Thursday, January 06, 2005
Book Hunting with Google, or Yet Another New Hobby, or Cyberstalking 101, or
Ithaca House Unearth'd

September 2004: Pete Culley posts a review of his new collection, Hammertown, on his blog. The review, by John Latta, a poet from Ann Arbor, Michigan, is far more insightful and detailed than any local appraisal of Pete's work, tho' inexplicably written in faux-1800s English. Shades of Mason & Dixon! A few days' worth of reading Latta's blog convinces me th' odd spellings & eccentric syntax are deliberate stylistic choices, not gimmick'ry.

October 2004: Latta blog-publishes some poems. They're uniformly excellent. I google him in search of more, and discover a few dozen contributions to online publications. His brief bibliography also lists two collections, Rubbing Torsos (Ithaca House, late 70s) and Breeze (2003).

November 2oo4: "John who?" (Duthie Books, Chapters, Elliott Bay Book Company, University of Washington Bookstore, Borders, Henderson's, Michael's, Magus, Macleod's, Hermit, Tanglewood, Chroma)

December 2004: No Latta on the U. Mich English department faculty list at Ann Arbor. Further research reveals Mr. L. actually works in the university library system, which pleases me to no end (primarily due to my own five thankless years in the stacks at UBC, post-B.A.(Hons), but also because of the cache that comes from being simultaneously in and outside of academia).

December 2004: Email to Mr. L.

December 2004: Money order to Mr. L.

December 2004: Signed books from Mr. L! Both handsome, but Rubbing Torsos especially so. Rough uncoated wraps, and letterpress. Boxing Day evening spent with Unibroue and poetry.

December 2004: Torsos is much-admired by my staff. "Like Black Sparrow!" Eg., whomever made this book knew what they were doing & took their time. The care shows.

January 2005: Browsing the stacks at William James, Bookseller, in Port Townsend, Washington, I happen across a book which at first I mistake for Rubbing Torsos. It's actually another Ithaca Press publication, a collection of lyric poetry by Christopher Buckley. George H.W. Bush's speechwriter? Fortunately no. A creative writing instructor at U. C. Riverside. Also letterpress, also lovely. Doubly signed and dedicated "to Scott Walker." A mystery!

Google: Ithaca House, 1969-1986. The creation of Cornell professor Baxter Hathaway.

The same Baxter Hathaway who once counselled a young undergraduate named Thomas Pynchon to just forget writer's block and hand in the damn story?

The same.

Scott Walker?

Longtime Port Townsend resident, and founder of Graywolf Press. An important association copy.

My collection of Ithaca House publications?

Rapidly expanding. If you drop in, ask to see them.

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