The Jargon Society

Jargon’s first publication, which contained a poem by Jonathan Williams and an engraving by David Ruff, was published in San Francisco in 1951. The press blossomed at Black Mountain College where its peripatetic director moved to study photography with Harry Callahan and Aaron Siskind. Jargon’s second publication was a poem by Joel Oppenheimer (“The Dancer”) with a drawing by Robert Rauschenberg. Over the next several years the press would publish Kenneth Patchen, Robert Creeley, The Maximus Poems by Charles Olson, more work by Williams, Louis Zukofsky, Denise Levertov, Michael McClure, Mina Loy, Robert Duncan, Fielding Dawson, Irving Layton, Guy Davenport, Paul Metcalf—the list goes on and on.

When asked why he published what he had, Williams replied, “For pleasure surely. I am a stubborn, mountaineer Celt with an orphic, priapic, sybaritic streak that must have come to me, along with H. P. Lovecraft, from Outer Cosmic Infinity. Or maybe Flash Gordon brought it from Mongo? Jargon has allowed me to fill my shelves with books I cared for as passionately as I cared for the beloved books of childhood—which I still have: Oz, The Hobbit, The Wind in the Willows, Dr. Doolittle, Ransome, Kipling, et al.”

— Steve Clay and Rodney Phillips in A SECRET LOCATION ON THE LOWER EAST SIDE (Granary Books, 1998)


1. Williams, Jonathan. GARBAGE LITTERS THE IRON FACE OF THE SUN’S CHILD
First edition:
San Francisco: Jargon, June 1951
Broadside measuring 4″ x 13″ folded twice to make a 4″ x 5″ leaflet, 50 copies, letterpress printed by David Ruff at The Print Workshop. Engraving by David Ruff Published as Jargon 1. (Jaffe A4)
[not in archive]

2. Oppenheimer, Joel. THE DANCER
jargon_dancerFirst edition:
Highlands: Jargon, 1951
Single sheet folded once to make a 4-page booklet, 150 copies. Illustration by Robert Rauschenberg. Printed at the The Sad Devil Press by Joel Oppenheimer at Black Mountain College. Published as Jargon 2.

3. Williams, Jonathan. RED / GRAY 
a. First edition, regular issue:
Black Mountain: Jonathan Williams, January 1952
Folio sheet folded three times to make a 12-page gate-fold booklet, 8.5″ x 10″ (when folded), 100 copies. Drawings by Paul Ellsworth tipped in. Printed at the The Sad Devil Press by Joel Oppenheimer at Black Mountain College. Published as Jargon 3. (Jaffe A7)

b. First edition, signed issue:
Black Mountain: Jonathan Williams, January 1952
Folio sheet folded three times to make a 12-page gate-fold booklet, 8.5″ x 10″ (when folded), 50 copies signed by the writer and illustrator. Drawings by Paul Ellsworth tipped in. Printed at the The Sad Devil Press by Joel Oppenheimer at Black Mountain College. Published as Jargon 3. (Jaffe A7)

4. Kalos, Victor. THE DOUBLE-BACKED BEAST
Black Mountain, 1952
Drawings by Dan Rice, 25 copies.

5. Williams, Jonathan. FOUR STOPPAGES / A CONFIGURATION
First edition:
Stuttgart: Jonathan Williams, 1953
Folio sheet measuring 40″ x 15″ folded three times to make eight panels in envelope with Williams’ printed military return address, 200 copies. Drawings by Charles Oscar. Published as Jargon 5. (Jaffe A8)

6. Patchen, Kenneth. FABLES & OTHER LITTLE TALES
a. First edition, regular issue:
Karlsruhe-Baden: Jonathan Williams · Publisher, Summer 1953
Perfect-bound in printed dust jacket, 6.5″ x 9.25″, 130 pages, 450 copies. Published as Jargon 6. (Morgan A21a)

b. First edition, painted issue:
Karlsruhe-Baden: Jonathan Williams · Publisher, Summer 1953
Perfect-bound in hand-painted dust jacket, 6.5″ x 9.25″, 130 pages, 50 copies. Published as Jargon 6. (Morgan A21b)

