Welcome to the Poison Pie Publishing House!

Featured Books:

The Faerienomicon is an Encyclopedia of Faerie, rendered in felt, combining the crafts of felt finger puppets, local photography in the wild places of East Tennessee and non-idiomatic story telling. It is intended for both children and adventurous adults.

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.


News Updates:

August 2, 2015
Role-Playing Game Resources
The staff of the Poison Pie Publishing House embraces fantasy role-playing games as an idiom that engages both improvisation and creativity as ubiquitous birthrights of people of all ages. Recently collected on this page are links to RPG resources from the Poison Pie Publishing House.


July 17, 2015
A Prayer Book for the Damned
Without fanfare or promotion of any kind, the Poison Pie Publishing House quietly released A Prayer Book for the Damned, by David J. Keffer. This prayer book contains twenty-seven prayers, written in a span of three months by a most unlikely author. The prayers deviate from tradition primarily in that they are more open in acknowledging the uncertainties, reservations and short-comings of the one making the prayer. Included in this volume are "A Prayer for the Indifferent", "A Prayer for Drunkards", "A Prayer for Perpetual Malcontents" and twenty-four others. The prayer book is dedicated to Fr. Isaac Hecker, founder of the Paulist fathers, in support of his cause for canonization.

A quaint paperback version of the book (70 pages, ISBN: 978-1503052253) is available for purchase via amazon.com and createspace.com in the shop. The prayers are available electronically free of charge.


July 8, 2015
Critique of Jacob's Dream by The Midwest Book Review
Jacob's Dream, an illustrated prayerbook by Ruth M. Keffer and David J. Keffer was reviewed by the Midwest Book Review. Here is what they had to say

"Jacob's Dream" is an unusual, creative interpretation of the Bible verse in Genesis 28:12, about Jacob's dream of a ladder ascending to heaven, with the angels of God ascending and descending on it. Each pair of pages describes a rung of the ladder, starting with the eleventh rung, and ends with a special prayer for the angel of that rung. The facing page is decorated with primitive-style crayoned drawings of miraculous beings. The prayers are most poetic, including a Prayer for Humility, a Prayer for Abandoning a Path of Error, a Prayer for the Tempering of Pleasure, a Prayer for Not Fitting In, a Prayer for Accepting Our Roles, A Prayer for the Untalented, a Prayer for Those Who Dwell in Penumbra, a Prayer for Those Who Go Too Far, an Apocryphal Prayer, a Prayer in the Tongue of Birds, a Prayer of Supplication, a Prayer for Balance, and a Prayer for Dreamers. Perhaps a most moving moment in the prayers comes at the end of the Prayer for Dreamers: "Lord, as with Jacob, signal Your protection and favor in our dreams, for we are all dreamers, who have dreamt of both horror and hope and perceive in hope only the value of our modest contribution." Every page of "Jacob's Dream" is a devotion to be gently tasted and savored. "Jacob's Dream" has elements of childlike wonder and glory in it, but it will deliver many special consolations to the adult reader also.
Nancy Lorraine
Senior Reviewer

Jacob's Dream is available in paperback in the shop.


June 29, 2015
On Mysteries Mortal and Divine
The summer solstice came and went and we, here at the Poison Pie Publishing House, did not mark it, so caught up were we in the creation of our next non-idiomatic, improvisational fantasy (with a title that has been decided upon but not publicly announced). So, although that work is not yet done, we found a moment to catch our breath and belatedly celebrate the ancient pagan holiday. To this end, we have posted a new poem/prayer, On Mysteries Mortal and Divine. A link to a page with free, anonymous access to the full text is here.


June 13, 2015
An Anecdote from Ornette Coleman
Today we feature an anecdote from an interview with the American saxophonist, improviser and composer, Ornette Coleman (March 9, 1930 - June 11, 2015), who died on Thursday.

Coleman: I was in the South when minorities were oppressed, and I identified with them through music. I was in Texas, I started to play the saxophone and make a living for my family by playing on the radio. One day, I walked into a place that was full of gambling and prostitution, people arguing, and I saw a woman get stabbed--then I thought that I had to get out of there. I told my mother that I didn't want to play this music anymore because I thought that I was only adding to all that suffering. She replied, "What's got hold of you, you want somebody to pay you for your soul?" I hadn't thought of that, and when she told me that, it was like I had been re-baptized.

JD: Your mother was very clear-headed.

OC: Yes, she was an intelligent woman. Ever since that day I've tried to find a way to avoid feeling guilty for doing something that other people don't do.

--Ornette Coleman
from The Other's Language: Jacques Derrida Interviews Ornette Coleman, June 23, 1997.


