Monday, August 18, 2008


Several days ago I got a very small book, a chapbook only a few pages thick and the pages only a little bigger than an iPhone. It was Geoffrey Young’s latest, a long poem called OF GIN AND TONIC.

Another poetic coup for Young, and another little book to add to the many I’ve bought or been given over the years (and unfortunately lost too many of, somehow, or people “borrowed” and never returned, maybe because of their size).

Anyway, it led to last night’s falling-back-to-sleep alphabet list of my favorite small books (of those I could call to mind at the time, including only the most obvious of City Lights pocket books, since they would dominate the list if I listed them all) (I looked up the publication information later).

AT BAOSHAN by Simon Schuchat (Coffee House Press 1987)
B? [it was staring me right in the face from my bookshelf but I needed to be reminded of it: BETWEEN THE SHAPES by Ray DiPalma (Zeitgeist Press 1970)]
CORONA by Bruce Andrews (Burning Deck 1973), CALISTHENICS OF THE HEART by Annabel Levitt (Veihicle Editions 1976, maybe in an edition of one!) and CODICIL & PLAN FOR POND 4 by Emmanuel Hocquard (translated by Ray DiPalma & Juliette Valery, the Post-Apollo Press 1999)
DARCHITECTURE by Merilene M. Murphy (Love is a House Lightshow? 1998), THE DUMP by Geoffrey Young (Cease Upon the Midnight 2001) and DAYS SHADOWS PASS by Paul Vangelisti (Green Integer 2007)
EQUAL OPPORTUNITY SLEDGE HAMMER by Scott Wannberg (The Lummox Press 1999)
FIVE TIMES THREE LINES by Mary Fran Cipolla (The Great Outdoors Press 1973) and FIVE SIMPLE STEPS TO GREATER JOY IN THIS WORLD OF SORROW by Wayne Alan Brenner (Department of Gravitational Assurance 2005)
GALWAY AND MAYO OFFICIAL GUIDE by anonymous (Bord Failte Eireann 195?) and GUM (a tiny “little magazine” edited by Dave Morice in 1972 and ’73)
HOWL AND OTHER POEMS by Allen Ginsberg (City Lights 1956) and HEGELIAN HONEYMOON by Nick Piombino (chax press 2004)
I.W.W.SONGS (thirty-second edition “issued 1968”) by various songwriters and “IRELAND BEAUTIFUL” COMMENTS, FACTS AND SUGGESTIONS by Rev. Timothy L. Reddin (Saint Margaret’s Church 1961)
KADDISH AND OTHER POEMS by Allen Ginsberg (City Lights 1961) and THE KID IS THE MAN by Bob Flannagan (Bombshelter press 1978)
LUNCH POEMS by Frank O’Hara (City Lights 1964), LIVES OF THE POETS by Ray DiPalma (Stele 2000), LIGHT AND SHADOW by Simon Schuchat (Vehicle Editions 1977), LINE CAUGHT by Brooks Roddan (no press name 2007), THE LINES ARE DRAWN by Michael Lally (no press name and I can’t remember anymore, Asphalt Press? 1969?, at least that’s when the poems in it were written) and LATE SLEEPERS also by me (The Great Outdoors Press 1973)
MYSTERIES OF THE OBVIOUS by Justine Bateman (no press name 1989), THE MACHINERY by Wayne Clifford (also no press name 1967) and MOCK FANDANGO by Ray DiPalma (20 Pages 1991)
NINE YEARS IN A WIND TUNNEL by Max Blagg & Ken Tisa (Aloes Books 1978)
OF GIN AND TONIC by Geoffrey Young (Pitcher 2008) and ON DUKE ELLINGTON’S BIRTHDAY by Diane Ward (no press name 1977)
POSTCARD FROM MOUNT SUMERU by Mark Terrill (Chapbook of the Quarter Club 2006)
QUOTATIONS FROM CHAIRMAN MAO TSE-TUNG (Foreign Language Press Peking 1966) (not because I agree with his advice, but because it’s an incredibly well designed and printed little book, a mini work of art in many ways)
ROCKY DIES YELLOW by me again (Blue Wind Press 1975), RAIN by Ed Cox (The Great Outdoors Press 1973) and REVOLUTIONARY QUOTATIONS FROM THE THOUGHTS OF UNCLE SAM compiled by Johnny Appleseed (Patriotic Publications 1969) (kind of an answer to Mao’s little red book, this one a little red, white and blue book, but still “revolutionary” only “American” style)
SCRIPTURE OF THE GOLDEN ETERNITY, THE by Jack Kerouac (City Lights 1960), SAFE IN HEAVEN DEAD by Jack Kerouac (Hanuman Books 1990), SLED HILL VOICES by Aram Saroyan (Goliard 1966) and SILENT PICTURES RECOGNIZE THE WORLD by Wanda Phipps (Dusie 2007)
THEORETICAL OBJECTS by Nick Piombino (Green Integer 1999)
VIEWS WITHOUT ROOMS by Elaine Equi (Hanuman Books 1989)
WILD APPLES by Stephen Leggett (The Great Outdoors Press 1973) and WALKING BACKWARDS by Ken McCullough (Longhouse 2003)
YOU BET by Ted Greenwald (This 1978)


RJ Eskow said...

I love small books. The only two that come to mind right now are:

"1936: The Spanish Revolution." It's a nice small volume of photos that also includes a tiny CD with two revolutionary songs - No Pasaran and El Tren Blindado.

"Mit Fuj a Szel," a book of Bob Dylan lyrics in Hungarian I bought twenty years ago in Budapest. I only know a few words in Hungarian, so the language looks incomprehensible to my eye.

But I love that. It reminds me of the improbability and unexpectedness of language itself, and of that pre-linguistic state when experience is far less mediated by intellect.

If that makes any sense ...

Toby said...

How about "Little Fur Family," by Margaret Wise Brown. My father, before his death, gave me a new copy because I'd worn the fur off the cover of the first as a child.

Dave Morice has some really small books. But also a very large poem--a mile long.

douglang said...

There's an item by Terence Winch, Where the Yellow Went, published by Tina Darragh's Dry Imager Press in 1977. It's a very small books and one of my favorites of any size. I love small books. One of my most cherished possessions is Tom Raworth's Common Sense (1976). Desecheo Notebook by Joanne Kyger is another.

It's a great topic and a wonderful list, Michael.

Lally said...

Thanks for the comments you guys, and Doug, I knew there were some small books of Terence's I had somewhere, but I think I put them in a larger envelope to preserve them and can't remember where I then put that! Thanks for reminding me of "Where the Yellow Went"—I remember it well, now.