“What Only Painters See” by Willem M. Roggeman, translated by Philippe Ernewein is out today on Bamboo Dart Press

Willem M. Roggeman is a prolific writer, widely translated around the world. Through active support and guidance from Mr. Roggeman, translator Philippe Ernewein now introduces Roggeman’s fantastic Dutch poetry to the United States with What Only Painters See. This is Roggeman’s first book to be translated into the English language. In 1988, he was awarded the Order of Leopold II for his cultural work. His most recent book of poems is Bewegend portret (2022).
Philippe Ernewein is a native of Turnhout, Belgium. He is the Director of Education at the Denver Academy in Denver, Colorado, USA. Philippe’s published work can be found at www.rememberit.org.

The book is out today on Bamboo Dart Press. Available at your better independent bookstores, worldwide at big boxes or direct from us here.

Bill Chen Vs. Dennis Callaci radio show picked up for another year on KSPC

Between the two of them, Bill Chen and Dennis Callaci have been DJ’s at KSPC for over fifty years. This past fall the pair began their Bill Chen Vs. Dennis Callaci radio show at KSPC in Pomona where they have been beating each other up verbally on air between sets of hand snatched music from all walks. After grabbing shares slightly higher than Alan Watts Eats Your Canary on Pacifica radio, KSPC has announced that they have secured the broadcast rights for all of 2023 of the odd couple’s radio show. You can hear the show live every Wednesday from 9am to 11am(PST), listen to the rebroadcast during your graveyard shift Thursday morning from 2am to 4am, or stream the show live here (and for two weeks post broadcast). Space is the place.

Trailer for poet Willem M. Roggeman’s first book translated to English premieres.

Bamboo Dart Press is thrilled to issue a new collection of poems from Belgium’s “painter with words” to a new audience of English poetry readers. Awarded the Order of Leopold II for his cultural work, Willem M. Roggeman is a prolific writer, widely translated around the world. Through active support and guidance from Mr. Roggeman, translator Philippe Ernewein now introduces Roggeman’s fantastic Dutch poetry to the United States with What Only Painters See. The short below features a reading by both Roggeman and Ernewein with a new music score by the band Refrigerator. The trailer features some of Ernewein’s sketches and notes from his working notebook of the translation.

The book is out January 17th at your finer independent bookstores and big box retailers as well as direct from Bamboo Dart Press.

Victor Gastelum & Robert Vodicka celebrate the release of their Bamboo Dart Press book with a set and spiel on Mike Watt’s show

Listen to the wonderful interview and music chosen by Victor Gastelum and Robert Vodicka on Mike Watt’s Watt from Pedro show. The duo discusses the book, their shared hostory and their history with Watt in support of their new book Shaolin Days and DeKalb Nights that came out last month. Hear the show here.

John & Ann Brantingham’s “Kitkitdizzi” book on Bamboo Dart Press is out today

Ann and John Brantingham spent nine summers volunteering and living in a van in Sequoia and Kings Canyon National Parks away from wifi, electricity, plumbing, and anxiety. This experience brought them back to themselves. Kitkitdizzi is their dual memoir, Ann’s in graphite drawings and John’s in short essays. These summers gave them the time to stop and look and let their minds romp at random without the burden of triaging every moment as they raced through their days. What they found was a balm from the surreality of modern life. The book is out today everywhere and also available directly from us.

Dennis: Though John wrote the pieces for the book, and Ann did the drawings, Ann’s voice and thoughts figure profoundly in the book.  As much as this book is about the High Sierras, both the landscape and the history of its residents from beetles and bats to explorers, exploiters, conservationists and campers, it can also be read as a meditation on marriage, on true love that has been fortunate to grow long in the tooth.

John: I’d agree with this completely. We were coming out of a time that was really hard for us. I don’t mean that our relationship had been tested, just that we’d gone through some difficult times for both of us together. The trips to the mountains helped us to move away from some really tragic experiences. We were self-consciously searching for new hope and possibly joy.

