Big Table

Big Table was launched in Spring 1959 following the suppression of the Winter 1958 issue of The Chicago Review. An exposé in the Chicago Daily News revealed editors Irving Rosenthal’s and Paul Carroll’s plans to publish work by William S. Burroughs, Allen Ginsberg, Lawrence Ferlinghetti, and other Beat writers, and the administration quashed the magazine.

Rosenthal and Carroll, along with other Chicago Review editors, resigned and with the suppressed material started Big Table. The first issue was edited by Rosenthal and Carroll, though Carroll had to withdraw his name in order to avoid being fired by Loyola University where he was employed. This issue contained work by Jack Kerouac (who named the magazine in a telegram: “CALL IT BIG TABLE”), Edward Dahlberg, and Burroughs (a section from Naked Lunch), and was summarily impounded by the US Post Office.

The lawsuit was unsuccessful and Big Table continued through 1960 and five issues. Rosenthal left the magazine after the first issue and Carroll stayed on as editor for the duration, publishing such writers and artists as Paul Bowles, Antonin Artaud, Leon Golub, John Logan, Robert Duncan, Denise Levertov, Robert Fulton, Harry Callahan, Douglas Woolf, Aaron Siskind, Paul Blackburn, Franz Kline, Diane di Prima, and Gregory Corso.”

— from A Secret Location on the Lower East Side

1. BIG TABLE, No. 1, edited by Irving Rosenthal and Paul Carroll
Chicago: Big Table, Spring 1959
First edition, sewn signatures bound in printed wrappers, 5.5″ x 8″, 158 pages, printed by The Profile Press of New York.

  • Contents:
    1. Irving Rosenthal – “Editorial”
      Jack Kerouac – “Old Angel Midnight”
      Edward Dahlberg – “Further Sorrow of Priapus”
      Edward Dahlberg – “The Garment of Ra”
      William S. Burroughs – “Ten Episodes from Naked Lunch
      Gregory Corso – “Power, for Allen Ginsberg”
      Gregory Corso – “Army”
      Gregory Corso – “Police”

2. BIG TABLE, No. 2, edited by Paul Carroll
Chicago: Big Table, Summer 1959
First edition, sewn signatures bound in printed and illustrated wrappers, 5.5″ x 8″, 124 pages. Cover art by Leon Golub.

  • Contents:
    1. John D. Keefauver – “The Daring Old Maid on the Flying Trapeze”
      Serge Essenin – “The Tramp’s Confession”
      Lawrence Alloway – “Heroes & Monsters & Mothers”
      Leon Golub – “Plate: Horseman”
      Leon Golub – “Plate: Burnt Man”
      Allen Ginsberg – “Kaddish”
      John Logan – “Fire”
      Antonin Artaud – Three Exhortations”
      Alan Ansen – “Anyone Who Can Pick Up a Frying Pan Owns Death”
      Paul Bowles – “Burroughs in Tangier”
      William S. Burroughs – “In Quest of Yage”
      Gael Turnbull – “The Priests of Paris”
      Brother Antoninus – “Zone of Death”
      Andre Breton – “Despair”
      Leon Golub – “Plate: Birth VII”
      Leon Golub – “Plate: Orestes”
      Edward Dahlberg – “Because I Was Flesh”
      Paul Blackburn – “The Signals”
      Margarita Liberaki – “Wedding”
      Leon Golub – “Plate: Abraham Lincoln”
      Leon Golub – “Plate: Columnar Head”
      Lawrence Ferlinghetti – “The Great Chinese Dragon”

3. BIG TABLE, Vol. 1, No. 3, edited by Paul Carroll
Chicago: Big Table, 1959
First edition, sewn signatures bound in printed and photo-illustrated wrappers, 5.5″ x 8″, 120 pages. Cover photograph by Aaron Siskind.

