Grace – A Book of Days by Robert Schuler

gracecover

What I’ve learned to anticipate from Bob Schuler’s poems is not only the wonderfully precise powers of his observation but the ecstatic sweep of awareness that accompanies it—from Bach to Blues, from Lu Yu to Matisse. These are celebrations that can only come from one truly thankful for words and for living. — Mark Vinz

These new poems by Robert Schuler show the dense, evocative language so characteristic of his work. His midwestern landscapes, birds, flowers, trees, weather, fish and rivers are not so much described as reconstituted. They exist as thick brush strokes in painting or notes in music—arts alluded to again and again in the poems. His poems are brief yet rich, rereadable, their play of word in sound and sense rewarding the reader each time. The intensity of vision, the craft, the imaginative independence of this poet are remarkable. His is a body of writing that still awaits full discovery and appreciation. — Ralph J. Mills, Jr.

Schuler’s poetry appeals to me. It may be the water with fish, the birds, the flowers. It may be the blaze of colors or the jazz rhythms. In GRACE, all of these elements carry us across a plane, not a cycle, of time. We are given to imagine a moment of grace where one might live forever. — Chris Halla

A prolific poet and long-time teacher, professor Schuler uses careful, evocative language to describe trees, birds, and seasons. Excerpt:

Winter Light

the white / wine of light / poured into the black / glass

Robert Schuler is a professor of English at the University of Wisconsin-Stout in Menomonie, WI. This is the ninth collection of his poems to be pub-lished. A refugee from California, Schuler spends most of his spare time writing, meditating, walking, skiing and fishing in Wisconsin, an endless source of mys-tery, beauty, and delight.

Wolfsong is a publisher of contemporary poetry. Limited, signed copies of Wolfsong books are available upon request. Address inquiries to: Wolfsong Publications 3123 South Kennedy Drive Sturtevant, Wisconsin 53177

Grace by Robert Schuler, 1995, 30 pp. $12 – Please contact Wolfsong Publications via gbusha@wi.rr.com if you are interested in buying this chap.

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The Skeptic’s Dream by Gary C. Busha

The Skeptic's Dream by Gary C. Busha

A mixed bag of early poems, the central poem reflects the author’s concerns about what we know and how we know it. Excerpt: “The Skeptic’s Dream”: The last stanza:

“And time and machinery continue stamping, changing in 
changing of the skeptic’s mind– 
all alone in eon and instant.”

The path of sound credence is through the thick forest of skepticism.” – George Jean Nathan

“Who shall forbid a wise scepticism, seeing that there is no practical question on which anything more than an approximate solution can be had?” – Ralph Waldo Emerson

“Never take anything for granted.” – Disraeli

The Skeptic's Dream by Gary C. Busha

The Skeptic’s Dream by Gary C. Busha, 1996, 33 pp. $12Please contact Wolfsong Publications via gbusha@wi.rr.com if you are interested in buying this chap.

The Liege Poems by Gary C. Busha & Rich Bowen

The Liege Poems by Gary C. Busha & Rich Bowen

Co-written in a corporate setting, Bowen and Busha satirize the workings of the business world, from management to the little people. Excerpt: “Suddenly I’m a Liege” First stanza:

“As when the mourning dove ushers in the dawn,
I awake to find today I am no longer a pawn.
For like a bolt out of the blue,
suddenly I’m a liege, forsooth, it’s true!”

Liege (lej) 1. A lord or sovereign in feudal law. 2. A vassal or subject owing allegiance and services to a lord or sovereign under feudal law. – American Heritage Dictionary of the English Language, Houghton Mifflin Co., 0 1981 Houghton Mifflin.

“The Liege Poems are a wry look at all of us who refuse to live in “the now moment”—a kick in the pants to all who think that in the attainment of material wealth lies happiness—a wake-up call to those who are bogged down in vain pursuit of the Almighty Dollar.” — Rich Bowen

“We all serve many lieges—in our government, workplace and home. These poems derive from a common source: servitude to our superiors, peers and others. No matter what we choose to think, we all serve others and often are required to humble ourselves and pay homage. These poems offer a small glimpse into the ways we serve.” — Gary C. Busha

The Liege Poems by Gary C. Busha & Rich Bowen

The Liege Poems, Rich Bowen & Gary C. Busha, 1997, 33 pp. $12Please contact Wolfsong Publications via gbusha@wi.rr.com if you are interested in buying this chap.

Willowdown by Gary C. Busha

Willowdown by Gary C. Busha

About his idyllic childhood days, “Willowdown” (refering to large willows overhanging the shoreline of the bay) contains several early poems of nature, water, and boyhood. Excerpt: Fourth stanza of “Willowdown”:

“O, morning rainbow,
Willowdown, ever suppressed,
yawns, the sighs, the dispersal
of fragments into memory–
in movements soon forgotten.”

