MinXus Mail Bag: “sea stars” – a TLP by Matthew Stolte (Madison, Wisconsin, USA)

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Mail-art by Matthew Stolte (Madison, Wisconsin, USA)

Visual poet Matthew Stolte needs no introduction to Mink Ranch regulars. In June of 2013, we shared a TLP (Tacky Little Pamphlet) we received from him on the subject of the world’s oceans and water systems:


We are now thrilled to present “sea stars,” a related TLP received this past spring (click to enlarge pages).

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The TLP (Matthew Stolte also refers to them as TLBs – Tacky Little Books) is a mail-art form well worth highlighting. First, the Tacky Little Pamphlet is a term often associated with John M. Bennett (Columbus, Ohio, USA), an undisputed master of the form. Mail-artists on the literary side of things have been circulating their works through the network using the TLP format for many years. On Jack Saunder’s website, we found this interesting reference to the TLP that traces the practice back to the 1970s and Wild Billy Haddock (a true mail-art luminary for the ages):


TLPs can be considered the equivalent of chapbooks, although they tend to be more DIY than their fine-art letter press equivalents.

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TLPs are also clearly related to zines. Matthew Stolte’s “From Oceans” and “sea stars” are interesting because they employ the concept of the “serial poem” proposed by the late Jack Spicer.

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Mathew Stolte’s series combines visual and textually oriented poetry.

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Some purist mail-artists have objected to TLPs and related forms because they are (relatively) mass produced. Some believe that each item mailed should be one-of-a-kind and generated specifically for one recipient. This is certainly a lofty ideal. A look at the history reveals, however, that pamphlets, books, artists books, zines and assembling zines have been created and distributed through the network for decades and are foundational. The saying that “there are no rules” is a guiding principle in the Eternal Network. In short, Tenderfoots should never feel intimidated about “doing the wrong thing” in mail-art. You can be certain someone else has already done it, and they have likely done it far worse than YOU, dear Tenderfoot, could ever imagine.

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Many thanks to Matthew Stolte for sending us “sea stars”!

Matthew Stolte’s excellent blog, Construction Sea, has the rare distinction of being included on the MinXus-Lynxus blog roll (an exclusive club indeed). For ease and convenience, here is the link too:




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