Tag Archives: San Francisco


Born on January 2, 1922, Richard Rubenstein began his literary career in a local prep school when he won a poetry contest. Associated with the Beat Poets in the San Francisco Bay Area, Rubenstein worked to found and edit several small press poetry journals – Neurotica, first published in spring of 1948; Inferno, in late 1949; and Gryphon, in spring of 1950. In Gryphon he published early works of Robert Creeley and Denise Levertov, as well as the established authors Henry Treece, D.H. Emblem, e.e. cummings, and Cid Corman. He himself published a small chapbook, Beer and Angels, and produced a long manuscript of collected poems which went unpublished. Rubenstein’s health deteriorated because of his long-standing nervous condition and the alcohol he drank to combat it. He died on Yom Kippur in 1958.

1. GRYPHON, No. 1, edited by Richard Rubinstein
San Francisco: Gryphon, Spring 1950

2. GRYPHON, No. 2, edited by Richard Rubinstein
San Francisco: Gryphon, Fall 1950

3. GRYPHON, No. 3, edited by Richard Rubinstein
San Francisco: Gryphon, Spring 1951


Jack Spicer’s J ran for eight issues: Nos. 1–5 were edited by Spicer in North Beach where contributions were left in a box marked “J” in The Place, a bar on Grant Avenue in San Francisco; Nos. 6 and 7 (an Apparition of the late J) were edited by George Stanley in San Francisco and New York City respectively while no. 8 was edited by Harold Dull in Rome. Spicer believed that poetry was for poets and the magazine had a small circulation but cast a long shadow. Contributors included: Robin Blaser, Richard Brautigan, Bruce Boyd, Kay Johnson, Robert Duncan, Joe Dunn, Ron Loewinsohn, Joanne Kyger, Helen Adam, and others. Covers (sometimes hand-embellished) were by Fran Herndon (Nos. 1, 2, 4, 5), Russell FitzGerald (No. 3), and George Stanley (Nos. 6, 7).

J, No. 1, edited by Jack Spicer
mags_j01San Francisco: J, 1959
James Alexander
Ebbe Borregaard
Robin Blaser
Jack Spicer
Joe Dunn
Richard Brautigan
Kay Johnson
Robert Duncan

J, No. 2, 1959, edited by Jack Spicer
San Francisco: J, 1959
George Stanley
Fran Herndon
Jess Collins
Robert Duncan
Stan Persky

J, No. 3, 1959, edited by Jack Spicer
San Francisco: J, 1959
Bruce Boyd
Ron Loewinsohn
George Stanley
Damon Beard
Jack Spicer

J, No. 4, 1959, edited by Jack Spicer
mags_j04San Francisco: J, 1959
Robert Duncan
Richard Brautigan
Joanne Kyger
Donald Allen
John Ryan
George Stanley
Jack Spicer

J, No. 5, 1959, edited by Jack Spicer
mags_j05San Francisco: J, 1959
Larry Eigner
Jess Collins
Richard Brautigan
Kay Johnson
Ron Loewinsohn
George Stanley
Robert Duncan
Richard Duerden
Jack Spicer

J, No. 6, edited by George Stanley
San Francisco: J, 1959
Helen Adam
Paul Goodman
Joanne Kyger
Ron Loewinsohn

J, No. 7, edited by George Stanley
New York: J, 1959
Ebbe Borregaard
Stan Persky

J, No. 8, 1961, edited by Harold Dull
Rome: J, 1961
Harold Dull
Stan Persky

online excerpt from A Secret Location on the Lower East Side (Granary Books, 1998):

“In many ways the most beautiful of all the mimeo magazines, J had an eight-issue run. The first five issues were edited from North Beach bars by Jack Spicer with Fran Herndon as art editor. Spicer, who embodied the spirit of poetry in the Bay area, collected pieces for his magazine from a box marked “J” in The Place, a bar at 1546 Grant Avenue in San Francisco. A refugee from Los Angeles with two degrees from Berkeley, he had been a student of Josephine Miles there in the mid-1940s. They became close friends, and Spicer participated in the Friday afternoon poetry readings in Wheeler Hall during the late 1940s as well as the readings organized with Rocke-feller money by Ruth Witt-Diamant at the new Poetry Center at San Francisco State. Into the cauldron of poetic politics surrounding Miles, Kenneth Rexroth, Robert Duncan, Lawrence Ferlinghetti, and others, Spicer introduced his freest of spirits, sometimes more Caliban than Ariel. Spicer lived for words (even making his living as a research assistant on a lexicographical project at Berkeley). He could be found most evenings in one of the North Beach bars or coffeehouses leading the discussion on poetry, poetics, myth, linguistics, and other mysteries. Like Blake and Yeats (with the help of Mrs. Yeats), Spicer attempted to clear his mind and open himself to “dictation” from other sources, which he devotedly pursued. Spicer also believed wholeheartedly in the necessity of human beings’ helping each other through communication, which he confronted in the editorship of J, a little newsletter of the poetic spirit. Donald Allen acted as J’s distributor in New York (“New York Contributions are not forbidden. But quotaed”), selling copies for Spicer to the Wilentz brothers of the Eighth Street Book Shop. In an early letter to Spicer, Allen eagerly wondered “what your editorial policy may be. Seduction by print.””

