Shanna Compton


More re: Joe Brainard covers—& a whoa-inducing discovery

So just a few minutes ago, I'm looking at my bookshelf, thinking I'll pull the copies of all the stuff I have with Joe Brainard covers. I figured my copy of Stones was pretty buried, because it's been a while since I've seen it. (Alas my shelves are deep, maximally stack, and completely disorganized except all the poetry is separated out from "everything else.") But there was a good chance it was vertical and in a particular case, because it's hardcover and has an acetate covering, and I tend to shelve those first each time I attempt to rein in the chaos.

I found in within a few minutes. Went gaga over the cover again, the type (though the uncial-inspired titles inside are very dated-looking they are charmingly so), the way the titles are aligned flush with the poem block away from the spine (so they mirror on facing pages), and the (now foxed) deckled fore-edges.

Bonus: it smells amazing.

I don't remember when I bought it, but I know it was about ten years ago and at a used bookshop, not in New York. (Maybe one of the ones we tend to hit in Maine. Or one of the road trip "book barns" we stop at whenever possible. Who knows. Sometimes I remember clearly, but not in this case.) The receipt is just adding machine tape and isn't dated or marked with a name. I paid cash. Certainly I got it someplace it was undervalued, because it's a first edition and was only $12.

What I hadn't noticed before was this handwritten ex-libris inscription:

I think this book was previously owned by poet-translator Coleman Barks?! (Here's a signature of his, to compare. This is not a signature obviously, so less swooshy. But the top of the C? The loop at the bottom of the B? What do you think?)

This isn't the book cover I'm imitating but I feel like this is a significant sign. Of something.

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