Backwoods Broadsides -- 2004
Backwoods Broadsides' editor, publisher and sole source of funding, Sylvester Pollet is officially part of the micropublishing set. Poet Ron Silliman describes micropublishing as "any book or journal done in such a fashion as to preclude bookstore distribution, even via Small Press Distribution" and goes on to say that it [micropublishing] is one of the very best things about poetry. With the forces that be deep at work for big and biggest and more and more and a perversity for complete control, I'm sure many would agree -- the small but substantial find is very appealing and there's mighty potential for a little revolution hidden in each and every personal computer.
The nifty pamphlet style broadside is distributed by mailing list only. Backwoods Broadsides is not available in stores except City Lights Bookstore in San Francisco, California and the University of Maine Bookstore in Orona, Maine -- "just so I can say it's in bookstores coast to coast," says Mr. Pollet. The Broadside comes out a total of eight times a year "two for each season." I appreciate that Mr. Pollet looks at time in terms of seasons. For one, reference to seasons gives me hope that they will one day exist again and for two -- it's a very nice word.
The broadside flaunts an array of poetic aesthetics, traditions and schools but seems mainly interested in a particular lineage but is completely diverse within its aesthetic and has published some wonderful poets including: Carl Rakosi, Jackson MacLow, Diane di Prima, Amiri Baraka, Kathleen Fraser, Pierre Joris, Robert Creeley, Jennifer Moxley, Tsering W. Shompa, Anne Waldman, Lee Ann Brown and Kristen Prevelet. We can look forward to reading new work by: Peter Miles, Burt Kimmelman, Mark Melnicove, Hoa Nguyen, David Meltzer and George Boweing.
One of Backwoods' most recent offerings is the work of poet Susan Maurer. Maurer's love of language comes forth in a pensivele semi-prose poem structure. I would interpret Ms. Maurer as a formalist -- though not a rhymer -- with hints of old school experimental tendencies. Her favorite subject matter seems to be those hovering lover daemons and the often sweet and just as often not so sweet catharsis, which may very well follow lover daemons.
Maurer refers to her writing as "dream language" not necessarily linear but poetry that thinks in terms of the universal language and symbol. Though the work for sure gives us those "dream language moments" constructed on ethereal mystic tangents, the poet admittedly is writing for those who are not necessarily poets. "Expression," Maurer explains, " doesn't have to do with formal education ... it has to do with the freedom one gives to oneself to take in information in a certain way." Write on!