May 21, 2015
Independent Book Publishers Association
The Poison Pie Publishing House has become a member of the Independent Book Publishers Association (IBPA). Established in 1983, the IBPA is a not-for-profit membership organization serving and leading the indie publishing community through advocacy, education, and tools for success. With nearly 3,000 members, IBPA is the largest publishing trade association in the U.S.


May 17, 2015
Heroes of the Mushroomnomicon
The Mushroomnomicon is an illustrated book, combining the three crafts of felt fingerpuppets, local photography and children's narrative, written collaboratively by the Keffer family of East Tennessee and published by the Poison Pie Publishing House in the summer of 2013. This book relates the exploits of a party of six heroic adventurers as they seek to reclaim The Mushroomnomicon, a tome of elder mycological lore, from forces allied with the dragon of the White Wasteland. Additional representations of the party continue to turn up. A page showing many of these representations has been updated here. Complete descriptions of the members of the party rendered in an RPG format are directly available here.


May 15, 2015
A Literature of Non-Idiomatic Improvisation is reprinted
An International Journal of Exploratory Meta-Living has chosen to reprint two documents on the subject of the application of the non-idiomatic improvisational creative process to writing. The original article, "A Literature of Non-Idiomatic Improvisation", published by the Poison Pie Publishing House on November 11, 2013 is reprinted in issue 5. The popular one-page summary, "A Literature of Non-Idiomatic Improvisation: A Condensed Statement", published by the Poison Pie Publishing House on April 2, 2014 is reprinted in issue 6. The IJEML is an open source journal; all issues are available for free, anonymous download in pdf format.


May 11, 2015
Post-Existential Fantasy: A Definition
The fourth issue of An International Journal of Exploratory Meta-Living is published. This letter defines the term "post-existential fantasy" and investigates its application to literature. On a relevant note, the Poison Pie Publishing House describes itself as "an independent publisher specializing in post-existential fantasy generated through a non-idiomatic improvisational writing process."


May 5, 2015
On Improvisation by Wadada Leo Smith
Today we feature a quote by the American musician and improviser Wadada Leo Smith (1941-).

What is improvisation? Improvisation is an art form used by creative musicians to deliver an expression of musical thought at the very instant that their idea is conceived. The improvisor must have an ability to instantaneously organize sound, silence and rhythm with the whole of his or her intelligence. His total life experience is drawn from, including his faculties of right reasoning and the make-up of his psychological and physiological existence. All of these factors determine what is actually being expressed at the moment of conception and creation. Thus, at each instant, the improvisor's creation includes the entire spectrum of space and cycle of time (past, present and future). His music is not, like composition, one that is conceived as one idea at one instant, only to be funneled at a later time through a standard system of notation onto paper as merely a related idea, and finally interpreted and performed sometime in the future as an idea removed at least three times from the original.
--Leo Smith
notes (8 pieces) source a new world music: creative music , self-published, Chicago, IL, 1973.


April 25, 2015
The Simple Truth by Philip Levine
In my office at the University of Tennessee, I have a broadside featuring the poem, "The Simple Truth" by Philip Levine. This poem comes from the collection titled The Simple Truth published in 1994. There is a link to the poem on the broadside here.


April 24, 2015
What Work Is by Philip Levine
By 1992, I was a graduate student at the University of Minnesota. There was no author I wanted more to see in a reading than Philip Levine. Perhaps he was the only one. My younger sister told me that he was coming to do a reading at the Jesuit college, Rockhurst, in Kansas City, Missouri to promote his latest volume of poetry, "What Work Is". Early on the day of the reading I drove the 440 miles of I-35 from Minneapolis to Kansas City. I attended the reading with my sister and a friend, Rich Fisher. The poems were lovely. After the reading, I stood in line for him to sign my copy of the book. During our brief exchange, I was put off my Levine's brusque manner and off-the-cuff comments, which seemed quick to judgement and lacking the patient wisdom I associated with his poetry. This encounter did not diminish my appreciation for his poetry. It reinforced in me the idea that different expressions of oneself emerge through solitary composition and through spontaneous, verbal interaction (and that the written form is preferable in most cases). The encounter also suggested to me what many others may already know--that meeting an idol is likely an ill-advised endeavor, resulting in disappointment as often as not. I don't recall attending another poetry reading after this. This poem comes from the collection titled What Work Is published in 1991. There is a link to the poem here.


April 23, 2015
The Poem of Flight by Philip Levine
Continuing our tribute to Philip Levine, we post a link to a Levine masterpiece, "The Poem of Flight". This poem comes from the collection titled One for the Rose published in 1981. There is a link to the poem here.


