20 February 2009


Here's my poem that is included in the catalog of the Nancy Tokar Miller exhibition, IN RETROSPECT. The poem is a part of Pushing Water 50. The term "anoethau" refers to relics saved, "the difficult things of wonder," possibly even for sacramental purposes. Anoeth bid bet y Arthur is from the Welsh "Black Book of Camarthen," and it has several possible translations, though here I have a sense of it as the "difficult things of wonder" that are buried with Arthur, and that will be there upon some return. Uncovered dreams at some point, related to the imagination, to what we make as artists.

Nancy Tokar Miller's IN RETROSPECT

Nancy Tokar Miller's "In Retrospect" exhibition opened yesterday afternoon, when she did a walk-through talk about her work, after which the opening reception was held from 5pm - 7pm. Quite a crowd! But the real attractions are the paintings. This is probably the most beautiful exhibition of paintings I've ever seen at the Univ of Arizona Museum of Art. Please, for yourselves, if you care about art, or painting, get there. You won't be sorry. I also hope you can come to the poetry reading there on March 25, Wed, at 4pm. Here's the announcement from the exhibition invitation:
The University of Arizona Museum of Art is pleased to present Nancy Tokar Miller's first career survey. Focused on important works since 1971, the exhibition reveals how Tokar Miller's practice has shifted and deepened, while remaining ardently invested in the fundamentals of painting: the communicative capabilities of line and gesture, the evocative brilliance of color, and the endless plasticity of the medium. Inspired by American Color-Field painting and Asian aesthetic traditions, informed by travel, photographs and memory, Tokar Miller creates formal relationships that convey a distinctive sense of spiritual calm.
The exhibition remains up through April 5, 2009. The museum is located at 1031 North Olive Road, just off the corner of Speedway & Park on the UA campus. Parking available in the UA Park Avenue Garage. Access UAMA by way of pedestrian underpass at the east end of the garage. Museum hours are Tues-Fri 9am to 5pm, Sat & Sun Noon to 4pm (closed Mondays & UA holidays).

On Wednesday, March 25, at 4pm:
Charles Alexander reads selections of poetry in response to Tokar Miller's artwork, in the Museum galleries.

An extensive catalog, with contributions by UAMA exec director Charles A. Guerin, art historian Paul Eli Ivey, gallerist Terry Etherton, gallerist Jennifer Doran, and poet Charles Alexander, accompanies the exhibition.

An added bonus: pages from the book WITNESS, by Nancy Tokar Miller and Kathleen Fraser, designed, printed, bound, & published by Chax Press in a fine art limited edition, have been mounted and framed and are included in Tokar Miller's retrospective exhibition. In addition, a case in the exhibition features the bound book in both a closed view and a view open to a double-page spread of dynamic visual/text interplay.

Paitings pictured here by Nancy Tokar Miller:
Essaouira, 2000, Acrylic on canvas, 66 x 62 inches, Courtesy of the artist
Elephant Terrace, 2008, Acrylic on canvas, 62 x 79 inches, Courtesy of Etherton Gallery

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18 February 2009


I hope you choose to make a donation to Chax Press.

This is a year to begin significant growth for Chax Press, growth that will make our output of books, our presentation programs, our youth/educational programs, and our promotional efforts, more regular and less sporadic. We are working on fundraising efforts to achieve our goals, but we also really need to increase our support from individuals who read our books, read the blog, and who generally support us but are not yet donors. Also from individuals who are donors but who might choose to give again or give more.
Chax Press publishes contemporary innovative poetry by a diverse array of poets, with a special emphasis on unique book arts editions. Chax provides a venue for poets who question and reinvent the ways we use language, and thus challenge us to reevaluate how we understand others, society, and ourselves. Chax believes that voices from different races, genders, sexual orientations, and economic situations are crucial in contributing to this understanding. Chax’s unique book arts editions honor the voice of the individual, while also preserving the survival of a time-honored tradition of avant-garde literature.

Chax Press works
• to sustain and develop the possibilities for the book in an era of diminishing literary literacy
• at the intersection of electronic technology and the most ancient, sacred techniques of hand-made books
• to present the best of contemporary poetry
• through the publication of beautiful books and chapbooks to make a case for the importance of poetry in our lives
• to advance the exploration of the language arts through the publication of innovative contemporary writing
• to provide an example of unalienated labor — through poems and books written and produced for the inherent pleasure and worth of the activity itself
• to create an inspiring environment for youth, interns, and others interested in learning about independent and fine press publishing.

Chax Press is a nonprofit, 501(c)(3) organization, and your contribution is tax deductible. To make a donation, please use the online donation button at http://www.chax.org/donate.htm. Or, send a contribution via check to Chax Press / 411 N 7th Ave Ste 103 / Tucson, AZ 85705. If you wish to contribute specifically to book publications or to youth programs or to readings & exhibitions, please let us know.

Thank you!

and POG, yes POG!!!

