Tag Archives: Jonathan Williams



“The three simple, almost starkly working-class issues of Measure followed glorious and overlooked “underground” poet John Wieners from Black Mountain College home to Boston, across country to San Francisco, and back to Boston again. In his years in San Francisco, from 1958 to 1960, Wieners attended (sometimes serving as host at his Scott Street apartment) the legendary Sunday afternoon poetry workshops of the charismatic poets Robert Duncan and Jack Spicer. Also present at the workshops were George Stanley, Harold Dull, Robin Blaser (The Pacific Nation), and many others…”
— from A Secret Location on the Lower East Side (Granary Books, 1998)

Measure, No. 1, edited by John Wieners
mags_measure01Boston: Measure, Summer 1957
Saddle-stapled printed wrappers, 5.5″ x 8.5″, 48 pages, letterpress printed at the Press of Villiers Publications..

“Measure is edited by John Wieners. It will be issued with the four seasons only through your support… Please understand that the opinions expressed in this magazine do not necessarily reflect those of the city.”

Tom Balas – “Le Fou”
Charles Olson – “Le Bonheur!”, “The Charge”, “Spring”
Edward Marshall – “One:”, “Two:”
Robin Blaser – “Poem”, “Letters to Freud”, “Poem by the Charles River”
Edward Dorn – “The Rick of Green Wood”
Larry Eigner – “Millionem”, “Brink”
Frank O’Hara – “section 9 from Second Avenue”
Fielding Dawson – “Two Drawings”
Stephen Jonas – “Word on Measure”, “Expanded Word on Measure”
Michael Rumaker – “Father”
Gavin Douglas – “The Blanket”
Jack Spicer – “Song for Bird and Myself”
Jonathan Williams – “Two Poems for Whitman, the Husbandman”
Robert Duncan – “The Propositions”

Measure, No. 2, edited by John Wieners
mags_measure2San Francisco: Measure, Winter 1958
Saddle-stapled printed wrappers, 5.5″ x 8.5″, 64 pages, letterpress printed at the Press of Villiers Publications.

“Magick is for the ones who ball, i.e. throw across”

Michael Rumaker – “The use of the Unconscious”
Robin Blaser – “The Hunger of Sound”
Robert Creeley – “Juggler’s Thot”
Michael Rumaker – “8 Dreams”
Jack Kerouac – “4 Choruses”
Charles Olson – “Descensus Spiritus No. 1”
Robert Duncan – “The Maiden”
Robert Creeley – “They Say”, “She Went to Say”
Jack Kerouac – “235th Chorus”
Edward Dorn – “Notes from the Fields”
Robert Duncan – “The Dance”
Stuart Z. Perkoff – “Feats of Death, Feasts of Love”
V. R. Lang – “The Recidivists”
Gregory Corso – “Yaaaah”
James Broughton – “Feathers or Lead”
Michael McClure – “The Magazine Cover”, “One & Two”
Robert Creeley – “The Tunnel”, “Just Friends”
Richard Duerden – “Musica No. 3”
Stephen Jonas – “Books 3 & 4 from a Long Poem”

Measure, No. 3, edited by John Wieners
mags_measure03Milton: Measure, Winter 1962
Saddle-stapled printed wrappers, 5.5″ x 8.5″, 36 pages, letterpress printed at the Press of Villiers Publications.

“THE CITY / 1 AM – Unreasonable fear, of the shadows of Harry Lime, of the dead reappearing”

James Schuyler – “Shed Market”, “Joint”
Gerrit Lansing – “Explorers”
Barbara Guest – “Safe Flights”, [untitled] “Once when he was a small boy…”,  “Abruptly, as if a Forest Might Say”
Helen Adam – “Anaid si Taerg (Great is Diana)”
Madeline Gleason – “Wind Said, Marry”
Robert Duncan – “What do I Know of the Old Lore?”
Jack Spicer – “Central Park West”
Larry Eigner – “Poem”
Tom Field – [untitled] “Form is never more than the extension…”
Edward Marshall – “Times Square”, “2”, “3”
John Wieners – “The Imperatrice”
Philip Lamantia – “Opus Magnum”
Sheri Martinelli – “Ruth Gildenberg”
Michael Rumaker – “The River at Night”
Charles Olson – “The Year is a Great Circle…”, The Post Virginal”, [untitled] “Desartes, age 34…”
John Haines – “Poem”, “Pawnee Dust”

Jonathan Williams

Jonathan Williams (March 8, 1929 – March 16, 2008) was an American poet, publisher, essayist, and photographer. He is known jw001as the founder of The Jargon Society, which has published poetry, experimental fiction, photography, and folk art since 1951.

