Thursday, July 29, 2010

BlazeVOX [books] makes a big splash in the current issue of American Book Review

May/June 2010

Ted Pelton’s “Introduction to Focus: A Company of Companies: Essential Micropress Reading”

“Essential Micropress Reading: The Publishers”—Action Books (Joyelle McSweeney and Johannes Göransson), Belladonna Books (Rachel Levitsky), BlazeVOX [books] (Geoffrey Gatza), Calamari Press (Derek White), Chiasmus Press (Lidia Yuknavitch), Counterpath Press (Julie Carr and Tim Roberts), Ellipsis Press (Eugene Lim), Fairy Tale Review Press (Kate Bernheimer), Les Figues Press (Vanessa Place and Teresa Carmody), Futurepoem (Dan Machlin), Mud Luscious Press (J. A. Tyler), Other Voices Books (Gina Frangello), Siglio Press (Lisa Pearson), and Slope Editions (Ethan Paquin)

Here's a review of eaQ Oor by Andrew Martrich, the translation is

Do you remember Joyce’s ‘Ulysses’? Have you ever gone through a newspaper, switching TV and radio channels at the same time? You get a similar impression when you are reading Andy Matrich’s album ‘eaQ Oor.’

On the cover, you will see a stained glass which reminds Chagall (maybe Chagall did make stain glasses?), then the beginning is quite minimalistic- the title is written once again, blank page, tile, author, publisher and place of publication (BlazeVOX[books], Bufallo, New York), more detailed publishing notes and then the content starts. Oh no, it’s not the content in the end. The letters ‘B’ and ‘X’, which I thought were a poem, are only a preface (maybe it’s a reference to the publisher, ‘B’ laze and VO ‘X’?), the next page is blank again, acknowledgments, blank page, and then again the book title (and then again a blank page, OK let it be).

The poems included in the book remind me of parts of a dictionary. They are in alphabetical order; the leading phrase is ‘Entrance Examinations’, which is a quadruple combination of phrases related to entrance exams. First there are entrance examinations overall, then entrance examinations to colleges and universities. Every time each phrase is used, there is also the broader meaning of it “colleges and universities- entrance examinations.’ Interesting, it came out as a poem that makes you think. Once I wrote poems using a dictionary myself meaning I was copying parts of dictionaries. In this case, there is then a ‘meta’ level (which refers to guessing which dictionary was used), and there is also a ‘poetic’ level, which refers to a particular matter. In this case, I began to think about American universities. It’s a part of a bigger system, service to the government, service to society? A market, selection, discipline. On the other hand, this poem seems to be brutally torn out from some context, as you read it, it seems as the world it refers to is not important or it doesn’t exist anymore. But this is only the first poem, what comes next will be shocking.

You turn the page, and all of a sudden there is a picture of chains and some kind of toys, collage made of some photos with pieces of someone’s poem about Joanna: “she messes up the/punchline of every joke.//Can tell a Burgundy/from a Bordeaux///And her legs…/oh yes, Joanna’s legs.’ (I found on Google that this text comes from a commercial http:/, on this page there are again pieces of various texts which look like a dictionary and a guide. But the next page is a real shock. The font, even though the book is very nicely printed, looks like primitive signs published some years ago. The text is about a poem, or it is a poem, but it’s not the content that is important but the how it looks like. On the page, there are also two side columns, one as if it was taken from a dictionary or a reference book about universities, the second column is a part of a photo- it seems as there is a part of a window on it and some kind of plants.

The next page, a Xerox picture of someone’s hands, multi-layered scribble, which look like ancient temples or pictures from a school notebook done during a boring class. Let’s keep moving on. I think it will be best if I cite the phrase from the next page: ‘rhyi e-not in [plokh] of lineated however altogether ragged prose turns further soi e words for any of apparent of reason’ (there are no dost over letters ‘i” in the words “rhyi” and “soi”). Are you feeling this? This is exactly what reads like Joyce. In the linked text about Joanna, the author of this text about advertisements also referred to Joyce. I don’t want to go deeper into it, I’m just absorbing. I must add though, that the entire book is not an easy lecture. There is eclectism, all kinds of things jammed between two ‘polite’ covers (on the back cover there are parts of positive reviews of the ready to be printed volume, but let’s get back to the content). The pages are not numbered, so let’s say, we are going back to the next piece of work. There is a lot of black, pieces of a poster, and two parts of some kind of advertisement or maybe photos of a TV with a subtitle in the bottom. The next page- a couple of centred words with some of the letters stressed by being bolded or capitalized, there are also signs in brackets (+) or (x), for example. gaiN (+) haiKu, the last line is a word “daglocks” (a surname? a type of a weapon?). So, this column looks a bit like a collection of equations of letters, which remind me of poetry made of single words, but put together in one mega-poem.

The next two pages are a game “what is on this picture,” in addition; there are notes wi8th numbers and other calculations from a discipline I can’t identify at all. With regards to the game, I am betting it’s a game with pixels, pieces of a rock and a washing machine manual, there is also something reminding of a microwave, and elements of a collage with faces and cars, etc….

You could go on and on like that, the album is very diverse, there are print screens, concrete poetry, drawings with prices included, photographs and  collages, poems using various texts from the library indexes, scribbles, maps, music notes, and even Andy’s college ID scan. I could keep going on, but I think that’s enough. The book causes a storm in your brain but at the same time it’s calm and civilized. Pleasant lecture, volume extremely interesting.