Memory and observation are woven like weeds into a fenceline. There are sudden realizations and the poem comes into focus. Again and again in Willowdown, the poems remind me that in poetry the whole is greater than the sum of its parts.” –Tom Montag

“Wires” is one of the finest heartland poems I’ve read in a long time. “Sail Skating” is a peaceful meditation from the innocent perspective of youth. Throughout this collection we visit places in the landscape that help us make sense of both where we are and who we are. – R. Chris Halla

Gary Busha’s poems speak a Wisconsin lake silence of love . . . of winter stillness, north wind, great fish turning under ice, of water between dock boards, autumn memory, and old men not accomplishing much, fishing in the rain. They read like prayers. – Norbert Blei

Willowdown by Gary C. Busha

Willowdown by Gary C. Busha, 1995, 34 pp. $15Please contact Wolfsong Publications via gbusha@wi.rr.com if you are interested in buying this chap.

Recollections of a Wisconsin Small Press Editor and Publisher

garyMy first introduction to the small press came about as a student in Doug Flaherty’s introductory poetry class at UW-Oshkosh in 1972. I got interested in literature, mainly through my enlistment in the Army and my two-year stint in Japan, where I discovered the many kinds of poetry and fiction in the post library. Remembering back to high school, I had an interest in poems and stories, but didn’t think of myself as a writer, in fact I made few attempts at writing.

In Flaherty’s class I learned about the small press. Small presses were the place to go for beginning poets, experimental fiction writers, and anyone starting out and trying to get some publishing credits. Doug said that any student who had a poem published in a small press publication would get an A in his class. No one in our class did. He pointed out how difficult it was to get poetry published. There were less than 2,000 small presses operating in the U.S., and most published a few issues and disappeared. I had sent out a few poems, had some reject slips in my files, but soon realized that I was not writing well enough to be published.

In a class in the summer of ‘72, during a class break, I met fellow student Chris Halla. (Chris died in January of this year). He and I were in a fiction writing class together. He commented on one of my short stories I had submitted for class discussion. He said he worked on the UW-Oshkosh Wisconsin Review, the student literary magazine. He liked my story and asked if I would be interested in joining the WR staff. I said I would and became a staff member. I started out mainly sitting at a table trying to sell the latest issue of the Wisconsin Review to students. At that time, the WR was a quarterly and partially funded by UW-Oshkosh, but was expected to sell issues and try to be self-sustaining.

Chris Halla was a small press publisher of a magazine called RIVER BOTTOM. After he showed me a few of his issues, he asked if I would join like to him as a contributor and associate assistant. I said yes. At that time, River Bottom was a wonderful example of kitchen table, small press publishing at its most basic. The editor/publisher chose what he or she wanted to publish and did most of the work to put the publication out, and footed all of the bill. This was usually a one or two person production that would include

• Design and layout, including front and back cover art and copy. The editor chose size, cover stock, and inside paper.
• Assembly. The editor did the collating, folding, and stapling the book. This was usually done on the kitchen table and required careful and patient work. Also the books were often pressed to flatten them. I used bricks or construction blocks for weight. After pressing, the books for a day or two, the books usually went back to the printer for trimming.
• Mailing. The editor’s distribution went to subscribers, authors, and reviewers who one hoped would review the work.
• Record-keeping. The editor kept track of and documented sales and distribution of the publication.

My role on River Bottom began as a helper, then as typist/proofreader, and then as co-editor. Chris and I co-founded a new publication called Wolfsong soon after RB’s last issue. In 1978 Wolfsong began as a quarterly, then became an irregular published magazine. Irregular meant we published when we felt we had enough publishable material or the right manuscript for a chapbook or the money to print it. The magazine eventually turned to doing chapbooks of individual poets exclusively and published through the ‘70’s into 2000. We did chapbooks and broadsides (single sheet or poems) of new and well-known poets, such as Peter Wild, William Kloefkorn, Dorothy Dalton, Bruce Taylor, Mariann Ritzer, Dave Etter, Doug Flaherty, Michael Koehler, and others. See the complete list at the end of this article.

While on the staff of the Wisconsin Review, 1974-5, I had the opportunity to see a wide variety of small press chapbooks come into our small office on the third floor of Dempsey Hall at UW-Oshkosh. I also received through Chris a wide variety of small press magazines. I became familiar with many small press publications. Some of these publications were monthly or quarterly magazines, such as The Paris Review, The Wormwood Review, and Poetry Now, while others were chapbooks of a single author. Some were of low quality paper, produced, mimeo-graphed, two-10 sheets, 20-pages, and a few at the other end, 100 pages plus, glossy cover, perfect-bound editions. Many of them were in trade (that is we swapped WR copies) and others came in over the transom (in the mail) or unsolicited. I liked the variety of these publications. Most were stapled (saddle-stitched), with one, two, or three staples. A few were perfect-bound, on high gloss paper, with fancy art, and some even with advertisements. I liked the simple, non-glossy, chaps that showed the work done by someone who didn’t have much money, or didn’t use it on slick production.

I graduated in January 1975 and passed the editorship of the magazine on to other staff members: all capable poets and editors. I stayed in touch for a while with WR, and since I was unable to find work, I began taking graduate courses at UW-Oshkosh. In the meantime, I applied to graduate school at UW-Madison in the English Department. I was shot down there. However, I was accepted at UW-Eau Claire, WI, where I received an assistantship in the English Department.

Without knowing a single person in Eau Claire, in the late summer of ‘75, I, my wife Linda, and young daughter Laura packed up what we owned, loaded a truck, and headed from Oshkosh to Eau Claire for my fall semester. During this time I continued to be in touch with Chris Halla, who continued publishing Wolfsong and other publications. I was also sending out poems and short stories to a number of small presses, trying to establish myself as a writer.

The small press student publication at Eau Claire was NOTA (None of the Above). It came out irregularly and was in newspaper format. I worked with the editors and staff and had a few poems and short stories in NOTA. In the English Department I met professor Bruce Taylor, who also had his own small press publication: RED WEATHER. RW was also in newspaper format. During my stay at UW-Eau Claire, I published a couple of poets under my own Willow Wind Press name, and also, with Chris, under the Wolfsong name. These publications were aided by my having bought an IBM Selectric typewriter in 1975. With interchangeable typeface balls, one could create a professional-looking magazine.

I had also begun correspondence with Len Fulton, the founder of The Small Press Review and International Directory of Little Magazines & Small Presses. Len was revered by editors and writers alike as the man who gave much impetus to small press publishing in America. Since the early ‘60s, Len listed publisher for free in his widely respected magazines and directories under the Dustbooks name. My correspondence with Len centered on work in the UW-Eau Claire English Department and for “English Week,” during which a variety of small press writers, poets, and publishers were invited to take part. During the spring of ‘77, I recommended Len to the English committee for an English Week guest and he was scheduled to talk about the small press for the event.

What became clear during Len’s talk was that beginning, and even established poets, had little chance of being published in the large, mainstream magazines, such as The New Yorker, Saturday Evening Post, and others. Few poets made it into those magazines. Also, the number of poems printed was few. The small press was the place to give new and established poets and experimental fiction writers a place to start. The small presses at that time were mostly one or two person operations, operating on a limited budget, doing most of the collating, assembly, stapling, and distribution on their own. Almost no advertising was published, mainly because advertisers saw the low small press runs and poor distribution as unprofitable and reaching a small audience. Also, most small press publishers didn’t want advertisers anyway. The goal of many small press publishers was to be fiercely independent and not beholding to anyone. Wisconsin small press publisher Tom Montag produced a valuable series of chapbooks on how to establish and maintain a small press publication, from layout, design, printing, distribution, and other business concerns.

I liked the idea of independence and publishing what and when I wanted. Naturally, publishing poetry meant in most cases losing money. Small press publishing took money to mail and advertise. Money was needed to print the books. Money was needed for paper, ribbons, office supplies, and utilities. Once the chapbook was put together, money was needed to send out flyers and notices. And when orders came in for the book, money was needed for envelopes and postage to get the books to the buyers. It took money to send out review copies, pay the author or authors a few copies, and pay other incidentals that were sure to arise. Plus, the small press publisher was working for almost nothing, not paying himself or herself, and hoping to sell enough books to break even or make a little bit over to apply to the next book. It is no surprise that many thought small press poetry publishing was crazy.

Today, in 2014, I consider the small press a valuable outlet for writers, especially serious poets. The battles continue to be distribution and costs associated with producing a small press book. However, with desktop publishing and computer programs, putting together a publication is much easier than decades ago. Some small press publishers, such as Norbert Blei’s Cross+Roads Press did an exceptional series of fine chapbooks over the past two decades. Sadly, Norb died in April 2013. Such publications are a credit to editors of small press publishing because of the talent of the writers and quality of production and art. Also today, online publications are emerging as another source for beginning poets to see their work in print or on the tube. Norb Blei’s Basho’s Road and other sites come to mind. Therefore, aspiring poets have more opportunities to get published, I think. However, the issue of publishing quality remains as it always has—at the discretion of the publisher. Good editors/publishers produce good writing and books when they have good writing coming in and when they have the skill to recognize talent and publishable work.

As a small press publisher I’ve dealt with many poets who have had high opinions of their work. Sometimes these personal opinions were correct, but often they were not. A good editor needs to deal with easily bruised egos, and perhaps that’s the most difficult part of being a poetry publisher. My experiences in this regard have been mostly good. I liked the poets I worked with and published and I kept Wolfsong active for as long as I could after Chris ended his relationship with Wolfsong and left it to me. I recently began publishing my own work (haiku and small poems) in a mini-chapbook series.

Wisconsin today has a strong small press and continuing active interest in poetry. I hope that more independent publishers emerge. Online publishing has changed the landscape of publishing dramatically. Some state organizations for poets have been and are effective and useful to poets, among them The Wisconsin Fellowship of Poets (WFOP), Council for Wisconsin Writers (CWW), and Wisconsin Regional Writers (WRW).

The Internet has had good and bad influences on poetry writing and publishing. For poets, the reader only sees the finished work and not the revisions and rework always needed to hone a poem for publication. Future generations may regret not seeing the poet at work, sweating over words and ideas. For publishers who only publish online, the reader doesn’t have the delight of holding the poem or collection in hand. All you get is the poem on the screen. Personally, I prefer to have the work in printed form, on a sheet of paper or in book form. Yet, we all adapt to technological changes, or at least try to.

My involvement with the small press has been valuable and enjoyable, as an editor, publisher, and poet. Of course poetry needs financial support. The support of the small press means buying small press books and publications. It also means supporting poetry readings and events to keep poetry alive and in the public alive and active in Wisconsin because poetry gives so much more value to life.

(Note. The deaths of Norbert Blei and Chris Halla are a serious loss to small press publishing in Wisconsin. These two men contributed so much to the small press and served as mentors and teachers to thousands of beginning and established poets and writers. One can only hope that others with their skills and knowledge will emerge to fill some of the gap they left in the editing and publishing fields).

Magazines, broadsides, and chapbooks produced by R. Chris Halla and Gary C. Busha

The following is an index of publications I took a part in publishing or published with Chris Halla. E/P means Editor and Publisher.

  • 1975
    River Bottom, Vol. II, No. I, “Storyteller,” Busha Type setter
    River Bottom, Vol. II, No. II, Mag, Autumn, co-editor/ Busha typesetter, Chris and Jan Halla. E/P
  • 1976
    River Bottom, Vol. III, No. 1, “The Skeptic’s Dream,” Busha, Spring, Busha Type setter
    River Bottom, Vol. III, No. 2, “The Adventures of a Freelance Farmer,” Halla E/P, Spring, Bush Type setter
    River Bottom, Vol. III, No. 3, Mag, Busha co-editor with Halla, Chris Halla E/P
  • 1977
    River Bottom, Vol. IV, No. 1, Mag, Spring, Busha co-editor/type setter with Chris and Jan Halla E/P
    River Bottom, Vol. IV, No. 2, Mag, Summer, Fiction editor/type setter, Halla E/P
    River Bottom, Floating No. 5, Broadside, “Swoon of Papposilenus,” Bruce Taylor, Spring, Busha E/P
    River Bottom, Floating No. 6, Broadside, “Thanksgiving,” Lisa Busjahn, Summer, Busha E/P
  • 1978
    Wolfsong, No. 1, “Gold Mines,” Peter Wild, Busha type setter, Halla E/P
    Wolfsong, No. 2, “Stocker,” William Kloefkorn, Busha typesetter, Halla E/P
    Wolfsong No. 3, “Waiting,” Debra Frigen, Busha E/P
    Wolfsong No. 4, “The Moon Rides Witness,” Dorothy Dalton, Busha E/P
    Wolfsong No. 5, “River Boy, River Town, River,” Chris Halla, Halla, E/P
    Willow Wind Press, “Warping Time,” Joe Ryszewski, Busha E/P
  • 1979
    Wolfsong No. 6, “Riding the Rock Island through Kansas,” Dave Etter, Busha type setter, Halla E/P
    Wolfsong No. 7, “The Lost Tribe,” Peter Wild, Busha, type setter, Halla E/P
    Wolfsong No. 8, “Idle Trade: Early Poems,” Bruce Taylor, Busha E/P
    Willow Wind Press, “The 3rd Punch Hole,” Cecily Smith, Busha E/P
  • 1980
    Wolfsong No. 9, “Portable Shelter,” Joe Napora, Busha E/P
    Wolfsong No. 10, “North Farm,” Rodney Nelson, Busha typesetter, Halla E/P
    Wolfsong No. 11, “Angst,” Arthur Winfield Knight, Busha typesetter, Halla E/P
    Wolfsong No. 12, “Soapstone Wall,” Travis Du Priest, Busha E/P
  • 1982
    Wolfsong Chapbook Series 1, “Dream of the Electric Eel,” Robert S. King, Busha E/P
  • 1990
    Page5, #1, Bruce Taylor/Gary Busha, Type setter, Chris Halla, E/P,
    Page5 #6, Norbert Blei, Busha Type setter, Chris Halla, E/P,
    Page5 #9, Bay View Stories, Gary Busha, Type setter, Chris Halla, E/P,
  • 1994
    Wolfsong Pubs, “WATER,” Chris Halla, Busha, E/P
  • 1995
    Wolfsong Pubs, “Willowdown,” Gary Busha, Busha, E/P
    Wolfsong Pubs., “Grace,” Robert Schuler, Busha, E/P
    Wolfsong Pubs., “Harvest Work,” Russell King, Busha E/P
  • 1996
    Wolfsong Pubs., “The Skeptic’s Dream,” Gary Busha, Busha, E/P
    Wolfsong Pubs., “How to Fall Out of Love,” Mariann Ritzer, Busha, E/P
  • 1997
    Wolfsong Pubs., “The Liege Poems,” Rich Bowen/Gary Busha, Busha, E/P
    Wolfsong Pubs., “Next Time You See Me,” Dave Etter, Busha, E/P
  • 1998
    Wolfsong Pubs., “Last Hunt,” Doug Flaherty, Busha, E/P
    Wolfsong Pubs., “Benthos,” Liz Hammond, Busha, E/P
  • 1999
    Wolfsong Pubs., “Notes from Skinner’s Elbow,” Michael Koehler, Busha E/P
    Wolfsong Pubs., “A Wolfsong Anthology,” Various, Busha, E/P
  • 2000
    Wolfsong Pubs., “Weird Sisters,” Nadine S. St. Louis, Busha E/P
  • 2001
    Wolfsong Pubs., “Knots of Sweet Longing,” Richard Roe, Busha, E/P
  • 2012
    Wolfsong Pubs., On the Dock, Gary C. Busha, Sturtevant, WI.
  • 2013
    Wolfsong Pubs., Rhyme Tyme, Gary C. Busha, Sturtevant, WI.
    Wolfsong Pubs., Canoe Haiku, Gary C. Busha, Sturtevant, WI.
    Wolfsong, Pubs., Frog on the Bay, Gary C. Busha, Sturtevant, WI.
  • 2014
    Wolfsong, Pubs., Bay View Spiders, Gary C. Busha, Sturtevant, WI.

Along the Shore

alongtheshores

Winnebago Boys

Lake whitecaps
roll along rock shorelines
and the wood docks shudder as
each roller comes in.

***

We lake boys cannonball from the docks,
some use inner tubes, some belly flop.

***

The lake gives her treasures:
floats, canepoles, corks, and
waterlogged live boxes.
We gather them in.

***

Winnebago boys search the banks,
then huddle under widespread willows,
while the clean scent of fish and weeds
freshen the air.

Along the Shore | Nature and Adventure follow the boy exploring as he grows up in an idyllic setting of Wisconsin. Includes some earlier and longer poems as well.

3 USD – Check/cash only – payable to Wolfsong Pubs., 3123 S. Kennedy Dr., Sturtevant, WI 53177 USA. query: gbusha@wi.rr.com – Allow 2 weeks. Provide complete street mailing address. Buy 3 get the 4th one free

Around the Bay

aroundthebay

Bats over black water
the moon casts an eerie glow
lakeflies hum their song

***

Coming in from fishing
better to say nothing ‘bitin’
than admit being skunked.

***

When the lights went out
the last piece of cake was gone
and the boy missing.

***

Easy to be a stone
harder to ba a river
held in place by rocks.

***

Skunked, the ol’ man says
but tomorrow’s another day
he says and we nod.

***

Fishinh in the bay
Lake Winnebago rollers
reach the frothy shore.

Around the Bay | More short poems of a Huck Finn boy in and around Bayview, Wisconsin, observing and fishing through the seasons.

3 USD – Check/cash only – payable to Wolfsong Pubs., 3123 S. Kennedy Dr., Sturtevant, WI 53177 USA. query: gbusha@wi.rr.com – Allow 2 weeks. Provide complete street mailing address. Buy 3 get the 4th one free