Williams attended St. Albans School in Washington, D.C., and then Princeton University, before dropping out to attend the Chicago Institute of Design and Black Mountain College, where he studied painting and graphic arts with Stanley William Hayter.

Along with David Ruff, Williams founded The Jargon Society in San Francisco in 1951 , with the goal of publishing obscure writers.

Associated with the Black Mountain poets, Williams was inspired by the visual arts, music, and the natural world; he experimented with found poetry and at times illustrated his work. His interests included civil rights, Appalachia and the Appalachian Trail, folk arts, and avant-garde poetry.

Through the relatively obscure but highly influential Jargon Press, Williams promoted the writings of such poets as Denise Levertov, Lorine Niedecker, Basil Bunting, Robert Creeley, Charles Olson, Louis Zukofsky, Paul Metcalf, Lou Harrison, Mina Loy, Joel Oppenheimer, Ronald Johnson, James Broughton, Alfred Starr Hamilton and many other works by the American and British avant-garde.

Once described as a “a busy gadfly who happened somehow to pitch on a slope in western North Carolina,” Williams was a living link between the experimental poets of Modernism’s “second wave” and the unknown vernacular artists of Appalachia. Guy Davenport likened Williams’ use of “found language” to the use of “found footage” by avant-garde filmmakers, as well as describing Williams as a species of cultural anthropologist. Williams for his part explained the fascination of such material in plainer terms:

“Well, as you know, a lot of my poetry is found and that’s, I think, because I think I’m quite a good listener and I’m willing to lay back and listen, and I think it’s something do with living in the country. I mean, this place, Skywinding Farm, there are times when Tom Meyer and I will only see somebody from the outside world once or twice a week. And we’ve known each other so long that we don’t talk as much as we might. Tom can talk up a storm, He’s up there in the Duncan/Olson class. So I like to listen and I like to hear things, so if you listen carefully then you do find things. I do it all the time. I mean, you know the early book, Blues and Roots, which was done in the course of walking a big piece of the Appalachian Trail, I listened to mountain people for over a thousand miles and I really heard some amazing stuff. And I left it pretty much as I heard it. I didn’t have to do anything but organize a little bit, crystallize it, you know. That’s the thing I love about found material, you wake it up, you “make” it into something.”

The literary critic Hugh Kenner described Williams as the “truffle hound of American poetry”.

A. Primary Publications

(San Francisco): Jargon, 1951
First edition, 4″ x 13″ broadside folded twice to make a 4″ x 5″ leaflet, engraving by David Ruff, 50 copies. Printed by David Ruff at The Print Workshop. Published as Jargon 1. (Jaffe A4)


Black Mountain: Grapnel Press, 1951
First edition, 8.5″ x 11″ sheet folded once, 150 copies with envelope. (Jaffe A6)

3. Williams, Jonathan. RED/GRAY
Black Mountain: Jargon, 1952
First edition, 8.75″ x 10″ folio with halftone drawings by Paul Ellsworth tipped in, 100 copies. Publishes as Jargon 3. (Jaffe A7)

Stuttgart: Jargon, 1953
First edition, 40″ x 15.25″ sheet folded three times to make eight panels, 200 copies. Drawings by Charles Oscar. Publishes as Jargon 5. (Jaffe A8)

5. Williams, Jonathan. THE EMPIRE FINALS AT VERONA
Highlands: Jargon, 1956
First edition, perfect bound illustrated wrappers, 8″ x 10.75″, 26 pages, 1000 copies. Collages by Fielding Dawson. Publishes as Jargon 30. (Jaffe A12)

Highlands: Jargon, 1959
First edition, folded card in envelope, 5.5″ x 4.25″, handset and printed “for the friends of the Jargon Press” by Igal Roodenko. Published as Jargon 39. (Jaffe A13)

Further reading:
Jacket Magazine
Poetry Foundation

References consulted:



“ARK II, MOBY I, is the successor to THE ARK, a collection of verse, drawings, and articles published in San Francisco in 1947. This was probably the first coherent expression of a new aesthetic and social freedom, which as the years have gone by is now seen to be the characteristic approach of the post war II generation.

“This new gathering has concentrated on poetry and drawings because we feel that the social message has long since been taken for granted by those likely to be interested.”

