2,026 pages, Perfect-bound

BOOK MANDALA by Jampa Dorje

The books at hand are in a non-traditional format, a collected book format, a take off of jack spicer's collected books, but in this collection, the formatting is closer to the original of each individual book with the presence of the colored covers and artwork and maintaining the original typefaces, the front pieces in homage to jack, with an ace of tarot, a hand issuing forth with an elemental symbol, adding in vol. 5, a fifth element of space

Following, with richard's scorpio astrological sign in volume 6, his sufi connection in 7, his collected poems cover collage in 8, each volume has an epigram from one of jack's books, to some extent implying that his overall collection, as well, is a textbook of poetry

The collected poems: 1961-2000, with an elegant essay by lee harris, was organized in chronological and geographical order, however the collected books of richard denner are for the most part (he is never entirely consistent) organized in the order they were published

Volume 1 begins with an exception to the rule, the group consists of 5 sets of poems, each consisting of subsets, written and published at the beginning of his career and again published in 1998 when richard moved to santa rosa but before he had a computer, they were the first books that utilized the stitching technique he had learned from wesley tanner at arif press, a technique which allowed him to create a book of up to 60 pages, and he began with letter to sito in time of war, the collection of poems that were at the beginning of the collected poems, although he had to reorganize the small letterpress books (eg. denner recipes) reducing their size and formatting and printing the linocuts in b/w, no matter, the collection was nearly inclusive of that phase of his work ,others will no doubt surface in the future, and since the idea of the continual war seemed pronounced in his oeuvre, a good place to begin, the tendency of the poet to create his own "flower" in the midst of all the "fallout" (a form of subversion in its own way)

The first volume contains his first books in facsimile, in the order they were collected, with two exceptions, breastbeaters was suppressed and the scorpion was overlooked, in their place is on borgo pass which includes newer poems mixed with older artwork, a combination that fits together well and gives the volume an overall sense of development because the poetic output cuts across three decades

To summarize, volume 1 contains early poems published in a wide variety of early chapbooks before he moved to santa rosa, poems he retyped using a large-font typewriter, it also includes two offset books along with i slam bomb set by a computergraphic machine which was used in newspaper backshops before the advent of personal computers

Volume 2 proceeds to collect the poems richard wrote in ellensburg after publishing the books in the new gravity collection, these are the first copy machine poems, for the most part poems of unrequited love and longing, the new gravity poems a reflection of his marital breakup, after which he began to fall in love and break up with women purely in order to generate poetry, disruptive and destructive of human relationships, even with the infusion of rumiesque and rilkian motifs, he reveals he is fully aware he is unable to transcend his manipulative and seductive behavior without the aid of true tantric insights

Volume 2 covers nearly a decade, love, love, love, but perhaps a tad too much negative padma energy and not nearly enough wisdom of discernment, this volume includes too many horses, not enough saddles and blank flower, poems written after Richard's first encounters with native american and tantric teachings, and the glimmerings of the tigle of transcendence

Volume 3 collects the books actually written in pagosa springs, after he sold the fourwinds bookstore and cafe and moved to colorado to be a part of tara mandala retreat center, blessings of tara, swift undermining of neurotic conditioning and bliss freedom of practical purification of karma yoga, there's nothing like manifesting as a 16 year-old mandarava to give a rough and tumble middle-aged beat poet inner direction towards equanimity with the feminine

Note the presence of simhamuka in the first book of volume 3, turn beauty turn in comparison to its placement in sambhogakaya cowboy in the same volume, here it resides after cow songs in order to contrast the two cowboys, the ellensburg cowboy and the colorado cowboy, the books following a juxtapositional order rather than a consecutive published order, an area of risk here, richard's teacher tsultrim was not pleased his poems with buddhist images, saying he shouldn't mess with these practices until he had mastered them, thus overstepping his samaya by publishing poems that have a somewhat sacrilegious tone, note that the first draft of poems in sambhogakaya cowboy are revised in constructive rest

