Rhyme and Reason

Leaning House Records puts a new slant on poetry

Whether the idea will translate into sales is a wholly different matter. (There are indeed plans for a second volume.) For the time being, Elliott does not plan to market Leaning House Poetry in book stores; it is available only at the Borders Books and Music in the Preston Royal shopping center. Rather, he's aiming to get the book into the hands of college professors and students--the 25,000 or so who purchased New American Poets of the '90s.

"The book is an endless labor of love and a money pit, too, and hopefully the marketing thing will work," Myers says. If--and only if--the book sells "a shitload," Elliott says, will the poets receive money for their contributions; otherwise, they will make nothing from their work.

Perhaps the Leaning House project will set a precedent: W.W. Norton is preparing a CD-ROM to accompany a new poetry anthology the publishing house is releasing this summer, and PBS-TV's The United States of Poetry series will be released on CD by Mercury Records later in the year.

Elliott, however, is concerned only about keeping Leaning House afloat so he can record another album with Ivery, which he is planning to do in the fall, and a follow-up to the Earl Harvin Trio/Quartet release last year. He also has another album completed and ready to go except for a few final tweaks, and it's the sort of record that could bring his tiny label a tremendous amount of recognition--saxophonist Shelley Carrol backed by members of the Duke Ellington Orchestra. Then there are the Red Garland tapes, not to mention all those other unheard treasures taking up shelf space in his leaning house.

"Poetry, like jazz, is an unappreciated art form," Elliott says of his reasons for balancing his label with its new publishing counterpart. "It's just a natural complement to what we're doing, because it maintains the integrity and quality of the things we're trying to feature in a variety of ways. It's underappreciated, it's amazing kind of stuff, so I think it's very much in line with the kind of standards that we have. It's one more thing to do. I'm busy as shit, but that's good. I'm just glad Leaning House is still here.

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