Should you trust a vispo holiday shopping post from a woman who previously tried to cancel Christmas? (In short: In 2015 because of extended travel I saw a chance to do what I’d long hoped for — cancel Christmas. I had many sound cynical reasons in support of my plan! I was defeated though, by a family who all said basically: you’re not wrong but the holiday makes us happy and there are plenty of ways to enjoy this responsibly. So I learned to embrace the cheer.)
YES! That preamble is important because this post is about sharing big love with small gestures — specifically, giving visual poetry. While there are SO MANY books I’d genuinely advocate giving family and friends, I’m recommending in this post the niche of tiny, brilliant, INEXPENSIVE little pamphlets that cost about the same as a greeting card. This is really affordable! If you want to be sweet this season, to keep things simple, to support writers and makers, and to help trickle poetry and art out into the world — perhaps you’d want to try this approach. (Perhaps you already do?)
- Visit a small press of your choice.
- Find an inexpensive book (pamphlet, chapbook, under $5 or £5) that looks great and buy 5 copies.
- If you’re not sure what to buy, visit Trickhouse Press where my favorite tiny book of the year, ATOMISED by Robin Boothroyd, is available for £3 / about $4. This book makes a great gift for sooo many people. Seriously!
When the books arrive in your mail, you can use them in lots of ways …
- bring one to a party along with bottle of wine;
- send a couple with notes as cards;
- wrap a few to give as presents either part of a bundle or on their own …
… you get the idea, whether giving books with or instead of cookies, it’s all good. If needed, repeat.
The reason I suggest Robin Boothroyd’s ATOMISED is that it’s appealing to a big audience: logophiles and anyone who’s a fan of language games; people with an interest in visual puzzles; clever people; and celebrators of life. Full of tiny relatable poems — “playful, experimental and revelatory” according to the book jacket — it’s really really good. And it’s accessible. People can pick up this book and have fun right away. At my house we had a guest last weekend, who was reading my copy with an occasional “ah” or “oh!”. Then he asked me, “what does disconsolate mean?” “Unable to be comforted,” I replied knowing where this was going. “hahaha!” he said reading through the poem again. Yes I still laugh at this weird one every time – see below. There are many that will make you go “hmmmm” so … you should give this book to everyone (though I think there are only about 25 copies left so get going quickly).
Below, a list of other affordable little books you could do this with –
more book(let)love for all our loves
LIMITED EDITION FOLDED DRAWINGS ARE PERFECT FOR TUCKING INTO AN ENVELOPE WITH A NOTE OF WELL WISHES:
For lovers of typography and symbols, concrete poetry, and investigative repetition Joe Devlin’s Permutational Letraset percentages drawings are available shipping included for £4 UK, £5 rest of the world. These are on folded card stock and mine is so cheerful looking, I think people would appreciate receiving one as a gesture of well wishes. Plus if you’re in the UK you can contact him directly for a copy of Net Reshapes for £3 includes shipping, see image below.
using altered photographs, about the sea, for surrealists, for mathematicians, or suited for your other friends
Richard Biddle’s Seaview is a little book that belongs on coffee tables and bar tops in seaside towns. Most people who look at this book will reflect a bit on human impact to planet earth. People deeply connected to the sea and who take ecological issues seriously will especially appreciate the full color images of visual poems made of things found on the beach. This one’s available print on demand at Lulu.com for £5 and best for friends who enjoy abstract visual work, which you can glimpse below. I shared a copy with friends at brunch recently, and it was great for passing around the table. What else belongs on this list of very affordable visual poetry we can share with other people in our worlds? You can tell me via twitter. Trickhouse sells Machine by James Knight for £3. Do buy this book for your friends who will get its surrealist and layered qualities and its sense of humor. The altered icons are brilliant. Though I haven’t yet bought these books myself, Penteract Press also has two options: Marian Christie’s Fractal Poems at £3 for your math and poetry loving friends, and Sacha Archer’s Jung Origami, £4. You know of others? (They have to be super affordable and of course terrific.) I’d love to hear from you.
Alexis Fedorjaczenko is contributing editor for visual poetry at Beir Bua Journal, and an experimental poet, writer, maker of small books & cutups, and a bibliophile. She tweets at @ObjetAutre.