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

Featured Books:

A Bestiary of East Tennessee is an encyclopedia of the creatures, mundane and exotic, dwelling in East Tennessee and other proximate locations. Illustrated in felt by the Keffer family, the book is filled with felt finger puppets, photographs from wild places and informative descriptions.

The Implacable Absence is a Non-Idiomatic Improvisational Duet, in which a mushroom man, a talking bug and a doppelgänger traverse Faerie, Nirvana, the World of the Dead and other planes of existence in search of the Deadly Galerina, a reclusive deity from the Kingdom of Fungi.


Blog & News Updates:

May 11, 2016
Harry Partch
Today we feature a quote from the American composer, music theorist, and creator of musical instruments, Harry Partch (June 24, 1901-September 3, 1974).

Originality cannot be a goal. It is simply inevitable. The truly path-breaking step can never be predicted, and certainly not by the person who makes it at the time he makes it. He clears as he goes, evolves his own techniques, devises his own tools, ignores where he must. And his path cannot be retraced, because each of us is an original being.

In the fragile moment of achievement the conditioned attitude evaporates, showing perhaps that there is, in total experience, a deep and abiding tie with peoples and animals and things removed in time and space. The adventurer will undoubtedly experience ridicule, but he is inured to danger; he was not born in the woods to get scared by an owl. To the extent that he is obliged to fly in the face of honored usages he begins to acquire, after decades of weathering, the strange patina of the recidivist, the unregenerate criminal.

--Harry Partch, from the "Preface to the Second Edition", in Genesis of a Music, 2nd Ed. Da Capo Press, Boston, 1974 (1st Ed., 1949), p. xi.


April 24, 2016
Rufous-sided Towhee Faerie
As expected, Miss Ruth Keffer has released a new bird faerie into the experimental laboratory.


April 23, 2016
Rufous-sided Towhee
Miss Ruth Keffer is contemplating the release of a new bird faerie into the experimental laboratory. This faerie is related to the Rufous-sided Towhee, also known as the eastern towhee. However, we did not possess any rufous colored felt. Therefore, we set to searching the internet for just such a thing.



We discovered just what we were looking for in Merino wool blend felt sheets from Over the River Felt of Soddy View Lane in Soddy Daisy, Tennessee!

As a result, we expect to see the appearance of a Rufous-sided Towhee Faerie in the near future.


April 16, 2016
And Also the Trees - Born into the Waves
Virtually all of the music that has been discussed or featured on this blog can be considered one flavor or another of non-idiomatic improvisation. And Also the Trees, however, is an exception. The music of And Also the Trees is decidely composed rather than improvised and the band is certainly idiomatic, falling piecewise into various labels--post punk, gothic, alternative, college rock, etc. Their relevance to the Poison Pie Publishing House is only that the editor became fond of their music in the 1980's and the music, over the ensuing decades, has managed to keep his interest with each subsequent release, including the most recent, Born Into the Waves, released in March, 2016. [More...]


April 12, 2016
The Grand Temple Library of a Forgotten Warlord
We add another graphical entry to the Experimental Laboratory of Symbology at the Poison Pie Publishing House. This piece is a collaborative effort utilizing the script of Mr. Henry Gorton, co-author of The Implacable Absence, and Ms. Marie Poonawala. This entry originates in The Portable Library of Hong Samud.


April 12, 2016
More Musical Non-Idiomatic Improvisation in Knoxville
As part of the the Big Ears Music Festival, on Friday, April 1, 2016, Anthony Braxton's Tentet+1 (Eleventet?) also performed in front of a packed house at the Bijou Theater. Like Wadada Leo Smith who played the Bijou later that same day, Braxton is an American musician and composer and a hero of historical significance from the Association for the Advancement of Creative Musicians (AACM). [More...]


April 3, 2016
Musical Non-Idiomatic Improvisation in Knoxville
Knoxville, Tennessee is not only the home to the Poison Pie Publishing House, but also has in recent years hosted the the Big Ears Music Festival. The 2016 iteration of the Big Ears Festival closes today. The staff of the Poison Pie Publishing House purchased day passes for Friday. These shows included a duet featuring Wadada Leo Smith on trumpet and Vijay Iyer on piano, synthesizer and computer at the historic Bijou Theater in downtown Knoxville. [More...]


March 28, 2016
Radio Show: Voices from the Golden Age of Non-Idiomatic Improvisation
As a continuing effort of the course, The Golden Age of Non-Idiomatic Improvisation, at the University of Tennessee, the instructor, David Keffer, and a student, Amanda Fuchs, invite you to an evening of radio showcasing music from ten varied practitioners of non-idiomatic improvisation. The show is tied into the Big Ears Music Festival in Knoxville, Tennessee (March 31-April 2, 2016) with a playlist that features 8 tracks from musicians appearing in the 2016 festival, 1 track from a musician who played a previous festival and 1 track from someone who should be invited next year. The show airs about 8:00 PM (Eastern time) on March 28, 2016 on WUTK (90.3 FM). It will be streamed on the internet as well. A copy of the associated document listing the music played and providing a quote for a few of the musicians, which hints at their underlying motivations, is archived here.