7. Olson, Charles. THE MAXIMUS POEMS / 1-10
a. First edition, regular issue:
Suttgart: Jonathan Williams · Publisher, Summer 1953
Hand-sewn in printed and illustrated dust jacket, 9.25 x 12″, 46 pages plus Foreword by Creeley, 300 copies. Calligraphy by Jonathan Williams. (Butterick & Glover A8)

b. First edition, donor’s issue:
Suttgart: Jonathan Williams · Publisher, Summer 1953
Hand-sewn in printed and illustrated dust jacket, 9.25 x 12″, 46 pages plus Foreword by Creeley, 50 signed copies on special paper and boxed. Calligraphy by Jonathan Williams. (Butterick & Glover A8)

8. Creeley, Robert. THE IMMORAL PROPOSITION
First edition:
Karlsruhe: Jonathan Williams, 1953
String-bound in illustrated wrappers, 9″ x 6.5″, 200 copies. Illustrated by René Laubiès, 200 copies, 15 pages. Published as Jargon 8. (Novik A3)

9. Olson, Charles. THE MAXIMUS POEMS / 11-22
a. First edition, regular issue:
Suttgart: Jonathan Williams · Publisher, Spring 1956
Hand-sewn in printed and illustrated dust jacket, 9.25 x 12″, 52 pages, 350 copies. Calligraphy by Jonathan Williams. Published as Jargon 9. (Butterick & Glover A11)

b. First edition, regular issue:
Suttgart: Jonathan Williams · Publisher, Spring 1956
Hand-sewn in printed and illustrated dust jacket, 9.25 x 12″, 52 pages plus Foreword by Creeley, 25 signed copies on special paper and boxed. Calligraphy by Jonathan Williams. Published as Jargon 9. (Butterick & Glover A11)

10. Creeley, Robert. ALL THAT IS LOVELY IN MEN
jargon_allthatFirst edition: 
Asheville: Jonathan Williams, 1955
Perfect bound in printed and illustrated wrappers, 6″ x 8″, 44 pages, 200 copies. Drawings by Dan Rice, photograph by Jonathan Williams,  Signed by Creeley and Rice on the colophon page. Printed by the Biltmore Press in Asheville. Published as Jargon 10. (Novik A6)

11. Patchen, Kenneth. POEM-SCAPES
a. First edition, regular issue:
Highlands: Jonathan Williams, January 1958
Perfect-bound in printed and illustrated dust jacket, 5″ x 8″, 42 pages, 325 copies. Published as Jargon 11. (Morgan A28d)

b. First edition, painted issue:
Highlands: Jonathan Williams, January 1958
Hardcover in hand-painted dust jacket, 5″ x 8″, 42 pages, 75 numbered and signed copies. Published as Jargon 11. (Morgan A28c)

c. First edition, “Gold and Gray” issue:
Highlands: Jonathan Williams, January 1958
Hardcover in hand-painted dust jacket, 5″ x 8″, 42 pages, 42 numbered and signed copies with a manuscript poem. Published as Jargon 11. (Morgan A28b)

12. Zukofsky, Louis. A TEST OF POETRY
New York, 1964.

13a. Williams, Jonathan. AMEN / HUZZA / SELAH
First edition:
Black Mountain: Jargon, Summer 1960
Perfect-bound in printed and illustrated french-fold wrappers, 5.5″ x 8″, 44 pages, 700 copies. Preface by Louis Zukofsky. Photographs by Jonathan Williams. Published as Jargon 13a. (Jaffe A15)

13b. Williams, Jonathan. ELEGIES AND CELEBRATIONS 
First edition:
Highlands: Jargon, Summer 1962
Perfect-bound in printed and illustrated french-fold wrappers, 5.5″ x 8″, 48 pages, 750 copies. Preface by Robert Duncan. Photographs by Aaron Siskind and Jonathan Williams. Published as Jargon 13b. (Jaffe A22)

13c. Williams, Jonathan. JAMMIN’ THE GREEK SCENE 
Note by Charles Olson. Drawings by Fielding Dawson. James Jaffe notes, “Approximately 4 proof copies were produced for a projected edition of 300 copies, but the book, with a cover designed by Fielding Dawson, was never published.” Karlsruhe, 1959. (Jaffe A16)