I neglected in my last post to mention that POG was a co-sponsor of the January 24 LETTERS & NUMBERS benefit event, and valiant POG directors were there in force. Of course, if ever two nonprofit organizations were entwined, Chax Press & POG are so married. 6 of Chax Press's 13 board members are also board members of POG, and 6 of POG's 9 (I think that's the right number) are also board members of Chax. That said, the board functions entirely differently for each organization. Chax is more of a traditionally structured nonprofit organization, where the board is primarily responsible for long-term stability and policy, fundraising, supporting the executive director, representing the organization in a positive way to the public, promoting the organization through their own personal connections locally and around the country and beyond, legal issues, etc. They are not very involved in planning programs, choosing what books are published, and other decisions that fall to the expertise of the executive director. POG, on the other hand, has a board that functions as staff and board, both in a very cooperative manner, with the board collectively deciding on the year's programs, splitting up responsibilities for administration and organization of specific events, assigning and sometimes sharing grantwriting and fundraising duties, etc. Both boards ideally (and usually in fact) are a lot of fun, and both give a sense of accomplishment as each organization works its magic via programs in the local, national, and international communities of poetry, book arts, literature, etc.

But more on POG right NOW:
POG just presented poets Barry Alpert and Sheila Murphy in the back courtyard of Revolutionary Grounds Books & Coffee, a new leftist coffee shop, a place where books ranging from Marx to Bolano can be found. The poetry reading featured such delights as Donald Davie & John Cage conversing in heaven (Alpert) and the spontaneous combustion/creation of a new poem improvised on the spot (Murphy). Particularly noted were ample plays on words and received phrases in Murphy, with "altogether" becoming "alto / gather," the musical reference making me think of the Beatles' "All Together Now," and the delightful "leaves of the saints." Alpert's poetry required an attention to aspects of the making of the poem from various sources, while Murphy's required aural attention to catch its musical delights. That reading was on Feb 15, a Sunday afternoon.

The NEXT POG reading is February 21 (we don't usually do things quite this frequently, but Alpert/Murphy was a special opportunity enabled by Barry Alpert's travel schedule), and it features the two Renees: Renee Angle and Renee Gladman. This one should be magnificent. It will be at 7pm at The Drawing Studio in Tucson, 33 S. Sixth Ave. For more information please see the POG web site.

POG is currently planning a terrific season for the 2009-2010 year. Stay tuned for more information, about Chax & POG & their various relations.

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17 February 2009


It's been far too long since the last blog. So there's a new commitment here, to blog on a weekly basis. Posts may sometimes be short & sweet, but there will be a consistency that has been lacking for awhile. I will go back and forth on these blog entries, sometimes updating on Chax Press activities, sometimes writing about books or art or poetry in one way or another.

This time, a few updates.

We have three brand new books at Chax Press. Two are on our web site, one very limited handmade book is still being painted & bound, but several copies are available, and more will be soon. These are
a. In Felt Treeling, by Michael Cross. This was a lovely book to work on, in terms of reading mss., design, working with Michael Cross. Read more about it on the Chax web pages.

b. The Book of Frank, by CAConrad. One of the most lively, moving, and "frank" books ever from Chax Press. It's difficult to put down once you start reading it. More on the Chax pages.

c. Salt, My Love: A Ballad, by Patrick Pritchett. This is a handmade book that feels like skin, love, salt. 15 copies in boxes made by Priscilla Spitler. 70 copies paper covers. The handmade paper covers are by St. Armand handmade papers in Montreal, and they almost feel alive in their crackling texture. Each book is printed in 2 colors and also hand-painted throughout by Cynthia Miller. The paintings are part by pochoir technique, whereby paint is brushed on over stencils. For more information on this one, please email Chax Press at chax@theriver.com.
We have fully settled into our studio at 411 N 7th Ave Ste 103, Tucson, AZ 85705. Well, maybe some things are still in boxes, but we are working full-speed on all projects and on press development issues. We had an open studio event here in November and will have another March 14 and 15, 2009, from 11am until 5pm. We have also held two events in the Small Planet Sessions series here, whereby a Chax Press writer offers a reading and is engaged in conversation with the audience. The first such event featured John Tritica and Tim Peterson. The second featured Jeanne Heuving, just a few weeks ago. We plan to continue this series on a 4-times-per-year basis, with the next reading to occur in May 2009. Stay posted!

3. We held our second-ever Painted Poem broadside auction event, titled LETTERS & NUMBERS, at Bluefin Seafood Bistro in Tucson, on January 24. Broadsides of poems by Chax Press poets were hand-painted by Tucson visual artists and auctioned by the lively & eloquent Paul Fisher. In addition, several other artworks were auctioned at the event. A fine time was definitely had by all present. See the Chax web site for more information.

4. Among other things coming up for Chax, I will give the keynote address, on "The Aesthetics of the Small Press" at a conference at the State Univ. of New York at Buffalo, on April 19 & 20, 2009. The conference will focus on presses directed by poets, and on presses whose work crosses the disciplinary boundaries of "literature" and "book arts." Other presses/poets present there include Kyle Schlesinger of Cuneiform Press, Brenda Iijima of Portable Press at Yo-Yo Labs, and Anna Moschovakis of Ugly Duckling Press. Along with other poets involved, I will also be giving a poetry reading at this event. The previous day, August 18, I will be giving a reading in the Segue Poetry Series, in New York City, at the Bowery Poetry Club.