At first, richard bucked under this censorship but submitted to his teacher's wish and to his surprise he found that the poems were stronger without the esoteric buddhist terminology, although in staying honest with his creative process, he later included these earlier versions, again, volume 3 covers a lot of territory, beginning in pagosa springs, the books are in the order of creation and publication through talking trash, moving on to santa rosa, still in order, then dropping back to his experiences in berkeley in the 60s in hollow air but still in order of publication, and the same with cow songs still in publication order although returning to ellensburg, jumping ahead to colorado cowboy yogi poems and returning to santa rosa with xitro and the spot as a kind of loop the loop

Volume 4, publication of books in order of creation, the real return to writing into the book that richard had originally attempted in his deep bay letterpress poembooks, after 1998, with a computer, he puts his work into publisher files and creates books from master templates that enable him to bring neglected poems together in new serializations

Also richard's meeting fellow artist claude smith gave new impetus to his work, they collaborate in readings, claude playing his standup base, and in books, using claude's artwork, and richard's poetry began to take on new significance with new vibrant print editions

Volume 4 contains two seminal books, green fire and second boiling

Volume 5 collects the two artaud books, the forgery another artaud and a cyberpoem, wavetwisters, along with the series of poems inspired by kimberly clark, which begin in the bad ballerin , continued in the call, and were fully realized in the bad ballerina dances against violence, here it is apparent that the same poems are present in different collections, that they surface in different versions, sometimes whole and sometimes in part, playing against other poems and taking on new meanings, one critic of this series said that they try to be something they aren't, now what would that be?

the collected books of richard denner came from an idea he says he had in the middle of the night, seeing that he could make the collection manifest by taking all the masters of his previous books, running them off and cutting them in half, then stacking them in order, which of course meant creating new page numbers for all the books, as well as creating new masters for many of the books that were published before he had his computer, and since the older copy machine masters used photo-sensitive paper which has since turned brown, he took the few existing copies of these books he had archived and broke them down and copied each page and assembled new masters and pasted page numbers in by hand, a process that took six weeks

Volume 7 is an eclectic collection due to the fact that volume 1 began because he had the already existing set of five early books, so he began there, but one book was omitted, breastbeaters his very first book, 100 copies printed in 1963 in berkeley at berkeley pamphlets, he had a couple of copies, had kept them hidden because of his embarrassment over the quality of printing and the derivative nature of the "d.t. poems," but beginning with on borgo pass which was a new start in his writing, and with the acquisition of a computer, he began to draw on some of the metaphors from that book, reworking some of the poems, and once he realized that the weird inkings were a part of the intrigue of dpress, he accepted these juvenile poems as a part of the process, alpha meeting omega, and that they needed their place in the collected book pantheon, that the overall body of work was missing it's belly button, then he realized he had also forgotten the scorpion and that this chapbook was an early masterpiece of fine printing and that the two of them are separated by the funky early dpress letterpress books and that all along he been trying to rectify the original "mistakes" in printing

It was time for the book to surface, so breastbeaters began volume 7 and was followed by the scorpion (which is actuallty a selection of poems from his early berkeley days up to his days on the cattle ranch in ellensburg), the next book in vol 7 is a double play which is a collaborative work with luis garcia, lu being very important to his development as a poet, at times they they let their poems mingle, poems that imitate each others styles, this book was followed by pebbles in a special version with a japanese translation, in order of publication, originally published on borgo pass weaving the first poems he wrote in santa rosa, followed by two set of poems, a war collection, road to war and a buddhist collection, vajra songs

Volume 7 collects the short stores, separately printed as t he episodes which richard began while he was care giving his elderly father and developed into a kind of episodic autobiography, note that the year 2001 is not highly represented, except for one book, from lascaux to dendera which is included in the appendix to volume 7, this is the year richard broke both his legs and spent the year recouping from the accident and creating the comrades edition of his collected poems: 1961-2000

Volume 8 includes the collection he created after discovering the portuguese poet, fernando pessoa, who intrigued him because he had created many personas with entire biographies and literary works, and richard realized he too had been doing something along these lines with artaud and the bouvard p é cuchet character which he had created for the plagiarist movement, so he took this a step further by creating a series of books under each of the different names and collecting types of poems as well as writing new poems to meet their specific personality needs, and as pessoa had allowed the writer who used his own name to be a persona, richard decided to resurrect the "rychard" name he had used to sign artwork, a name that had originated in berkeley in the 60s when he was a street poet, but now had become the spirit of his artistic process