sold. The same book sold by a major publisher as an
e-book will most likely be around $10 but the e-book has no
manufacturing cost. Most publishers could sell the same e-book for $6.00
and make the same profit. If the demand for the product has any
elasticity, that is cheaper books sell in greater volume, then a
publisher could sell far more books (and garner a greater profit) by
selling an e-book for $6 than for $10. The big boys don't appear to
realize this which is why there are so many Romance e-books out there
for $.99.
Steve Glines can be contacted at and is available for a wide range of services.

Tuesday, October 23, 2012

Review of Angles of Incidents by Jon Curley

Review of Angles of Incidents by Jon Curley (Dos Madres Press, 2012)

Lawrence Kessenich

There are the poets of image and emotion and there are the intellectual poets, poets of ideas, and Jon Curley falls solidly in the latter category. The poem from whose text the title of this collection was drawn (more or less), “Existents and Precipitants,” conveys this as well as any other poem in the collection:

Like watching the scene from an angle

As it stretches itself out, grows anamorphic

And between the bodies and their outlines

You can see the widening inner spaces growing

Outer, indications of the ingenious layering effects

of perception which, if stripped, reveals the sub-

phenomena of aura, arriving into this world

from some others:

These we can call the angels of incidence

How often do you read such a short poem – or any poem, for that matter – that contains words like “anamorphic,” and “sub-phenomena”? Even the rhythm of the poem is intellectual, the rhythm not of an event unfolding but of a thought process. “Thought process” is perhaps the best way to characterize Curley’s poems overall. They are not often experiential, in the way highly personal poems are, not emotionally revealing, the way confessional poetry is, but seem to work as explanations—a man standing back and making a case for an idea. Here are the opening lines of “Exhibit B” (itself a title that implies the presentation of a case).

Here in the off-chance oblivion’s staved off

and ordinary life does not fixate itself too lovingly

on itself we can herald some formulations

encrypted as myth but trusted to us as forms

through which we move

Can we agree that deferring out obligations,

those typical hesitations,

only helps to beck us back to where we had come…

And this opening from “Polarities”:

Intersecting angles

The imposture of doubt

bordering the premise

colliding with self-impression

I stagger over and over

at the rupture line of tension and release

words and movement

wishing for errancy and ardency…

Occasionally, some more passionate words and feelings do make themselves known in the poems, such as in the line “I stagger over and over” in the poem just quoted. However, even the more intense moments tend to be subsumed in a more intellectual whole. “Body Politics” is a good example of this:

Traumatic impulse in the brain, enhanced tremors

Of terrors, the night cries of the body contemplating

itself encased with mixed signals, chromosomal divination,

the faculty of predestination, preparing for cell division

to go libertarian, arbitrarily, subject to no fathomable

arbitration, the cancer secreting its cells, its selves

going haywire, re-wiring all to anarchy, where state

upends into mirage of sanity then goes weak with the

husbandry of self devouring self, genomic entropy

which calls for nothing but grief and utopia of the gone

Presumably, this is a poem about cancer taking over a body, but it has none of the gritty physicality of other poems I’ve read on the subject, nor the emotionality of someone dealing with impending death.

I also must admit to not always understanding what Curley is trying to say in his poems, though his convincing diction usually makes me believe it is important. And being that convincing is an achievement. The poem “Blake in 1989” exemplifies this so well that I’ll end this review with it, and leave it to the reader to decide if he or she is convinced:

The walls fell. Most ceilings

trembled. Foundations floundered.

Some sundered, some stayed the same.

The firmament was still an umbrella.

Under it, rained change. The watchtower

became voyeur, yet its beacon still

burned. Flies crowded to its beams.

That nine-year-old girl in the crowd,

near the ramparts, imagines herself

a goddess, wandering through

dead furnishings, new futurities.

She wonders how the walls that fell

could keep propped their fearful lies.

I whisper phantoms in her ears.