Further Reading:

Mimeo Mimeo on J



“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”


The Spicer Circle magazine M appeared in 1962 in the period after J and before Open Space. Edited by poets Lew Ellingham and Stan Persky, the magazine published John Allen Ryan, George Stanley, Heinrich von Kleist (translated by Jim Herndon), Robin Blaser, William McNeill, Jack Moore, Gail Chugg, Bob Conner, David Melville and the editors. Ellingham spent years researching a biography of Spicer, which was eventually co-authored with poet Kevin Killian as Poet Be Like God (Wesleyan, 1998).

M, No. 1, edited by Lew Ellingham and Stan Persky
mags_m01San Francisco: M, Spring 1962
Side-stapled illustrated wrappers, 8.5″ x 11″, 64 pages, mimeograph printed.

“Contributions may be sent to 4 Harwood Alley of c/o ‘M’ at Gino & Carlo’s Bar, 548 Green Street, San Francisco 11. There is a box in the bar to receive contributions, and the bartender will hold any too large to be placed in the box.”

George Stanley – [untitled] “Not speaking in human speech…”
Lewis Ellingham – “Essays on Six Subjects”
Gail Chugg – “The Avenging Angel”
anonymous – “The River Bed”
Stan Persky – “Orpheus Under the Golden Gate Bridge”
George Stanley – “The Death of Orpheus”
Gail Chugg – “A Romantical Poem for Leigh Hunt”
Stan Persky – “Lake”
Gail Chugg – “The Spell Binders”
George Stanley – “The Great Wall of Canada”
anonymous – “The Eagle & The Sperm Whale”
anonymous – “Alaska, The Beautiful”
anonymous – “Change”
Stan Persky – “Twenty Years After”
Bob Conner – “To an Archaic Apollo”
anonymous – “The Commendatory”
anonymous – “The Guardians”
anonymous – “The Stone Statue”
Gail Chugg – “A Poem of Granite for Lew”
Stan Persky – “The Western Buildings”
Robin Blaser – “The Faerie Queene”
George Stanley – “The Crazy Bartender”
John Allen Ryan – “Fresco IV”
Jack Moore – [untitled] “I try at times…”
Wm McNeill – “Unyielding Demands”
Wm McNeill – “Kyoto: A Dream on the Banks of Two Rivers”
Bill McNeil – “By Heian’s Gate”
John Allen Ryan – “Convict Creek”
John Allen Ryan – “Second Annie Poem”
Heinrich von Kleist, trans. Jim Herndon – “On The Marionette Theatre”
David Melville – “Dop Dop Dop”

M, No. 2, edited by Lew Ellingham
mags_m02San Francisco: M, 1962
Side-stapled illustrated wrappers, 8.5″ x 11″, 48 pages, mimeograph printed. Cover illustration by Paul Alexander.

“This is the second issue, published on a summer holiday.”

Bill Roberts – “The Dwarf’s Handshake”
Jim Alexander – [untitled] “Promytheus wd hav askd…”
Larry Fagin – [untitled] “Though we come back…”
Helen Adam – “Memory”
Jack Flynn – “Jed”
Ruben Dario, trans. John Allen Ryan – “Cleopompa and Heliodemus”
Stan Persky – “The Astronomer”
Larry Fagin – “For Bill”
Ebbe Borregaard – “October Seventh Poem”
Jim Alexander – “Melody of Triumverates”
Bill Roberts – “The Tower and the Cross”
John Allen Ryan – “The Gleaners”
Tony Sherrod – [untitled] “Beneath one thigh…”
Parker Hodges – “Irresistably, the Birds”
Lewis Ellingham – “Poem for S.”
Larry Fagin – [untitled] “No don’t dead hide my dying giving…”

The Rivoli Review

The Rivoli Review, Vol. Zero, No. One, edited by Richard Duerden 
mags_rivoli01San Francicso: The Rivoli Review 1963
Side-stapled illustrated wrappers, 8.5″ x 11″, 24 pages, mimeograph printed. Cover illustration by Jess Collins.


Ford Madox Ford – “Meary Walker”
Robert Duncan – “Weacing the Design”
James Koller – [untitled] “mottled brown birds…”
Richard Duerden – “Seven: #2 La Martine Place”
Denise Levertov – “Hypocrite Women”
Lynn Lonidier – “Chagall and Bella”
Ron Loewinsohn – “Art for Art’s Sake”, “The Rain, The Rain”
Gerald Gilbert – [untitled] “Sunshine…”
Lorenzo Thomas – “Grass”, “West”
Robert Peterson – “Critical Times”
Ron Loewinsohn – “Fuck You Roger Maris”
Philip Whalen – “Plums, Metaphysics, An Investigation, A Visit and a Short Funeral Ode”
Ron Loewinsohn – “It is to be Bathed in Light”

The Rivoli Review, Vol. Zero, No. Two, edited by Richard Duerden 
mags_rivoli02San Francicso: The Rivoli Review 1964
Side-stapled illustrated wrappers, 8.5″ x 14″, 30 pages, mimeograph printed.


