Singing Bone Press
~ South Carolina
(Tom Lang, Jerred Metz, Philip Sultz)

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Singing Bone Press: "The press has three conspirators: Tom Lang, Jerred Metz, and Phil Sultz. Their decision to construct personal objects established an initial direction and an enduring rapport. The letter press would give the object its basic ingredient while the physical aspects would embrace the material without weighing it down with artistic fat. ... Our hope, as the story of the singing bone goes, is to make songs from bones, to make books from trash. Beyond this, to use our own acquisitive today’s waste to shape our own way and to offer our accent on pleasure."
Poetry works by Jerome Rothenberg  

Three Legs Up, Cold as Stone;
Six Legs Down Blood and Bone

By Jerred M. Metz
Saint Louis, Missouri: Singing Bone Press, 1977. Edition of 101.

6.5 x 9; 28 pages (20 pages, 4 leaves of plates). Pamphlet sewn binding in paper wraps with folded flaps. Drawings by Phil Sultz. Printed by Tom Lang. Signed by Sultz, Metz, and Lang on the title page.

Jerred Metz:: "These riddles were inspired by An Annotated Collection of Mongolian Riddles by Archer Taylor, American Philological Association, 1954 and a chapter on riddles in Homo Ludens or “Man the Player” (alternatively, “Playing Man”) by Dutch historian and cultural theorist Johan Huizinga, 1938. I wrote one riddle a day for thirty days.

"In 1977 Singing Bone Press published twelve of these poems (several with corresponding visual riddles by Phil Sultz) in an edition of 101 copies. Among other reasons that I like riddles is that I enjoy letting the reader experience the shift from 'perplexity' to 'knowing,' an inherent part of the riddle and a feature that is sometimes a part of poetry – 'figuring it out.' The reader naturally has to think about what the hints add up to. Not hidden meaning, but a form in which meaning means a lot. They call for and reward cogitation.

"You can see how different your response would be to these riddles if, instead of letting you come to the answer by your wits, I gave you the answer as the poem’s title.

"To discover the answer to each riddle, go backward in the alphabet to the next letter for each letter given."


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Two books of poetry by Jerome Rothenberg (1931 - ) in collaboration with Singing Bone Press.

Poetry Foundation: "Rothenberg has been particularly interested in the poetry of the North American Indians, both verbal and non-verbal: a poetry that can often be expressed, according to Rothenberg, in 'music, non-verbal phonetic sounds, dance, gesture and event, game, dream, etc.' It is, he explained, 'a high poetry and art, which only a colonialist ideology could have blinded us into labeling 'primitive' or 'savage.'"

Seneca Journal "The Serpent"
By Jerome Rothenberg
Saint Louis, Missouri: Singing Bone Press, 1977. Edition of 100.

4.25 x 11.75" hand-painted mulberry wrappers by Phil Sultz with 5 sheets of poetry laid in. Poetry sheets 3.5 x 10.75" printed on handmade paper. Other materials laid in: sheet of birch bark, fascicle of pine needles or vine stick (other materials may be included but varies by wrapper). Printed title tag attached to a piece of string which can be tied around wrapper as closure. Signed by the poet on the last sheet.

Rothenberg spent two years in Salamanca, a railroad town on the Allegany [sometimes Alleghany] Seneca Reservation in western New York State. "The Serpent" is the second in his collaborations with Singing Bone Press using this experience.

University of California, San Diego, Special Collections: "Rothenberg's concern for the relationship between 'primitive' and modern poetry led to the development of an anthology of primitive and archaic poetry, Technicians of the Sacred (1968). With the completion of this work, Rothenberg directed his attention to ethnopoetics and began a study of Senecan Indian songs at the Allegheny Reservation in Steamburg, New York.

"In 1968 Rothenberg received a grant from the Wenner-Gren Foundation in Anthropological Research to conduct a two-part experiment in the translation of American Indian poetry. The project involved a collaborative translation between Rothenberg and Seneca songmen and the translation of a series of Navajo horse-blessing songs."

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Seneca Journal: Mid-Winter
By Jerome Rothenberg
Saint Louis, Missouri: Singing Bone Press, 1975. Edition of 100.

3 x 4" sliding box with printed labels front and back. Contains folded sheet of poetry, photographs (number varies by box), a map, folded background sheet, music sheet, natural objects (these vary by container: corn husk and birch bark). Poem fold out (3 x 4" closed, extends vertically to 80"): printed on mulberry paper, bound in stiff boards, bark sheet tipped on front cover, thread tie closure. Numbered. Signed by the poet.

Singing Bone Press: "Our collaboration began when [Phil] Sultz met Rothenberg on the Alleghany Reservation in western New York. We decided to print Seneca Journal: Mid-Winter, a series of thirty short poems written in the poet’s notebook during the Mid-Winter Ceremonies of 1973 and 1974.

"An attempt, then, to record with a minimum of comment the idea of the collaboration by extending the nature of the poems as memento. To make a small box of poems and other objects as a kind of personal 'medicine bundle' and a gift for friends on the reservation and off. The result was a printing of 101 copies, signed by the author.

"Then, Seneca Journal: Mid-Winter, a book accompanied by antiquity or primitive uncouthness and some aspirations."

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Page last update: 09.02.15


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