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Wednesday, February 27, 2013


There is a deft delicacy in many of Aileen Ibardaloza's poems, which shows up in the two hay(na)ku tercets that comprise the text in her mini-book, THE AUCTION.  But also, do check out Aileen's first book, TRAJE DE BODA.  Now, here is the cover to Aileen's 1.75" x 1.75" contribution to "Books on Chairs"!

After admiring the cover -- love the fabric contrasted with the pasted piece of paper -- you open the book to see two blank pages.  Those blank, or white, pages serve to emphasize what will be the poem's opening text.  You turn the blank page to see the first hay(na)ku (a tercet form where the first line is one word, the second line is two words, and the third line is three words):

You turn that page to see the second hay(na)ku tercet:

The poem, in full, then is
The Auction

here, the
white love seat

he slept
for nine years.

That is poetic compression delicately manifested.  An imagined story hearkened by just these two tercets could unfold in a novel with hundreds of pages.  In part, this effect is facilitated by the title.  If, for example, the poem was untitled and yet bore the same text, it wouldn't be as layered as the poem we have with the title of "The Auction."  As a novel, the opening could reveal the colorful, excited rooms in a Christie's auction.  Without the title, the novel could be just a bit more predictable, thus, banal.  So, Aileen's poem, too, highlights the importance of titling a poem adeptly.

Note, too, the reference to "love seat" as where the "he" slept for nine years.  Aileen could have said (with another adjective to preserve the 3-word line count) "couch," "sofa" or even "settee" (if you wish to have the long "e" rhyme with "years" in the next tercet).  Instead, Aileen used "love seat" to pun off a reference to where the couple may have sat sharing the love they once shared.  Thus, the auctioning of this piece of furniture comes to be more poignant or ironic or otherwise deeply-felt. 

Just as the title adds a welcome layer to the poem's narrative, so does the design.  Let's go back to the front and back covers of the mini-book:

The fabric is interesting.  I can easily imagine it as an upholstery pattern.  Perhaps it is the upholstery for the replacement to the "white love seat" referenced in the poem...?  Depending on the story you're fleshing out from the minimalistic poem, I think one can read in this possibility!  And the black lines cutting across the fabric?  A symbol, of course, for lines of a different nature: the lines of a poem!

Now, where shall we "shelve" this deceptively layered book?  Well, why not on one of the enchanting wicker chairs, the one with the dog:

The insertion of the dog is another layer.  One could say, for example, that depending on how the story unfolds the dog's going to pee on the book. Maybe the "he" was a reprobate who deserved dog piss.  Or not.  We have to see how the dog reads the poem!  Yes, dogs can read...but that's a story, or a mini-book, for another day... 

Tuesday, February 26, 2013


Poet-extraordinaire (and editor- and critic/scholar-extraordinaire as well) William Allegrezza is extraordinary for many poetic reasons.  For me, he's stellar in part because his poems are consistent in delivering an always highly-pleasurable read.  So go to that link-on-his-name and check out his work.  If you only have time today to check out one book (you should, of course, have more time tomorrow!), check out FRAGILE REPLACEMENTS (also published by the publisher of many mini-books here, Meritage Press). 

So, okay, that's an too-brief intro to moi pal Bill.  I am lucky to have his books in the home library, but also am delighted to have this rather mysterious concrete poetry set from him, to wit:

I'm not sure what the pieces are.  They look like elements from a children's toy.  Or some baking tool (now why do I say that when I wouldn't know? Anyhoo...) But what's significant are the writing on them.  These works are from a period of time -- though it wouldn't surprise me if it's still ongoing -- when Bill was trying to inscribe poetry on everything in the universe.  I do love poets with ambition!  Here's a detail:


... for a pattern to explain what, says the last line.  Mysterious but evocative such that one wants to speculate on what the line means, which is to say, inhabit the line -- ever a desired goal by poets.  So go ahead: inhabit and speculate!

Anyway, I've had these pieces on the bookshelf for years.  I didn't really know what to do with them except to shelve them in the poetry section of the library.  But with SitWithMoi, I now realize what they are.  Dear Readers, these elements form nothing less than -- drum roll please for the global introduction -- THE ALLEGREZZA BENCH (with side tables!).  Entonces:

Very kewl, yes?  The Poet With Chairs thinks so!  She tried it out and found it, indeed, a very congenial sitting experience! 

May we "shelve" a mini-book soon on THE ALLEGREZZA BENCH!

[Prov.: Gift from Poet-Furniture Maker Himself.  Scale: Bench: 6" width and 1" depth; circular side tables have 3" diameters]

Monday, February 25, 2013


My recently-received Blue Chair was an impetus for this mini-book, L by Genara Tilan.  As I said in the prior post, the Blue Chair is much smaller than I expected due to a typo in its description from the Etsy bookseller.  In looking at the chair, I realized that if one was to accommodate its scale, the mini-book that would be "shelved" by sitting on it would have to be about half an inch long and wide.  So I decided to make the book moiself since I didn't know if I could get a mini-book that small (the lovely E-Peeps sending me mini-books seem to tend towards even slightly larger than the targeted 2" x 2" scale).

I also decided to make the mini-book when I stumbled across a strip of paper I had cut out from a paper bag originally containing some luscious Teuscher's champagne truffles, a yummy Holiday stocking-stuffer from the hubby.  This strip had one side of the green paper glued to another thin piece of paper that I thought could be the interior page. From this strip, I cut and shaped literally a thumbnail book at 0.75" x 0.75' mini-book -- yes, do note how I folded the green cover in a way to create a spine:

For its text, I thought to quote from a letter I recently discovered among my mom's belongings.  It's a 1976 letter from my grandmother, Genara Tilan, to Mom.  It is the only written letter I have of my grandmother's, and it was written to Mom six years after our family first left the Philippines to immigrate to the U.S.  Because of the letter's rarity and age, I thought it was appropriate to write (part of) its story on the fragile paper taken from the Teuscher's packaging.

And so here's the front cover of the book:

You open it to see the title page that says, "LONGING":

You unfold the accordion-page to see the text:

What I present in the book is an English translation of an excerpt from my grandmother's letter which was written in my birth language, Ilocano.  Her Ilocano:
Napalalo ti ragragsac mi a naca kita manen cada cayo uray no retrato laeng ... nangpunas iti iliw cadagiti puspusomi... 
My English translation (which is not literal but contextual):
Our joy was outrageous from seeing you all again, even if only through photographs -- such was the depth of missing you all.  This longing in our hearts ...
You would fold back the accordion page, turn it, and see this on the interior back cover:


which, to me, summarizes my family's need to leave the Philippines and the losses that come with the gains of such a move.  While I list the four words above, in the book the four words all share the same "L" as they are inextricably intertwined.  Hence, the title of the book itself to be "L".

And so we "shelve" this book on the Blue Chair.  If you read the prior post, or the link to the Blue Chair, you will see that it was discovered to be broken before the Etsy shopkeeper rescued it and gave it new life (with glue and paint).  Just as the chair was healed into an object of beauty -- something of value -- I thought about excerpting from my grandmother's letter, which described pain and a difficult existence, words that would form a book, something I consider  an inherently valuable or precious object.

Thus, here are two phoenixes rising from their respective ashes:  this green book on a blue chair:

Sunday, February 24, 2013


The first time I saw this painted chair, I found it charming:

The Etsy shopkeeper says she found it “broken and sad at a rummage sale. I brought it home, treated it with some glue and paint, and it is now standing proudly.”   She did a great paint job – here’s the back of the chair

But I was shocked when it first arrived in the house.  I had ordered it because it was described as being 6.75” tall.  That was apparently a typo – look at it sit cozily on the Strombecker-ish chair I’d ordered from the same store:

I immediately emailed the shopkeeper to return it.  In the hour it took for her to respond, though, the Blue Chair charmed its way into  moi heart:

So what the heck.  I welcomed her into my home and SitWithMoi. Poetry teaches: sometimes, you just gotta go with the flow…

[Prov.: The Blue Daizy. Size: 3 ¾” height x 1 ¾” width  x 1 ½” depth.]