James Koller – “The People are Coming”
Ron Loewinsohn – “A Place to Go”
Jess Collins – “Song of the Pied Parrot”
Lew Brown – “from Lionel”
Deneen Brown – “Azalea Poem”
George Stanley – “Argus”
Robert Duncan – “Passages III”, “Passages 3-4”
Richard Duerden – “Silence, and Katharsis”
Lew Brown – “The Broadjump”, “from Lionel”
Jack Anderson – “The Scale of It”
Richard Duerden – “The Sonata”
Jack Anderson – “Man in a Doorway”
Gerard Malanga – “Final Sonnet XC”

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…)

Jack Spicer



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.

At Berkeley Spicer studied linguistics, finishing all but his dissertation for a PhD in Anglo-Saxon and Old Norse. In 1950 he lost his teaching assistantship after refusing to sign a “loyalty oath” to the United States, which the University of California required of all its employees under the Sloan-Levering Act. Spicer taught briefly at the University of Minnesota and worked for a short period of time in the rare books room at the Boston Public Library, but he lived the majority of his life in San Francisco working as a researcher in linguistics.

Jack Spicer at the opening of the 6 Gallery, Halloween 1954. Photo by Robert Berg.

Spicer helped to form the 6 Gallery with five painter friends in 1954. It was at the 6 Gallery during Spicer’s sojourn east that Allen Ginsberg first read Howl. As a native Californian, Spicer tended to view the Beats as usurpers and criticized the poetry and self-promotion of poets like Ginsberg and Lawrence Ferlinghetti, as well as the Beat ethos in general. Always weary of labels and definitions, Spicer tended to associate with small, intimate groups of poets who lived in the North Beach neighborhood of San Francisco. Spicer acted as a mentor and teacher to these young poets by running poetry workshops and providing (sometimes caustic) advice for young poets.

In a 1975 New York Times article, Richard Ellman concluded: “Jack Spicer’s poems are always poised just on the face side of language, dipping all the way over toward that sudden flip, as if an effort were being made through feeling strongly in simple words to sneak up on the event of a man ruminating about something, or celebrating something, without rhetorical formulae, in his own beautiful inept awkwardness. It’s that poised ineptitude and awkwardness of the anti-academic teacher, the scholar of linguistics who can’t say what he knows in formal language, and has chosen to be very naive and look and hear and do. Spicer was not a very happy poet. He was obsessed with possibilities he could only occasionally realize, and too aware of contemporary life to settle for anything less in his work than what he probably could not achieve. He must have been a great spirit.”

A. Books & Broadsides


1. After Lorca
spicer_lorcaSan Francisco: White Rabbit Press, Nov-Dec 1957
First edition, saddle-stapled printed wrappers, 6.5″ x 8.5″, 76 pages, 500 copies (26 lettered and signed). Jack Spicer’s first book. Cover illustration by Jess Collins. Introduction by Federico Garcia Lorca. (Johnston A2)

2. Homage to Creeley
spicer_homageAnnapolis: privately printed by Harold and Dore Dull, Summer 1959
First edition, side- staled sheets, 8.5″ x 11″, 33 pages, 100 copies. Incorporated into A4.
[not in archive]

3. Billy the Kid
spicer_billyStinson Beach: Enkidu Surrogate, Oct 1959
First edition, saddle-stapled illustrated wrappers, 6.5″ x 8.5″, 16 pages, 750 copies. Illustrations by Jess Collins.

4. The Heads of the Town Up to the Aether
spicer_headsSan Francisco: Auerhahn Press, 1962
A. First edition, perfect-bound illustrated wrappers, 4.75″ x 6.75″, 109 pages, 750 copies.
B. First edition, hardcover, signed by the author and artist, with an original drawing, 4.75″ x 7.25″, 109 pages, 50 copies, bound by the Schuberth
Illustrated by Fran Herndon. Printed announcement issued. (Auerhahn 21)

5. Lament for the Makers
spicer_lamentOakland: White Rabbit Press, 1962
First edition, sewn printed wrappers, 5.5″ x 8″, 16 pages, 125 copies. Cover illustration by Graham Mackintosh. (Johnston A11)

6. The Spicer-Ferlinghetti Correspondence
spicer_ferlingSan Francisco: White Rabbit Press, 1964
First edition, single 8.5? x 14? sheet folded once, letterpress.

