Welcome to the Poison Pie Publishing House!
Home to a Literature of Non-Idiomatic Improvisation

Featured Book:

Hebeloma's Lament in a Dozen Denials
a post-existential musical score generated through a non-idiomatic, improvisational creative process
full text online; free, anonymous access; serially published on a daily basis in 2023

Blog & News Updates:

Horoscopes from the Oracle of Hebeloma
A daily invitation to a joint exercise in apophenia and introspection

February 25, 2024
Stina Nordenstam (b. March 4, 1969)
Today we feature a fragment of lyrics to a song by Swedish singer, Stina Nordenstam. As an aside, this quote was used as the epigraph for These Stars Are All the Same, a survey of constellations, written by David J. Keffer in Minneapolis, Minnesota from April to May, 1993 and published by the Poison Pie Publishing House of Knoxville, Tennessee in November, 2012.

 

And still they're all the same to me
These stars all look the same

—Stina Nordenstam, from the lyrics to the song Alone at Night on the album Memories of a Color, Telegram Records Stockholm/Caprice Records, 1991.

 

February 21, 2024
Darius Jones (b. May 3, 1978)
Today we feature a couple fragments from the conversation between American saxophonist, Darius Jones, and bassist William Parker, taken from the latter's most recent volume of interviews.

DJ: I was in my mid-twenties by that point. I don't think people really understand. There's no savviness to my shit, still. It was just like, oh, I'm just living. I'm like a fuckin' feral animal or something. I'm just like trying to figure out how to live, how to make a nest, you know, how to survive and do this thing that many, many motherfuckers back home would say, you couldn't do 'cause you Black and po'. I mean like literally that's what they would say to me, "You're Black and you're poor and you can't do this." And I just was like, "Yeah, OK, whatever. I'm gonna do it."

WP: But the thing is that we are not trained to accept who we are. When you study music, they say, well, you have all this tradition and that's put out there as an example. But they don't tell you that when you were born, a new tradition started and that you are yourself a tradition that's just coming into being.

Darius Jones, interview by William Parker, January 13, 2021, published in Conversations IV, edited by Ed Hazell, RogueArt, Paris, France, 2023, p. 127.

 

February 18, 2024
Kobo Abé (March 7, 1924 - January 22, 1993)
Today we feature a quote from the Japanese existentialist, Kobo Abé, pseudonym of Kimifusa Abé. As an aside, this quote was used as the epigraph for The Wooing of Eva, an empty journal, written by David J. Keffer in Minneapolis, Minnesota and Washington, DC from December, 1995 to December, 1996, and deemed unpublishable by the Poison Pie Publishing House of Knoxville, Tennessee in July, 2016.

 

No man or woman is wooed by theory alone.

—Kobo Abé, The Woman in the Dunes, translated by E. Dale Saunders, Alfred A. Knopf, New York, 1964, p. 136.

 

February 11, 2024
Keiji Haino (b. May 3, 1952)
Today we feature a fragment of lyrics to a song by Keiji Haino, Japanese experimental musician and vocalist. As an aside, this quote was used as the epigraph for The Horties, an invisible novel, written by David J. Keffer in Knoxville, Tennessee from February, 2009 through December, 2010 and published by the Poison Pie Publishing House of Knoxville, Tennessee in November, 2012.

 

The tenderness remembered most
Is the calm when everything becomes nothing
When I no longer know which way to go is
When I rejoice most, I suppose
Watching you then is when I
No longer have need of wings

—Keiji Haino, from the lyrics to the song That which is becoming to me performed by Fushitsusha on the album A Death Never To Be Complete, English translation by Alan Cummings, Tokuma Japan Communications, 1997. (full lyrics)

 

February 9, 2024
Ellen Christi (b. March 7, 1958)
Today we feature a quote from American jazz vocalist, Ellen Christi, taken from her interview in the latest (fourth) collection of dialogues by William Parker. Choosing just one passage from the interview to share proved very difficult. There were so many striking remarks. For those who want to read more, you are encouraged to seek out the whole interview.

And William, all I wanted to do was just have the freedom to sing. That was such an incredible feeling. That freedom. Incredible. And I'm still doing it now. It's not important to me whether you like the way I sing or not. That's a personal choice. But I have maintained my integrity as an artist. I'm still going to sing because a message comes through me. A certain energy. There's a reason I'm on the planet. Singing. I'm a musician; I'm an artist. And I accept that responsibility...I am here to sing.

