Remember when you first read Howl and Other Poems? (Go ahead, take a moment…) From its radical ‘60s sentiment in both political ideology and eyeball kick prose, down to its compact 6” x 5” dimensions, Ginsberg’s poetry continues to feel that much more secretive, urgent and necessary, even in the 21st century.
Local publisher Tinfish Press, which has been around for over 15 years now, publishes in the same vein as that underground tradition with a creative circulation of experimental poetry by Pacific-based writers. Their latest endeavor, the Tinfish Retro Series, will usher in a new reading era of “angelheaded hipsters”–a 12-part series of shape-shifting chapbooks published monthly through 2012.
Currently, there are seven issues out, each packed tighter than a can of sardines, the longest running at a satisfying 28 pages: Say Throne by Nou Revilla, Tonto’s Revenge by Adam Aitken, The Primordial Density Perturbation by Stephen Collis, Mao’s Pears by Kenny Tanemura, Yellow by Margaret Rhee, Ligature Strain by Kim Koga and Yours Truly & Other Poems by Xi Chuan.
From kitchen sink approaches to poems with more intentional goals, part of the fun is reveling in those novel gems. Personal favorites include Revilla’s “Pull Without Push,” Aitken’s “The Day Danno Died (In Memory of James MacArthur)” and Chuan’s “Yours Truly.” Though most exciting about the Retro Series, with many of its writers having some Hawaii tie, is feeling a sense that each has a charged responsibility to their words. That they matter. Or maybe that’s just how you feel as reader. Either way, you’ve been hooked.