March 26, 2016
The Arbor Inn
We post a graphic, illustrating the components of the perfect tree from the novel, The Augur in the Arbor Inn in the Experimental Laboratory of Symbology.


March 22, 2016
Brown Thrasher
After an absence of nearly six months, Miss Ruth Keffer releases a new bird faerie into the experimental laboratory. It is perhaps not a coincidence that the brown thrashers have just returned for spring in Knoxville, Tennessee.


March 21, 2016
Jorge Luis Borges
Today we feature a sentiment by the Argentinian writer and scholar, Jorge Luis Borges (August 24, 1899-June 14 1986).

I do not write for a select minority, which means nothing to me, nor for that adulated platonic entity known as "The Masses." Both abstractions, so dear to the demagogue, I disbelieve in. I write for myself and for my friends, and I write to ease the passing of time.

--Jorge Luis Borges, from the "Author's Note", in The Book of Sand (El Libro de Arena), translated by Norman Thomas di Giovanni, E.P. Dutton, New York, 1977, p. 8.


March 20, 2016
Harry Bertoia - Complete Sonambient Collection
Harry Bertoia (March 10, 1915-November 6, 1978) was an Italian-born American furniture designer and sculptor and sound artist. He created metal sculptures with an intrinsic and purposeful ability to generate sound. He experimented with the shapes of the sculptures in order to extract particular tones. Each of the eleven cds in this box set represents an lp (one released in 1970 and ten released in 1978) containing two tracks corresponding to side A and side B. The lengths of the tracks reflect the limitations of the medium of the time. Only one track is less than ten minutes and six tracks are a minute or two longer than twenty minutes, with the rest falling somewhere in between. All layers of all tracks are generated by the metal sculptures of Bertoia. [More...]


March 15, 2016
Wouldn't the Wood Weird
The staff has received from the author today a completed manuscript of the forthcoming novel, Wouldn't the Wood Weird. The short novel is described as a post-existential romantic fantasy and is alternately titled, Impractical Prayers from the Spindle of the Void. A little more information is revealed here.


March 2, 2016
The Seal of House Hebeloma crustuliniforme (in color)
We have an update to the Experimental Laboratory of Symbology at the Poison Pie Publishing House. Hebeloma crustuliniforme is the scientific name for the mushroom, more commonly known as Poison Pie. Hebelomic acid A is the toxin suspected for making this mushroom unpalatable.


February 24, 2016
Normal University of Hell, Phlegethon Campus Library
Today, we add another entry to the Experimental Laboratory of Symbology at the Poison Pie Publishing House. This entry originates in The Portable Library of Hong Samud. This design, like the previous two entries, is the work of Ms. M. Poonawala.


February 20, 2016
A Diversion on Saturday Morning
Today we post a forgotten diversion. Since 1995, NASA has hosted a site called the Astronomy Picture of the Day, featuring spectacular photos of the Earth and cosmos. From June, 2011 through April, 2012, the Poison Pie Publishing House borrowed some of these photos as background canvases upon which the antics of various fingerpuppets could unfold. Today, we remind visitors of one such three-panel story, A Meeting.


January 20, 2016
Snow Day!
Although nary an inch of snow has yet fallen, the promise of snowfall in the afternoon has shuttered schools across the city of Knoxville. Rising early, our ritual of preparation for a day of work was thwarted by this news. Instead, a poem emerged unexpectedly before the sun had risen: A Prayer for the Unequal Distribution of Talents.


December 19, 2015
The Augur in the Arbor Inn
In 2015, David J. Keffer has finished the writing of a novel, a post-existential fantasy generated through a non-idiomatic improvisational creative process, titled, The Augur in the Arbor Inn. The novel provides an investigation of our modern relationship with the principles of evolution, as espoused by Darwin, through the form of a narrative. Because the novel falls outside established genres, it is difficult to find a good home for it. Attempts to engage traditional representatives of and liaisons to the publishing industry have been met with indifference, if acknowledged at all. As such, a link to an open query letter describing the unpublished manuscript has been posted here. Interested parties are welcome to contact the editor. In the absence of broader interest, The Augur in the Arbor Inn was printed in a limited, private edition of ten.


September 6, 2015
Ninth in the Series of Promotional Flyers for A Bestiary of East Tennessee
The Poison Pie Publishing House presents the final entry in a series of promotional flyers for the illustrated book, A Bestiary of East Tennessee. Here is the ninth instalment, featuring the narrarator, M. Anxo, and his traveling companion, Execrabilia.



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