Ellen Christi, interview by William Parker, January 13, 2021, published in Conversations IV, edited by Ed Hazell, RogueArt, Paris, France, 2023, p. 85.

 

February 4, 2024
Henry Threadgill (b. February 15, 1944)
Today we feature a quote from the flautist, saxophonist, improviser and composer, Henry Threadgill. As an aside, this quote was used as the epigraph for Hebeloma's Swamp Fantasy Overture, a post-existential musical score generated through a non-idiomatic creative process, written by Hebeloma Crustuliniforme from January through December, 2021, and serially published by the Poison Pie Publishing House of Knoxville, Tennessee daily in 2021.

I'm trying to take a long view
within reason
about the music
I cannot tell
or say
anything
about the music
No expectations suggested
... the individual listener
let the music
is all I can offer

—Henry Threadgill from the liner notes to Tomorrow Sunny / The Revelry, Spp, PI Recordings, New York, 2012.

 

January 28, 2024
Review: Syyspimee - Guillaume Gargaud & Eero Savela
The staff of the Poison Pie Publishing House review Syyspimee, an album of improvised duets on guitar and trumpet, which served as a spectacular introduction to the music of Guillaume Gargaud & Eero Savela.

Review Date: January 28, 2024
Reviewer: Poison Pie Publishing House Staff
Link to Review: review link

 

January 28, 2024
Italo Calvino (October 15, 1923 - September 19, 1985)
Today we feature a quote from the Italian neo-fantasist, Italo Calvino. As an aside, this quote was used as the epigraph for The Dream Quest of Unknown Kadath (Revisited), a modern adaptation of the novella by H.P. Lovecraft, written by David J. Keffer in Knoxville, Tennessee from June through August, 2012, and published by the Poison Pie Publishing House of Knoxville, Tennessee in the autumn of 2012.

Arriving at each new city, the traveler finds again a past of his that he did not know he had: the foreignness of what you no longer are or no longer possess lies in wait for you in foreign, unpossessed places.

—Italo Calvino, from Invisible Cities, translated by William Weaver, Harcourt Brace Jovanovich Publishers, San Diego, 1974, pp. 28-29.

 

January 21, 2024
Review: Space Cube Jazz - Matthew Shipp & Steve Swell
The staff of the Poison Pie Publishing House review Space Cube Jazz, an album of improvised duets on piano and trombone by Matthew Shipp and Steve Swell.

Review Date: January 21, 2024
Reviewer: Poison Pie Publishing House Staff
Link to Review: review link

 

January 21, 2024
Keiji Haino (b. May 3, 1952)
Today we feature a prayer by Keiji Haino, dark shaman of the Tokyo experimental underground. The prayer memorializes the passing of English improvising guitarist, Derek Bailey (January 29, 1930 - December 25, 2005). In April, 2006, the staff of the PPPH created a broadside featuring this prayer, which has hung in the office since that time and was posted online. This prayer also was used as the epigraph for The Sutra of Reverse Possession, a novel of non-idiomatic improvisation, written by David J. Keffer in Seoul, Korea & Knoxville, Tennessee from December, 2010 through May, 2012, and published by the Poison Pie Publishing House of Knoxville, Tennessee in December, 2012.

A Prayer for the Repose of the Soul of Derek Bailey

That, which while enfolding this now and present perfume,
speaks, ‘I will use to the fullest this form bestowed upon me’
and blurs into the firmament~

ah, where and in what form will it next be devised

—Keiji Haino, published in The Wire, February 2006, issue 264, page 33.

 

January 16, 2024
Shrinky Dink Mobile of Scenes from Gou Tanabe's Manga Adaptations of Lovecraft
The staff of the Poison Pie Publishing House kick off 2024 with a continuation of their art project in which they render scenes from various books in shrinky dink form. At this link, we present a gallery of scans and photos of a mobile containing four scenes from manga adaptations by Gou Tanabe of works originally by H.P. Lovecraft.

 

January 14, 2024
Donald Justice (August 12, 1925 - August 6, 2004)
Today we feature a poem, which we have liked for many years, by the American poet and educator, Donald Justice. A fragment of this poem, consisting of the final five lines, was used as the epigraph to the novel, Symptoms of the Lunatic, written by David J. Keffer in Washington, D.C. from February to July, 1997 and published by the Poison Pie Publishing House of Knoxville Tennessee in February, 2013.

 

Pantoum of the Great Depression

Our lives avoided tragedy
Simply by going on and on,
Without end and with little apparent meaning.
Oh, there were storms and small catastrophes.