-From the introduction to ARK II, MOBY I

San Francisco, Spring 1947
First edition, stapled sheets glued into printed wrappers, 72 pages including Contents and Notes on Contributors, letterpress printed, artwork by Ronald Bladen.

Patchen, Kenneth. Excerpt from SLEEPERS AWAKE. page 5
Boodson, Alison. Three Poems. page 12
Rexroth, Kenneth. Advent 1946. page 14
Laughlin IV, James. Now Love Speaks. page 15
Eberhart, Richard. At the End of War. page 16
Woodcock, George. What is Anarchism? page 19
Duncan, Robert. Four Poems. page 23
Goodman, Paul. The “Horace” of Corneille. page 32
Everson, William. If I Hide My Hand. page 38
Cummings, E. E. Four Poems. page 40
Hennacy, Ammon A. Christian Anarchism. page 42
Russell, Sanders. Six Poems. page 48
Lamantia, Philip. Another Autumn Coming. page 51
Stock, Robert. Poem on Holy Saturday. page 52
Rambo, Christopher. Peace To the Doomed Idol. page 54
Williams, William Carlos. Inquest. page 55
Russell, Sanders. E. E. Cummings and the Idea of Actuality. page 59
Duncan, Robert. Reviewing View, an Attack. page 62
Parkinson, Thomas. September Elegy. page 68
Moore, Richard. A Mediation. page 72 

San Francisco, 1956-1957
First edition, stapled wrappers, 46 pages including Notes on Contributors and advertisements for The Pocket Poets Series, Jargon, and Black Mountain Review, edited by Michael McClure and James Harmon, letterpress printed at the Press of Villiers Publications, artwork by Ronald Bladen..

Levertov, Denise. Central Park, Winter, After Sunset. Page 1
Levertov, Denise. A Song. Page 1
Levertov, Denise. The Springtime. Page 2
Levertov, Denise. The Third Dimension. Page 3
Levertov, Denise. Laying the Dust. Page 4
McClure, Michael. Canoe: Explication. Page 4
McClure, Michael. Logos: Knout. Page 5
Zukofsky, Louis. Michtam. Page 6
Zukofsky, Louis. George Washington. Page 7
Rexroth, Kenneth. 140 Syllables. Page 8
Russell, Sanders. Two Poems. Page 8
Duncan, Robert. The Law I Love is Major Mover. Page 10
Olson, Charles. As the Dead Prey Upon Us. Page 12
Kerouac, Jack. 230th Chorus from MEXICO CITY BLUES. Page 19
Ginsberg, Allen. The Trembling of the Veil. Page 20
Snyder, Gary. Groves, 12 fromMYTHS & TEXTS. Page27
Williams, Jonathan. The Switch Blade (or, John’s Other Wife). Page 27
Williams, Jonathan. Catullus: Carmen XVI. Page 28
Williams, Jonathan. Greque Musique d’Ameublement (Bar-Fixtures Dept.). Page 28
Perkoff, Stuart. The Recluses. Page 29
Creeley, Robert. Ballad of the Despairing Husband. Page 30
Dorn, Edward. The Revival. Page 32
Dorn, Edward. Lines from a Sitting Position. Page 32
Dorn, Edward. The Common Site. Page 33
Patchen, Kenneth. Another Hamlet is Heard From. Page 34
Patchen, Kenneth. The Most Hen. Page 35
Cox, Paul. Reclame. Page 35
Collins, Jess & Christian Morgenstern. Gallowbrother’s Song to Sophie; The Hangman’s Maiden. Page 36
Collins, Jess & Christian Morgenstern. Moonmatters. Page 36
Collins, Jess & Christian Morgenstern. Goat and Stalker. Page 37
Collins, Jess & Christian Morgenstern. How the Gallowschild Remembers the Names of the Months. Page 37
Whalen, Philip. Martyrdom of Two Pagans. Page 38
Ferlinghetti, Lawrence. Untitled: “Constantly risking absurdity…”. Page 39
Eberhart, Richard. Clocks. Page 40
Eberhart, Richard. Snow. Page 40
Hawthorne, Clive. Four Poems and Notes. Page 40
Harmon, James. Silver Fox Island. Page 42
Harmon, James. Hawk Inlet. Page 42
Harmon, James. The Wind on Market Street. Page 43
Harmon, James. For H. H. Page 44
Turnbull, Gael. A Self-Portrait. Page 44
Turnbull, Gael. Why Don’t You Answer? Page 45

San Francisco, Winter 1957
First edition, stapled wrappers, 48 pages including Notes on Contributors and advertisements for New Directions, and City Lights Books, edited by James Harmon, letterpress printed at the Press of Villiers Publications, artwork by Ronald Bladen.