7. The Holy Grail
spicer_holySan Francisco: White Rabbit Press 1964
First edition, saddle-stapled sheets glued into printed wrappers, 6.25″ x 8.5″, 80 pages.
Designed and printed by Graham Mackintosh. (Johnston A19)

8. Language
spicer_languageSan Francisco: White Rabbit Press, 1965
First edition, perfect-bound printed wrappers, 6.25″ x 10″, 72 pages. (Johnston A30)

9. “A Redwood Forest…”
spicer_redwoodSan Francisco: White Rabbit Press, 1965
First edition, broadside, 8″ x 10.25″, letterpress printed. (Johnston B1)

10. Book of Magazine Verse
spicer_magazineSan Francisco: White Rabbit Press, 1966
First edition, perfect-bound printed wrappers, 5.5″ x 7.75″, 56 pages, 1500 copies. Designed and printed by Graham Mackintosh. (Johnston A33)

11. The Day Five Thousand Fish Died in the Charles River
Pleasant Valley: Kriya Press, 1967
First edition, broadside, 11″ x 16″, 100 copies.

12. A Red Wheelbarrow
St. Aubens, Hove, Sussex: Peter Riley, 1968
limited offprint in 12 copies from Collection One

13. A Book of Music
spicer_musicSan Francisco: White Rabbit, 1969
First edition, saddle-stapled illustrated wrappers, 6.25″ x 9.25″, 20 pages. Illustrated by Graham Mackintosh.

14. The Holy Grail
spicer_holy2Berkeley: Jolly Roger Press, February 1969
First edition thus (pirated edition), stapled printed sheets, 8.5″ x 11″, 18 pages, 500 copies.

15. Indian summer: Minneapolis 1950
Brooklyn: Samuel Charters, 1970
First edition, broadside, 8″ x 18″, 100 copies. Published as Portents

16. The Red Wheelbarrow
Berkeley: Arif Press, 1971

17. Some Things from Jack
Verona: Plain Wrapper Press, 1972

18. Ballad of the Dead Woodcutter
Berkeley: Arif Press, 1973

19. Postscript
Albuquerque: Billy Goat Press, 1973
First edition, broadside, 11″ x 17″, 100 copies.

20. Admonitions
New York: Adventures in Poetry, 1974

21. A Lost Poem
Verona: Plain Wrapper Press, 1974

22. Fifteen False Propositions about God
South San Francisco: Manroot, 1974

23. An Ode and An Arcadia
Berkeley: Ark Press, 1974

24. The Collected Books of Jack Spicer, edited by Robin Blaser
Los Angeles: Black Sparrow Press, 1975

25. One Night Stand and other poems, edited by Donald Allen
San Francisco: Grey Fox Press, 1980

26. Collected Poems, 1945-46
Berkeley: Oyez/White Rabbit Press, 1981

27. The Tower of Babel: Jack Spicer’s Detective Novel, edited by Ed Foster and Kevin Killian
Hoboken, N.J: Talisman House, 1994

B. Contributions to Books and Anthologies

1. The New American Poetry, 1945-1960, edited by Donald Allen
New York: Grove Press, 1960
“Imaginary Elegies I-IV”

2. The New Writing in the U.S.A., edited by Donald Allen and Robert Creeley
Harmondsworth: Penguin, 1967
“Love Poems”

3. Poetics of the New American Poetry, edited by Donald Allen
New York: Grove Press, 1973

C. Contributions to Periodicals

1. The Occident, edited by Jocelyn Willat
mags_occidentwint46Berkeley, Winter 1946
“To the Semanticists”, “The Chess Game”, “A New Testament”

2. Contour Quarterly, Vol. 1, No. 1, edited by Chris Maclaine
mags_contour01Berkeley, April 1947
[untitled] “After the ocean, shattering with equinox…”, “4 A.M.”, “Chinoiserie”

3. Berkeley Miscellany, No. 1, edited by Robert Duncan
mags_miscellany01Berkeley, 1948
“A Night in Four Parts”, “Troy Poem”, “Sonnet”

4. Berkeley Miscellany, No. 2, edited by Robert Duncan
mags_miscellany02Berkeley, 1949
“The Scroll-Work on the Casket”

5. The Occident, edited by Lynne Brown
mags_occidentfall49Berkeley, Fall 1949
“The Poet & Poetry: A Symposium”

6. Language: Journal of the Linguistic Society of America, Vol. 28, No. 3, Part I
Baltimore, July-September 1952
“Correlation Methods of Comparing Ideolects in a Transition Area”

7. Evergreen Review, Vol. 1, No. 2, edited by Barney Rosset and Donald Allen
mags_evergreen0102New York City, 1957
“Berkeley in Time of Plague”, “The Dancing Ape…”, “Troy Poem”, “The Scroll-work on the Casket”, “Hibernation – After Morris Graves”, “Psychoanalysis: An Elegy”, “The Song of the Bird in the Loins”

8. Measure, No. 1, edited by John Wieners
mags_measure01Boston, Summer 1957
“Song for Bird and Myself”

9. Beatitude, No. 3, published by John Kelly
mags_beatitude03San Francisco, 23 May 1959
“Fifteen False Propositions about God”