14. Duncan, Robert. LETTERS: POEMS 1953-1956
a. First edition, regular copies:
Highlands: Jonathan Williams, 1958
Bound in marbled wrappers, 6.75″ x 10″, 450 numbered and signed copies. Drawings by Robert Duncan. Printed by Claude Fredericks. Published as Jargon 14. (Bertholf A9a)

a. First edition, hardcover copies:
Highlands: Jonathan Williams, 1958
Hardcover, 6.75″ x 10″, 450 numbered and signed copies. Drawings by Robert Duncan. Printed by Claude Fredericks. Published as Jargon 14. (Bertholf A9b)

15. Zukofsky, Louis. SOME TIME
Sutgart, 1956
A song setting on the cover by Celia Zukofsky.

16. Oppenheimer, Joel. THE DUTIFUL SON
Highlands, 1957
Frontispiece by Joseph Fiore.

17. Perkoff, Stuart Z. THE SUICIDE ROOM 
First edition:
Karlsruhe: Jonathan Williams, 1956
Bound in printed and illustrated wrappers, 7.25″ x 9″, 200 copies. Drawing by Fielding Dawson. Photograph by Charles Kessler. Published as Jargon 17.

18. Irving Layton. THE IMPROVED BINOCULARS
First edition:
Highlands: Jonathan Williams, Autumn 1956
Perfect-bound in printed and illustrated French-fold wrappers, 6″ x 9″, 500 copies. Introduction by William Carlos Williams. Printed by the Stephens Press in Asheville. Published as Jargon 18.

19. Denise Levertov. OVERLAND TO THE ISLANDS
a. First edition, regular copies:
Highlands: Jonathan Williams, 1958
Perfect-bound in printed and illustrated dust jacket, 6″ x 9.75″, 450 copies. Illustrated by Al Kresch. Calligraphy by Jonathan Williams. Printed by Heritage Printers in Charlotte. Published as Jargon 19. (Wilson A4a)

a. First edition, numbered and signed copies:
Highlands: Jonathan Williams, Spring 1964
Perfect-bound in printed and marbled dust jacket, 6″ x 9.75″, 50 numbered and signed copies. Illustrated by Al Kresch. Printed by Heritage Printers in Charlotte. Published as Jargon 19. (Wilson A4b)

20. Michael McClure. PASSAGE
mcclure_passageFirst edition:
Big Sur: Jonathan Williams, 1956
Hand-sewn in printed wrappers, 7.25″ x 10.75″, 12 pages, 200 copies. Cover by Jonathan Williams. Printed by the Windhover Press. Published as Jargon 20.  (Clements A1)

21. Kenneth Patchen. HURRAH FOR ANYTHING
a. First edition, regular issue:
Highlands: Jonathan Williams, 1957
Perfect-bound in printed and illustrated dust jacket, 5.5″ x 8.25″, 62 pages, 2500 copies, Drawings by Kenneth Patchen. Published as Jargon 21. (Morgan A26a)

b. First edition, painted issue:
Highlands: Jonathan Williams, 1957
Perfect-bound in printed and illustrated dust jacket, 5.5″ x 8.25″, 62 pages, 100 copies, Drawings by Kenneth Patchen. Published as Jargon 21. (Morgan A26b)

22. Henry Miller. THE RED NOTEBOOK
First edition:
Highlands: Jonathan Williams|Jargon Books, 1958
Perfect-bound in printed and illustrated french-fold wrappers, 5.5″ x 8″, 92 pages. Facsimile of one of two notebooks which Miller kept during his Air-Conditioned Nightmare tour across America in the early 1940’s. Author photograph by Wynn Bullock. Published as Jargon 22.

23. Mina Loy. LUNAR BAEDEKER AND TIME-TABLES
Highlands, 1958
Introductions by William Carlos Williams, Kenneth Rexroth and Denise Levertov. Drawings by Emerson Woelffer.