The thing about marriage is that you are constantly growing up, and if you do it right, you are teaching each other how to be adults. We wanted to be adults who were not full of disappointments and pain but people focused on possibility. I can’t see a better way than going into the joyful parts of ourselves by going into the forest with people we grew to love.

Ann: John and I have always encouraged each other to be who we are. My drawings and his essays exist together without one being secondary to the other. It’s important to have your own things outside of the marriage. It keeps each person growing and becoming themselves more deeply. We teach each other to find new ways to see the world because we have differences. This also makes the marriage stronger. We both keep falling in love with each other, and I hope that this happens for other couples too.

Dennis: I first saw these graphite drawings framed on the wall in your home/studio.  Seeing them in the book spread out one by one and interspersed throughout the essays is fitting in the texts that speak of isolation, pondering a reflection of yourself as a youth quietly hugging your knees in and watching a bear, the hand as a small cage catching a moth for a moment before release.  The drawings mirror the smaller recipe of each essay.  How were the drawings and essays matched?

Ann: When I was going through and placing the images with the essays, I purposely tried not to have many images match the pieces. I was trying to match the emotion of the art. This was an intense nine-year journey that we went through broken up at the end of each summer, and it changed us. I think it helped us to turn more inward in some ways, and that reality is reflected in my art.

John: We wanted to make sure that the drawings were not simply illustrations of the essays and that the essays were not descriptions of the images. We didn’t want this to be one of our reactions to the other, but a reflection of how we both were growing internally because of the High Sierra. I think the drawings and essays have more to do with when they were completed than what we were trying to say. This is the mood we were in. These are our emotions.

Anyway, I don’t think it makes a lot of sense for me in an essay to try to explain what is happening emotionally in Ann’s art. If that kind of thought could be put into an essay, then she wouldn’t need to draw.

Dennis: The quixotic nature I have been present for in the Sierras is captured wonderfully in notes on hail storms, rubber boas, and bats appearing and disappearing just as quickly as they arrived.  John’s mother also represents this in the book, her seeming ease to adjust to a beetle crawling on the tile in your home, or the beetle that she asks you in your youth to spend a moment soaking in the beauty of.  There is a wonderfully playful rhythm to not just how you frame these stories, but how they abut and reflect off of one another.

Ann:  When we first went into the mountains, I thought I was going to be afraid. I had never really camped in the forest as a child. There was a day that the group left for the entire day, and I stayed behind in camp. I thought for sure that was going to be frightening. Instead, it was a magical day. I felt a real connection to the forest, and I got the feeling that I was a part of the forest rather than a visitor. It was magical seeing all the phases of the woods and not being distracted from what was happening around me. I made a piece of art that day, but the most important part of doing that was that I just looked as closely and as quietly as I could.

John: Being in the High Sierra like that was a little like being a child again in that every moment was new. We had to figure out the woods in the way that kindergarteners have to figure out what school is. It felt chaotic for us, especially at first. It was even more that way for Ann who hadn’t spent any of her childhood in the forest. I had spent a good deal of it there, but never in this way, living without technology for months at a time.

So it felt random and spectacular at first. Then as we began to understand the beat of the forest, and what the plants and animals were doing, we learned the rhythm of it. Of course, that only made the world around us more spectacular. There is a logic to the ways animals behave. It’s like when you adopt a dog, and you have to figure out its personality and habits. We were doing that with all the animals of the forest all at once.

Dennis: My wife and I have formed fleeting relationships with camp hosts at places we stayed at for a week or more.  I don’t think that when most folks embark on dry camping or even RV camping, they anticipate the effect that a good camp host can have on them.  It is not that different, I imagine in some ways, to that of teaching.  I like that this aspect is hit upon, that is not simply John Muir quotes; that Haskell and Martin appear as apparitions in Kitkitdizzi.