Simply by going on and on
We managed. No need for the heroic.
Oh, there were storms and small catastrophes.
I don't remember all the particulars.

We managed. No need for the heroic.
There were the usual celebrations, the usual sorrows.
I don't remember all the particulars.
Across the fence, the neighbors were our chorus.

There were the usual celebrations, the usual sorrows.
Thank god no one said anything in verse.
The neighbors were our only chorus,
And if we suffered we kept quiet about it.

At no time did anyone say anything in verse.
It was the ordinary pities and fears consumed us,
And if we suffered we kept quiet about it.
No audience would ever know our story.

It was the ordinary pities and fears consumed us.
We gathered on porches; the moon rose; we were poor.
What audience would ever know our story?
Beyond our windows shone the actual world.

We gathered on porches; the moon rose; we were poor.
And time went by, drawn by slow horses.
Somewhere beyond our windows shone the world.
The Great Depression had entered our souls like fog.

And time went by, drawn by slow horses.
We did not ourselves know what the end was.
The Great Depression had entered our souls like fog.
We had our flaws, perhaps a few private virtues.

But we did not ourselves know what the end was.
People like us simply go on.
We have our flaws, perhaps a few private virtues,
But it is by blind chance only that we escape tragedy.

And there is no plot in that; it is devoid of poetry.

Donald Justice, published in New and Selected Poems, Alfred A. Knopf, New York, 1995, pp. 22-23; archived at the Poetry Foundation.

 

January 6, 2024
A Survey of One Hundred Bestiaries Continues in 2024
In 2016, the bibliophiles at the Poison Pie Publishing House began a recurring online feature showcasing books about monsters. Initially ambitious, they titled it A Survey of One Hundred Bestiaries. It turns out that there is a virtually infinite number of such books in the world, cataloging creatures real and imagined. The survey continues to this day. In the past several years, a new entry in the survey has been added on the first Saturday of each month. Today, on the first Saturday of January, 2024, we post the 336th entry, Pokénatomy II, written, illustrated and self-published by Christopher Stoll. The survey is not intended to be a review; we do not provide subjective commentary. Instead, we present an image of one entry from the book as well as some portion of the accompanying text description, allowing the reader to form their own opinions. In the case of Pokénatomy II, we note here that this is an example of our favorite kind of bestiary—an independent labor of love brought to reality by the author.

 

January 1, 2024
2023: The Year in Review at the Poison Pie Publishing House
In the year 2023, the staff of the Poison Pie Publishing House produced exactly one book. Hebeloma's Clockwise Cadenza, a post-existential musical score generated through a non-idiomatic, improvisational creative process, was serially published on a daily basis in 2023 on the blog of the Poison Pie Publishing House. The score is illustrated by Julia K. Keffer of Bus Stop Art Show (). Hebeloma's Clockwise Cadenza recounts the adventure of Melanippe, one of the maidens offered to the minotaur by King Minos, immediately after she escaped from the labyrinth.

Also in 2023, the staff of the Poison Pie Publishing House generated a few music reviews. In doing so, we hope only to spread the word about hidden musical gems from the cultural margin. We shared a handful of quotes that struck us. Outside of our on-going monthly update of A Survey of One Hundred Bestiaries, we posted only one book review. We continued to engage in our guilty pleasure of rendering characters and scenes from books into shrinky dink form, creating a mobile of the chapter headings from Hebeloma's Abyssal Aria (2022) as well as eight mobiles in homage to beloved children's authors and illustrators.

The staff of the Poison Pie Publishing House is no longer setting annual goals. However, the daily blog will continue, with the intention of engaging in non-idiomatic improvisation. This work will take the form of a musical score and is titled, Hebeloma's Lament in a Dozen Denials (2024).

To our readers, we, the staff of the Poison Pie Publishing House, thank you for your interest and support and we look forward to another mutually creative and unpredictable year.

 

December 31, 2023
The Writing of Hebeloma's Clockwise Cadenza Is Complete
The writing of Hebeloma's Clockwise Cadenza, accomplished in approximately 100 words per day on each day of 2023, is now concluded. The full text of the completed score is available for viewing on a free, anonymous basis.

Several related documents have also been updated today, as described below.

The entirety of the Clockwise Cadenza, however, is not complete. The writings for the month of December have been delivered today to Julia Keffer, the artist creating the monthly chapter heading illustrations. This final illustration will appear sometime in the first month or two of the new year.

As described previously, the final two steps in the creative process, namely the reading of the score and the musical performance are intentionally left to undetermined dates.