24. Charles Olson. THE MAXIMUS POEMS
New York: Jargon|Corinth Books, November 1960
Perefect-bound in printed and illustrated wrappers, 6″ x 9″, 160 pages, 1893 copies, Photograph by Frederick Sommer. Published in association with Corinth Books. Published as Jargon 24. (Butterick & Glover A14)

New York: Jargon|Corinth Books, November 1960
Hardcover, 6″ x 9″, 160 pages, 75 numbered copies, Photograph by Frederick Sommer. Published in association with Corinth Books. Published as Jargon 24. (Butterick & Glover A14)

New York: Jargon|Corinth Books, November 1960
Hardcover, 6″ x 9″, 160 pages, 26 lettered and signed copies, Photograph by Frederick Sommer. Published in association with Corinth Books. Published as Jargon 24. (Butterick & Glover A14)

25. Paul C. Metcalf. WILL WEST
Asheville, 1956.

26. Robert Creeley. THE WHIP
a. First edition, regular copies:
Worchester: Migrant Books, Summer 1957
Perfect-bound in printed and illustrated wrappers, 5″ x 6.75″, 49 pages, 500 copies (plus 100 in cloth). Cover design by René Laubiès. Printed by Mossén Alcover in Palma de Mallorca. Published as Jargon 26 (Novik A8)

a. First edition, hardcover copies:
Worchester: Migrant Books, Summer 1957
Hardcover with printed spine, 5″ x 6.75″, 49 pages, 100 copies.  Printed by Mossén Alcover in Palma de Mallorca. Published as Jargon 26 (Novik A8)

27. Peyton Houston. SONNET VARIATIONS
Highlands, 1962
Photograph by Henry Holmes Smith.

28. Irving Layton. A LAUGHTER IN THE MIND
Highlands, 1958
Photograph by Frederick Sommer.

29. Bob Brown. 1450-1950
First edition:
New York, Jargon|Corinth, 1959
Perfect-bound in printed and illustrated wrappers, 5.5″ x 8.5″, 70 pages. Cover photograph by Jonathan Williams. Printed by Heritage Printers in Charlotte. Published as Jargon 29.

30. Jonathan Williams. THE EMPIRE FINALS AT VERONA
First edition:
Highlands: Jonathan Williams, September 1959
Perfect-bound in printed and illustrated French-fold wrappers, 8″ x 10.75″, 32 pages. Drawings and collage by Fielding Dawson. Published as Jargon 30. (Jaffe A12)

31. Williams, Jonathan ed. 14 POETS, 1 ARTIST 
First edition:
Highlands: Jonathan Williams, 1958
Unbound printed wrappers containing 14 printed pages, 5.75″ x 9″. Drawings by Fielding Dawson. Contributors include Paul Blackburn, Bob Brown, Edward Dahlberg, Max Finstein, Allen Ginsberg, Paul Goodman, Denise Levertov, Walter Lowenfels, Edward Marshall, E.A. Navaretta, Joel Oppenheimer, Gilbert Sorrentino, Jonathan Williams and Louis Zukofsky.

32. Walter Lowenfels. SOME DEATHS
Highlands, 1964
Introduction by Jonathan Williams. Photographs by Robert Schiller.

33. Robert Creeley. A FORM OF WOMEN
First edition:
New York: Jargon Books|Corinth Books, 1959
Perfect-bound in printed and illustrated wrappers, 5.5″ x 8″, 64 pages, 2000 copies. Cover photograph by Robert Schiller. Printed by Heritage Printers in Charlotte. Published as Jargon 33. (Novik A9)

34. Bob Brown. THE SELECTED POEMS 
Introduction by Kay Boyle. Drawing by Reuben Nakian. Jargon 34 was projected but never published.

35. Irving Layton. A RED CARPET FOR THE SUN
Highlands, 1959
Photograph by Harry Callahan.

36. Larry Eigner. ON MY EYES
Highlands, 1960
Introduction by Denise Levertov. Photographs by Harry Callahan.

37. Russell Edson. WHAT A MAN CAN SEE
First edition:
Penland: The Jargon Society, 1969
Perfect-bound in printed and illustrated french-fold wrappers and unprinted glassine dust jacket, 7.5″ x 10″, 86 pages. Drawings by Ray Johnson. Printed by Heritage Printers in Charlotte. Published as Jargon 37.

38. Giuseppe Gioachino Belli. THE ROMAN SONNETS
Highlands, 1960
Translated by Harold Norse. Preface by William Carlos Williams. Introduction by Alberto Moravia. Cover by Ray Johnson. Collage by Jean-Jacques Lebel.

39. Jonathan Williams. LORD! LORD! LORD!: TRADITIONAL FUNERAL MUSIC
First edition:
Highlands: Jonathan Williams, 1959
Folding card, 5.5″ x 4.5″, handset and printed “for the friends of the Jargon Press” by Igal Roodenko. (Jaffe A13)

40. Gilbert Sorrentino. THE DARKNESS SURROUNDS US
Highlands, 1960
Introduction by Joel Oppenheimer. Collage and drawings by Fielding Dawson.

