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Saturday, January 26, 2013


This week, I got snailmail and it included a box worth waiting for--a bunch of smallish books sent by Kansas/Mexico-based poet jim mccrary!  I was absolutely thrilled with this trove, which includes some iconic stuff like LUCK, a 4" x 4"-ish 1987 chap by Charles Bukowski for Black Sparrow!  Apparently, jim used to live in an old residential hotel in downtown Santa Rosa.  Then John Martin moved his Black Sparrow Books into town (from Santa Barbara), and jim says he "used to stop by and visit (and try and mooch free books to be honest).  Those were the days."

Thank you, jim!  And of course I'm also thrilled that jim thought to create a book for our "Books on Chairs" project!  It's very clever!  Here's the front cover to his THE LAST WORD:

The "book" is basically a single photograph that jim folded.  When you open the book--unfold the photograph--you see the interior text:

"If this is the last word, that's good."  What does that mean?  Well, look at the photograph in its entirety (back and front cover, in other words):

I assume that's jim on the photo.  Behind him is a long road.  Given the positioning of jim's body, it's fair to interpret that he came from the road behind him, rather than that it's a road he's planning to take.  So, the forefront of the photograph could be his ending days (though of course I know, jim, you still have a munificent amount of years left in you!).  But let's say that the person in the photograph is at his last days, hence the word he just uttered through this book is his last.

Well, that last word is "good" because he's traveled a long road, come a long way (if you forgive the cliche), and he's smiling.  Dude is smiling!  He's had, in other words, a great life!

A "great life" can be interpreted many ways, but what matters is what one thinks of one's life at one's deathbed and this smiling Dude is happy with how and what he's lived!  So: "that's good"!

Anyway, jim has many more years left (note how the photograph, too, has a forward momentum--that is, the person is portrayed actively, not statically just because he's in a snapshot, so that he seems to be in motion forward).  Bot for his last word, this is certainly the conclusion I wish for jim mccrary, one of contemporary poetry world's living treasures.*

(*An example of why he's a treasure is because jim, when writing critically to support other poets, musters forth gems like THIS.)

Now, where shall we "shelve" jim's book?  Of course!  As an oversized (larger than 2" x 2") book, on an oversized (larger than 1:6 scale) but authentic Mexican chair!

P.S.  I adore this man. So I'm going to post another photograph of him -- with his cat!

Thanks jim. Live long and prosper!

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