Rare Book Monthly

Book Catalogue Reviews - July - 2017 Issue

Michael Peich & the Aralia Press from Oak Knoll Books

55c38f7e-c0b5-428d-aa66-79450650398d

The Aralia Press.

Oak Knoll Books has published their Special Catalogue 29 Michael Peich & the Aralia Press. The Aralia Press is a private, fine press operated by Mr. Peich in West Chester, Pennsylvania. Founded in 1982 by the (now) recently retired professor at West Chester University, Peich was determined to print books using traditional, by-hand means to produce the quality of the long-lost days before massive presses designed for print runs in the millions. Aralia has achieved that goal, though it is hardly unique in what it does.

 

However, that is only half of the story for Aralia. Peich has long loved poetry and his second goal was to support new and unknown poets. Getting published is not the easiest task for unknown poets, but Peich was determined to give them a start. So, he chose to use his press to print the work of aspiring poets, hoping to give them the recognition needed to one day no longer be unknown. That he has done for numerous modern poets.

 

Peich's love for poetry led him to create an annual event most notable in the field of modern poetry – the West Chester Poetry Conference. That he created with his good friend and once (but no longer) unknown poet Dana Gioia. Gioia had been an executive at General Foods, one of those who created "Jello Jigglers," according to The New Yorker. Obviously, he already had a talent for alliteration before writing poetry. Gioia has since gone on to serve as Chairman of the National Endowment for the Arts and California State Poet Laureate. And that provides the intro to a few examples of the Aralia Press works found in this catalogue.

 

Gioia was still holding down his day job in the food industry when he began writing and publishing poetry. His first published work came in 1982 and then in 1983, he published his first collection of poems, entitled Summer. The printer for this collection was Aralia, which had only begun printing the previous year as well. It was not a long book (about 10 pages) but provides a selection of poems. It was printed in a limited edition of 200 copies, the type set by hand by Peich. This copy is signed by Gioia. Item 48. Priced at $50.

 

Item 38 is a broadside of a poem by Gioia, one that brings fear and trembling to a one-time college student, even all these many years later - Homage to Soren Kierkegaard. Kierkegaard was the 19th century Danish philosopher whose works I had to read without ever understanding a word. Perhaps it was because he wrote in Danish and the translator did a miserable job. Fortunately, Gioia's words are understandable. Certainly, my experience with Kierkegaard makes this line of Gioia's one I can relate to: "The more one suffers, the more one acquires a sense of the comic." Today I can laugh about my experiences with the Danish philosopher, though even now it is an uneasy laugh. This poem was printed in 2013 for the Soren Kierkegaard Bicentennial at the First Lutheran Church in West Seattle, Washington, a place he never visited. It is one of 120 copies, signed by the author. $50.

 

This next book combines the work of two poets, with an apt name for one that is a collaboration – A Conversation. Jim Harrison is better known as a novelist. He writes of rural Americans somewhere between the two coasts. Several of his books have been made into films. However, his other writing style, less well known, is poetry. For Harrison, it was his favorite type, more artistic and more revealing. His partner in this work was Ted Kooser, primarily a poet, and living in the Heartland. What is unusual is that the book never explains who wrote what. As they say in the introduction, it "is an assertion in favor of poetry and against credentials." Item 55 is one of 26 lettered copies of the limited Deluxe edition, published in 2002. It has been signed by both authors. $625.

 

Next up we have Starr Farm Beach, by Timothy Steele, published in 2005. Book catalogues are particularly helpful when they enable us to learn something new. Oak Knoll informs us, "Timothy Steele writes prosodic poetry, and has written two books about prosody." "Prosody" is like one of those spelling bee words – you might be able to spell it, but you have no idea what it means. At least I don't, or didn't. It relates to the use of intonation, pitch, rhythm, stress, and such with syllables to add to the language. As such, it is not a phonetic sound like a vowel or consonant, but tones or accents added to a syllable. It is "What?" or "What!" or "Whaaaat" or "WHAT" as opposed to "What." So, how does that apply to poetry? I'm not sure. Spoken poetry would be easy to read in a prosodic form, but written seems more difficult. Perhaps some sorts of symbols are used? Maybe you can figure it out from these poems. Item 140 is one of a limited edition of 180 copies. $40.