April 22, 2015
You Can Have It by Philip Levine
In the late 1980's at the University of Florida, I was introduced to many writers through a variety of creative writing and humanities courses. Of the poets I encountered, none resonated so deeply with me as did Philip Levine. The strength of this connection with his poetry has never faltered. In learning that he passed away earlier this year, we mark his passing by remembering some of his poems that were favorites. My first favorite poem by Philip Levine, introduced to me by Prof. Diane Stevenson in a freshman creative writing poetry class was "You Can Have It". This poem comes from the collection titled Seven Years from Somewhere published in 1979. There is a link to the poem here.


April 21, 2015
A Quote from Philip Levine
Today we present a quote by the late American poet, Philip Levine (January 10, 1928 - February 14, 2015).

I know that the government in Washington is full of terrible people with terrible plans. They will murder people here and abroad to gain more power. Those who have dominated our country most of my adult life are interested in maintaining an empire, subjugating other people, enslaving them if need be, and finally killing those who protest so that wealthy and powerful Americans can go on enjoying their advantages over others. I'm not doing a thing about it. I'm not a man of action; It finally comes down to that. I'm not so profoundly moral that I can often overcome my fears of prison or torture or exile or poverty. I'm a contemplative person who goes in the corner and writes. What can we do? I guess we can hang on and encourage each other, dig in, protest in every peaceful way possible, and hope that people are better than they seem.
--Philip Levine
The Art of Poetry No. 39, Interview by Mona Simpson, Paris Review, No. 107, Summer 1988.


April 12, 2015
Little Free Library
Residents of the local neighborhood in which the Poison Pie Publishing House is located constructed a Little Free Library. The Little Free Library is a program for creating free micro-sized local libraries, where patrons can freely take and leave books. The Poison Pie Publishing House donated several illustrated books to the library. In this photo, Joseph Keffer, co-author of The Mushroomnomicon and other books from the PPPH is putting books in the library.


April 10, 2015
Spring Thoughts in Pursuit of the Improvised Novel
The third issue of the International Journal of Exploratory Meta-Living has been published. This issue features a letter from David Keffer discussing the potential of the improvisational creative process in generating a novel.


April 10, 2015
A Quote on Improvisation from Cornelius Cardew
Today we present a quote by the English composer, Cornelius Cardew (1936-1981).

This kind of thing happens in improvisation. Two things running concurrently in haphazard fashion suddenly synchronise autonomously and sling you forcibly into a new phase... Connected with this is the proposition that improvisation cannot be rehearsed. Training is substituted for rehearsal, and a certain moral discipline is an essential part of this training.
--Cornelius Cardew
Towards an Ethic of Improvisation from "Treatise Handbook", Edition Peters, London & New York, 1971.


April 9, 2015
A Needlessly Long and Pointlessly Late Review of Sands by Steve Lacy
A review by David Keffer of the cd, Sands (Tzadik Records, USA, TZ 7124, 1998), on which Steve Lacy performs solo soprano saxophone has been posted here.


April 4, 2015
Promotional Flyer for Jacob's Dream
A promotional flyer for the new illustrated book from the Poison Pie Publishing House, Jacob's Dream, is now available. All readers are encouraged to distribute this flyer freely.


April 3, 2015
Jacob's Dream is Published!
The Poison Pie Publishing House announced the publication of Jacob's Dream, a collaborative book featuring the artwork of Ruth Marie Keffer and the text of David J. Keffer. Jacob's Dream is an eclectic collection of illustrations, imaginative descriptions and prayers associated with the various angels observed ascending and descending the ladder in Jacob's vision from Genesis 28:12. One angel is selected from each rung of the ladder. Included are the apocryphal angel, the child angel and the angel of birds. The prayers include A Prayer for Abandoning a Path of Error, A Prayer for Accepting our Roles, A Prayer for Those who Dwell in Penumbra and ten others.

A paperback version of the book (36 pages, ISBN: 1511500778) is available for purchase via amazon.com and createspace.com in the shop.


April 2, 2015
Two Poems by Stefan Themerson
Today we feature two poems by Stefan Themerson (1910-1988), a Polish and later British poet, novelist, filmmaker, composer and philosopher. This poem is taken from Collected Poems posthumously published by Gaberbocchus Press of Amsterdam in 1998. An online Themerson archive exists.

I am a priest...

I am a priest
I have my own religion
Nothing to do with any of yours.
I have one parishioner:
But even he
Comes and goes as he likes
Not frightfully faithful.


I admire poets...

I admire poets who can put words into such a form
That you can almost take it in your fingers
And place it on a lady's head, like a tiara,
Or on an art historian's desk, like a paperweight.