Zukofsky, Louis. Barely and Widely. Page 3
Parkinson, Thomas. Two Vineyards. Page 4
Rexroth, Kenneth. Untitled: “I am fifty-two years old…”. Page 6
Hawthorne, Clive. Greeting, Sweets, The Dog. Page 7
Hawthorne, Clive. Art Blakey. Page 7
Hawthorne, Clive. Love Song. Page 8
Hawthorne, Clive. Night. Page 8
Hawthorne, Clive. Poem. Page 8
Fall, Donald. Caprice. Page 9
Fall, Donald. Eddy Street, San Francisco, 10.30 A.M. Page 9
Fall, Donald. To H. L. Page 10
Fall, Donald. A Respectful Statement on Sex in Unsettled Times. Page 10
Fall, Donald. Postcard. Page 10
Fall, Donald. Abstract Celebration. Page 11
Roskolenko, Harry. Images of Disorder. Page 11
Roskolenko, Harry. My Father’s Profession. Page 12
Roskolenko, Harry. The Streets of Home. Page 12
Roskolenko, Harry. Charlie. Page 13
Boyd, Bruce. Nocturne for the West. Page 13
Perkoff, Stuart Z. Utter Fascinations. Page 14
Sanzenbach, Nicole. Consider Children in the Street. Page 16
Sanzenbach, Nicole. To Allen. Page 16
Whalen, Philip. A Dim View of Berkeley in the Spring. Page 17
Snyder, Gary. What I Think About When I Meditate. Page 18.
Ginsberg, Allen. An Atypical Affair. Page 19
Ginsberg, Allen. A Typical Affair. Page 20
Ginsberg, Allen. How Come He Got Canned at the Ribbon Factory. Page 21
Kerouac, Jack. San Francisco Blues (two excerpts). Page 21
Margolis, William J. Use Your Imagination (no one else does). Page 22
Ferlinghetti, Lawrence. Frame This Picture. Page 23
Wallick, Philip. My Apartment is a Pastoral Apartment. Page 25
Maclaine, Christopher. Three. Page 26
DeJong, David Cornel. Hour of Damnation. Page 27
DeJong, David Cornel. White Collar Class. Page 27
Orlovitz, Gil. The Beggar. Page 28
Lifton, Mitchell. Song. Page 28
Galler, David. Thoughts in the Ward. Page 30
Wernham, Guy. Nature Loves to Hide Herself. Page 32
Wernham, Guy. L’Homme Arraignee. Page 32
Larsen, Carl. The Work of Hands. Page 34
Eberhart, Richard. Hockey. Page 35
Eberhart, Richard. Dogs. Page 35
Uronivitz, Laura. How St George Met The Dragon. Page 36
Gilbert, Jack. Who Cried Love. Page 37
Romero, Idell Tarlow. Message on a Tree Trunk. Page 37
Romero, Idell Tarlow. Written on a Curbstone. Page 38
Corman, Cid. Agamemnon. Page 38
Turnbull, Gael. October. Page 39
Turnbull, Gael. The War. Page 40
Lipton, Lawrence. End of The Nile. Page 41

The Jargon Society

The First 50, a checklist

The following list contains only those titles appearing in the sequence beginning with Jonathan Williams’ Garbage Litters the Iron Face of the Sun’s Child (Jargon 1). Jargon Society postcards, broadsides, billboards and other ephemeral items are not included.

(San Francisco): Jargon, 1951
First edition, 4″ x 13″ broadside folded twice to make a 4″ x 5″ leaflet, engraving by David Ruff, 50 copies. Printed by David Ruff at The Print Workshop. Published as Jargon 1. (Jaffe A4)

2. Oppenheimer, Joel. THE DANCER
jargon_dancerHighlands: Jargon, 1951
First edition, illustration by Robert Rauschenberg, 150 copies. Printed at the The Sad Devil Press, Black Mountain College. Published as Jargon 2.

3. Williams, Jonathan. RED / GRAY 
Black Mountain, 1952
Drawings by Paul Ellsworth, 100 copies.

Black Mountain, 1952
Drawings by Dan Rice, 25 copies.

