Thoughts . . . by Mark Rich

. . . scribbled . . . scrawled . . . trimmed . . . typewritten . . . grubbed up . . . squeezed from circumstance . . .

Tuesday, May 14, 2013

Notes, Ravenna Press

I have read a handful of books from Ravenna Press, lately——a good-sized handful, even though they are small books, physically ... perhaps even a great handful: for individually they seem large enough: each seems a full entity. A book of a size or a set of dimensions that makes it loom before you ... like a weighty hardwood chair, inviting your sitting, successfully, so that you end up occupying it for a time, even as its presence occupies you: books of this sort ... real entities. I have walked into stores and have seen the new books being pushed over and falling off their stands from the pressure of the eye's touch on their covers and spines, however fat those spines. These books of Ravenna's might seem to turn and lean before the gaze, at first. I suspect that even in a store mall-squared and plasticoated these volumes would stand firm, being slenderly empty of the synthetic mental gas-globules that make all those fat cartons of literary styrofoam shift so easily on and off their shelves. I say this but perhaps should not say it of all of them: for I have read fat books that are much more full of sense than they are empty. Yet I still can feel glad to hold in hand small books that breezes will not bear away.

Are these little volumes detached from our Mass Age, then? I think they are well attached. Pertinent, maybe I should say. Poet and editor and publisher Kathryn Rantala in her own writing makes it clear she moves in a world that has been commercialized, that has been striped with black roads and boxed in with buyable goods. Yet the reader finds it hard to say whether the gaze actually sits on material manifestations of our nearly ruined social spirit, or on the spaces between the objects held up for examination by her words. She displays deep concern with the beauty to be found through arrangement: and in any arrangement the whole takes on some quality missing from whatever small items within it first catch the eye. She also follows an instinct——exploratory, historical, knowledge-dowsed: I can use such words, to point toward where the instinct hides and abides. She follows this instinct, or inoculates the reader with it so that its movement then guides the reader around or underneath whatever meanings the words offer.

Even through the pages most dense with words I feel a movement of air——even as the words themselves stand firm.

Cheers ...

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