John: The volunteer camp where we stayed was at a strategic point on the mountain. It has been inhabited for perhaps thousands of years as is evidenced by the grinding stone at the edge of the camp. There have been park volunteers and employees there, Boy Scouts, Buffalo Soldiers, a socialist utopian community, and many others. In the middle of it are two mounds that kind of disappear under the foliage sometimes. I keep thinking that these might be two graves. I have nothing to support this except that they kind of look like that. I wanted to honor all of those people who lived in this place where we lived, and so I brought in Haskell and Martin. John Muir was an interesting person, but people tend to refer to him as a sort of man-god of the forest. Muir was not perfect, and his was not the only way to see or relate to the forest. As for teaching, that is sacred to me. I think you’re right. We’ve all been in classes where the teacher hasn’t been the best. I have at times been that teacher. When you do it well though, there is a kind of magic. Nowhere for me was that more apparent than in our camp. A lot of people found themselves here. Not everyone did. Some people just had fun, but for a lot of people it was a life-changing experience when they understood themselves completely differently. That’s true of me. I’m essentially a different person because of it.

Ann: Everything that John said times two. I am who I am now because of our experiences in the High Sierra. The second summer we were there was the first summer I started leading art workshops. I led five of them that summer. The people that came were creative and hungry for new experiences and ready to get to work. We looked closely at plants, hiked for spectacular views of the mountain range, and spent hours in a meadow drawing everything. Every group was different but they all were absolutely fulfilling, and I feel deep gratitude for getting to be part of all these people’s journeys. At the end of that long summer (that year we got to stay until October 1), we had kind of a debrief with our volunteer coordinator. She asked me how I felt this experience changed me. I hadn’t thought about it yet in those terms and I became emotional when I realized that I now considered myself an artist. I had earned degrees in art and had done some here and there and on book covers for my own small press, but now I saw myself as part of something bigger than myself.

Dennis: You both love poetry and language. The simplest things are often the hardest.  I mean this in regard to naming a work which often comes near the end of completing a work for many artists.  Kitkitdizzi is such a wonderful title for this book.  Not only is Ann’s drawing of the bush a wonderful choice for cover art, and the word lending itself to define for me a state of mind that I am sometimes in when I am out in the middle of nowhere, alone, or with a few of my loved ones in the Sierras.  The roll off of the tongue of kit kid dizzi is such a fun thing to say aloud but also sounds like instructions to an easy euphoria.  Somersault down the hill!  Spin 15 times fast! Close your eyes for three minutes then look up at the belt of Orion from a sleeping bag on pine needles.

John: I know exactly what you mean. Most people call that plant “bear clover” or “mountain misery.” Gary Snider used the Native American word “kitkitdizzi,” and I like to think that’s because he’s a poet and the word just has magic to it. It also is one of the most powerful realities of the Western slope of the High Sierras. There are places where it’s all you can smell. It overwhelms the pine scent. Still, people don’t notice it until they’ve been in the forest for a long time. The reason is everything there around them is magic and they are seeing bears and giant trees and granite rising out of the ground and their neurons are firing so hard that they just don’t have the time to slow down and notice the scent. It’s what you recognize after having been there a while I think. Now here I am, living in New York nearly as far away from the High Sierra as I can get. I both miss that magic, and I don’t. The reasons I miss it are obvious, I think. The reason I don’t is that every moment of the earth is infused with the possibility of hope and joy. The simple magic of nature is still around me. If you come down to New York and spend the day with me, I’ll show you Thunder Rocks in the Allegany and we’ll both stand there with our mouths agape like we’re staring up at a giant sequoia and all we’ll be able to say is, “My god.”

Ann and John Brantingham’s “Kitkitdizzi: A Non-Linear Memoir of the High Sierra” book and trailer premier

Ann and John Brantingham spent nine summers volunteering and living in a van in Sequoia and Kings Canyon National Parks away from wifi, electricity, plumbing, and anxiety. This experience brought them back to themselves. Kitkitdizzi is their dual memoir, Ann’s in graphite drawings and John’s in short essays. These summers gave them the time to stop and look and let their minds romp at random without the burden of triaging every moment as they raced through their days. What they found was a balm from the surreality of modern life. John has previously issued a book a on Bamboo Dart Press and both he and Ann have had a plethora of works published. Their new book is available for preorder here. Below is a short featuring John’s poetry and Ann’s drawings.

