Tag Archives: Holly Prado

Peace Press Poetry Reading – June 17

Saturday, June 10, 2017

I was sitting at my desk this morning, reviewing some applications by writers who live outside of California for grants from the state they live in, and suddenly realized that I should double-check the date of the Peace Press poetry reading. I grabbed the catalogue for the art exhibition at the Arena One Gallery, and much to my surprise, the catalogue’s first page listed Saturday, June 10th, as the date of the reading. “Huh?” I thought. I was certain that the reading was on the 17th, but I’ve made mistakes about this kind of thing before, and so I quickly checked e-mails. According to every e-mail from Dinah Berland, the organizer of the reading, the date of this reading is Saturday, June 17th, a week from today. Her Facebook posting about this event also lists June 17.

The Poets and Poet-Publishers of Peace Press
Saturday, June 17
2 – 4 p.m.
Arena One Gallery
3026 Airport Avenue
Santa Monica, CA 90405

Readers: Dinah Berland, Michael C. Ford, Deborah Lott, Bill Mohr, Julia Stein, and Rhiannon McGavin.

THE ART OF THE COOKS OF PEACE PRESS is sponsored by the Ash Grove Music Foundation, and is partially underwritten by the Irene B. Wolt Lifetime Trust, and Anonymous. It should also be noted that this art exhibition came about in response to the multi-site exhibition project of the Getty Trust entitled “Pacific Standard Time.” According to the catalogue, “The Arts of the Cooks of Peace Press” was proposed too late in the organizational process of “PST” to be included in that project. Nevertheless, this exhibit demonstrates that the show continues to generate a legacy.

I myself have been invited to be part of this poetry reading not as a poet whose book was printed by Peace Press, but because as the editor and publisher of Momentum Press, I chose Peace Press to be the printer for three of my most important titles: Holly Prado’s Feasts, James Krusoe’s Small Pianos, and Leland Hickman’s Tiresias I:9:B Great Slave Lake Suite. Jim Krusoe might well have been the person who pointed me toward Peace Press, since he had had a chapbook entitled Ju-Ju printed at Peace Press at least a year before I hauled the paste-up board for Feasts to Culver City with the help of my Suzuki Twin-500 motorcycle. In the case of Holly’s book, I was a complete neophyte in terms of publishing, and without the reassuring assistance of the workers at Peace Press, especially Bob Zaugh and Bonnie Mettler, I never would have been able to bring out my first significant publication as an editor/publisher.

As recounted in HOLDOUTS: The Los Angeles Poetry Renaissance 1948-1882, the typesetting portion of producing these books was done at NewComp Graphics at Beyond Baroque, and both books were done on machines that had no memory discs to expedite revisions. It was a process of keystroke by keystroke composition, and given that both books were not by any means a standard-format for prose or poetry, it was an arduous challenge to get both books to the printer. Given these struggles and my ambitions to make the work of these poets known beyond Los Angeles, it was very important to me that both of these books look as good as possible; and to this day, I read the books not just for the resonant music of the text, but for the way that the poetry on the page was printed by Peace Press with such sympathetic care as to make it completely absorbable.

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(from left to right: Michael C. Ford; Dinah Berland; Bill Mohr

FEASTS by Holly Prado (1976)

Tuesday, March 29, 2016

“to turn our gold into ordinary ground / the best possible solution”

Feasts_BookCover

One of the most tantalizing books I published when I was the literary editor, production manager, and distribution agent for Momentum Press back in the 1970s and 1980s was Holly Prado’s Feasts, which I published in 1976. It’s hard to believe that Feasts is forty years old. Even after all this time, however, it still remains a difficult book to classify. A prose poem novella? Autobiographical fiction? A feminist text that serves as an early example of the use of journal writing as a source of creative self-definition?

I believe that the book is one of the classic pieces of writing in American literature. Although the book is not in print, I have taught it in several graduate seminars at CSU Long Beach; one student summed up many reactions: “Where has this book been all my life?” One answer I give to that question is, “Looking for another publisher.”

FEASTS sold well in the two years after it was published, even though it did not receive many reviews. One of them, however, was in the Los Angeles Times, and I excerpt from it to give you some sense of the book’s impact at the time:

“An experimental novel about a twice-divorced, 36-year-old writer named Clare and her lovers and friends. What’s interesting here is that Prado is truly experimenting…. She splices together a life from fragments of scenes, sentences, dreams, memories … a vivid sense of Clare’s life…. Stylistically the book is worth examining because Prado breathes energy into the flat, half-truth of fiction by writing poetry. (She ) arranges words in breath patterns rather than in sentences … Prado uses the period, the comma, the strophe and antistrophe with a musical exactitude we’ve not heard for a long time.”

I suppose it is a bit of a fantasy to expect a book that has not been in print for over 30 years to appear in an annotated edition, and yet that is what this book needs and deserves. Without at least some commentary accompanying a reprint, a new generation of readers would probably not realize how important it is to go on-line and look up the Woman’s Building, the cultural center in Los Angeles that plays a major role in Feasts. Those who read this book without any awareness of the roman a clef quality of its social context will miss much of the ambience that it has to offer.

I would like to go on record as having made efforts to get Feasts reprinted. Specifically, I have twice approached the Feminist Press in New York City, and each time have failed to receive even the courtesy of a form rejection. The first time they claimed that they never received the copy of the book I sent for their consideration, but the second time I handed a photocopy of the book to the editor along with a return envelope. No response.

Perhaps there is some new feminist press out there that would be willing to undertake this project and include a long introduction and afterword. It is with this hope that I light a cake with 40 candles to celebrate my good fortune in having been its first publisher. I refuse to believe that such a marvelously intimate, tender and lyric piece of feminist affirmation will not be for sale again at Skylight Books.

The AWP will have a major bookfair as part of its annual convention, which opens at the Convention Center in Los Angeles starting tomorrow. In general, the book publishers that are part of the AWP trade show are far more conservative than they imagine themselves to be. The sad truth is that I am not expecting any publisher at that bookfair actually leaving town in anticipation of reading FEASTS and seriously considering taking it on as a reprint project. Nevertheless, I post this notice in the hope that someone still cares about keeping avant-garde feminist writing available to the generation that might well elect the first female president or the first openly Socialist president of the United States.