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This piece is about 2 printed pages long. It is copyright © Susana Gardner and Jacket magazine 2008.
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When asked to choose several ‘spineless’ chaps I was, at first, at a loss. How do I begin the selection with such an amazing collective contribution this year, 60 projects to turn over in hand as well, now, as e-chaps? Most works are just that, works in progress, subject to change over time before landing in a finished manuscript, so, for me, ‘spinelessness’ is really a term which describes most chapbooks and other small publishing ventures. I would hate to think a mere staple would disqualify one from this category — a category that may seem somewhat pejorative to some who find the ‘spinless’ — as I do — to be full of spine. Chaps without borders, cover jackets, order, or crease did occur, but many also have staples, thread, and various alternate stabs in terms of binding. Ultimately, the poetry and quality thereof speaks for itself — and no amount of showmanship without this can prevail.
What readers will soon notice is the temporality pdf files seem to facilitate, knowing little boundary, trim or enclosure. This is why some chaps with staples made it into this issue. Take Michelle Detorie’s Bellum Letters and Carrie Hunter’s Kine(sta)sis. Detorie’s use of hypertextual links — which may no longer work or exist — point to erasure in a more prevalent modern form of ‘news,’ i.e. online and easily erased in a sort of Orwellian fashion. Her mark of the missing is, in fact, testimony of its initial existence as is its content and subsequent diaspora; Hunter uses layered cinematic lines, thus creating polyphonic intra-textual voices. Her mark of the missing is, in fact, testimony of its initial existence as is its content and subsequent diaspora). Anne Boyer’s pdf this year is a contraband file because the physical chap is out of print (I accidentally gifted away all of my editor copies!) Her pdf was composed from pictures of the chap pages. Alas, now that it exists again, any issue regarding the print run-out is moot. Boyer’s initial side-stapled chap is back in circulation. Now everyone can access Boyer’s Selected Dreams with a Note on Phrenology.
The Dusie feature presented here is a great beginning point for those new to online, e-chap publishing. It is also a great starting point for those lacking funds who really want to see what contemporary poets are writing right now. Projects I also find quite exciting that Dusie was lucky enough to feature this year are collaborations by William Allegrezza and Simone Muench, Mackenzie Carignan and Felicia Ohnmacht, Sarah Anne Cox and Paris Cox-Farr, Jessica Bozek and Eli Queen, and Bob Maracacci and his chap’s small, unborn hero. The collaborative approach refutes the nature of binding or spine in the sense of continuance, forward-thinking (if not somewhat forward) dialogue, and poetic conversation.
Ultimately though, the dusi/e-chaps that most viewers will see are online, all of which, side by side, are ‘spineless’ to a certain degree as they rethink borders and strategy, audience and participation. All allow themselves to be included in this risk-taking, project-driven experiment, and in so doing access the means by which poetry is produced, manufactured, and distributed as a virtual chap with a limitless ‘run.’ All of which, when said and done, stands on another, much wider stage in the form and possibility of the Internet and its new readership possibilities with free distribution, and collectivism, all less the ‘spine.’
Susana Gardner lives in Switzerland where she edits Dusie Press. Her first full-length manuscript, (lapsed insel weary) is soon forthcoming from The Tangent Press.