Combining the nostalgia for vinyl records with the feeling of a live poetry reading, vinyl-only poetry press Fonograf Editions (based in Portland and Omaha) has found a unique niche.
“We live in such a fast-paced society that the act of putting a record on and just listening is a really different sensation,” says Jeff Alessandrelli, the director and publisher of Fonograf, who combined his two passions—poetry and record collecting—for the project.
Launched in 2016, Fonograf has published recordings of acclaimed poets such as Pulitzer Prize winner Rae Armantrout and Guggenheim Fellowship recipient Eileen Myles reading from their works.
Its newest release, Alice Notley: Live in Seattle (September 8; $16.95; fonografeditions.com), features Ruth Lilly Poetry Prize winner Alice Notley reading from her latest work, Certain Magical Acts, at McCaw Hall this past April as part of Seattle Arts & Lectures’ Poetry Series.
While the recordings are mastered so that the sound is high quality, they still capture every aspect of a live reading, including mispronunciations, jumbled words and turning pages. Alessandrelli, a poet himself, says it’s this deliberate imperfection that makes them truly authentic.
“It really puts you inside the reading,” he says.