  • Contents:
    1. Allen Ginsberg – “Kaddish”
      John Rechy – “The Fabulous Wedding of Miss Destiny”
      Robert Duncan – “Evocation”
      John Ashbery – “How much longer will I be able to inhabit the Divine Sepulcher”
      John Ashbery – “April Fool’s Day”
      Aaron Siskin – “Terrors & Pleasures of Levitation: four plates”
      Edward Dahlberg – “Because I was Flesh”
      Robert Creeley – “The Way”
      James Wright – “A Whisper to the Ghost who woke Me”
      Paul Carroll – “Father”
      Norman Mailer – “Quick & Expensive Comment on the Talent in the Room”
      Paul Blackburn – “Banyalbufar”
      Edward Dorn – “The Air of June Sings”
      Renee Riese Hubert – “Sizes”
      Peter Orlovsky – “First Poem”
      Lawrence Ferlinghetti – “Her”
      Jean Genet – “The Beggars of Barcelona”

4. BIG TABLE, Vol. 1, No. 4, edited by Paul Carroll
Chicago: Big Table, Spring 1960
First edition, sewn signatures bound in printed and illustrated wrappers, 5.5″ x 8″, 144 pages. Cover art by Robert Fulton.

  • Contents:
    1. William S. Burroughs – “But is all Back Seat of Dreaming”
      Richard G. Stern – “Two Talking”
      John Ashbery – “Europe”
      Douglas Woolf – “Wall to Wall”
      Franz Kline – “Plate: Mister”
      John Logan – “from Monologues of The Son of Saul”
      Robert Creeley – “The Awakening, for Charles Olson”
      Robert Creeley – “The Wife”
      Robert Creeley – “The Memory”
    2. Robert Creeley – “The Snow”
      Harold Norse – “I Am in the Hub of the Fiery Force”
      Harold Norse – “The Fire Sermon”
      James Wright – “Snow Storm in the Mid-West”
      James Wright – “A Young One in a Garden”
      Lawrence Ferlinghetti – “New York – Albany”
      Paul Blackburn – “The Idiot”
      Paul Blackburn – “Homage to the Spirit”
      Frank O’Hara – “Les Luths”
      Frank O’Hara – “Joe’s Jacket”
      Robert Duncan – “Four Pictures of the Real Universe”
      Denise Levertov – “The Rainwalkers”
      Gregory Corso – “Rembrandt – Self Portrait”
      Gregory Corso – “Emily Dickenson”
      Gregory Corso – “Walk”
      Kenneth Koch – “Lunch”
      Allen Ginsberg – “Message”
      William Hunt – Song from the End of the Earth”
      Michael McClure – “Two Poems from a Small Secret Book”
      Bill Berkson – “Poem”
      Paul Carroll – “34′-23′-35′”
      Diane Di Prima – [untitled] “I am a woman and my poems…”
      Philip Lamantia – “Still Poem 8”
      Philip Lamantia – “Cool Apocalypse”
      David Meltzer – “from Notes for a History”
      Gary Snyder – “The Manichaeans”
      Leroi Jones – “For Hettie in her Fifth Month”
      Charles Olson – “Maximus, to Gloucester, Sunday, July 19”
      Robert Creeley – “Olson & Others”
      Allen Ginsberg – “Notes on Young Poets”
      Paul Blackburn – “Writing for the Ear”
      Paul Carroll – “Five Poets in their Skins”

5. BIG TABLE, Vol. 2, No. 5, edited by Paul Carroll
Chicago: Big Table, 1960
First edition, sewn signatures bound in printed and illustrated wrappers, 5.5″ x 8″, 128 pages. Cover art by Harry Callahan.

  • Contents:
    1. Douglas Woolf – “Stand Still”
      Frank O’Hara – “Naptha”
      Edward Dahlberg – “Because I was Flesh”
      Frederick Tristan – “The Bread Tree”
      Frederick Tristan – “The Whole Sea is yet to Come”
      Robert Duncan – “Apprehensions”
      Paul Bowles – “He of the Assembly”
      Kenneth Koch – “Farms’ Thoughts”
      John Rechy – “Between two Lions”
      Bill Berkson – “Poem for Frank O’Hara”
      Pablo Neruda – “Lone Gentleman” (trans. Clayton Eshleman)
      Pablo Neruda – “Death” (trans. Clayton Eshleman)
      John Updike – “Archangel”
      John Ashbery – “Night”
    2. John Ashbery – “A Last Word”
      Harold Rosenberg – “from Arshile Gorky”
      David Meltzer – “Rain Poem”
      David Meltzer – “Heroes: Zap, the Zen Monk”
      Alain Robbe-Grillet – “Scene”
      John Schultz – “Witness”

Online Resources:

From a Secret Location – Big Table

Reality Studio – Big Table

References Consulted:

Maynard, Joe and Barry Miles. William S. Burroughs: A Bibliography, 1953-73
Charlottesville: University Press of Virginia, 1978