10. Beatitude, No. 6, published by John Kelly
San Francisco, [June] 1959
“Epithalamium” [co-authored with Bruce Boyd, Ronald Primack, and George Stanley]

11. J, No. 1, edited by Jack Spicer
mags_j01San Francisco, 1959

12. J, No. 2, edited by Jack Spicer
San Francisco, 1959
[untitled] “Down to new beaches where the sea…”, “Epilog of Jim”

13. J, No. 3, edited by Jack Spicer
San Francisco, 1959
“Last Hokku”, [untitled] “The shabby sea where you float in…”

14. J, No. 4, edited by Jack Spicer
mags_j04San Francisco, [October] 1959

15. J, No. 5, edited by Jack Spicer
mags_j05San Francisco, 1959
“Fifth Elegy”

16. Beatitude, No. 17, edited by Bob Kaufman
mags_beatitude17San Francisco: City Light Books, Oct-Nov 1960
“When I hear the word Ferlinghetti / I reach for my g. . . n” [attributed to Jack Slicer]

17. J, No. 8, edited by Jack Spicer
San Francisco, 1961
“A Translation for Jim”

18. Foot, No. 2, edited by Richard Duerden and William Brown
Berkeley, 1962

19. The San Francisco Capitalist Bloodsucker / N
mags_capitalistSan Francisco, Spring 1962
“Three Marxist Essays”

20. Measure, No. 3, edited by John Wieners
mags_measure03Boston, Summer 1962
“Central Park West”

21. Open Space, No. 0, edited by Stan Persky
San Francisco, January 1964
[untitled] “This ocean, humiliating in its disguises…”

22. Open Space, No. 1, edited by Stan Persky
San Francisco, February 1964
“Sporting Life”

23. Open Space, No. 2, edited by Stan Persky
San Francisco, February 1964
“This is Submitted for your Valentine Contest”, [untitled] “I hear a banging on the door of night…”

24. Open Space, No. 3, edited by Stan Persky
mags_openspace03San Francisco, March 1964
“Predictions”, [untitled] “The log in the fire…”, [untitled] “Finally the messages penetrate…”, “Dear Ferlinghetti”

25. Open Space, No. 4, edited by Stan Persky
mags_openspace04tSan Francisco, 1964
[untitled] “Heroes eat soup…”, [untitled] “Smoke signals…”, [untitled] “A redwood forest…”, [untitled] “The whorship of beauty…”

26. Open Space, No. 5, edited by Stan Persky
San Francisco, 1964
[untitled] “Pull down the shade of ruin, rain verse…”, [untitled] “If your mother’s mother had not riven, mother…”, [untitled] “What in sight do I have…”, [untitled] “It comes May and the summers renew themselves…”, [untitled] “Thanatos, the death-plant in the skull…”

27. Open Space, No. 6, edited by Stan Persky
San Francisco, June 1964
[untitled] “1st SF home rainout since. Bounce…”, [untitled] “The country is not very well defined…”, [untitled] “I squint my eyes to cry…”, [untitled] “The metallurgical analysis of the stone that…”

28. Open Space, No. 7, edited by Stan Persky
San Francisco, 1964
“Love Poems”, “Protestant Letter”

29. Open Space, No. 8, edited by Stan Persky
mags_openspace08San Francisco, 1964
“Intermission I”, “Intermission II”, “Intermission III”, “Transformations I”, “Transformation II”, “Transformations III”

30. Open Space, No. 9, edited by Stan Persky
San Francisco, 1964

31. Open Space, No. 10, edited by Stan Persky
San Francisco, 1964

32. Open Space, No. 11, edited by Stan Persky
San Francisco, 1964
“Graphemics 1-5”

33. The Wivenhoe Park Review, No. 1, edited by Thomas Clark and Andrew Crozier
mags_wivenhoe01Essex: University of Essex, 1965
“15 False Propositions about God”

34. Work, No. 2, edited by John Sinclair
Detroit: Artists Workshop Press, Fall 1965
“Graphemic #10”

35. COW, No. 1, edited by Luther T. Cupp
mags_cow01San Francisco: Cow, 1965
“Dear Sister Mary”

36. Whe’re, No.1, edited by Ron Caplan
Detroit: Artists’ Workshop, Summer 1966
“Lament for the Makers”, “The Scroll-work on the Casket”, “Dover Beach”, “Postscript”, “The Birds”, “The Birth of Venus”

37. O’er, No. 2, edited by David Sandberg
mags_oar02San Francisco, December 1966
from After Lorca: “Buster Keaton Rides Again: A Sequel”

38. The Pacific Nation, No. 1, edited by Robin Blaser
mags_pacific01Vancouver, June 1967
“A Poem to the Reader of the Poem”