“Shaolin Days and DeKalb Nights” by Victor Gastelum and Robert Vodicka is out today on Bamboo Dart Press

Victor Gastelum, known for the artwork he did for numerous punk rock flyers, cover art for SST records and a slew of Calexico releases as well as collaborative work with Josh Bayer and Raymond Pettibon among others branches out with his first collection of abstract images in this book with longtime friend Robert Vodicka, the former label manager at New Alliance Records. Vodicka’s behind the scenes work in a number of music scenes in Southern California is a hidden history whose iceberg tip surfaces in the text of the book. Gastelum and Vodicka used chance procedures to match the specific images to the text. The book also features an interview with Gastelum and Vodicka, conducted by Dennis Callaci of Bamboo Dart Press and Shrimper Records. The book is available direct from us here or everywhere else. Below is an excerpt from the interview from the book.

The subtext of how and why these pieces were created adds an emotional punch. Victor, this is a new form for you. I recall you mentioning when your father was hospitalized that you bought some pens and a notebook to have something to do as you bedsat. That you couldn’t focus on reading or anything else.

Victor Gastelum: Yeah, I had a notebook at hand on a visit and I started drawing small circles, as small as I could, until I filled up the page. At first I tried to draw things, like Nick Blinko does; crucifixes and things in the little circles, but I couldn’t. I couldn’t even imagine how he [Blinko] does what he does, so then I just started drawing abstractly. I liked it. I got into it. I filled up a couple of sketchbooks and I liked that I could do it anywhere. I looked forward to waiting in line at the pharmacy. I was like, “Oh, fifteen minutes; I’m going to go sit and draw for fifteen minutes.” I drew while waiting for appointments; while waiting for the doctors to come in. Any time I had to wait, it was something fun I could do. I had been doing these drawings and maybe I shared them with Robert. He 34 had sent me a list of words—something he had been doing—and said that if I found any use for them to use them. I had thought of self-publishing a book of my abstract pieces, but then I thought that these could go together. I thought we were doing something similar on our own in our free time. He had done a lot of writing for music ad copy and liner notes, as well as being a writer by profession; a real technical writer. I am a graphic artist. I do commercial art as well. This utilized both skills we have, but in an abstract way. I saw that they went together. I didn’t understand it at first, but then we came up with a format of how to put the two together.

In initial conversations, one of you mentioned that the book was going to consist of fake band names ascribed to each of Victor’s works. It could still be read as such, but it’s become something larger than that in my eyes.

Robert Vodicka: At some point I was making up band names to entertain myself. I was putting words together that I thought were interesting juxtapositions; interesting word play. I think it started with band names. I’m not sure if that started first, or if they were two parallel vectors, but it expanded into me writing things down that occurred to me. Prior to the pandemic, I was driving around Illinois for work quite a bit, so to entertain myself on long boring 35 drives, I would think of these things and when I got where I was going, I would try to write them down before I forgot them.

Victor Gastelum and Robert Vodicka Short for their new book on Bamboo Dart Press premiers

Graphic artist Victor Gastelum, whose work has graced many a punk rock flyer, SST and Calexico record cover among a plethora of other works has collaborated with writer Robert Vodicka, a veteran music head whose work at New Alliance records in the 80’s to early 90’s and stint as a DJ on KSPC on their new book Shaolin Days and DeKalb Nights out on November 19th and available for preorder here.

Here is a sneak peak at their words and art in film.

Michael Loveday on his new book “Do What the Boss Says” out today on Bamboo Dart Press

I had the conversation below with Michael Loveday on the eve of the street date of his new book out today on Bamboo Dart Press. You can find the book at your finer independent bookstores, yer gross big box sites or direct from us here.