Stuttgart, 1953
Drawings by Charles Oscar, 200 copies.

Karlsruhe, 1953
450 copies.

7. Olson, Charles. THE MAXIMUS POEMS / 1-10
Suttgart, 1953
Calligraphy by Jonathan Williams, 300 copies, 9″ x 12″, 46 pages plus prospectus by Creeley.

Karlsruhe, 1953
Drawings by René Laubiès, 200 copies, 15 pages.

9. Olson, Charles. THE MAXIMUS POEMS / 11-22
Suttgart, 1956
Calligraphy by Jonathan Williams, 350 copies.

10. Creeley, Robert. ALL THAT IS LOVELY IN MEN
jargon_allthatAsheville: Jonathan Williams – Publisher, 1955
First edition, perfect bound in illustrated wrappers, drawings by Dan Rice, photograph by Jonathan Williams, 6″ x 8″, 44 pages, 200 copies. Signed by Creeley and Rice on the colophon. Printed by the Biltmore Press. Published as Jargon 10. (Novik A6)

11. Patchen, Kenneth. POEM-SCAPES
Highlands, 1958.

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

13a. Williams, Jonathan. AMEN / HUZZA / SELAH
Black Mountain, 1960
“A Preface?” by Louis Zukofsky. Photographs by Jonathan Williams.

13b. Williams, Jonathan. ELEGIES AND CELEBRATIONS 
Highlands, 1962
Preface by Robert Duncan. Photographs by Aaron Siskind and Jonathan Williams.

13c. Williams, Jonathan. JAMMIN’ THE GREEK SCENE 
Nota 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.

14. Duncan, Robert. LETTERS: POEMS 1953-1956
Highlands, 1958
Drawings by Robert Duncan.

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 
Karlsruhe, 1956
Drawing by Fielding Dawson. Photograph by Charles Kessler.

Highlands, 1956.
Introduction by William Carlos Williams. Second edition includes thirty additional poems.

19. Denise Levertov. OVERLAND TO THE ISLANDS
Highlands, 1958
Drawings by Al Kresch. Calligraphy by Jonathan Williams.

20. Michael McClure. PASSAGE
mcclure_passageBig Sur: Jonathan Williams – Publisher, 1956
First edition, sewn wrappers, 7.25? x 10.75?, 12 pages, 200 copies. Cover by Jonathan Williams. Published as Jargon 20. Printed by the Windhover Press. (Clements A1)

21. Kenneth Patchen. HURRAH FOR ANYTHING 
Highlands, 1957
Drawings by Kenneth Patchen.

22. Henry Miller. THE RED NOTEBOOK
Highlands, 1958
Drawings by Henry Miller. Phorograph by Wynn Bullock.

Highlands, 1958
Introductions by William Carlos Williams, Kenneth Rexroth and Denise Levertov. Drawings by Emerson Woelffer.

24. Charles Olson. THE MAXIMUS POEMS
New York, 1960
Photograph by Frederick Sommer. Published in association with Corinth Books.

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

26. Robert Creeley. THE WHIP
Highlands, 1957
Cover design by René Laubiès. Drawings by Kirsten Hoeck.

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
New York, 1959
Photograph by Jonathan Williams.

30. Jonathan Williams. THE EMPIRE FINALS AT VERONA
Highlands, 1959
Drawings and collage by Fielding Dawson.

31. Williams, Jonathan ed. 14 POETS, 1 ARTIST 
New York, 1958
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
New York, 1959
Photograph by Robert Schiller. Published in association with Corinth Books.

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
Highlands, 1969
Drawings by Ray Johnson.

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.

Highlands, 1959
Handset and printed “for the friends of the Jargon Press” by Igal Roodenko.

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

Highlands, 1960
Jargon’s Christmas in 1960

42. Ronald Johnson. A LINE OF POETRY, A ROW OF TREES
Highlands, 1964
Drawings by Thomas George. Printed by the Auerhahn Press, San Francisco.

Highlands, 1965
Iconography by Jonathan Williams.

Highlands, 1962
Introduction by Russell Davenport.

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
Highlands, 1966
Photograph by Ralph Eugene Meatyard.

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)
Penland, 1968
Plant prints by A. Doyle Moore.

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

Penland, 1971
Introduction by John Jacob Nies. Preface by Jonathan Williams.

References consulted:

A Jargon Society Checklist
Books & Company 1979

Jargon at Forty: 1951-1991
SUNY, 1991