39. Floating Bear, No. 33
Brooklyn, 1967
“The Bridge Game”, “Lives of the Philosophers: Diogenes”

40. Floating Bear, No. 34
Brooklyn, 1967
“The Day Five Thousand Fish Died in the Charles River”

41. Collection, No. 1, edited by Peter Riley
mags_collection01Sussex, March 1968
“The Red Wheelbarrow”

42. Iron, No. 7
British Columbia, 1969
“Ode for Walt Whitman”

43. Tish
Vancouver, February 1969

44. Admonitions in Writing, No. 2
Vancouver, 1970

45. Boss 4
New York: Boss Magazine, 1970

46. Caterpillar, No. 12
Sherman Oaks, July 1970

47. California Librarian
October 1970
*an excellent bibliography

48. Is, No. 8, edited Victor Coleman
Toronto: Coach House Press, 1970

49. The Harris Review, edited by Harris Schiff
New York: Harris Review, baseball season 1971
[untitled] “The oaks…”, [untitled [With fifteen cents and that I could get a…”

50. IO, Number 10 Baseball Issue, edited by Richard Grossinger 
Cape Elizabeth, ME: IO Publications, 1971

51. Shocks, Double Issue 3/4, edited by Stephen Vincent
March 1974 

from “After Lorca”

52. Manroot, No. 10, Spicer issue
Fall-Winter 1974

53. Adventures in Poetry, No. 12, edited by Larry Fagin
mags_adventuresp12New York: The Poetry Project, Summer 1975
“Babel”, “Dardenella”, “Lives of the Philosophers: Diogenes”, [untitled] “Lack of oxygen…”, [untitled] “In- / Visible zombies…”, “Spider Song”

54. The Capilano Review, No. 8/9, edited by Pierre Coupey 
Vancouver: Capilano College, 1975

55. Telephone, No. 10, edited Maureen Owen 
New York: Telephone Books Press, 1975

56. New York Times Book Review, 23
November 1975

57. Parnassus: Poetry in Review
Spring-Summer 1976

58. Boundary 2, No. 6, Jack Spicer Issue,  edited by William V. Spanos
SUNY, Binghamton, Fall 1977

59. Acts #6 / A Book of Correspondences for Jack Spicer

60. Exact Change Yearbook #1

Further Reading:

1. Jack Spicer by Edward Halsey Foster (Boise, Idaho : Boise State University, c1991)

2. Poet be like God: Jack Spicer and the Berkeley Renaissance by Kevin Killian & Lewis Ellingham (Hanover, NH: Wesleyan University Press, 1998)

3. The House That Jack Built: The Collected Lectures of Jack Spicer, ed. Peter Gizzi (Hanover, NH: University Press of New England, 1998)

Online Resources:

Academy of American Poets
Book Forum
Jacket Magazine
Penn Sound
Poetry Foundation
University of Buffalo 

References Consulted:

Clay, Steven and Rodney Phillips. A SECRET LOCATION ON THE LOWER EAST SIDE: Adventures in Writing, 1960-1980
New York: New York Public Library / Granary Books, 1998

UCSB Special Collections.

Berkeley: Poltroon Press, 1976

Berkeley: Poltroon Press, 1985

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…)


“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 

ARK II, MOBY I, edited by Michael McClure and James Harmon
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, 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

ARK III edited by James Harmon
San Francisco, Winter 1957
First edition, stapled wrappers, 48 pages including Notes on Contributors and advertisements for New Directions, and City Lights Books, 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 San Francisco Renaissance

[excerpt from Steve Clay and Rodney Phillips’ A SECRET LOCATION ON THE LOWER EAST SIDE. Granary Books, 1998]

The San Francisco Renaissance, a timeline of events



      • City Lights Bookstore opens in North Beach



      • Allen Ginsberg’s Howl published by City Lights


      • Howl confiscated by customs; Lawrence Ferlinghetti and Shigeyoshi Murao arrested
      • Jack Spicer‘s Poetry as Magic Workshop, San Francisco Public Library
      • Charles Olson reads and lectures in San Francisco
      • First book from White Rabbit Press, Steve Jonas’s Love, the Poem, the Sea & Other Pieces Examined



      • Philip Lamantia‘s Ekstasis published by Auerhahn Press
      • Bob Kaufman’s The Abomunist Manifesto published by City Lights
      • J, edited by Jack Spicer
      • Cid Corman’s Origin Press publishes Gary Snyder’s first book, Riprap


      • Gary Snyder’s Myths and Texts published by Corinth Books
      • Lew Welch‘s Wobbly Rock published by Auerhahn Press
      • William S. Burroughs and Brion Gysin’s The Exterminator published by Auerhahn Press


      • White Rabbit Press revived 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


      • Vancouver Poetry Conference


      • Open Space publishes Robin Blaser’s first book, The Moth Poem



      • Lenore Kandel’s The Love Book published by Stolen Paper Editions
      • Philip Lamantia‘s Touch of the Marvelous published by Oyez Press
      • John Martin’s Black Sparrow Press begins in Los Angeles


      • The Pacific Nation, edited by Robin Blaser in Vancouver


      • Janine Pommy-Vega’s Poems to Fernando published by City Lights


      • Gary Snyder’s book of essays Earth House Hold published by New Directions


      • Jack Spicer‘s Collected Books published by Black Sparrow


In San Francisco, the commingling of several activities helped to prepare the ground for the remarkable literary explosion that was soon to take place. The Libertarian Circle held regular literary events; poet members included Kenneth Rexroth, Muriel Rukeyser, William Everson, Robert Duncan, Jack Spicer, and Thomas Parkinson. Rexroth also ran a literary program on KPFA, the country’s first listener-sponsored radio station. Madeline Gleason (assisted by Rexroth and Duncan) founded the San Francisco Poetry Center, housed at San Francisco State College and managed by Ruth Witt-Diamant. The magazines Circle, Ark, City Lights, Goad, Inferno, and Golden Goose helped to consolidate the growing literary underground.