Your novella in flash, Three Men on the Edge offered a number of portraits of three souls struggling with varying degrees of troubles.  It is easy to view that book as cohesive, but I find that your new book Do What the Boss Says employs a lot of connective tissue from story to story even with each being unrelated.  Were these stories written before, after & during your writing of Three Men on the Edge?

I was writing Three Men on the Edge from 2011 to 2017. I began writing some of the stories in Do What the Boss Says during that same time, but the majority were begun after Three Men on the Edge was completed. And definitely the editing part (which, for me, is where most of the work gets done) took place during the pandemic – from 2020 to 2022. My feeling is that any “connective tissue” in Do What the Boss Says is thematic (or related to subject) – for example, the image of opening doors or going through doors recurs across three stories – rather than there being any linked narratives. By which I mean that there aren’t any characters that appear in one story and crop up in another. But I definitely did want to try to build a cohesive collection. In fact, the stories here were gathered from a longer collection I’ve been finishing – about 120 pages long. I noticed that quite a few stories were about family and childhood, and I became interested in the possibility of gathering them separately in a chapbook or pamphlet. It took a while to figure out which ones to include and which to leave out – I had a number of others that referenced family/childhood but they didn’t fit the themes of the final collection.     

In the final story in the book, Every Time We Fall, you write that Parents don’t want  to be rescued by their children  This after a number of the stories in the book about parents of varied walks.  I wonder if this was a conscious decision to ground the book in reflecting on childhood and adulthood.

Yes, definitely. The final two stories in fact are about a kind of role reversal – the “adult child” looking after an older parent. Whereas most of the other pieces are about narrators and protagonists in their actual childhood. It’s not easy to ensure that a miscellaneous collection, even one that explores a broadly unified territory thematically, adds up to a statement about life. But I would admit I was trying for something like that – some sense of reaching a concluding position (even though the ending isn’t tying a linked narrative together, as might happen in a novella-in-flash or novel-in-stories).  

For all of the unsaid in the aforementioned story, there is a detailed transgression in the parable Silver and Blood about a mother and father diminishing a child both physically and mentally.

Yeah, it’s a pretty dark story, that one! I guess it’s playful in some ways, because of the fairy tale elements (the daughter with a heart made of silver) and it uses an energetic “once-upon-a-time” folk tale mode of narration, but what happens in the story is certainly quite tragic. It was inspired by a Japanese folk tale I encountered, called Tsuru Nyōbō, or The Crane Wife, in which a man marries a crane who, out of love, weaves brocades from her own feathers in secret so that the man can sell them and make them rich, but she makes herself ill in the process. It’s an astonishing bit of folklore about a form of self-harm, self-denial and neglect that’s nevertheless arising from a place of love and loyalty and creativity, and I thought it would be interesting to transfer those ideas into a framework where a child is doing something similar under pressure from greedy parents. Here’s a link to an early version of the story online, although I did make some crucial changes to the final published version in the chapbook that change the balance of its meaning slightly, so the chapbook version is more ambiguous in its conclusion: Silver and Blood – Fictive Dream

 The boss that you reference in the title makes an appearance in nearly every one of these stories, be it the parental figure, god, the abstract voice in our head etc.

Yes, I guess my hope was to explore the pressure inherent in the relationship between children and adults. Freud, of course, famously wrote about the family as a microcosm of society, one that was at once a civilising influence and simultaneously a source of internal conflicts and repression. I found it interesting to write about that process from the child’s perspective – a mixture of civilisation and ruin. And the title Do What the Boss Says, which is lifted from a particular story about work This Be the Curse | The Journal of Radical Wonder, is intended to take on a different meaning across the collection as a whole. My hope was that “the Boss” might start to mean something other than an employer, and listening to that other definition of Boss isn’t necessarily such a bad thing. Although I don’t want to name who/what that “Boss” might be.