Saturday, February 23, 2013


Joanne Kyger is a wonderful poet whose poems should be read, explored, felt ... but rather than have Moi explicate about her, let me cite something said about her from the book description to her book AGAIN: POEMS 1989-2000:
Shaped by an effortless breath line, Joanne Kyger’s poetry is gifted with exquisite sensory awareness, a landscape painter’s eye, and friendly compassion. It conducts an intimate debate on the process of language, always with a wonderful sense of humor, sometimes self-deprecating, sometimes excoriating the bad behavior of miscreants and proponents of a false culture. Again: Poems 1989-2000, a long-awaited collection, spans a decade of daily life, deaths, seasons, bird migrations, journeys—and the who, what, where, even the why of conscious human puttering. Each poem finds its own form as well as place in the accumulative totality of the “book.” Kyger’s work continues to be an ongoing narrative, “the story time makes in a life,” wise talk, notations and gossip. To read these poems is to sink deeply and fly gracefully at the same time—and suddenly discover your own life talking back. One of the acknowledged female “Beat” poets (although she herself dislikes that limiting designation), she has been an inspiration to countless other writers, women as well as men, the young as well as her peers.
For more information let Moi also point you to these links

and I suggest following up with her books -- she's a prolific author, which is all the better for poetry lovers.

The mini-book I wrote on behalf of -- and for -- Ms. Kyger had two seeds.  The first was a desire to recyle one of the Holiday cards I received -- as you will see from the image below, it has a nice nature/tree theme.  But what also moved me to turn it into some mini-book's cover is the thickness of its card stock, perfect for this project:

The second seed was stumbling across a 2006 bookmark put out by Poetry Flash as a "gift for the New Year."  On the bookmark is a poem I've always enjoyed by Ms. Kyger, "AGAIN," the title poem to her book AGAIN.

I had some yellow paper nearby (from having just finished making an enclopedia -- a post for another time, but will link to it when done) that I thought would provide a nice contrast to the book cover's palette of green and brown.  And so I cut-n-pasted a yellow strip to feature the title and author and, ta dah, a new mini-book! I entitled it, of course, AGAIN2 ... and I liked the synchronicity of re-featuring the poem in a new way ... again!  The "2" in the title is actually supposed to be the smaller, lifted "2" that denotes mathematically the squaring option (I just don't know how to present a square function on Blogger).

You would open the book (yes, please do admire the cover's French Flaps) and see the top of the ex-bookmark.  I had decided to cut the bookmark into sections that would become pages in the mini-book (as well as pasted over a thin strip of yellow paper to cover my lame-o "binding" of a single staple). 

Unfortunately, because I don't have Joanne Kyger's permission to reprint the poem here, I can't flip through the entire mini-book and/or share the poem in full. I can share that it begins, "Life has a repetitious feel..." (If I can eke out the time and get my act together to request permission and receive it, I will edit this post to do so.) But I can show you its last "page" which credits AGAIN: POEMS 1992-2000 (La Alameda Press, 2001). 


  Last but not least, here was the bottom strip of the bookmark:

Look at what I did with it!  I narrowed the strip further and, of course, created a mini-bookmark!  The bookmark becomes a bookmark, too, again!  (I have to say, I was quite proud of determining this move as it took me a couple of days to figure out what to do with what was initially a left-over strip...)

And now, where shall we "shelve" this mini-book? But of course!  Let's have it atop the non-seasonal Santa book on Ronda Vallejo's (hi Alex!) ottoman!

That's my Mom's hat atop the two books.  All very cozy, ain't it ...!

Friday, February 22, 2013


[Related Post: MEMORY by Erin Virgil]

I am so honored to receive Erin Virgil's HANDBOOK FOR WITHDRAWAL as a new mini-book for SitWithMoi!

After reading HANDBOOK FOR WITHDRAWAL for the first time, I was reminded of Susan Schultz's work in crafting poetry from experiencing her mother's lapse to dementia, in part presented in her (recommended by Moi) book DEMENTIA BLOG (Singing Horse Press). In her book, Susan says in a Foreword, "Dementia destroys the self, but that destruction is oddly, horribly, poetic."

Erin's mini-book is, from her Author's Note, "a few notes I took between Thanksgiving 2012 (when I finally went off Cymbalta--a drug I'd been on for a decade--for good), and New Year's Day, when I finally felt steady."