 

December 23, 2023
Review: Ten Ear-Opening Records of 2023 completed
The staff of the Poison Pie Publishing House engage in the rather obvious fantasy that our readership (ambiguous as it is) might seek out music recommendations from the PPPH blog for holiday gift giving. Therefore, in late November, we posted our End-of-the-Year list with time for pre-holiday shopping but our Top Ten list only contained nine entries, reserving one spot for potential late arrivals. Today, we complete the list and we arrived at a tie for the tenth spot, including both Susan Alcorn's Manifesto and Drums & Octobass by Keiji Haino & Guro Moe. Hurray for ties!

Review Date: November 24, 2023 and updated December 23, 2023
Reviewer: Poison Pie Publishing House Staff
Link to Review: review link

 

December 22, 2023
Illustrations for Hebeloma's Clockwise Cadenza
At long last, we have posted the illustrations that serve as the monthly headings for first eleven months of Hebeloma's Clockwise Cadenza. We have also collected these images in a gallery. As our resident artist at Bus Stop Art Show waits to create the chapter heading until after she has read the monthly writing, we will post the final illustration sometime in early 2024.

 

December 22, 2023
Exploratory Illustrations for Hebeloma's Clockwise Cadenza
This week we received in the mail the artwork for the first eleven months of Hebeloma's Clockwise Cadenza. Also in the package from Bus Stop Art Show, were various artistic explorations of characters and scenes in the Clockwise Cadenza, created before a final style had been settled. We post these drafts in a gallery of their own.

 

December 10, 2023
Book Reviews: Two Graphical Adaptations of H.P. Lovecraft in 2023
The Shadow over Innsmouth - Gou Tanabe (Dark Horse, 2023)
The bibliophiles at the Poison Pie Publishing House call attention to the latest books published in two series of starkly different graphical adaptations of the fiction of H.P. Lovecraft. The fourth volume of Lovecraft illustrated by François Baranger features the story, "The Dunwich Horror". "The Shadow Over Innsmouth" is the most recent manga adaptation by Gou Tanabe. Both are masterful takes on visual guides to imagining the cosmic horror of Lovecraft.
Review Date: December 10, 2023
Reviewer: staff
Link to Review: link

 

November 24, 2023
Review: Ten Ear-Opening Records of 2023
The staff of the Poison Pie Publishing House high-light nine of what is to be ten records of adventurous jazz released in the past year to which we have repeatedly listened. We haven't settled on the last one and there remains albums to be released late in 2023 for which we wanted to potentially save a space. Before the year is out, we will have ten. For now, there is plenty of wonderful music to listen to in the nine recordings we have identified.

Review Date: November 24, 2023
Reviewer: Poison Pie Publishing House Staff
Link to Review: review link

 

November 16, 2023
Illustrations from 2nd Edition D&D Planescape Books by Tony DiTerlizzi (1993-1995)

The staff of the Poison Pie Publishing House continue their art project in which they render scenes from beloved books as shrinky dinks. In the latest edition, we translated into plastic form four creatures illustrated by Tony DiTerlizzi for 2nd Edition Dungeons & Dragons books related to the Planescape multiverse campaign setting. A gallery is posted.

 

November 9, 2023
Clifford Allen (b. 1977)
The staff of the Poison Pie Publishing House picked up two books published in 2023 by RogueArt. One of them is a book about the American pianist, Matthew Shipp (b. December 7, 1960). The book includes wide-ranging interviews with Shipp collaborators conducted by music historian, Clifford Allen. Our quote for today comes from this book.

The instrumentation is the composition already, you've scored it just by showing up and bringing people together who know what one another's capabilities are.

Clifford Allen, published in Singularity Codex: Matthew Shipp on RogueArt, RogueArt, Paris, France, 2023, p. 40.

 

November 5, 2023
Illustrations from selected works by Satoshi Kitamura (1985-1999)

The staff of the Poison Pie Publishing House continue their art project in which they render scenes from beloved childhood books in shrinky dink form. In the latest edition, we feature scenes from four books by Satoshi Kitamura. A gallery is posted.

 

October 29, 2023
Illustrations from Four Books by Shel Silverstein (1963-2005)

The staff of the Poison Pie Publishing House continue their art project in which they render scenes from beloved childhood books in shrinky dink form. In the latest edition, we translated characters from four books by Shel Silverstein. A gallery is posted.

