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Wednesday, February 13, 2013


Jukka-Pekka Kervinen (do click on the link to enjoy Finnish) is a true Renaissance Man--a poet, an artist, a musician, among other roles ... and he's also been one of the contemporary poetry world's most innovative publishers, taking advantage early on of the possibilities of e-publishing.  As part of this role, he also came to be one of the most innovative book designers for cutting-edge poetry books.

I was privileged to be one of his authors through his xPress(ed) publishing forum which released my MENAGE A TROIS WITH THE 21ST CENTURY. I mention this book so that I can draw attention to one of Jukka's early poetry book designs; if you click on the link title, you will see the vague portrayal of an old college photo which Jukka had presented with computer script.

Many poets would come to benefit from Jukka's design work, frequently using his images on their book covers.  You can see a sample at THIS LINK to another one of his publishing projects, Blue Lion Books  with (another poetry publishing innovator, Peter Ganick); several covers are presented at that link ... where you also can access one of my books, SILENCES: THE AUTOBIOGRAPHY OF LOSS  (more info HERE on SILENCES). Here is SILENCES' book cover

This is what I once wrote on Jukka's book cover:
Jukka-Pekka Kervinen designed the book cover through a program he wrote that generates a stochastic layout based on the letters of my name. After the layout phase, the program chooses one photograph from a big group of Jukka's photos, makes some manipulations, and then superimposes the manipulated fragment with the letter combination. Part of Jukka's poetics has to do with not allowing editing. Thus, after each (cover) image is generated, Jukka always destroys the original Postscript file.

The process reflects what Jukka calls one of his "basic" principles: "simply, if I use programs to generate works, I'm not allowed to edit them afterwards, otherwise I will make them manually."

Not only do I appreciate the thoughtfulness of the process, but I appreciate how it reflects the fragility of life and poetry. And how poetry, ultimately, cannot be pinned down. Thank you, Jukka!

 Anyway, that's all background to my next mini-book, whose impetus was the most recent flyer of San Francisco State University's Poetry Center Calendar of Events. On nice glossy paper, it highlighted an example from Jukka's work, which is part of a 21st century international visual poetry anthology being celebrated at the Poetry Center:
The Last VisPo Anthology: Visual Poetry 1998–2008 with editors Crag Hill & Nico Vassilakis, and guests

Thursday MAR 14: 4:30 pm
@ the Poetry Center, HUM 512, SFSU, free

Friday MAR 15: 7:00 pm
@ Meridian Gallery, 535 Powell St., San Francisco
$10, $5 student/low income

Here's the flyer:

I lingered over the flyer, enjoying a reminder of Jukka's work, then cut it up in preparation for creating a mini-book:

I also noticed the light brown envelope in which the flyer arrived, noticing specifically the contrast between its plainness and Jukka's colorful work.  I liked the contrast, and determined to use it in the mini-book cover.

I cut up the colorful flyer into a series of "pages" for the mini-book which I sized at 2" x 2.75."

I cut up the envelope to begin fashioning a book cover:

And the result would look like this.  The title -- but of course! -- is SELECTED BOOK COVERS!  And because a colorful strip sort of divided the page, I decided to include my name as editor (besides, I like associating my name with Jukka's because it makes Moi seem much smarter...haha):

And so we begin. We open Jukka's book see French flaps on the cover (which I love) and the title page. Note that the latter says "Meritage Press" but then the publishing city is supposedly Espoo, Finland -- that was just my way of hearkening Jukka's former residence at the time he began publishing poets:

Here are the interiors featuring "book covers" which are actually spliced from the larger work presented on the flyer.  Perhaps my decision here to cut up the flyer into smaller, discrete works may have been nudged by an emailed conversation I was having at the time with another poet-visual artist, Ed Baker.  Ed was saying something about fragmenting images (which is part of an approach I later took to creating his mini-book  which will be in a future post):

The result is just all lovely, isn't it?  Interestingly, when you close the book to see the back cover, you see a white space at the top of the cover that was left-over from the mailing label.  Its location on the back cover is often where a book price is indicated. On that white space, I wrote "Free Poetry" as I believe both Jukka and I agree that Poetry should be Free -- free in its imaginings and free in terms of its accessibility.

And so, we come to the Decision Du Jour: where oh where shall we shelve Jukka's lovely and free visual poetry?  But, of course: on an "Art Chair" by Sally Davies:

There is plenty of information about Jukka-Pekka Kervinen in the internet.  If you wish to learn more about him, please do include reading this wonderful poetry collaboration he did with another stellar poet, Mark Young:

And if you are in San Francisco at the time, it'd be worth your while to attend one of the two celebrations of international visual poetry sponsored by SFSU's Poetry Center!

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