Erin wasn't "destroyed" by her experience -- all you  have to do is read her Blog to sense her wonderful non-impaired spirit.  But as with Susan's experience with dementia, Erin's experience also generated poetic moments, such as this

the comic book version and the real script may
switch places: just a side effect of withdrawal

as well as this
If you are withdrawing from SSRIs in a cold climate, remember
to wrap up your kidneys, keep them warm. They are decision-
makers, and they don't like being cold.

"SSRIs," as helpfully explained in the mini-book, stands for "Selective Serotonin Reuptake Inhibitor" and refers to how, during the first 24 hours of drug withdrawal, "there is something called 'SSRI Discontinuation Syndrome,' which is the brain realigning itself, a process that can take up to two months."

Here are two more "poetic" moments (as always on this blog, you can click on images to enlarge them):

memory comes back in a
     basket which has
          one handle only and

people may say
you look more sincere
off the meds

they are probably right

It would be crass, of course, to just focus on what's "poetic" about the mini-book's content.  I don't know anything about Erin's medical history, but I'm happy for Erin that she's gone off Cymbalta if it was not or had ceased helping her ("90 mg a day x 10 years, / that's what you took"). As she notes in her mini-book, "People have been messing with serotonin for a long time, with mixed results."

Synchronistically, as I was in the middle of writing my engagement with Erin's mini-book, Susan Yount's package of books arrived, including her MINI BOOK but also OVERPASS, a fabulous collection of poems by Steve Davenport.  I want to share OVERPASS' front cover image here as the pill-festooned tree resonated even more when I saw it whilst in the midst of engaging with Erin's HANDBOOK FOR WITHDRAWAL:

Given its topic, it's fitting that HANDBOOK FOR WITHDRAWAL is such a physical object.  That is, its physicality is one of the first things you notice about it.  The book and its pages are thickened from glue so that handling the mini-book is a much more tactile experience than handling the average paperback. Yet, despite the thickened pages, one also gets a sense of fragility from how the pages are sewn by a very thin, loose thread to the binding so that the pages move around a little within its covers.  When combined by the mini-book's palette of brown and tan, the mini-book becomes a metaphor for a body -- entirely fitting, as I said, given the narratives contained therein.  I'm even happy the book is larger than SitWithMoi's targeted 2" x 2" as the topic seems to warrant a larger scale (it's 3.75" x 3").

Aptly, then, the book also won't lie flat because of its thickened pages and cover.  Here's what it looks like when it's laid down on a table:

I think the effect is also fitting.  Because if Erin just got off Cymbalta in late 2012, then the story of who she is when not on the drugs (that didn't alleviate the "sad[ness] in [her] heart") has only just begun to be written (and includes HANDBOOK FOR WITHDRAWAL in this new beginning).  The book is still open ... there isn't yet a conclusion with which to close it.  Thus, I'm happy to close with what's actually the first page of Erin's mini-book, that says:
before, chemicals wrote
on your bones

but there are blank lines
on your rib bones, and
the hammer in your ear.
     proceed. write their
This may be a "mini" book, but HANDBOOK FOR WITHDRAWAL is a huge-hearted testament to human resiliency and Erin's own vibrant spirit.  Thank you for sharing, Erin.

And now: where oh where shall we "shelve" Erin's mini-book?  Well, I guess it'll be on the rocker which was made by a craftsman who also ... persevered!


Thursday, February 21, 2013


I’ve never met him but now his life is part of my memories—this craftsman somewhere in North Carolina who, over the years, worked on woodcraft, including making miniatures of … other miniatures!  That is, my latest chair acquisition is this craftsman’s attempt to replicate one of the rockers put out in the 1950s by Strombecker, a children’s toy manufacturer for much of the 20th century.  The Etsy seller told me this chair was purchased from an antique dealer who, in turn, purchased it from the wood craftsman in Asheville, NC: “The craftsman was closing his shop, and this was in a basket of goods that he'd put into a storage locker. That basket was full of different items that he had tried to replicate, but he never offered them for sale. Supposedly the items were all over 25 years old.”