 

Richard Wilbur is both one of America's most acclaimed contemporary poets and mid-20th century poets. He's both because he has been around a long time. He won the Pulitzer Prize for poetry in 1957 and again 32 years later. In between, he became America's second Poet Laureate, succeeding Robert Penn Warren. Item 159 is a broadside printing of an eight line poem published in 2011 entitled Sugar Maples, January. It is one of 250 copies, and this one has been signed by the author. It was printed in celebration of Wilbur's 90th birthday. Today he is 96. The poem is about sugar maple trees in the dead of winter, at rest, awaiting the still far off springtime. I hope that republishing such a short poem is not some sort of copyright violation. I think it's short enough for fair use, and while I'm no connoisseur of poetry, he paints a picture that is easy for anyone to visualize from his words:

 

"What years of weather did to branch and bough

No canopy of shadow covers now,

 

And these great trunks, when the wind’s rough and bleak,

Though little shaken, can be heard to creak.

 

It is not time, as yet, for rising sap

And hammered spiles. There’s nothing there to tap.

 

For now, the long blue shadows of these trees

Stretch out upon the snow, and are at ease."

 

Oak Knoll Books may be reached at 800-996-2556 or orders@oakknoll.com. Their website is www.oakknoll.com.

Rare Book Monthly

  • <b>Leland Little: Important Fall Auction. September 22, 2018</b>
    <b>Leland Little, Sep. 22:</b> Published Half Plate Ambrotype of a North Carolina Confederate Officer. $2,000 to $4,000
    <b>Leland Little, Sep. 22:</b> Two 19th Century Books Pertaining to Canada's Red River Settlement. $400 to $800
    <b>Leland Little, Sep. 22:</b> Two Books With Fore-Edge Paintings of British Architectual Landmarks. $400 to $600
    <b>Leland Little: Important Fall Auction. September 22, 2018</b>
    <b>Leland Little, Sep. 22:</b> Andy Warhol (American, 1928-1987), "Torte a la Dobosch" from <i>Wild Raspberries</i>. $1,000 to $3,000
    <b>Leland Little, Sep. 22:</b> Keith Haring (American, 1958-1990), <i>Pop Shop II,</i> One Plate screenprint in colors, on wove paper, 1998. $8,000 to $12,000
    <b>Leland Little, Sep. 22:</b> Thomas Rowlandson (British, 1756-1827), Twenty-Two Prints from the <i>Tours of Dr. Syntax</i>. $500 to $1,000
  • <b>19th Century Shop:</b> Charles Darwin on sexuality and the transmission of hereditary characteristics: Autograph Letter Signed to Lawson Tait. Down, 17 January [1877].
    <b>19th Century Shop:</b> MILTON, JOHN. <i>Paradise Lost. A Poem written in ten books.</i> London: 1667. A very rare example with the contemporary binding untouched and with a 1667 title page.
    <b>19th Century Shop:</b> Hamilton secures the ratification of the Constitution: <i>The Debates and Proceedings of the Convention of the State of New-York, assembled at Poughkeespsie, on the 17th June, 1788.</i>
    <b>19th Century Shop:</b> The social contract “Man is born free, and everywhere he is in chains”: ROUSSEAU, JEAN-JACQUES. <i>Principes du Droit Politique [Du Contract Social]</i>. Amsterdam: Michel Rey, 1762
    <b>19th Century Shop:</b> “The first English textbook on geometrical land-measurement and surveying”: BENESE, RICHARD. <i>This Boke Sheweth the Maner of Measurynge All Maner of Lande…</i>
