Some of you may already have a copy of my first printing of Daylighting, a long poem in a tiny book, published under the Burn This Press imprint in January. I mailed out about 80 of them, gave away more, and now have done another batch. They are small square books covered in cardstock, with nothing fancy but the linen-textured paper.
It was exciting to change the name of my press and re-think how to do things. The new books will be poetry, translations, and perhaps some rants, manifestos, or whatever feminist or political/cultural/technical polemics come my way.
I tried to make the switch from pasteup to printout, and might go a bit further with that process now that I have Cheap Impostor, which is shareware that does imposition. You know that thing where you do a zine, and you have to make a mockup to plan out what pages go where in your xeroxable originals so that you can fold the zine correctly, and the double sided copies match up? I never knew that was called “imposition”, but it is, and if you search on that, you can find awesome software that takes a PDF and makes your zine or book with signatures of however many pages you like.
“Daylighting” is a poem about the imaginary and real, historical, past, and future of one of San Francisco’s buried streams, Islais Creek. It will turn you inside out! I’ve read it in public a couple of times now. How happy it made me! People laughed with pure outrage and disbelief!
My book for March is Bad skin, my translation of Carmen Berenguer’s “Mala piel“. The book is still tiny, but includes the original poem in Spanish, my translation on facing pages, and some notes on the translation as well as the history of Chilean indigenous ocean-going people and on ecriture feminine. I also added in some illustrations taken from historical texts about the Alcalufe people and their boats. The poem has interesting political dimensions but what you will notice about it first is that it’s a cataloguing poem, one of those poems that describes all the parts of a woman’s body. Rather than driveling on about someone’s alabaster brow and eyes like stars, Mala piel gets realy, really into the skin; pores, spots, hairiness, texture, crinkliness, tightness, stretchmarks, wrinkles, well, everything. It’s incredibly down and dirty. It may have actually made me blush more than once. I also felt a deep sense of happiness at it, as I thought of my own Bad Skin and all it means. How about yours?
It was an extremely difficult poem to translate, and I’m sure the translation has heinous errors of judgement and misunderstandings. I tried to convey various layers of meaning, neologisms, changed words, and general feminist awesomeness as well as the deep meanings I felt were there. Many are missing! Corrections, illuminations, explanations, and arguments are welcome, as always.
Carmen was very patient with my questions. Take a look at her Facebook fan page and give her a thumbs up.
I’m going to do the next book for April soon, and lay it out for final printing in Cheap Impostor.
After that I plan on printing up my epic poem about the utopian technohippies of California, “Whole Earth Catalog”, and then “Companion to the Doctor” which is about women in science fiction television shows. I say that recklessly, as neither of those are finished. No pressure!
Then translations of either two to three short poems also by Carmen Berenguer, or “Carta de viaje” by Elvira Hernandez, or something else to be determined. My hope is for smallness and density, tiny portable books, not great lumps of intimidating virtue, but mindblowing awesomeness – like carrying a speck of antimatter around with you in your pocket. Poetry is quite pointless these days in the U.S.. It’s so smug. Or it’s song lyrics, which are great, but… Maybe you need a little mind-bending dose, a reminder that language is a weird powerful beast with political power. Oh, language! And I don’t mean L=A-N=G either, I mean the sort of thing you wrap your tongue around. Carry a poem with you to look at!
If you want to be on my mailing list for tiny books for Burn This Press, let me know in email: firstname.lastname@example.org.