All posts by jason

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)

>> further reading >>

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

Sea Urchin link

Frank and Allen in the Ozarks

from left to right: Sandra Wood, John Wood, Frank Stanford, Allen Ginsberg, Peter Orlovsky, Lynnice Butler, Jack Butler in Eureka Springs, May 1969. Photo (c) John Wood.

“On October 9th Allen wrote me: ‘Frank’s poems seem slightly electric—curious what he’ll make of Plymell’s poesy. Stanford might try sending out to Poetry or Evergreen or anywhere wherever it interests him if it interests him to publish some.’ And in a surprisingly short time Frank had published poems in many of the finest journals in the country, though I believe his first published poems were in the University’s journal Preview (1970), edited by Leon. Frank’s contributor’s note read ‘Frank thinks, ‘most of the people in this book, and most of the people in this school, are tight-assed honkies.” My copy fortunately is inscribed ‘to a good friend, from Frank.’ In 1971 his remarkable and beautiful book The Singing Knives was published. My copy includes another kind note: ‘I would like you to have this as a gift from me for taking a genuine interest in my poems. Thank you for writing Allen. Cordially, Frank.’ ”
—John Wood,  from “With Allen in Arkansas: An Ozark Diary
(further reading…)

Judson Crews

Judson Crews, poet, editor, publisher, and book dealer, was born June 30, 1917, in Waco, Texas. Crews received both the B.A. (1941) and M.A. (1944) in Sociology from Baylor University, and during 1946-1947 studied fine arts at Baylor. In addition, Crews did graduate study at the University of Texas, El Paso in 1967. He has worked as an educator at Wharton County Junior College, New Mexico (1967-1970), the University of New Mexico, Gallup Branch (1971-1972), and at the University of Zambia (1974-1978). He has also been involved in social work. After two years in the U. S. Army Medical Corps during World War II, Crews moved his family and business, Motive Press, from Waco, Texas, to Taos, New Mexico, where he began his writing and publishing career in earnest.

He started the Este Es Press in 1946, which remained in operation until 1966. The little magazines with which he was involved from 1940 to 1966 include The Deer and Dachshund, The Flying Fish, Motive, The Naked Ear, Poetry Taos, Suck-Egg Mule: A Recalcitrant Beast, Taos: A Deluxe Magazine of the Arts, and Vers Libre.
(further reading…)

Robert Duncan

Described by Kenneth Rexroth as “one of the most accomplished, one of the most influential” of the postwar American poets, Robert Duncan was an important part of both the Black Mountain school of poetry, led by Charles Olson, and the San Francisco Renaissance, whose other members included poets Jack Spicer and Robin Blaser. A distinctive voice in American poetry, Duncan’s idiosyncratic poetics drew on myth, occultism, religion—including the theosophical tradition in which he was raised—and innovative writing practices such as projective verse and composition by field.

further reading…

R.C. Lion

Envisioned as the monthly newsletter of The Rhymers Club at U.C. Berkeley, R.C. Lion ran for three issues from 1966 to 1967. Editors of the newsletter included Ron Loewinsohn, David Bromige, Sherril Jaffe, and David Schaff.

The Club was open to all, “the hope being how a place might come into fact where a writer can give and take heart and impetus among his fellows, exchange information pertinent or otherwise, tell lies, insist on his visions, and hear readings, taped or live, by writers unlikely to be available.”

further reading…