All posts by jason

The Spicer Circle’s J

Cover of Jack Spicer’s J, No. 4. San Francisco 1959

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.

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The White Dove Review

White Dove Review, Vol. 1, No. 1, edited by Ron Padgett, Richard Gallup, Joe Brainard, and Michael Marsh. Tulsa, 1959

While working at the Lewis Meyer bookstore on 37th and Peoria in 1959, Ron Padgett had an idea. Taken with the work of the era’s literary giants and New York-based “little mags” like the Evergreen Review, Padgett, barely 17 and still a junior at Central High School, decided that he would start his own avant-garde lit journal. He and his best friend Dick Gallup would be co-editors…

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Cleft, Edinburgh University

CLEFT, Vol. 1, No. 1, edited by Bill McArthur. Edinburgh, June 1963

Bill McArthur studied drawing and painting at Edinburgh College of Art, then took a degree in Fine Art at Edinburgh University. At Edinburgh he became known as an illustrator and cartoonist in the student press, and editor of the student magazines Gambit and Cleft.

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The Outsider and Loujon Press

The Outsider, No. 1, edited by Jon and Louise Webb. New Orleans, Fall 1961.

In the Fall of 1961, Jon and Louise “Gypsy Lou” Webb published the first issue of their avant-garde poetry and prose magazine, The Outsider. Hand-set and letterpress printed, the journal straddled the line between traditional books and modern works of art, and the journal made an outsized impact on the literary world, shining a light on the talents of Beat Generation, Black Mountain and other avant-garde and counterculture poets, writers, and artists of the era…

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My Own Mag

MY OWN MAG, No. 6, edited by Jeff Nuttall (Barnet, July 1964)

My Own Mag was produced by Jeff Nuttall, a larger than life figure in the history of the British counterculture, who edited it while working as a secondary school art teacher. Many prominent underground, Beat and related writers of a usually modest reputation, but not always, contributed to it. These included Anselm Hollo, Alan Brownjohn, Charles Plymell, Jim Haynes, William Wantling, Douglas Blazek, Bill Butler, Carl Weissner, Claude Pélieu, Criton Tomazos, Robert Creeley, and Allen Ginsberg.

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Pry Yourself Loose…

Gnaoua, No. 1 (Tangier, Spring 1964)

Poet, photographer, filmmaker, editor, and publisher Ira Cohen produced this one-shot magazine in Tangier in 1964. The title refers to an ethnic group originating in North and West Africa who eventually became part of the Sufi order in Morocco. In Cohen’s brief editorial statement, he notes that the magazine is named for the ecstatic dancing and possession trances of the North African sect of the same name, and concludes that “The object is exorcism”.

The magazine was in printed in Antwerp by Roger Binnemans and features striking cover art by Cohen’s then-girlfriend, the artist Rosalind Schwartz and features 5 black and white photographic plates illustrating Jack Smith’s “Superstars of Cinemaroc”, reproducing images from Smith’s infamous film Flaming Creatures (1963). Bob Dylan featured a copy of Gnaoua prominently on the cover of his fifth album, Bringing It All Back Home, among other artefacts chosen to pay tribute to the artist’s influences; it is possible that it was in Gnaoua that he first came across the work of William Burroughs.

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Poetry is the heart of being

Poet Jack Hirschman at Caffe Trieste on May 19, 2011. © by Christopher Michel

Jack Hirschman (December 13, 1933 – August 22, 2021) was born in New York City and grew up in the Bronx. A copyeditor with the Associated Press in New York as a young man, his earliest brush with fame came from a letter Ernest Hemingway wrote to him, published after Hemingway’s death as “A Letter to a Young Writer”. Hirschman earned degrees from City College of New York and Indiana University, where he studied comparative literature. He was a popular and innovative professor at UCLA in the 1970s, before he was fired for his anti-war activities. Hirschman lived in California ever since, making an artistic and political home in the North Beach district of San Francisco. The former poet laureate of San Francisco, Hirschman’s style has been compared to poets ranging from Walt Whitman to Hart Crane to Dylan Thomas, and Beat poets such as Allen Ginsberg. His poems’ commitment to leftist politics draws comparisons to Vachel Lindsay and Pablo Neruda. Hirschman died at his home in the city on Sunday.

