The Artistry of Loujon Press: Triumphs and Shortcomings (1 Viewer)


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The Artistry of Loujon Press: Triumphs and Shortcomings

I might just like the article because he agrees with my opinion that the LouJon books were not necessarily the best way to present Bukowski's poetry.

Unfortunately, the unsubtle aesthetics of the Webbs' book compete with Bukowski's poetry to such a degree that the artistry and effort devoted to both are diminished.
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"The law is wrong; I am right"
I agree with Nathan C. Martin when he writes about Rockmore's etchings in 'Crucifix':

"...his surreal, almost Dali-like images in Crucifix that depict grotesque dinner parties and industrial cityscapes don't jive with the characters, situations, and settings in Bukowski's poems..."

I never felt they had anything to do with Bukowski's poems either.
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lothario speedwagon
agreed RE: the rockmore etchings... disagreed RE: the 'unsubtle aesthetics' of the loujon buk books. to me, the book design shouldn't match the content of the text, it should match the emotion of the text. bukowski was a passionate writer who dedicated his life to writing as if he had to, and loujon dedicated their lives (and livelihoods) to publishing in the same way. this is why i feel they're best together. if bukowski is supposed to be published in a mimeograph pamphlet (which he was, many times over), what work is supposed to be published in a fine press edition? most of the stuff published by the fine press is fuckin boring, so i think bukowski is a breath of fresh air. i had more to say, but i'm really tired.
These are fair points, but it's not hard for me to separate the words from the images or from the production; the words are written plain white paper if you engage them as such. And even if the production seems to be at odds with Bukowski's style, the books are still completely appropriate because they exist. It's how they were realized. Without the benefit of foresight, or parhaps better-put, without the benefit of perspective, they reflect a genre and a decision that was the short period of their publication. They are perfect because now, some 45-48 years later, that's what they became; they are only flawed because of an unnecessary association between content just because these varying contents are in the same book.

Is an interview with Bukowski flawed because it appeared in Rolling Stone? Or is a story flawed because it appeared in High Times next to a bong advertisement?


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It's funny because Bukowski didn't mind being in a throaway rag or a poorly produced mimeo where his poems were so blurry he hardly could read his own words, but he (rightly) feared his two Loujon books could be seen as collectibles, sitting forever on a shelf in a dark basement, rather than books to be actually read.


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The books are difficult to read because of the format and materials. If they were not collectible or limited or valuable or whatever, the format would still be distracting, and that's always been my issue with them. My copy of It Catches is library bound so all of the collector's value has been removed, but even with that FRAGILE, MUST PROTECT! aspect off the table, it's clumsy and the materials are distracting.

I guess I've always been about the content cutting through and being the focus. If the content of the book is not the focus, you lose the writing aspect and all you have left is the art aspect ("most of the stuff published by the fine press is fuckin boring..."). Or if both the writing and the book art are strong, as you could argue is the case with the LouJon books, both are diminished. There can't be two focuses. That's the catch 22 of all book art.

I don't think the comparison to an interview in Rolling Stone or High Times is relevant, since you have different standards and expectations for an interview and a poetry collection.
You definitely have a point here, mjp. I feel the same with these precious art-books.
They're too much of an artwork to be USED as collections of poetry by a guy who wrote out of his guts and into the reader's guts and didn't care much about the superficial outside looks of it.

But maybe, that's just how WE see it today, nearly 50 years later.
It's no secret, that I've bought the copy of Ann Mennebroker (then 'Baumann') and this Is definitely a reading-copy. It has been used. There are even (call it clichée) wine-stains on some of the pages.

So, I guess, back then, most people didn't realize, that what they've got is a piece of art. Not to mention, who would've guessed about the collectible-status, these books would have some day.
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I think It Catches was $5 when it came out in 1963, and by 1967 it was already $50. Many people saw the Loujon productions as collectibles from day one, and that's what Bukowski disliked: format/design over content. A large number of the 400 plus complimentary letters that the Webbs received at the time praised their work, not B's, and that surely pissed him off.
okay. That's a point too.

I only knew the adds of the Webbs, where they are not so much stressing, that their books could be collectibles, which should better not be read, but conserved.

So, let's say, there were SOME people, who bought these books as collectibles and investments, as there were some OTHER people, who bought it for the poems (and to read them).

Can we agree with that?
I don't think the comparison to an interview in Rolling Stone or High Times is relevant, since you have different standards and expectations for an interview and a poetry collection.

The subject at hand is how Buk's work is affected by the context of its presentation, so to me, they are completely relevant. And when I read something by Buk, whether it's in a gilt frame or on a roll of toilet paper, my expectations are solely based on Buk's reputation as a writer, not on where the words are located. So, while I feel that Rolling Stone or High Times appearences are relevant to the discussion, they are irrelevant to my enjoyment of Buk's work.

Or look at it this way - one of your favorite subjects - the posthumous poetry volumes. At least the BSP books are presented in nearly identical fashion to those produced during his lifetime. Is the quality of the work diminshed in any way by this? No. The quality of the work is diminshed by the editing. It's all about the words. The package is a separate experience.
Well, although I judge a writer on his/her words, I must say that context alters my mood, even if it does not change my understanding. I think it is a question of appropriacy. I can't speak for Loujon Press - never having handled a copy - but I know that over-fussy presentation or design that is intrusive or illustrations that jar leave create a degree of - well, not resentment but a mild form of that - with regards to the book/publisher even if not towards the writer. I think the publisher's first priority is to serve the text and not his/her own sense of inventiveness. A good publisher can combine the two....
Jon and Louise created beautiful works of art to showcase beautiful works of art. Not sure what all the fuss is about but I've not the analytical skills of others. Stickpin and mjp sharing a tender moment did provide this thread with a bit of simplicity so I am pleased.

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