Poet as Crystal Radio Set

Although known primarily among a coterie of poets in the San Francisco Bay Area at the time of his death in 1965, Jack Spicer has slowly become a towering figure in American poetry. He was born in Los Angeles in 1925 to midwestern parents and raised in a Calvinist jack-spicerhome. While attending college at the University of California-Berkeley, Spicer met fellow poets Robin Blaser and Robert Duncan. The friendship among these three poets would develop into what they referred to as “The Berkeley Renaissance,” which would in turn become the San Francisco Renaissance after Spicer, Blaser and Duncan moved to San Francisco in the 1950s.

In 1954, he co-founded the Six Gallery in San Francisco, which soon became famous as the scene of the October 1955 Six Gallery reading that launched the West Coast Beat movement. In 1955, Spicer moved to New York and then to Boston, where he worked for a time in the Rare Book Room of Boston Public Library. Blaser was also in Boston at this time, and the pair made contact with a number of local poets, including John Wieners, Stephen Jonas, and Joe Dunn.

Spicer returned to San Francisco in 1956 and started working on After Lorca. This book represented a major change in direction for two reasons. Firstly, he came to the conclusion that stand-alone poems (which Spicer referred to as his one-night stands) were unsatisfactory and that henceforth he would compose serial poems. In fact, he wrote to Blaser that ‘all my stuff from the past (except the Elegies and Troilus) looks foul to me.’ Secondly, in writing After Lorca, he began to practice what he called “poetry as dictation”.

In 1957, Spicer ran a workshop called Poetry as Magic at San Francisco State College, which was attended by Duncan, Helen Adam, James Broughton, Joe Dunn, Jack Gilbert, and George Stanley. He also participated in, and sometimes hosted, Blabbermouth Night at a literary bar called The Place. This was a kind of contest of improvised poetry and encouraged Spicer’s view of poetry as being dictated to the poet. (more…)

White Rabbit Press

IMG_3062From 1957-1968, the White Rabbit Press published sixty-three books and ten broadsides. It was the primary publisher of the work of Spicer, Robin Blaser, and Robert Duncan—the three central figures of the literary movement first known as the Berkeley Renaissance, and later as the San Francisco Renaissance. 

Founded by Joe Dunn in 1957 to print the poetry of the Jack Spicer Circle, the first ten books were printed surreptitiously on a multilith at the Greyhound Bus offices on 7th street in San Francisco. These early books were illustrated by Jess, Robert Duncan, and Kenn Davis.

After a four-year hiatus, the imprint was revived in 1962 by Graham Mackintosh with Spicer’s LAMENT FOR THE MAKERS, which was published in a small edition of less than 100 copies and illustrated by Mackintosh.  (more…)

EARTHSHIP

ihf_earthshipaihf_earthshipc

Ian Hamilton Finlay. EARTHSHIP
Wild Hawthorn Press, 1965 (Murray 4.6)
Rare multiple in printed box, less than 50 made. Silkscreen poem texts stapled together in box which can be taken out and exhibits beautifully – various permutations of the poem depending on arrangement of the organic curved shapes. A highly sought after and very hard to find piece by Finlay – an ingenious Concrete Poem.  (more…)

ihf_earthshipb

Richard Brautigan

Richard Gary Brautigan (January 30, 1935 – ca. September 14, 1984) was an American novelist, poet, and short story writer. brautigan_01Writing about nature, life, and emotion, his work often employs 
comedy, parody, and satire; his singular imagination provided the unusual settings for his themes. He is best known for his 1967 novel TROUT FISHING IN AMERICA.

Robert Novak wrote in Dictionary of Literary Biography that “Brautigan is commonly seen as the bridge between the Beat Movement of the 1950s and the youth revolution of the 1960s.”

Considered one of the primary writers of the “New Fiction,” Brautigan at first experienced difficulty in finding a publisher; thus his early work was only published by small presses.

