A grouping of five volumes of experimental poetry from a Vermont-based writer about whom our research efforts have yielded a frustrating lack of information. The quality of the work is strikingly mature, particularly for a poet seemingly operating in relative isolation. Though all [self-]published within a span of two years, the volumes vary greatly in terms of both content and production value, from the deliberately naïve minimalism and humble binding of Picnic at Noon and Sea Rone for more taste, to the formally and conceptually complex work in Extensions. Homage to Law and : To Whom It May Concern,” meanwhile, are marked by more sophisticated layout and design; the former, with its frequent allusions to Hindu theology, is handsomely printed in black and red ink, and the latter incorporates a striking sequence of black-and-white illustrations.
A common thread of abstraction—of linguistic, spatial, and even orthographic experimentation; of oblique but purposeful searching—runs through all five volumes. Only To Whom It May Concern offers any clue to Donath’s process or intent, opening as it does with six pages of prose that amount to a sort of statement of poetics. There, Donath seems to weigh the futility of poetic communication against a yet greater existential despair, concluding, not exactly hopefully: “That all roads lead to failure, to finality, we know. That the poetics are lost somewhere along the road and a pack of rehashed camels are picked up in their stead, that is our truth, our one and only road.”
Works by Donath are quite scarce in the trade, and OCLC locates only a handful of institutional holdings of each of these titles (and no holdings of To Whom It May Concern), making this an especially intriguing grouping of outsider poetry.
All volumes in very good or better condition. Bibliographic and condition notes for individual volumes as follows:
Extensions & other poems. Burlington, VT: Czar Publication, 1973. Octavo (6.2 x 8.25 in.); unpaginated (~30pp.); saddle-stapled in printed wraps. Very good condition, with moderate browning/soiling to wraps, and a soft diagonal crease to front corner.
Sea Rone for more taste. [Burlington, VT]: Czar Press, 1973. Octavo (5.5 x 8.5 in.); side-staped; unpaginated (14pp.); printed on recto only. Limited edition of 100 copies. Near fine, with light oxidation to staples.
Homage To Law. Vermont: Czar Publications, 1974. Large octavo (7.5 x 9.5 in.); saddle-stapled in printed wraps; irregularly paginated, ~30pp. total; printed in black and red ink. Cover by Marrion Ettlinger. Very good (+), with a coffee stain along the fore-edge of the wraps and three additional spots along the fore-edge of the last several leaves.
Picnic at noon. VT.: Czar publ., 1975. Oblong 12mo (5.5 x 4.5 in.); side-stapled in plain wraps, with front cover hand-colored in crayon; unpaginated (~20pp); printed on recto only. Fine.
: To Whom it May Concern” Vermont: Czar Publications, 1975. Square octavo (8 x 8 in.); saddle-stapled in black wraps printed with silver design; unpaginated (~28pp.). Very near fine, with a small coffee stain affecting the fore-edge of the last four or five leaves. A six-page statement of poetics followed by a long poem accompanied by striking black and white illustrations on the verso.