“January Vampiric” – A Faint Press Collab Book by Chris Wells & Diane Keys

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Cover of January Vampiric – a collaborative book by Chris Wells (Columbus, Ohio, USA) and Diane Keys (Elgin, Illinois USA). Issued by Faint Press, Winter 2016.

I am thrilled to document in its entirety January Vampiric, a collaborative visual poetry boekie by Chris Wells and Diane Keys, The piece is issued under the Faint Press imprint and in process, design and content reflects the vibrant book arts movement within the Eternal Network.

The pages of January Vampiric are approximately 3 X 7 inches. While I agree the material is visual poetry and is of great interest to that community, I would also point out – likely due to the participation of Diane Keys – that this is also a substantial contribution to the mail art genre of the Trashbook and the specific segment of vispo known as Trashpo.

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Diane Keys’ organic style (aka DKhaos) is immediately recognizable to anyone who is active in the contemporary Eternal Network. Chris Wells brings to January Vampiric a relatively disciplined formalism. The book has a structural coherence that reigns in Keys’ usually more expansive stream of consciousness. This kind of collaboration – pairing formalism and the unbridled organic – could spell disaster for a project. (I always contend collabs are far more risky and difficult than many assume. They often do not succeed.) In the case of January Vampiric, however, potential liability becomes a strength. Give and take is evident, a willingness to adapt, accommodate and accept aesthetic differences. A strong editorial hand might also explain the cohesion. Regardless, I believe the book succeeds not only as visual poetry but a sustained sequence.

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Classic Trashpo is evident on this “Davis Queen” page, but it is more organized and considered than most Trashpo. This allows “Davis Queen” to enter into the visual syntax of the next page:

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Trying to extricate text from image is ultimately a disservice to January Vampiric. Still, I want to point out that on the purely textual level, the book is also of great interest and can be “read” in a conventional way. Trashpo tropes of randomness, cut-up, fragmentation, disruption and deconstruction are present, often producing an engaging Post-Neoist absurdity.

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I like this passage especially (above) and note thematic consistency, such as the presence of tickets.

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This page (above) is an especially wonderful Trashpo composition, heavy on text.

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Having been through the book in linear order many times now, I note that the sequence builds in power and intensity (perhaps quality too) as it progresses.

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And the back cover of January Vampiric:

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Many thanks to Chris Wells and Diane Keys!



One comment

  1. tonipoet · July 27, 2016

    Absolutely fantastic. Diane and Chris, what a great and unexpected pairing in this booklet!


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