“this yr”

“this yr” is a poem published in chapbook format in December, 1976, by Stephen Jama. 100 copies were printed. The chapbook consists of three sheets, 6&3/4” by 6”, folded and hand-sewn with red thread. The cover is slightly thicker than the inside pages, the inside paper a bit heavier than standard typing paper.

Jama was a popular instructor at El Camino College. The “this yr” shown in this post was a 1976 Christmas gift to me from Michael Mahon, also a friend of Jama’s, and a professor at Dominguez Hills. Another example of a Jama poem, this one in a kind of broadside, or broadsheet, format, “each sounding’s its answer,” is on-line as part of Jama’s Kent State library donations.

Chapbooks and broadsides were popular self-publishing formats in the 1960s and 70s, and were also popular formats used by small press, or alternative press, publishing, a popularity in part perhaps inspired by and certainly fueled by the folk revival, which spread songs around the country by word of mouth, in small coffee houses in cities and around campuses, and in small concert venues, and which, along with the Beat writers and musicians, helped popularize and rescue poetry from the scholiastics.

James Joyce’s Pomes Penyeach is another kind of chapbook, published originally by Shakespeare & Co. (Paris) in 1927. It was published again in 1966 by Faber and Faber. Shown in this post is a Faber reprint published in 1971 that I purchased used for $1.00 some time ago. The penny each is at least literal, for Joyce, who understood the difficulties of publishing, self-publishing, and quick-scrapping, calls to mind street hawkers selling fruit from carts.

While broadsheets are usually only one page, chapbooks contain more pages, but by definition not very many pages. The Faber book is only 47 pages, and includes a “Publishers’ Note”: “In order to make this volume more substantial and to show a wider range of James Joyce’s verse, there have been added to Pomes Penyeach the following…,” and three additional poems are added, including “The Holy Office” and “Gas from a Burner,” which each run a few pages, including footnotes. The original Pomes Penyeach contained only 13 poems.

2 Comments Add yours

  1. johndockus says:

    This is charming, Joe. I love this kind of typesetting, slightly imperfect in alignment which gives it more of a human feel, something to be handled, and the unique, one-of-a-kind thing, of a limited number. Now this is a gift indeed. Makes me think in another way of a time I was riding the bus, and up front a couple maybe in their forties, a man and a woman, were really into each other, animated, loving each other’s company, and across from them but not noticed at all by them was a man, also older, maybe closer to fifty, concentrated drawing a picture of them in his drawing pad. When the man’s bus stop came up, he carefully tore the picture he drew of the couple out of his drawing pad, stepped over and gave it to them, then turned around and exited before he could get any feedback or observe much of a response. I got to witness the couple’s first spontaneous reaction and interaction on first looking at the drawing, their surprised delight, their quieting down in closer observation, their burst into laughter. It was truly a wonderful moment to witness, a gift. I must say, I truly admire the spirit of that unknown man who was the artist.

    Like

    1. Joe Linker says:

      Great story of the artist on the bus who had the gift.

      Like

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