This chair intrigued me for several reasons.  First, it seems not all that was in the basket was a success—but this chair is a convincing replica.  I liked the idea of giving a home to a successful work by someone who put in years working at his craft.  Another reason had to do with the influence of Tom Pfannerstill, an artist who’s blessed my home with two works:

Tom Pfannerstill picks up debris which he brings back to his studio.  Then he makes replicas of them.  The replicas are astounding – in the case of the works in my home, he carved wood into the shape of the trash and then painted them.  I never fail to be amazed at how he was able—through paint on wood—to capture the faux plastic surface of a milk cartoon, as well as the sheen of plastic in the candy box.  Anyway, if you click on the link (beginning this paragraph), Mr. Pfannerstill says something about the effect of his art on others—an effect I would hope for my poems to have on their readers: “The fact that this work can slightly alter a person’s perceptions, even if only for a short time, ‘open their eyes’ or make them view their reality in a slightly different way, is a very important aspect of what I do.”

Indeed, the whole world of miniatures can sort of make a person look at the world differently, doesn’t it?  Scale matters, and the viewing of something that can be held on, say, the palm of one’s hand can effect interesting shifts in vision.  So, all those thoughts were murkily brewing in moi mind as I looked at this craftsman’s attempt to replicate a child’s toy.  I like that this piece makes me think about certain things … things that relate to what I’m trying to do in poetry.  Here it is, modest and unassuming and yet with a presence:

If you Google images of Strombecker dollhouse furniture, you will no doubt come across this rocker's image.  Now that I’ve seen the craftsman's chair, I can see the presence of the hand – it’s well-made but not perfect. But its imperfection only makes it true-r: it’s a chair imbued with the artist’s struggle to manifest reality from vision.  Such is not an easy task but it’s so worthwhile, which is why plenty of sages observe that it’s the journey, not the destination, that counts.

[Prov.: The Blue Daizy. Size: 7”” tall, 4” across the seat, 3 ½” deep]

Wednesday, February 20, 2013


Okay. See: I actually know I'm an AMATEUR when it comes to anything crafty.  I do both admire and deplore (the latter coz I'm jealous) those with craft-related talents.  And moi jealousy reared up with today's mail when I received Susan Yount's mini-book for SitWithMoi -- look at it:

Yes, yes ... this 2.25” x 2.25” gem has a lovely cover -- a rose outline against a peachy (pun intended) floral backdrop.  But nevuhmind that!  Look at the SPINE!  It's that thingamajig -- that ubiquitous black plastic binder thingie in a mini version ... THAT IS SO CLEVER!  Here Moi am mini-booking up the universe and all I keep using for a binder is a single staple!  Looking at that spine, I feel so craftsy-LAME ... !

Okay.  Nuff about Moi.  So, thank you wonderful poet-editor-publisher Susan Yount for this enchanting mini-book!  After admiring the spine, um, cover, you open the book to see:

And what I realized upon looking at the above, is how the stickered illustration plays off nicely against the poem-text.  For instance, in the above, the words “what you seek” suddenly adds a second visual layer to what had been the rose.  The rose is no longer just a rose (sorry, Gertrude) but also can be a labyrinth (well, to my eyes it can be!).  This leads Moi to wonder, what would the poem be without the illustrations?  Well, let's see just the poem-text first:

what you seek

your own voice

   the naked bulb—

      trilling in space

a rescue ship

   his forearm tense

the invisible boy

to haul you from the cold.


      sounds like a

snow melt.


  Nothing really

So nothing happened?
even after the change

   who hides,

         on his shelf,


I’m telling you what happened,
   Come back

a feeling, like


all flight and run

out the window

and over—

so the body in the bed will turn.

love is echo—

realize when to rest.

