J

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
Corner-stapled sheets in printed cover, 8.5″ x 11″, 38 pages, mimeograph printed. Cover by Fran Herndon. Contributors: James Alexander, Ebbe Borregaard, Robin Blaser, Jack Spicer, Joe Dunn, Richard Brautigan, Kay Johnson, Robert Duncan.

J, No. 2, edited by Jack Spicer
San Francisco: J, 1959
Corner-stapled sheets in printed cover, 8.5″ x 11″, 36 pages, mimeograph printed. Cover by Fran Herndon. Contributors: George Stanley, Fran HerndonJess Collins, Robert Duncan, Stan Persky.

J, No. 3, edited by Jack Spicer
San Francisco: J, 1959
Corner-stapled sheets in printed and hand-painted cover, 8.5″ x 11″, 38 pages, mimeograph printed. Cover by Russell FitzGerald. Contributors: Bruce Boyd, Ron Loewinsohn, George Stanley, Damon Beard, Jack Spicer.

J, No. 4, edited by Jack Spicer
mags_j04San Francisco: J, 1959
Corner-stapled sheets in printed and hand-painted cover, 8.5″ x 11″, 36 pages, mimeograph printed. Cover by Fran Herndon. Contributors:
Robert Duncan, Richard Brautigan, Joanne Kyger, Donald Allen, John Ryan, George Stanley,
Jack Spicer.

J, No. 5, edited by Jack Spicer
mags_j05San Francisco: J, 1959
Corner-stapled sheets in printed and hand-painted cover, 8.5″ x 11″, 34 pages, mimeograph printed. Cover by Fran Herndon. Contributors:
Larry Eigner, Jess CollinsRichard Brautigan,  Kay Johnson, Ron Loewinsohn, George Stanley,  Robert Duncan, Richard Duerden, Jack Spicer.

J, No. 6, edited by George Stanley
San Francisco: J, 1959
Corner-stapled sheets in printed cover, 8.5″ x 11″, 38 pages, mimeograph printed. Cover by George Stanley. Contributors: Helen Adam, Paul Goodman, Joanne Kyger, Ron Loewinsohn.



J, No. 7, edited by George Stanley
New York: J, 1960
Corner-stapled sheets in printed cover, 8.5″ x 11″, 32 pages, mimeograph printed. Cover by George Stanley. Contributors: Ebbe Borregaard, Stan Persky. Published as “An Apparition of the Late J”.

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