 

October 10, 2023
Illustrations from Bumperboy stories by Debbie Huey (2005-2015)

The staff of the Poison Pie Publishing House continue their art project in which they render scenes from beloved childhood books in shrinky dink form. In the latest edition, we translated four of our favorite scenes starring Bumperboy by Debbie Huey. A gallery is posted.

 

September 30, 2023
Review: pique-nique au labo 3 - Jean-Jacques Birgé
The staff of the Poison Pie Publishing House wander along a meandering path as they consider the musical experiments emanating from the picnics in the laboratory of Jean-Jacques Birgé.

Review Date: September 30, 2023
Reviewer: Poison Pie Publishing House Staff
Link to Review: review link

 

September 24, 2023
Illustrations from selected works of Dr. Seuss (1960-1963)

The staff of the Poison Pie Publishing House continue their art project in which they render scenes from beloved childhood books in shrinky dink form. In the latest edition, we translated scenes from four books by Dr. Seuss. A gallery is posted.

 

September 10, 2023
Illustrations from Eric Carle's A Ghost Story

The staff of the Poison Pie Publishing House received a request for a Halloween-themed mobile and decided to combine the request with the on-going project of rendering children's book as shrinky dinks. A Ghost Story, with text by Bill Martin Jr. and pictures by Eric Carle, was published in 1970. A gallery with images of the individual pieces and the assembled mobile is posted.

 

September 3, 2023
Illustrations from Polo by Régis Faller

The staff of the Poison Pie Publishing House is multi-generational. So our investigation of influential childhood books spans various decades. Here the PPPH staff rendered several scenes from three Polo stories by Régis Faller as shrinky dinks. A gallery is posted.

 

August 22, 2023
Review: Una Ofrenda A La Ausencia - Camila Nebbia
The staff of the Poison Pie Publishing House review Una Ofrenda A La Ausencia, a new saxophone album by Camila Nebbia in the Relative Pitch Records Solo Series, which offers a number of musical interpretations on the theme of absence.

Review Date: August 22, 2023
Reviewer: Poison Pie Publishing House Staff
Link to Review: review link

 

August 11, 2023
Mark Helias (b. October 1, 1950)
In teaching the course, The Golden Age of Non-Idiomatic Improvisation, at the University of Tennessee over the course of a decade, the staff of the Poison Pie Publishing House have accumulated a collection of books used as a reference library. Upon arrival, some books are read in their entirety, while portions of others are read before the book is put away for future reference. Included in this collection are three volumes of William Parker's "Conversations" with musicians published by RogueArt in 2011, 2015 and 2019. We had initially treated these books as one might an encyclopedia, a valuable resource to be explored when one was interested in a particular musician. However, that idea left much of the books unread. So this summer we began reading them (in reverse order) from first page to last. It turned out to be quite an unexpected pleasure. Before we had just read about musicians whom we already knew well. It turned out that the other conversations were amazing introductions to musicians about whom we knew little or nothing at all. For each new voice, we were motivated to listen to at least one album, often mentioned in the conversation. We recently finished Volume 3 and have begun volume 2. The conversation with American bassist Mark Helias is full of wisdom. It proved very difficult to pick just one passage from the interview to share on this site. For those who want to read more, you are encouraged to seek out all three volumes. (For the curious, the album we relistened to while reading this interview was Quintet (Basel) 1977 (hatOLOGY, 2016) featuring the star-studded cast of Anthony Braxton (reeds), George Lewis (trombone), Muhal Richard Abrams (piano), Mark Helias (bass) and Charles "Bobo" Shaw (drums).)

WP: I heard Ornette Coleman for years before I heard Charlie Parker. And I actually heard Cecil Taylor for years before I really heard Monk. Later on you pick up on it but that's just how it went down.

MH: Yeah, it's interesting. You got the direction but you've got this sort of biased direction, right? It was like you were funneled into ths area but they didn't give you the broad strokes about the whole thing. And that's a discovery I guess we all have to make on our own, sort of integrating all the stuff. And also, the question of what is American culture depends on where you come from, what that is identified as. And I'm discovering all this music that's supposedly not part of my experience; but on the other hand, no music is part of my experience.

Mark Helias, interview by William Parker, December 19, 2012, published in Conversations II: Dialogues and Monologues, edited by Ed Hazell, RogueArt, Paris, France, 2015, p. 17.

 

August 1, 2023
Illustrations from Owl at Home by Arnold Lobel

While revisiting influential books from the formative years, the staff of the Poison Pie Publishing House rendered several scenes from Owl at Home by Arnold Lobel as shrinky dinks. A gallery is posted.

 

 

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