The history of the Batman Gallery is detailed in the book “O Her Blackness Sparkles!” The Life and Times of the Batman Art Gallery, San Francisco 1960-1965, by Jack Foley.
From Stinson Beach in the late 1950s, Jess Collins and Robert Duncan published just two books under their Enkidu Surrogate imprint: Jack Spicer’s BILLY THE KID and Robert Duncan’s own FAUST FOUTU.
The books were distributed by White Rabbit Press.
Published during the so-called “magazine wars” of the early 1960s, George Stanley’s THE SAN FRANCISCO CAPITALIST BLOODSUCKER-N lasted just one issue. Stan Persky, Lew Ellingham, and Gail Chugg edited M, gathering contributions from a box at Gino & Carlo’s Bar in San Francisco’s North Beach. Richard Duerden was editing FOOT; with Ron Loewinsohn he was also editing THE RIVOLI REVIEW, produced in Duerden’s apartment on Rivoli Street in the Haight-Ashbury district. Loewinsohn and Richard Brautigan soon produced another magazine, CHANGE.
As Ron Loewinsohn recalled, “Everybody seemed to have access to a mimeograph machine. You could then put out your own magazine. This was marvelous: it meant instant publication, instant reaction from people.”
It wasn’t until 1964, that Stan Persksy’s OPEN SPACE took up the publishing necessary to the Jack Spicer circle and its friends…
Inspired by Stan Persky’s OPEN SPACE, Luther T. Cupp edited COW, which ran for three issues from 1965-1966. Cupp was nicknamed “Link” by Jack Spicer and went by the name Link Martin.
Contributors to this short-lived North Beach magazine include: Lawrence (Larry) Fagin, Stan Persky, Robin Blaser, George Stanley, Harold Dull, Joanne Kyger, Jack Spicer, Ronnie Primack, and others.
Starting with the publication of HEARSE 1 in 1957, E. V. Griffith’s HEARSE PRESS would go on to publish 17 issues of the little magazine, a series of 18 chapbooks including Charles Bukowski’s first, and COFFIN, a portfolio of broadsides. Among those published by HEARSE PRESS are Richard Brautigan, Charles Bukowski, Judson Crews, Russell Atkins, Mason Jordan Mason, Larry Eigner, Lawrence Ferlinghetti, Allen Ginsberg, Joel Oppenheimer, Paul Blackburn, Robert Creeley, LeRoi Jones, and many more.
According to Griffith in SHEAF, HEARSE, COFFIN, POETRY NOW: A HISTORY (Hearse Press, 1996):
“In format, HEARSE was a center-stapled booklet 5.5″ x 8.5″ page size; the wire staples which held the propensity for rusting. The Rhino Bristol cover stock ran through several different colors — blue, gray, green, yellow, and (much later) pink — with the name in black ink. (A few issues varied this by using white cover stock, and a colored ink.) Its appearance owed much to — in fact, almost copied — Larsen’s EXISTARIA.” (more…)
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 home. 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…)
From 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…)
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…)