  • <b>Swann Auction Galleries Sep 27:</b> Franklin H. Brown, <i>State Sovereignty, National Union,</i> Chicago, 1860. $6,000 to $9,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Sep 27:</b> Thomas Paine, <i>The American Crisis,</i> Fishkill, NY, December 1776. $25,000 to $35,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Sep 27:</b><br>The Aitken Bible, Philadelphia, 1781. $20,000 to $30,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Sep 27:</b> Francisco Loubayssin de Lamarca, probable first edition of the first novel set in the Spanish New World, Paris, 1617. $15,000 to $25,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Sep 27:</b> Juan de la Anunciación, <i>Sermonario en lengua mexicana,</i> first edition, first book of sermons in Nahuatl, Mexico, 1577. $30,000 to $40,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Sep 27:</b> Maturino Gilberti, <i>Thesoro spiritual en lengua de Mechuacá,</i> first edition, Mexico, 1558. $15,000 to $25,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Sep 27:</b> Commission of William O. Stoddard as secretary to the president, signed by Lincoln, Washington, 1861. $7,000 to $10,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Sep 27:</b> <i>Clay and Frelinghuysen,</i> flag banner, circa 1844. $8,000 to $12,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Sep 27:</b> Daguerreotype of a man believed to be Frederick Granger Williams Smith, son of Joseph Smith, circa late 1850s. $10,000 to $15,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Sep 27:</b> John C. Wolfe, <i>Portrait of Abraham Lincoln,</i> oil on board in period wooden frame, circa 1860s. $12,000 to $18,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Sep 27:</b> Francis W. Winton, manuscript on pow-wows with indigenous Canadians, 1881. $15,000 to $25,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Sep 27:</b> Family letters from two young daguerreotype artists, 1826-79. $10,000 to $15,000.
  • <b>Bonhams: Exploration and Travel, Featuring Americana, Part I. September 25, 2018</b>
    <b>Bonhams, Sep. 25:</b> Shackleton, Ernest. <i>Aurora Australis.</i> Printed at the sign of 'The Penguins'; East Antarctica, 1908. $70,000 to $100,000
    <b>Bonhams, Sep. 25:</b> Shackleton, Ernest. <i>South Polar Times.</i> 1st edition, limited issue. from the library of Michael Barne. $20,000 to $30,000
    <b>Bonhams, Sep. 25:</b> General Washington's <i>Proceedings of a General Court Martial... of Major General Lee.</i> Philiadelphia, 1778. 100 copies printed for Congress. BOUND WITH: ...Court Martial... of St Clair and ...Schuyler. $25,000 to $35,000
    <b>Bonhams: Exploration and Travel, Featuring Americana, Part I. September 25, 2018</b>
    <b>Bonhams, Sep. 25:</b> <i>The Voice of the People.</i> Boston, 1754. Rare pamphlet on the Excise Tax. Nathaniel Sparhawk's copy. $4,000 to $6,000
    <b>Bonhams, Sep. 25:</b> Autograph Letter Signed ("S.L. Clemens"), offering extensive hard-earned advice on writing, 5 pp, 1881. $30,000 to $50,000
    <b>Bonhams, Sep. 25:</b> After Fra Egnazio Danti. <i>L'Ultime Parti not:e nel Indie Occid:ntli" [The last known parts of the Western Indies].</i> Painted Map of California, Western Mexico, and Japan. $70,000 to $100,000
    <b>Bonhams: Exploration and Travel, Featuring Americana, Part I. September 25, 2018</b>
    <b>Bonhams, Sep. 25:</b> Ptolemaeus, Claudius. <i>Geographie opus nouissima...</i> 1513. The most important edition of Ptolemy, containing the Admiral's Map. $250,000 to $350,000
    <b>Bonhams, Sep. 25:</b> De Arellano, Don Alonso. Manuscript, his <i>"Relación mui singular y circunstanciada... Capitán del Patax San Lucas,"</i> manuscript copy from the Sir Thomas Phillips collection. $50,000 to $80,000
    <b>Bonhams, Sep. 25:</b> Purchas, Samuel. <i>Purchas his Pilgrimes.</i> First edition. With John Simth's engraved map of Virginia. $70,000 to $100,000
    <b>Bonhams: Exploration and Travel, Featuring Americana, Part I. September 25, 2018</b>
    <b>Bonhams, Sep. 25:</b> Lewis, Meriwether. Contemporary manuscript true copy of his final power of attorney, 1809. $8,000 to $12,000
    <b>Bonhams, Sep. 25:</b> <i>A New Method of Macarony Making, as Practiced at Boston in North America.</i> Mezzotint. London, 1774. $5,000 to $7,000
    <b>Bonhams, Sep. 25:</b> <i>Scientific Base Ball Pitching: A Treatise on the Pitcher, Pitching, Origin and Philosophy of the Curve.</i> Chicago, 1897. $2,000 to $3,000

Review Search

Archived Reviews

Ask Questions