Tuesday, February 12, 2013


In order to bring out forthcoming titles from David Brazil, Jackqueline Frost, Jennifer Scappettone, Leslie Scalapino and others, poet-printer Michael Cross's Oakland-based press C O M P L I N E must sell books. So far as I know the press receives no formal institutional support. Future titles are precariously subsidized by the sale of previous titles or, in the worst instances, funded entirely out of pocket. This would seem in a sense a crippling disadvantage, but for Cross this disadvantage is total advantage and few other presses so inexhaustibly and so consistently (so dependably) synthesize aesthetic and political practices in a manner that so well supplements the contradictory conditions of the present.

Earlier titles: CJ Martin, Two Books; David Brazil, To Romans; Sara Larsen, Merry Hell; Craig Dworkin, The Crystal Text; Eleni Stecopoulos, Daphnephoria; Joan Retallack, The Reinvention of Truth. Barring offset or photocopied interiors, most of these titles are printed on a Heidelberg vacuum press (Cross is the only poet-printer I know capable of throwing such a mechanically enigmatic Leviathan into the service of small press poetry; this alone elevates his practice to the condition of myth.

From 2004-2009 Cross printed and published titles, largely out of Buffalo on a Vandercook 4, through the ATTICUS / FINCH imprint. The titles, many of which would not exist were they not first solicited by Cross, include: Taylor Brady and Rob Halpern, Snow Sensitive Skin (Cross provides the foreword to the 2011 Displaced Press edition); Lisa Jarnot, Iliad XXII (second edition brought out by Bookthug); Myung Mi Kim, River Antes; Patrick F. Durgin, Imitation Poems; John Taggart, Unveiling / Marianne Moore; al-Husayn ibn Ahmad ibn Khalawayh, Names of the Lion (translated by David Larsen); Eli Drabman, Hit the Ground Running; Thom Donovan and Kyle Schlesinger, Mantle; Elizabeth Willis, Meteoric Flowers. This to mention nothing of the countless broadsides, rogue chaplets and chapbooks, announcements and posters printed by Cross across a period that spans nearly a decade.

A recent example: THE FEELING I$ MUTUAL | A LI$T OF OUR FUCKING DEMAND$ (2012), an anthology edited by Sara Wintz that includes responses from Dan Thomas-Glass, David Buuck, Jamie Townsend, Lauren Levin, Kevin Killian, Zack Tuck, Anne Lesley Selcer, Alana Seigel, Alli Warren and others (enthusiastically commented on at HTML Giant, Harriet and elsewhere shortly after it first appeared).

Looking now at the scope of this labor — the wide range of names and sheer number of titles built in places as various as Buffalo, Seattle and Oakland — a bibliography annotating the genesis of these publications might be useful (presently there's no way to track the appearance of ATTICUS / FINCH titles other than consulting online library catalogs, none of which offer any meaningful information on the astounding material production of these books). In advance of such a thing: