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March 31st, 2015 • Posted in Bookstores, CT, New Haven

Best Antiquarian Bookseller in the United States?

William Reese, the best Antiquarian Bookseller in the United States? You decide. Visit Bill and Co. in New Haven, CT USA. Be sure to call ahead though. Bill´s is a By Appointment shop. 

 (Given that Bill specializes in areas close to my heart – Art & IllustratedBibliography and ReferenceExpatriate Writers & PressesFine Printing18th – 21st Century PoetryInscribed and Association CopiesLiterary Manuscripts and Literary Periodicals, I´d have to say that yes, he´s the best). 

March 31st, 2015 • Posted in Bookstores, London, ON

Best Bookseller in Canada?

Best bookseller in Canada? You decide. Visit Marvin Post at Attic Books in London, Ontario, Canada

(If you define best by volume, I´d say that, yes, Marvin is the best in Canada). 

March 30th, 2015 • Posted in Granada

Lorca’s Granada Writers’ Retreat & Colloquia

Alhambra de Granada, España Source: Wikipedia. GRANADA 001 on Flickr

What: Conference

Location: Granada, Spain

Event Date: April 13, 2015
Application Deadline: Rolling Admissions
E-mail address:

The annual Lorca’s Granada Retreat will be held from April 13 to April 27 and May 14 to May 28 in Granada, Spain. The retreat offers time to write, one-on-one consultations, and local excursions for published poets, fiction writers, and nonfiction writers writing in any language. The retreat also offers discussions about the work and life of poet and dramatist Federico Garcia Lorca. The faculty includes poet and fiction and nonfiction writer Gerry Shikatani. The cost of the retreat ranges from $2,150 Canadian (approximately $1,728) to $2,500 Canadian (approximately $2,009), which includes tuition, lodging, some meals, and local tours. Registration is first come, first served; a deposit of $400 is due upon acceptance to the retreat. Submit via e-mail a short bio, curriculum vitae, project statement, and either proof of full-length book publication or a writing sample of 10 to 15 pages. Visit the website for more information.

Lorca’s Granada Writers’ Retreat & Colloquia, 444-2 Toronto Street, Toronto, Ontario, Canada M5C 2B5. Gerry Shikatani, Director.

This just in from Gerry: “At this point I am ready for registrants to the May session…It’s very exciting that poet Brian Dedora, who attended the inaugural year has not only been focused on Lorca and Granada since, but is soon to launch a new collection Lorcation from Book Thug- already released in Spain in a Spanish translation.”

March 23rd, 2015 • Posted in New York

Victorians in New York

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This just in from my friend Mark Samuels Lasner

” The Grolier Club invites you to step back in time to the world of the Victorians.
The Anglo-Irish poet William Allingham (1824-1889) was a fascinating, if now little remembered, man of letters. A recognized critic and editor, a compulsive letter writer, and the keeper of one of the great literary diaries of the nineteenth century, Allingham was referred to by Yeats as “my master in Irish verse.” His books included two which remain famous (and collectible) for their illustrations—The Music-Master (1855), the first important Pre-Raphaelite book, with wood-engravings by John Everett Millais, Arthur Hughes, and D. G. Rossetti; and In Fairyland (1870), a masterpiece of Victorian color printing illustrated by Richard Doyle. 

Allingham’s wife Helen (1848-1926) more than matched her husband in talent. One of the most successful women artists of the time, she produced the illustrations to Thomas Hardy’s Far from the Madding Crowd (Hardy was so impressed he wished to marry her!) and went on to become famous for her delicate watercolors of the English countryside. This remarkable couple knew, singly and together, just about everyone in Victorian arts and letters—from Charles Dickens, Robert and Elizabeth Barrett Browning, and George Eliot to Kate Greenaway, Thomas and Jane Welsh Carlyle, Alfred Tennyson, Ralph Waldo Emerson, Nathaniel Hawthorne, and all the artists and writers associated with the Pre-Raphaelites. 

This exhibition, drawn entirely from the collections of Grolier Club members, is the first in the United States be devoted to the two Allinghams. It features their own work (some of it collaborative) and extends to represent, through association copies, manuscripts, and portraits, the Allinghams’ circles of friends and associates. 

Most of the 100 items on display have never been shown in public before. Highlights include William Allingham’s commonplace book (containing a transcription of the first letter from D. G. Rossetti to Robert Browning) and his copies of Shelley and Whitman; the baby book for the Allinghams’ son, Gerald, with unpublished on-the-spot accounts of Tennyson, Carlyle, and George Eliot; Mark Twain’s annotated copy of William Allingham’s 1907 Diary; D. G. Rossetti’s original design for Allingham’s Day and Night Songs; watercolors and a sketchbook by Helen Allingham; rare photographs by Julia Margaret Cameron and Lewis Carroll; and drawings by Kate Greenaway, Edward Burne-Jones, and John Butler Yeats.

Victorian Connections is organized by Natasha Moore, a fellow at the Center for Public Christianity in Sydney, Australia and a Cambridge PhD. who is writing a critical study of William Allingham; and Mark Samuels Lasner, Senior Research Fellow at the University of Delaware Library and co-curator of Everything is Going on Brilliantly: Oscar Wilde and Philadelphia, currently on view at the Rosenbach of the Free Library of Philadelphia.

The exhibition is recorded in an illustrated, 64-page catalogue written by Natasha Moore. Copies (price $25) will be available at the Grolier Club and from the club’s distributor, Oak Knoll Books.”

March 22nd, 2015 • Posted in New York

New York April 9-12…Be There


From April 9-12, 2015 book lovers will find more than 200 American and international dealers at the Park Avenue Armory. They´ll be exhibiting at the ABAA New York Antiquarian Book Fair, showing off a vast selection of rare books, maps, manuscripts, illuminated manuscripts and ephemera, all for sale. And there´s more…this from the website:

Each year on the Sunday of the fair, exhibitors offer their expertise to attendees. Discovery Day allows visitors to bring up to five items to discuss with experts. While formal appraisals are not given, dealers will discuss authenticity and condition, giving informal appraisals. Past Discovery Days have yielded been some breathtaking discoveries including part of a Shakespeare second folio of Richard III! A first edition of Curious George with dust jacket was appraised at $3000. Also unearthed were original photographs of Louis Comfort Tiffany’s designs for stained glass. A first edition of the classic Beat novel, On the Road, was valued at $5000-$7000. Maritime history buffs were thrilled to discover that their edition of Cooke’s Voyages and Atlas were valued at $30,000. Exhibitors can examine items in most specialties, periods, and languages.

March 19th, 2015 • Posted in New York



A rich assortment of early printed books includes a single leaf from a paper copy of the 42-line Bible, aka the Gutenberg Bible, with the text of 2 Kings 21:3-23:3, Mainz, circa 1450-55, contained within a copy of A. Edward Newton’s A Noble Fragment, New York, 1921 (estimate: $40,000 to $50,000).A related item is Eusebius of Caesarea, Chronicon, Venice, 1483, a second edition of a synoptic world history first published circa 1475-76 that contains the third published reference to Johann Gutenberg as the inventor of printing ($6,000 to $9,000).

There is also an early 15th-century manuscript in Latin and Italian on vellum with Saint Aurelius Augustinus, Sermones ad heremitas and other texts ($15,000 to $25,000); a complete and well-preserved manuscript of Petrus Lombardus, Sententiarum libri IV, Bohemia, 1463 ($30,000 to $40,000); and Johannes Reuchlin,Vocabularius breviloquus [with Guarinus Veronensis, Ars diphthongandi and Johannes de Lapide, De arte punctandi and De accentu], Basel, 1486, a Latin dictionary first published in 1478 that appeared in some 20 editions by the end of the 15th century ($5,000 to $7,000).

From the 16th century are Ces presentes heures sont a lusaige de Romme toutes au long de requerir, Paris, 1534, a superbly illuminated printed Book of Hours on vellum ($15,000 to $25,000); an exceedingly scarce volume from the private library of Queen Elizabeth I, volume one (of three) of Cicero’s Orationum volumen primum, in contemporary calf with the queen’s badge, Paris, 1543 ($8,000 to $12,000) and Marcin Laterna, Harfa Duchowna, Krakow, 1596 ($800 to $1,200).

Among the significant scientific books are Guillaume Rondelet, Libri de piscibus marinis, Lyons, 1554-55, first edition of Rondelet’s massive treatise on aquatic life, which covered far more species than any earlier work in the field ($4,000 to $6,000); Aratus, Syntagma Arateorum, Leiden, 1600, first Grotius edition of thePhaenomena of Aratus, a 3rd-century B.C. poem on the constellations, celestial phenomena, and weather signs ($3,000 to $5,000); Conrad Gesner, Thierbuch; das ist, Ausführliche Beschreibung . . . aller vierfüssigen Thieren bound with his Fischbuch; das ist, Ausführliche Beschreibung . . . aller unnd jeden Fischen, Heidelberg and Frankfurt am Main, 1606 and 1598 respectively ($4,000 to $6,000); Sir Isaac Newton, A Treatise on the System of the World, London, 1728, first edition in English ($3,000 to $5,000); and Charles Lyell, Principles of Geology; being, An Attempt to Explain the Former Changes of the Earth’s Surface, by References to Causes Now in Operation, London, 1830-32-33, first edition ($3,000 to $4,000).

Medical books of note include John Bulwer’s Pathomyotamia; or, A Dissection of the Significative Muscles of the Affections of the Minde, London, 1649 ($2,000 to $3,000); a nearly complete set of Johann Rudolph Glauber, Pharmacopoea Spagyrica . . . Pars Prima[-Septima], Amsterdam, 1654-68 ($800 to $1,200); a first edition in Latin of Glauber’s collection of medical preparations, lacking only the 2 supplements; Antonio Scarpa, Saggio di Osservazioni e d’Esperienze sulle Principali Malattie degli Occhi, Pavia, 1801, first edition of the first textbook of ophthalmology published in Italian; and W.T.G. Morton, Remarks on the Proper Mode of Administering Sulphuric Ether by Inhalation, Boston, 1847, first edition of a booklet containing complete instructions for administering ether ($800 to $1,200 each).

Among travel book highlights are a first edition of Samuel Purchas, Purchas His Pilgrimes, with Purchas His Pilgrimage, together five volumes, London, 1625 and 1626 ($30,000 to $50,000); Jerónimo Lobo, A Short Relation of the River Nile, London, 1669, first edition in English of an excerpt from the unpublished Portuguese original work on Ethiopia by Jesuit missionary Lobo ($2,000 to $3,000); and John Harris, Navigantium atque itinerantium bibliotheca; or, A Complete Collection of Voyages and Travels . . . , London, 1744-48 ($3,000 to $5,000).

The auction will begin at 10:30 a.m. on Thursday, April 9. The books will be on public exhibition Saturday, April 4, from 12 p.m. to 5 p.m.; and Monday, April 6 through Wednesday, April 8, from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m.

An illustrated catalogue is available for $35 from Swann Galleries, Inc., 104 East 25th Street, New York, NY 10010, or online at

For further information, and to make advance arrangements to bid by telephone during the auction, please contact Tobias Abeloff at (212) 254-4710, extension 18, or via e-mail at

Live online bidding is also available via 

January 29th, 2015 • Posted in Buenos Aires

Jorge Luis Borges and Buenos Aires

This from Edwin Williamson´s Borges, A Life (Penguin, 2004):

“Leonor Acevedo (Jorge Luis Borges´s mother) was indeed wedded to the past. She would reminisce about her childhood, communicating to her son a nostalgia for that older Buenos Aires that she was just old enough to remember, a Buenos Aires that was little more than a large village before it was subsequently ruined by the nouveaux riches who had taken over the republic. Leonor would describe the house on calle Tacuman where she had been raised and where he had himself been born. Her memories of its two patios, its water tank and modest porch, would find their way into his poems. He learned from her the traditional topography of the city, the street names and layout of the historic center before everything changed…

These secondhand memories of better times were to inspire in Borges a fondness for the run-down barrios on the south side of Buenos Aires. These were the areas abandoned by those criollo families who could afford to move to the fashionable districts of the Barrio Norte, when the north side of Buenos Aires was being redeveloped along Parisian lines. Those areas of the city to the south of the Plaza de Mayo were left to molder away, and as a result the neglected Barrio Sur was to retain a faded ambiance of yesteryear. Borges would always enjoy strolling along the streets of districts like San Telmo or Barracas, whose dilapidated buildings, with their crumbling masonry, narrow vestibules and Spanish patios, preserved something of the flavor of what the city had been like in the early decades of the previous century. These streets were to form the seedbed of many of his poems and stories, evolving within him an elegiac sense of the passing of a simpler, more noble age.”

Mythical Founding of Buenos Aires, poem by Jorge Luis Borges

English Translation (by Alastair Reid):

And was it along this torpid muddy river
that the prows came to found my native city?
The little painted boats must have suffered the steep surf
among the root-clumps of the horse-brown current.

Pondering well, let us suppose that the river
was blue then like an extension of the sky,
with a small red star inset to mark the spot
where Juan Diaz fasted and the Indians dined.

But for sure a thousand men and other thousands
arrived across a sea that was five moons wide,
still infested with mermaids and sea serpents
and magnetic boulders that sent the compass wild.

On the coast they put up a few ramshackle huts
and slept uneasily. This, they claim, in the Riachuelo,
but that is a story dreamed up in Boca.
It was really a city block in my district – Palermo.