Poetry as Insurgent Art

Lawrence Ferlinghetti, a poet, publisher and political iconoclast who inspired and nurtured generations of San Francisco artists and writers from City Lights, his famed bookstore, died on Monday at his home in San Francisco. He was 101.

Mr. Ferlinghetti, standing, in 1957 at a poetry reading. © Nat Farbman

Ferlinghetti befriended, published and championed many of the major Beat poets, among them Allen Ginsberg, Gregory Corso and Michael McClure, who died in May. His connection to their work was exemplified — and cemented — in 1956 with his publication of Ginsberg’s most famous poem, the ribald and revolutionary “Howl,” an act that led to Mr. Ferlinghetti’s arrest on charges of “willfully and lewdly” printing “indecent writings.”

In a significant First Amendment decision, he was acquitted, and “Howl” became one of the 20th century’s best-known poems. (The trial was the centerpiece of the 2010 film “Howl,” in which James Franco played Ginsberg and Andrew Rogers played Mr. Ferlinghetti.)

His most successful collection, “A Coney Island of the Mind” (1958), attracted attention when one of the poems was attacked as blasphemous by a New York congressman, Steven B. Derounian, who called for the investigation of a state college where it was being taught, saying the poem ridiculed the crucifixion of Christ.

Despite the controversy it generated — or perhaps, at least in part, because of it — “A Coney Island of the Mind” was a sensation. It became one of the most successful books of American poetry ever published. It has been translated into multiple languages; according to City Lights, more than a million copies have been printed.

Mr. Ferlinghetti went west in early 1951, landing in San Francisco with a sea bag and little else. After months in a low-rent apartment he found North Beach, even as San Francisco itself was fast becoming fashionable among intellectuals and a generation of young people for whom “establishment” was a dirty word.

Mr. Ferlinghetti’s life changed in 1953, when he and Peter Martin opened the City Lights Pocket Book Shop, which originally carried nothing but paperbacks at a time when the publishing industry was just beginning to take that format seriously. The store would soon became a kind of repository for books that other booksellers ignored and a kind of salon for the authors who wrote them — a place “where you could find these books which you couldn’t find anywhere,” he said, crediting Mr. Martin with the concept. Each man put in $500, and City Lights opened.

“And as soon as we got the door opened,” Mr. Ferlinghetti later remembered, “we couldn’t get it closed.”

In 1955 Mr. Ferlinghetti, by then the sole owner of City Lights, started publishing poems, including his own.

A year later his City Lights imprint published Ginsberg’s “Howl and Other Poems,” and before long he was in court defending poets’ free-speech rights and helping to make himself — and the Beats he had adopted — famous in the process.

— Jesse McKinley

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Bern Porter

“Porter is to the poem what [Marcel] Duchamp was to the art object, a debunker of handiwork fetishism and exemplary artist-as-intercessor between phenomenon and receptor. He rejects the typical artist’s role of semi-divine creator. Porter’s eye never tires of seeking accidental, unconventional literature in odd pages of textbooks, far corners of advertisements, the verbiage of greeting cards and repair manuals, ad infinitum.”
—Peter Frank (Something Else Press, McPherson & Co., 1983)

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I MUST BE MORE LIKE AN ANT THAN A CIGALE BECAUSE I LIKE TO SING IN WINTER

Counter Culture Chronicles and Casioli Press from The Hague have joined forces with Bart De Paepe’s Sloow Tapes from Stekene, Belgium to publish a new edition dedicated to Piero Heliczer. The book, designed by Lula Valletta and risographed by Stencilwerck, is “a tribute to Heliczer’s creative mind and to the man himself by friends, admirers and people Heliczer worked with”, according to CCC’s René van der Voort. Memories of Heliczer, eyewitness reports, investigations into lost works and actions and writings from obscure Dutch magazines by Heliczer himself have been compiled in this edition, which also contains photographs by Harry Hoogstraten, a letter to the Dutch queen by Heliczer and a couple of other extras. Other contributors than René van der Voort and Harry Hoogstraten to this Heliczer tribute are Eddie Woods, Harry Ruhé, Hans Plomp and Alain Diaz.

Artist : Piero Heliczer
Publisher : Counter Culture Chronicles/Casioli Press/Sloow Tapes
Year : 2020
Size : 200 x 140 x 5 mm
Pages : 40, risographed and saddle stitched
Language : English/Dutch
Editorial design : Lula Valletta
Photos : Harry Hoogstraten
Hand numbered edition of 100

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