The famous reading at Six Gallery on Fillmore Street was publicized by Allen Ginsberg (via a hundred mailed postcards and a few flyers) thus:


On October 7, 1955, in a room measuring 20 x 25 feet with a dirt floor, Ginsberg “read Howl and started an epoch.”(1) Gary Snyder, Philip Lamantia, Michael McClure, and Philip Whalen shared the bill and, by all reports, also read brilliantly. Aside from Rexroth and Whalen, all the readers were in their twenties. Again, in the words of Kenneth Rexroth, “What started in SF and spread from there across the world was public poetry, the return of a tribal, preliterate relationship between poet and audience.”(1)

These events, along with the flourishing of Lawrence Ferlinghetti’s City Lights Bookshop and publishing house, helped to inaugurate and consolidate what has become known as the San Francisco Renaissance. City Lights published Howl in 1956 (Ferlinghetti asked Ginsberg for the manuscript the same night it was read at the Six Gallery) as Number Four in the Pocket Poets Series. (It had been preceded by an extremely rare mimeographed edition, typed by Martha Rexroth and mimeographed by none other than Robert Creeley. Ginsberg’s Siesta in Xbalba had been mimeographed by the man himself on a freighter in the Alaskan Ocean.) Among the audience members that night was one who added his own chant, the young novelist Jack Kerouac, whose On the Road, published in 1957, was to make this reading and its readers legendary. It was also in 1957 that Charles Olson, rector of the experimental Black Mountain College, visited San Francisco and gave a series of lectures on Alfred North Whitehead at the Portrero Hill home of Robert Duncan and his companion, the painter Jess Collins. Among the attendees at the lectures were, of course, Duncan himself, but also Michael McClure, Gary Snyder’s Reed College friend Philip Whalen, Jack Spicer, and Richard Duerden. The same year saw the “San Francisco Scene” issue of Evergreen Review. Poet Helen Adam’s flamboyant 1961 ballad opera, entitled San Francisco’s Burning, epitomized the time, outrageous both aesthetically and socially. Other writers associated with the San Francisco Renaissance included James Broughton, Lew Welch, Ron Loewinsohn, Madeline Gleason, David Meltzer, Kirby Doyle, and Lenore Kandel.

Experimentation with forms of literature and lifestyle had long been an attractive characteristic of life in San Francisco. But the tolerance felt in Northern California was not as evident in Los Angeles. In 1957, an exhibit of work by assemblage artist Wallace Berman at the Ferus Gallery was closed by the Los Angeles Police Department, and Berman was jailed on charges of exhibiting “lewd and lascivious pornographic art.” Found guilty (by the same judge who ruled against Henry Miller), Berman and family left L.A. for San Francisco that year. Berman edited and published a fascinating assemblage magazine called Semina. After the raid of his exhibit at Ferus, he announced in Semina 2 that “I will continue to print Semina from locations other than this city of degen-erate angels.” Berman’s friend, artist George Herms, designed his own books and provided the artwork for others, including Diane di Prima. Herms had likewise found the political climate in L.A. intolerable and had preceded the Bermans to Northern California.

In the mid-1960s, John Martin’s Black Sparrow Press began publishing broadsides and booklets and has, over the years, published a wide variety of experimental and alternative poetry and prose, including work by Duncan, Olson, Spicer, and Creeley among very many others. 

Because of the previous associations of house printer/designer Graham Mackintosh, Black Sparrow is linked to earlier literary small presses of Northern California, particularly White Rabbit Press (at the urging of Jack Spicer, Mackintosh resurrected the press in 1962, printing Spicer’s own Lament for the Makers); Robert Hawley’s Oyez Press (Mackintosh had printed its first book in 1963); and Dave Haselwood’s Auerhahn Press, which flourished during the 1960s and early 70s in San Francisco. Auerhahn published a wide variety of well-designed books, including The Exterminator, an early example of William S. Burroughs and Brion Gysin’s cut-up technique, in 1960. Auerhahn also published John Wieners’s first book, The Hotel Wentley Poems. Oyez published many memorable volumes including Philip Lamantia‘s Touch of the Marvelous. Joe Dunn’s White Rabbit Press, which had begun publishing in 1957 with Steve Jonas’s rough work Love, the Poem, the Sea & Other Pieces Examined, produced books somewhat less elegant than Auerhahn’s or Oyez’s but with a beauty all their own.