A whole square block, but set down in open country,
attended by dawns and rains and hard southeasters,
identical to that block which still stands in my neighbourhood:
Guatemala – Serrano – Paraguay – Gurruchaga.

A general store pink as the back of a playing card
shone bright; in the back there was poker talk.
The corner bar flowered into life as a local bully,
already cock of his walk, resentful, tough.

The first barrel organ teetered over the horizon
with its clumsy progress, its habaneras, its wop.
The cart-shed wall was unanimous for Yrigoyen.
Some piano was banging out tangos by Saborido.

A cigar store perfumed the desert like a rose.
The afternoon had established its yesterdays,
and men took on together an illusory past.
Only one thing was missing – the street had no other side.

Hard to believe Buenos Aires had any beginning.
I feel it to be as eternal as air and water.


One person´s ad hoc, self guided Buenos Aires/Borges walking tour.

Here´s a short biographical documentary on the man:

October 15th, 2014 • Posted in Ithaca NY

Wyndham Lewis in Upstate New York

I recently read the letters of Wyndham Lewis. This passage (page 42) by the book’s editor, W.K. Rose, provides as good a quick summary of the man’s approach to his art and public persona as any:

“His angry rupture with Roger Fry confirmed in him a lifelong opposition to the Bloomsbury group and what it signified for him: art as the province of the socially and financially established, dilettantism, the effete versus the vital. His casual connection with Marinetti taught him techniques of propaganda – brash statement, aggressive mien – that gradually became integrated in his public personality.”

This past weekend we made the trip between William Kennedy’s Albany, NY and Binghamton, and then on to Ithaca. Along the way we stopped into the Book Barn (good selection that serves its community well) in Latham, and Catnap Books

(more interesting selection, at least for the collector) in Oneonta.

On page 43 of Lewis’s Letters there’s reference to the Lewis collection at Cornell, this was our final destination, the Kroch Rare Book Library

on campus.

After saying goodbye to these boys

in Binghamton, we settled into a pleasant drive through the red and orange treed countryside. In addition to Cornell, we made a point of stopping in at Ithaca’s Tompkin County Used Book Sale.

After signing in at Kroch we selected boxes in the collection that contained handwritten manuscripts and graphic images. The friendly

staff was very helpful.

And it was fascinating to see early drafts of Blast magazine in Lewis’s own hand

along with posters,


and original dust jacket


October 10th, 2014 • Posted in Albany

William Kennedy’s “Albany Cycle”

This from Suzanne Roberson at the New York State Writers Institute:

William Kennedy has written eight novels in what he calls the “Albany Cycle,” all set in his native city, Albany, N.Y. Writing in the New York Review of Books, the novelist and scholar Thomas Flanagan took this overview of
these books

 “William Kennedy’s cycle … began with Legs in 1975.  This was followed by Billy Phelan’s Greatest Game in 1978 and Ironweed in 1983. They were spoken of then as a trilogy, partly because they shared a setting and some characters and partly because the third of them, a harrowing narrative of pain and a possible redemption, seemed to bring certain shared themes to resolution.

“But then came Quinn’s Book in 1988, which reaches out from Albany to an impressionistic nineteenth-century America, a land of slavery and warfare and haunted rivers. There followed Very Old Bones in 1992 and The Flaming Corsage in 1996, set solidly in Albany, but bearing down not on the public scene but on erotic and creative energies within highly untypical (I trust) families in the city’s Irish Catholic community.  [With Roscoe he returned] to the larger city, a model, so he has persuaded us, of urban corruption.  Taken together, the cycle … is one of the triumphs of recent fiction, uneven but audacious in its ambition and dazzling in its technical resources.

“Kennedy creates this setting with scrupulous accuracy, a Joycean reverence for street names, urban legends. It is quite possible that his knowledge of Albany’s geography, its nooks and crannies and their histories, is wider than Joyce’s knowledge of Dublin. It is displayed with flourishes not only in the novels but in O Albany!, the combined history, street guide, and memoir which he published in 1983, and which is based on wide reading, a childhood and youth lived there, and long experience as a reporter on the Times-Union. He speaks of himself, in the preface to that book, as ‘a person whose imagination has become fused with a single place, and in that place finds all the elements that a man ever needs for the life of the soul.’”“In Kennedy’s Albany, everyone knows everyone else, even if they do not know themselves. They have been cheating and screwing one another for decades, one way or another. They know each other’s bloodlines, alliances, vices, secret lyricisms, schemes for survival or success. The bosses and their lieutenants and goons know what buttons to press, what feudal loyalties to exploit. Ordinary people, the poor and the obscure and the homeless, can make themselves useful stuffing ballot boxes, or, like Francis Phelan of Ironweed, voting early and often. Their masters use power and triumph as counters to buy the best food and the gaudiest women. But they also cherish power for what in itself it is, a mysterious, self-justifying energy and delight.