Yes, I admire many things that I don't like.


March 22, 2015
Demographics in a Modern Music Festival
The Poison Pie Publishing House is a proud resident of Knoxville, Tennessee, which also happens, in recent years, to be home to The Big Ears Festival, a creative music festival. This is a topic particularly dear to the PPPH, which applies to literature a non-idiomatic improvisational creative process originally embraced by creative musicians. The Big Ears festival has brought to town numerous luminaries of the field, including Keiji Haino (2014), Christian Fennesz (2009) and Pauline Oliveros (2009), all of whom have been featured in the course, The Golden Age of Non-Idiomatic Improvisation offered at the University of Tennessee by the Poison Pie Publishing House's own David J. Keffer.

In today's News Sentinel, the local paper of Knoxville, Tennessee, an opinion piece, originally written by Keffer as part of the music course, discusses the disappointing lack of diversity in a festival ostensibly targeted at open-minded listeners. The article draws on points made in A Power Stronger than Itself by George Lewis. The link to an edited version of the article on the News Sentinel website is here, but is available to subscribers only. The original version of the analysis is available to any interested party free of charge on the course website, here.


February 23, 2015
An Hour of Keiji Haino for a Sunny Day in Japanese
The second issue of An International Journal of Exploratory Meta-Living, featuring an hour-long playlist composed of the music of Keiji Haino, suitable for a carefree stroll on a sunny day, has been translated by Mr. Takeshi Goda into Japanese. It is available on his blog, A Challenge to Fate. The blog entry contains links to some of the music discussed, including a link to the difficult to find half-hour version of Koko (Here). Many thanks to Mr. Goda for this translation!


February 10, 2015
The Implacable Absence: Reviewers Wanted
The Poison Pie Publishing House is looking for independent-minded reviewers for The Implacable Absence: A Non-Idiomatic Improvisational Duet by Henry E. Gorton and David J. Keffer. If the idea of a post-existential fantasy generated through a non-idiomatic improvisational creative process sounds potentially interesting then you are just the reviewer we are looking for! We think that this book will appeal to readers who possess, in the words of Derek Bailey, "an impatience with the gruesomely predictable".

The PPPH can supply reviewers worldwide with a review copy of the book in electronic format (pdf, epub, mobi). There is a limited supply of review copies of the book in paperback format that can, due to a finite promotional budget, be shipped only to reviewers in the United States of America. Please send a request for a review copy to editor "@" poisonpie.com. It would be helpful if target destinations for the review (amazon, goodreads, blog, etc.) were noted.


February 7, 2015
Critique of The Implacable Absence by The Midwest Book Review
The Implacable Absence: A Non-Idiomatic Improvisational Duet by Henry E. Gorton and David J. Keffer was reviewed in the Small Press Bookwatch of the Midwest Book Review. Here is what they had to say

Critique: Unique, engaging, superbly written and presented, "The Implacable Absence: A Non-Idiomatic Improvisational Duet" is a seminal reading experience from beginning to end. Erudite, complex, and solidly entertaining, "The Implacable Absence" is very highly recommended for community and academic Literary Fiction collections and personal reading lists.

The Implacable Absence: A Non-Idiomatic Improvisational Duet is available in paperback and ebook formats in the shop.


January 24, 2015
2014: The Year in Review at the Poison Pie Publishing House
2014 proved another productive year for the Poison Pie Publishing House, which released a total of five books in a combination of paper and electronic formats. The 2014 catalog of releases is comprised of one novel, one illustrated book and a trilogy of fantasy role-playing modules. For those keeping track at home, the full list of releases includes


Additionally, in 2014 the Poison Pie Publishing House became the repository for three electronic documents, including two literary essays and one interview.

Looking back at the goals of the previous End-of-the-Year Report for 2013, two of the five books proposed were realized in 2014, The Implacable Absence and The Faerienomicon. The other planned projects were either postponed due to other activities, shelved indefinitely or simply remained in progress by the authors.

Looking forward to 2015, the staff of the Poison Pie publishing House is engaged in the preparation of various works, including (i) its first volume of poetry, A Prayer Book for the Damned, (ii) the next instalment in its eclectic series of post-existential novels generated through a non-idiomatic improvisational creative process, (iii) hopefully another illustrated book by the Keffer family of East Tennessee, (iv) a light-hearted fantasy role-playing module for children, A Bride for Chubbernut, (v) modest tinkering with an archival novel yet to be published and (vi) whatever other unruly beast happens to rear its head.

To our readers, we, the staff of the Poison Pie Publishing House, thank you for your patronage and support and we look forward to another mutually creative and unpredictable year.



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