The editorial genius behind White Rabbit was the irrepressible Jack Spicer, who published his own remarkable mimeographed magazine, J. Spicer emphasized the inclusion of writers who were not well published elsewhere, and accepted contributions for consideration in a box that was kept in one of three bars in the North Beach area of San Francisco. J is representative of the best of the mimeograph revolution: an uncompromising editorial stance combined with a playful, even colorful, formal character thanks to Fran Herndon, who edited the artwork for the magazine. Spicer’s model for J was Beatitude, which had begun publication in San Francisco slightly before J. And a recalcitrant model it was, since Spicer was not a fan of the Beats and carried on a running war against Ferlinghetti in particular. He imagined Ferlinghetti had become commercial and financially successful, thereby, in Spicer’s mind, “selling out” to the establishment. Magnificently consistent with his principles, Spicer never copyrighted his own work, anticipating the “no copyright, no nuthin” statements of Tom Clark’s London-based Once Series. The performative aspects of Spicer’s poetics as well as his personality also prefigured the rise of poetry readings in the 1950s, particularly those sponsored by the Poetry Center at San Francisco State, which featured mimeographed programs and booklets printing selections from the poets who were reading, among them, Charles Olson, Denise Levertov, and Louis Zukofsky.

Although Spicer’s J didn’t publish the works of “established” poets, Spicer did include the work of Robert Duncan in four issues of his magazine. Duncan and Jess Collins (whose work adorned the cover of many magazines and books of the period, including Open Space, Caterpillar, and The Floating Bear) were important influences on the literary and artistic scene in San Francisco in the 60s. Duncan’s early work was published in Berkeley or North Carolina (his Song of the Border-Guard was published by the Black Mountain College Press with a cover by Cy Twombly in 1952). Other earlier works were multilithed (Fragments of a Disordered Devotionin San Francisco in 1952) or mimeographed (the first hundred copies of Faust Foutu were mimeographed by Duncan himself, and the next 150 or so of one act of the play were multilithed by Joe Dunn of White Rabbit Press at his place of employment, the Greyhound Bus offices in San Francisco). The multilithed third edition of Faust Foutu, although also produced by Dunn, was published under Duncan’s own imprint, Enkidu Surrogate, of Stinson Beach. Duncan’s work was published by an amazing variety and number of publishers, including Oyez, Auerhahn, White Rabbit, Black Sparrow, Divers Press, Jargon, Perishable Press, City Lights, Grove Press, New Directions, and Scribners.

Slightly outside the Spicer circle (although some of his own poems were published in J) was Donald Allen, who, after the publication of The New American Poetry, 1945-1960 and before his removal to New York, established the Four Seasons Foundation in San Francisco, which published the work of a number of the writers from the anthology, including Charles Olson, Ed Dorn, Ron Loewinsohn, Philip Lamantia, Michael McClure, Joanne Kyger, Robin Blaser, and Robert Creeley. Among the early Four Seasons publications were two important works by poet Gary Snyder (the Reed College roommate of Lew Welch and Philip Whalen and the “Japhy Ryder” of Kerouac’s The Dharma Bums): Six Sections from Rivers and Mountains Without End and Riprap and Cold Mountain Poems, both published in 1965. Riprap, it should be noted, was originally published in 1959 as a booklet by Cid Corman’s Origin Press. Snyder’s Myths and Textswas published in 1960 by Corinth Books. Snyder was out of the country on an extended stay in Japan, and the text used for the Corinth publication was probably from a manuscript that LeRoi Jones had hand-copied from one that Robert Creeley had received from Snyder in 1955 or 1956. Snyder’s poetry was extremely popular in the 60s and was often used as text for broadsides by small presses, particularly those whose owners were ecologically minded. For instance, Snyder’s poem “Four Changes” was published in 1969 by Earth Read Out, a Berkeley environmental protection group, as four mimeographed pages, as well as in a folded, printed version in 200,000 copies by environmentalist Alan Shapiro for free distribution to schools and citizens’ groups.

Literary scenes with strong affiliations to the New American Poetry were in evidence elsewhere in California — most notably Bolinas in the 1970s, when that somewhat remote hippie village north of San Francisco became home to many poets. In particular, the transplanted easterner and Poetry Project veteran Bill Berkson and his press Big Sky flourished there in the decade, publishing both a magazine and a series of books. Bolinas residents of the period also included Robert Creeley, Bobbie Louise Hawkins, David Meltzer, Lewis Warsh, Tom Clark, Lewis MacAdams, Philip Whalen, Aram Saroyan, Joanne Kyger, Jim Carroll, and Duncan McNaughton, among others. Ted Berrigan, Alice Notley, and Joe Brainard were among many occasional visitors, with Joe Brainard’s Bolinas Journal providing an interesting record of one such extended stay.

(1) Kenneth Rexroth. AMERICAN POETRY IN THE TWENTIETH CENTURY (New York: Herder and Herder, 1971), p. 141.