About the body of Brautigan’s work, Guy Davenport commented in the Hudson Review: “Mr. Brautigan locates his writing on the barricade which the sane mind maintains against spiel and bilge, and here he cavorts with a divine idiocy, thumbing his nose. But he makes clear that at his immediate disposal is a fund of common sense he does not hesitate to bring into play. He is a kind of Thoreau who cannot keep a straight face.” (more…)

Piero Heliczer

Piero Giorgio Heliczer (June 20, 1937 in Rome, Italy – July 22, 1993 in Préaux-du-Perche, France) ph_foldingchairwas an Italian-American writer, screenwriter, poet, actor, publisher and underground filmmaker. Heliczer moved to Paris in 1957, where he established his imprint The Dead Language press, publishing his own poetry and later, work by authors Anselm Hollo, Gregory Corso, Jack Smith, and others. In the 1960s, Heliczer moved from Paris to London to New York, and, during that time, made his first film and soon fell in with the crowd that was buzzing around Andy Warhol’s Factory… (more)

…………………………………………………………………………………………………………..

Piero Heliczer & The Dead Language Press
Opening Party, February 20, 6 – 9 PM

Exhibit runs every day February 21 – March 14
Mon. – Fri. 11am – 6pm
Sat./Sun. 12pm – 4pm

Boo-Hooray
265 Canal St, 6th Floor
New York, NY 10013

Poor Old Tired Horse

Poor Old Tired Horse was published by Ian Hamilton Finlay’s Wild Hawthorn Press and ran for 25 issues from 1961 to 1967.

The magazine took its name from a line in Robert Creeley’s poem “PLEASE”, first appearing in A FORM OF WOMEN (Jargon, 1959):

This is a poem about a horse that got tired. 
Poor. Old. Tired. Horse.

It’s been called “one of the most important visual poetry magazines internationally” and helped introduce Concrete poetry to the UK.

whp_poth14

 

whp_poth19

 

The Galley Sail Review

The Galley Sail Review was edited by Stanley McNail in San Francisco starting in the late 1950s (issue 1 was Winter 1958) through the 80s. This isn’t quite as long of a stretch as The Wormwood Review, which was published by Marvin Malone from 1959 to 1999, but it’s an impressive run for a poetry magazine.

During the course of it’s run The Galley Sail Review published poetry and writing by: Philip Whalen, Robert Creeley, Ebbe Borregaard, Louis Zukofsky, Jonathan Williams, Charles Bukowski, William Carlos Williams, Russell Atkins, Gary Snyder, Clarence Major, Diane Wakowski, Joel Oppenheimer, Philip Lamantia, Cid Corman, Michael McClure, Margaret Randall, Loss Pequeño Glazier, James Broughton, Judson Crews, James Schevill, A.D. Winans, Peter Wild, Lyn Lifshin, Edward Mycue, and more.

buk_galleysail6

Issue 6 shown above contains Charles Bukowski’s A CONVERSATION IN A CHEAP ROOM.

THE GALLEY SAIL REVIEW, Volume 2, Number 2, Issue 6, edited by Stanley McNail.
San Francisco: Galley Sail Publications, June 1960
First edition, printed stapled wrappers, 5.5″ x 8.5″, 40 pages. (Dorbin C58)

For further reading and research see the Bukowski.net database of poems and the official Wormwood Review site.

Ian Hamilton Finlay

Finlay, Ian Hamilton. THE SEA-BED AND OTHER STORIES.
Edinburgh: Castle Wind Printers Limited, (1958)

First Edition of the authors first book with lino-cut illustrations by Zeljko Kujundzik. Stapled card wrappers, in a illustrated dustwrapper, 48 pages.

Short sketches, which contain no hint, aside from a preoccupation with maritime subjects, of the unusual works which would flow from Finlay’s imagination over the ensuing five decades. (Murray3.1)

ihf_seabed

Looks for more posts of work from Ian Hamilton Finlay and the Wild Hawthorn Press in the coming weeks.