First “Words on the Street” book now available in print and electronic forms!

Words on the Street cover

It’s been a long time in coming, but I’m very happy to announce that a print and e-book collection of 109 satirical cartoons featuring Via Negativa’s original, imaginary guest-blogger Diogenes is now available from that famous London publishing powerhouse, Bauble Tree Books. (If you caught my announcement at the beginning of December and are wondering why we weren’t able to get it out before Christmas, here are all the gory details.)

Visit the Bauble Tree page for the book. Or save a click and go directly to the source(s):

Print edition at Lulu (£9.99 — $15.30 at current exchange rate)
Paperback, 224 pages

EPUB edition at Lulu (£0.99 — $1.52)
For Nook, iPad, iPhone, etc.

Kindle edition at ($2.99)

Kindle edition at Amazon UK (£2.00)

Amazon’s French site (I’m an “auteur”!), German site, Spanish site, and Italian site (€2.68)

All of the cartoons have been re-done from what I originally published here (which were small GIF files, many of them long since vanished into the ether, presumably due to server failure or retirement by the free image-hosting service I used). A significant number of Diogenes’ signs were re-written, and a couple are brand-new.

Also adding value to the book is a short preface by my friend Kaspalita, a UK-based Pureland Buddhist priest and blogger. Now you may be wondering, “Why a Buddhist? Why would you not ask a graphic artist to introduce a book of graphic ‘art’?” But Words on the Street, as an inaction comic, is all about sitting, and who knows more about sitting than a Buddhist priest? We could argue about the difference between mindful repetition of the nembutsu and humorous repetition of the same drawing with different words, but never mind. Here’s some of what Kaspa said:

Anne Bogart described great art as something that stops you in your tracks and won’t let you move beyond it. Dave Bonta’s few words provoke a similar arrest. His placards draw forth a wry smile and, as good satire should, leads us into a critique of the many questionable aspects of our society.

Bonta’s words are given another layer of meaning by their fixed context, the unchanging homeless character whose placard they grace. “Friend Me” takes on a completely different significance seen here, as opposed to on one’s favorite social networking site.

Each page I flick to raises a smile and then asks me to come back to it and think, and then to think again. In this book Dave moves towards cementing his reputation as satirist and as an important contemporary gadfly.

Hear that? “An important contemporary gadfly”! If anyone not as fully trustworthy as an ordained priest said that, I’ll bet you’d be inclined to raise an eyebrow, wouldn’t you?

Needless to say, reviews would be very welcome. I’m told some review copies of the digital version may be available — contact the publisher.

Keep in mind that all of my royalities from the sale of this book and ebook will go toward supporting the Via Negativa blog network, including the production (and hopefully much more reliable hosting!) of brand new Words on the Street cartoons. So think of it as a sponsorship for something you’d like to see continue. (Well, of course, you can also think of it as a fabulous Valentine’s Day gift if you like.)

Also in that vein, if you like Words in the Street and/or want to support Via Negativa, don’t forget to visit my storefront at CafePress. Send me photos or videos of Via Negativa t-shirts, mugs, etc. “in the wild” and I’ll be happy to post them with a link back to your blog, if you have one. (No need to include your face if you’re shy.) Ditto for photos of the book being read in unlikely places.

In fact, let me conclude this post with some shots of Cynthia Cox modeling a t-shirt with my personal favorite Words on the Street cartoon. Cynthia is an award-winning poet based in the Houston, Texas area whose work I first came to know years ago at a blog called the twitching line; she now shares poems, videos and other fun and wonderful things at mareymercy. Herewith her riffs on “Clichéd — please help” (click to embiggen):

Cynthia Cox cliche 1

Cynthia Cox cliche 2

Cynthia Cox cliche 3

Audio poetry contributions of the day

Apparently my process notes about yesterday’s videopoem gave Cynthia Cox the nudge she needed to take the leap into videopoetry herself. This morning she messaged me on Facebook:

I need a male voice to read a poem for my very low-budget, first-time video/poem thing. Would you be willing to record it and send it to me, or do you know of a male who would be willing do so?

She did her best to lower my expectations:

All I have is a little P&S camera & video of me undressing some dolls, so don’t expect much (I am cheap). And, I don’t think the poem is my best either – it’s just the one that came to me when I got the idea.

So of course I said yes, did the reading (four takes), and sent it off. Here’s what she came up with. This is way better than my earliest videopoetry experiments (also done with a point-and-shoot camera and Windows Movie Maker):

Watch on YouTube.

Cynthia Cox is a long-time online acquaintance whose poetry I admire, and she’s currently blogging poems for a new chapbook manuscript as part of her editing/polishing process — clearly a poet-blogger after my own heart.

My other poetry reading-related contribution today (aside from the usual podcast at qarrtsiluni — a poem called “Neon in a Jar” by the amazing Susan Elbe) was a new post at the group blog Voice Alpha, “From bookstore to telephone: the incredible shrinking poetry reading.” It was just going to be a simple link-post, but, well, you know how it goes. I talk about the success Heather Christle has been having with her offer to read poems over the telephone for anyone who wants to call (which includes coverage at the BBC!) and speculate that perhaps the era of chasing big audiences at bookstores is over, and we should instead concentrate on more intimate “microaudiences” — telephone, video chat, door-to-door readings… Because who are we kidding? Poetry is never going to be even remotely popular in this country. We’re freaks. Even videopoems on YouTube struggle to amass 100 views, with a few notable exceptions. If you don’t write to amuse yourself and entertain your friends first and foremost, you’re screwed.