Rare Book Monthly

Book Catalogue Reviews - July - 2017 Issue

Michael Peich & the Aralia Press from Oak Knoll Books

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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>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 Apr 26:</b> Jacques-Émile Ruhlmann, wallpaper sample book, circa 1919. $15,000 to $25,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Apr 26:</b> Archive from a late office of the Breuer & Smith architectural team, New York, 1960-70s. $3,500 to $5,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Apr 26:</b> William Morris, <i>The Story of the Glittering Plain or the Land of Living Men,</i> illustrated by Walter Crane, Kelmscott Press, Hammersmith, 1894. $2,500 to $3,500.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Apr 26:</b> Gustave Doré, <i>La Sainte Bible selon la Vulgate,</i> Tours, 1866. $15,000 to $25,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Apr 26:</b> Gustav Klimt & Max Eisler, <i>Eine Nachlese,</i> complete set, Vienna, 1931. $15,000 to $25,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Apr 26:</b><br>Eric Allatini & Gerda Wegener, <i>Sur Talons Rouges,</i> with original watercolor by Wegener, Paris, 1929. $5,000 to $7,500.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Apr 26:</b><br>C.P. Cavafy, <i>Fourteen Poems,</i> illustrated & signed by David Hockney, London, 1966. $5,000 to $7,500.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Apr 26:</b> Jean Midolle, <i>Spécimen des Écritures Modernes...</i>, Strasbourg, 1834-35. $3,000 to $4,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Apr 26:</b><br>E.A. Seguy, <i>Floréal: Dessins & Coloris Nouveaux,</i> Paris, 1925. $3,000 to $4,000.
  • <b>Bonhams: Results from Fine Books and Manuscripts on March 9, 2018</b>
    <b>Bonhams, Mar. 9:</b> BEETHOVEN, LUDWIG VAN. Autograph Manuscript sketch-leaf part of the score of the Scottish Songs, "Sunset" Op. 108 no 2. [Vienna, February 1818]. Inscribed by Alexander Wheelock Thayer. SOLD for $131,250
    <b>Bonhams, Mar. 9:</b> Violin belonging to Albert Einstein, presented to him by Oscar H. Steger, 1933. SOLD for $516,500
    <b>Bonhams, Mar. 9:</b> EINSTEIN, ALBERT. Autograph Letter Signed ("Papa") to his son Hans Albert, discussing his involvement with the atomic bomb, September 2, 1945. SOLD for $106,250
    <b>Bonhams: Results from Fine Books and Manuscripts on March 9, 2018</b>
    <b>Bonhams, Mar. 9:</b> HAMILTON, ALEXANDER. Autograph Letter Signed, to Baron von Steuben, with extensive notes of Von Steuben's aide Benjamin Walker, June 12, 1780. SOLD for $16,250
    <b>Bonhams, Mar. 9:</b> NEWTON, ISAAC. Autograph Manuscript in Latin, being detailed instructions on making the philosopher's stone. 8 pp. 1790s. SOLD for $275,000
    <b>Bonhams, Mar. 9:</b> 1869 Inauguration Bible of President Ulysses S. Grant. SOLD for $118,750
  • <b>Doyle, April 25:</b> E.H. SHEPARD, Original drawing for A.A. Milne’s The House at Pooh Corner.<br>$40,000-60,000
    <b>Doyle, April 25:</b> BERNARD RATZER, Plan of the City of New York in North America, surveyed in the years 1766 & 1767. $80,000-100,000
    <b>Doyle, April 25:</b> THOMAS JEFFERSON, Autograph letter signed comparing Logan, Tecumseh, and Little Turtle to the Spartans. Monticello: 15 February 1821. $14,000-18,000
    <b>Doyle, April 25:</b> JOHN C. FREMONT, Narrative of the Exploring Expedition to the Rocky Mountains, in the Year 1842.. Abridged edition, the only one containing the folding map From the Sporting Library of Arnold “Jake” Johnson. $3,000-5,000
    <b>Doyle, April 25:</b> ZANE GREY, Album containing 94 large format photographs of Grey and party at Catalina Island, Arizona, and fishing in the Pacific. From the Sporting Library of Arnold “Jake” Johnson. $5,000-$8,000
    <b>Doyle, April 25:</b> WILLIAM COMBE, A History of Madeira ... illustrative of the Costumes, Manners, and Occupations of the Inhabitants. produced by Ackermann in 1821; From the Sporting Library of Jake Johnson. $2,000-$3,000
    <b>Doyle, April 25:</b> ERIC TAVERNER, Salmon Fishing... One of 275 copies signed by Taverner, published in 1931,From the Sporting Library of Jake Johnson. $2,000-$3,000
    <b>Doyle, April 25:</b> JOHN WHITEHEAD, Exploration of Mount Kina Balu, North Borneo. Whitehead reached the high point of Kinabalu in 1888. Part of a major group of travel books from the Sporting Library of Jake Johnson. $2,000-$3,000
    <b>Doyle, April 25:</b> JOHN LONG, Voyages and Travels of an Indian Interpreter and Trader, describing the Manners and Customs of the North American Indians... The first edition of 1791. $3,000-$5,000
    <b>Doyle, April 25:</b> SAMUEL BECKETT, Stirrings Still. This, Beckett’s last work of fiction with original lithographs by Le Brocquy, limited to 200 copies signed by the author and the artist. From the Estate of Howard Kaminsky.. $1,500-$2,500

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