More here. 

October 9th, 2014 • Posted in swansea

36 Hour Dylathon will wrap up Centenary Celebrations with a Bang

Last year at about this time I had the pleasure of attending several events (including

a fablulous, funny Burlesque show) that kicked off Wales’s celebration of  the 100th anniversary of the birth of Dylan Thomas. The climactic event in the Dylan Thomas 100 Festival should prove to be equally entertaining. The Dylathon is a 36 hour (11am Sunday 26 October – 11pm Monday 27th) live non-stop reading of the works of Dylan Thomas at Swansea Grand Theatre ending on the very hour of his birth 100 years before.

Readers live on stage include great stars of stage and screen (Ian McKellen, Sian Phillips, Jonathan Pryce); sports legends (JPR Williams, Eddie Butler, Ryan Jones); national treasures (Ruth Madoc, Katherine Jenkins, Nicholas Parsons); a strong Irish contingent to greet our guest of honour President Michael D Higgins (Dervla Kirwan and Frank Kelly); broadcasters (Robert Peston, Gethin Jones, Sian Lloyd); actors (Celyn Jones, Suzanne Packer, Charles Dale); musicians (Eggs Laid by Tigers, The Morriston Orpheus Choir);   comedians (Jo Brand, Kevin Eldon); writers (Howard Brenton, Gillian Clarke); together with local school children,  young people and community groups.   The closing hour of the show will include  The Rt Hon Carwyn Jones AM, First Minister of Wales reading  Those Who Died in the Dawn Raid,  Michael Sheen will join the party via live-link from New York and Hannah Ellis, Dylan Thomas 100 Patron and Thomas’ Granddaughter will read ‘Letter to Aeron’ – Dylan’s letter to his daughter Aeronwy,  Hannah’s mother.

Olivier Award-winning stage director Michael Bogdanov will stage 36 hours of non-stop Dylan, creating twelve elegantly crafted 3 hour ‘chapters’ from the poems, short stories, letters, broadcasts (including Under Milk Wood) and film scripts plus some rare and unpublished materials.  Fully devised and curated, with over 200 pieces of material read by literally hundreds of voices. The event is designed by multi-award winning Ed ‘Dr Who’ Thomas and literary consultant is the international Dylan Thomas expert Jeff Towns.

It will be a fitting tribute to Wales’ most potent cultural icon, an audacious centenary celebration in the city of his birth, his beloved Ugly, Lovely Swansea.

For the final chapter of the Dylathon ‘The Thin Night Darkens’, President Michael D Higgins, Dylan Thomas 100 stakeholders international dignitaries and guests will join the audience for the climactic minutes leading up to 11pm on Monday 27th.  This final 3 Hour chapter will feature:

  • Hannah Ellis (Dylan Thomas’ granddaughter and Dylathon patron) reading ‘Letter to Aeron’ – Dylan’s letter to his daughter Aeronwy, Hannah’s mother

  • HRH The Prince of Wales’ (Dylan Thomas 100 Festival Royal Patron) recording of ‘Fern Hill’.

  • The Rt Hon Carwyn Jones AM, First Minister of Wales reading ‘Those Who Died in the Dawn Raid’

  • Ian McKellen reading ‘Do Not Go Gentle into That Good Night’, from ‘Deaths and Entrances’

  • Katherine Jenkins and Ian McKellen reading Rosie Probert and Captain Cat from Under Milk Woo.

  • Jonathan Pryce reading ‘A Child’s Christmas in Wales’

  • Sian Phillips reading Dylan’s 1st letter to Caitlin Macnamara, his future wife

  • Ryan Jones – former Wales Rugby Captain and British Lion reading  ’A Letter to Vernon Watkins’, written November 13, 1937

  • Gillian Clarke, Wales National Poet Laureate reading ‘Poem On His Birthday’ from ‘In Country Sleep’

  • Michael Sheen – a live link from New York – reading ‘And Death Shall Have No Dominion’ from ’25 Poems’

  • The Wales Theatre Company reading from ‘Under Milk Wood’.

  • The Morriston Orpheus Choir singing The Reverend Ely Jenkins Sunset Poem from ‘Under Milk Wood’.

Dylan Thomas fans from throughout the world can buy tickets for this extraordinary celebration for the entire 36 hours, for 12 hours or for a 3 hour block. See  for programme descriptions and booking details.