41. Lou Harrison. JARGON’S CHRISTMAS IN 1960: THREE CHORUSES FROM OPERA LIBRETTI, BY LOU HARRISON FOR ROBERT DUNCAN
First edition:
Highlands: Jonathan Williams, 1960
Hand-sewn in wrappers, 5.5″ x 4″, 4 pages. Published as Jargon 41.


42. Ronald Johnson. A LINE OF POETRY, A ROW OF TREES
a. First edition, regular copies:
Highlands: The Nantahala Foundation, 1964
Perfect-bound in printed and illustrated french-fold wrappers and glassine dust jacket, 6.5″ x 10″, 80 pages, 500 copies with errata slip noting the omitted dedication to Olson laid in. Illustrated by Thomas George. Printed at the Auerhahn Press in San Francisco. The author’s first book. Published as Jargon 42. (Auerhahn 35)

b. First edition, hardcover copies:
Highlands: The Nantahala Foundation, 1964
Perfect-bound in printed and illustrated french-fold wrappers and glassine dust jacket, 6.5″ x 10″, 80 pages, 50 numbered and signed copies with errata slip noting the omitted dedication to Olson laid in. Illustrated by Thomas George. Printed at the Auerhahn Press in San Francisco. The author’s first book. Published as Jargon 42.  (Auerhahn 35)

43. Paul C. Metcalf. GENOA: A TELLING OF WONDERS
Highlands, 1965
Iconography by Jonathan Williams.

44. Buckminster Fuller. UNTITLED EPIC POEM ON THE HISTORY OF INDUSTRIALIZATION
First edition:
Highlands: The Nantahala Foundation, 1962
Perfect-bound in printed and illustrated french-fold wrappers and printed glassine dust jacket, 5″ x 7.5″, 227 pages. Introduction by Russell Davenport. Printed by Heritage Printers in Charlotte. Published as Jargon 44.

45. Sherwood Anderson. SIX MID-AMERICAN CHANTS
Highlands, 1964
Photographs by Art Sinsabaugh. Preface by Edward Dahlberg. Postface by Frederick Eckman

46. Guy Davenport. FLOWERS AND LEAVES
First edition:
Highlands: The Nantahala Foundation, 1966
Perfect-bound in printed and illustrated french-fold wrappers, 6.25″ x 9.5″, 114 pages. Cover photograph by Ralph Eugene Meatyard. Designed and printed by Andrew Hoyem in San Francisco. Published as Jargon 46.

47. Merle Hoyleman. Letters to Christopher
Introduction by George Marion O’Donnell. Jargon 47 was projected but never published.

48. Lorine Niedecker. TENDERNESS & GRISTLE: THE COLLECTED POEMS (1936-1966)
First edition:
Penland: The Jargon Society, 1968
Perfect-bound in printed and illustrated wrappers, 6″ x 10″, 2000 copies. Plant prints by A. Doyle Moore. Printed by the Falcon Press in Philadelphia. Published as Jargon 48.

49. Alfred Hamilton Starr. POEMS
Penland, 1970
Introduction by Geof Hewitt. Drawings by Philip Van Aver. Photograph by Simpson Kalisher.

50. Doris Ulmann. THE APPALACHIAN PHOTOGRAPHS OF DORIS ULMANN
Penland, 1971
Introduction by John Jacob Nies. Preface by Jonathan Williams.


Online Resources:

Jacket Magazine

The Jargon Society


References Consulted:

A Jargon Society Checklist
Books & Company 1979

Jargon at Forty: 1951-1991
SUNY, 1991

Butterick, George F. and Albert Glover. A BIBLIOGRAPHY OF WORKS BY CHARLES OLSON
New York: The Phoenix Book Shop, 1967

Morgan, Richard G. KENNETH PATCHEN, AN ANNOTATED DESCRIPTIVE BIBLIOGRAPHY
Mamaroneck: Paul P. Appel – Publisher, 1978

Zukofsky, Celia. A BIBLIOGRAPHY OF LOUIS ZUKOFSKY
Los Angeles: Black Sparrow Press, 1969