Know where to end,
I love this evocative poem – there’s  a tenderness in the exhaustion of the poem’s speaker that draws in the reader, and nudges the reader to become fully invested by creating a more specific narrative that would cohere the fragments.  I won’t share my narrative because I don’t want to get in the way of other people’s reads.  (Besides, mine is a downbeat read – it’s about a person blossoming concurrently with a relationship ending … oh wait, I don’t want to get in the way of your read …)

Anyway, I’m not sure I translated the text correctly in terms of caesuras, spacings, etc. You can see the entire book at Susan’s tumbler site. But, let’s compare here the naked text with some of the pages below which bear illustrations.  First, here’s the page that bears the phrase, “sounds like a”

To my eyes, the hearkening of sound and what the sound might be transforms the rose into pulsating linear curves that offer a visual metaphor for trying to figure out something.  Upon another look, I also suddenly see an eye (do you see it?) in the middle of the rose bloom, which relates to the phrase; the (peeking) eye is trying to visually confirm the existence of the sound-maker …

Let’s look at another illustrated page, the one with the phrase, “love is echo—“

That’s right. You should be able to discern easily the echoes from the petal-shapes as the flower expands from its center.

Let’s look now at the book’s last two pages; the text ends with “know where to end,”—that the phrase/sentence ends with a comma instead of a period is a smart choice.  The comma indicates a pause but not necessarily the ending of a period.  So its use highlights the uncertainty still existing at this point of the poem.

Still, I’m choosing to take an optimistic “ending” to the poem and mini-book.  Because if you look at the last image, the line denotes a falling, but the ending line (beyond the two petals) show the line not continuing its fall.  The line is curling upward (up = progress) and forming a shape that can indicate a new budding.  A budding into a new self after all the searching indicated by the poem’s text. 

One can read something with the expanse of a Russian novel into this mini-book.  Thank you, Susan, for this fabulous production—both poem and book design!  Now, where shall we shelve this lovely little?  Well, why not, per the suggestion of the watchful Poet-With-Chairs, give the poem’s budding Self some luck by having it sit on one of Sally Davies’ Lucky Art Chairs!

Tuesday, February 19, 2013


Well, the answer is that it's ... an elephant in the room!

We found her! Remember when I said the elephant was missing?  Well, we found her (don't know why it's a her...) and here she is:

This is a miniature of the fun kids' stool designed by Ray and Charles Eames hailed as "a classic icon of modern design furniture that combines both form with function".  So good to see you, she coos ...

I'm also happy to see Ms. Ellie -- I just named her! -- back in the room since she's my only Vitra miniature, to date.  I've been outbid on Ebay twice thrice in the past few weeks for some Vitra miniatures ... the problem seems to be that a lot of bidding occurs in the last minutes before the auction expires, and I'm usually asleep during those last hours (a problem when the seller is based in, say, Europe). 

[Prov.: A Jonathan Adler store (I think) in San Francisco.  Scale: 1:6]

Monday, February 18, 2013


First, the tangerines made Moi do it.

The tangerines, that is, inspired me to do a mini-book when I looked at that netting which had bagged the fruit, and thought to do something more interesting with it than just recycling.

At the time, I was also cleaning up my mother's room and discovered some old Philippine postcards, like this one:

The combination somehow made Moi think of a "fishy question", which became the title of the mini-book!

And that question is, "Must you net me?":

How inspiration unfolds is not an exact science, of course.  One can say that the question arose from knowing that net can denote fishing, which is also denoted by the Philippine postcard where fishing occurs a lot among its more than 7,000 islands.  But the notion of "Must you net me?" also goes further into Philippine history, i.e. its colonial past with Spain and the United States.  I won't give you a history lecture here; feel free to do your own Googling as regards, say, the Philippines which was one of the U.S.' first forays into colonialism (an element which was long been elided by many U.S.-American textbooks that teach history to American kiddos).

Anyway, I cut the netting to fit it around the mini-book's page.  So when you open the book, the accordion page looks like this:

Because of the inclusion of the netting, when you fold the accordion page into is 2" x 2" book size, you have a "thick" book. 

Thus, this is also the mini-book where I first tinkered with the idea of incorporating a spine!

So I present to you A FISHY ?, which -- with apologies to the fish population -- encourages us all not to "net" other people into becoming slaves to our empire-driven desires.  May your "nets" unfold otherwise ...

And now, which chair shall be net-ted by this mini-book?  But of course, let's "shelve" it on a handsome Windsor settee! The American chair is seated, aptly enough, on some indigenous Filipino fabric ...