Tag Archives: Cid Corman

The Divers Press Checklist

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A. Books published by The Divers Press:

1. Blackburn, Paul. PROENSA
First edition:
Palma de Mallorca: The Divers Press, June 1953
Hand-sewn and bound into illustrated wrappers, 56 pages, 7.25″ x 11″, hand-set and printed by Mossén Alcover. (Woodward A18)

In the Divers Press Prospectus, Robert Creeley writes, “Proensa is a bilingual edition of the work of seven Troubadours (including Piere Vidal, Sordello, and Bertran de Born). So far as we know, it is the only book of its kind now available. The re-creation of a past time is never very simple, or as Blackburn wrote: ‘Pride, interest, self-love were all sins then. Today they have been transformed into virtues… All this means a problem in poetic craft, if one is so perverse as to attempt translation of medieval languages.’ Blackburn’s attempt succeeds in giving us poetry, not a trot.”

2. Creeley, Robert. THE KIND OF ACT OF
First edition:
Palma de Mallorca: The Divers Press, May 1953
Hand-sewn and bound into illustrated wrappers, 6.25” x 7.25”, 24 pages, 250 copies, hand-set and printed by Mossén Alcover. Cover by René Laubiès. (Novik A2)

In the Divers Press Prospectus, Robert Creeley writes, “The Kind of Act of is a collection of those poems written since the publication of Le Fou. I don’t know that they are better or worse, etc., but they came out of a time which was difficult, and needed statement of a kind which could hold both myself and them. The forms are, for the most part, tighter, i.e., more condensed.”

3. Eigner, Larry. FROM THE SUSTAINING AIR
First edition:
Palma de Mallorca: The Divers Press, July 1953
Hand-sewn and bound into illustrated wrappers, 6.75” x 9”, 16 pages, 250 copies, hand-set and printed by Mossén Alcover. Cover by René Laubiès. (Wyatt A2)

An excerpt from a letter to Robert Creeley from William Carlos Williams upon receiving Eigner’s FROM THE SUSTAINING AIR: “Eigner’s book is charming. I haven’t got such a relaxed feeling from anything in years. There is no tension whatever, but a feeling of eternity. It is hard to say how he achieved this in the world today. As far as I can see it comes from a perfect ear… Let me see anything he writes, it is contagious…”

4. Olson, Charles. MAYAN LETTERS
First edition:
Palma de Mallorca: The Divers Press, January 1954
Sewn and perfect-bound in illustrated wrappers, 92 pages, 6.5″ x 8.5″, hand-set and printed by Mossén Alcover. Preface by Robert Creeley. Contains 17 letters from Charles Olson to Robert Creeley written between February 18 and July 1, 1951. (Butterick & Glover A9)

In the Divers Press Prospectus, Robert Creeley writes, “Mayan Letters… is an altogether rare instance of culture morphology at work. It insists on the full complex of attentions involved, and proves no art can sustain itself free of a basic human contact. Which comments belie, perhaps, the intensely human character of the letters themselves.”

5. Layton, Irving. IN THE MIDST OF MY FEVER
Palma de Mallorca: The Divers Press, February 1954
(Bennett & Polson A6)

6. Creeley, Robert. THE GOLD DIGGERS
First edition:
Palma de Mallorca: The Divers Press, February 1954
Sewn and perfect-bound in illustrated wrappers, 144 pages, 5” x 6.75”, 500 copies, hand-set and printed by Mossén Alcover. Cover by René Laubiès. (Novik A4)

7. Seymour-Smith, Martin. ALL DEVILS FADING
Palma de Mallorca: The Divers Press, Spring 1954

8. Macklin, H.P. A HANDBOOK OF FANCY PIGEONS
Palma de Mallorca: The Divers Press, May 1954

9. Kitasono, Katsué. BLACK RAIN: POEMS & DRAWINGS
First edition:
Palma de Mallorca: The Divers Press, August 1954


10. Creeley, Robert. A SNARLING GARLAND OF XMAS VERSES
First edition:
Palma de Mallorca: The Divers Press, 1954
100 copies, published anonymously (Novik A5)

11. Woolf, Douglas. THE HYPOCRITIC DAYS
Palma de Mallorca: The Divers Press, January 1955

12. Blackburn, Paul. THE DISSOLVING FABRIC
First edition:
Palma de Mallorca: The Divers Press, March 1955
Sewn and perfect-bound in illustrated wrappers, 24 pages, 6.5” x 8”, hand-set and printed by Mossén Alcover. Cover by Dan Rice with silkscreen reporduction by Arthur Okamura. (Woodward A1)

13. Duncan, Robert. CAESAR’S GATE: POEMS 1949–1950
a. First edition, regular copies:
Palma de Mallorca: Divers Press, September 1955
Sewn and perfect-bound in illustrated wrappers, 24 pages, 6.75” x 8.75”, 200 copies, hand-set and printed by Mossén Alcover. Illustrated by Jess Collins. (Bertholf A8a)

b. First edition, numbered copies:
Palma de Mallorca: Divers Press, September 1955
Sewn and perfect-bound in illustrated wrappers, 24 pages, 6.75” x 8.75”, 10 copies, hand-set and printed by Mossén Alcover. Illustrated by Jess Collins. (Bertholf A8b)

c. First edition, lettered copies:
Palma de Mallorca: Divers Press, September 1955
Sewn and perfect-bound in illustrated wrappers, 24 pages, 6.75” x 8.75”, 3 copies, hand-set and printed by Mossén Alcover. Illustrated by Jess Collins. (Bertholf A8c)


B. Books designed and printed by The Divers Press:

1. Olson, Charles. IN COLD HELL, IN THICKET
Palma de Mallorca: The Divers Press, February 1953
Sewn and perfect-bound in illustrated wrappers, 62 pages, 7” x 8.5”, 500 copies, hand-set and printed by Mossén Alcover. Published as Origin 8 (Winter 1953) as part of the first series of Cid Corman’s long-running magazine. (Butterick & Glover A7)

2. Corman, Cid. THE PRECISIONS
New York: Sparrow Press, March 1955

3. Layton, Irving. THE BLUE PROPELLER
Montreal: Contact Press, 1955


C. The Divers Press ephemera:

1. PROSPECTUS OF THE DIVERS PRESS
Palma de Mallorca: The Divers Press, 1953
Single sheet measuring 13.75″ x 6″ folded twice to make a 6-page booklet, letterpress printed by Mossén Alcover. (Novik 101)

Note by Creeley: “Printing is cheap in Mallorca, and for a small press like our own it means freedom from commercial pressures. It means, too, that we can design our books in a way that we want, since they are handset and made with an almost forgotten sense of craft. Above all, it is our chance to print what we actually like and believe in.” Creeley goes on to list several titles, the first four from the press, noting prices and distributors.

2. NEW BOOKS CATALOG
Palma de Mallorca: The Divers Press, Spring 1954
Single sheet measuring 4.75″ x 11.5″ folded twice to make a 6-page booklet, letterpress printed by Mossén Alcover.

Lists multiple forthcoming and previously published books by The Divers Press and includes names and addresses of distributors including Black Mountain College and Raymond Souster in Toronto.

3. CAESAR’S GATE PROSPECTUS
Black Mountain: Black Mountain College, 1955
Single sheet measuring 4.25″ x 6.25″, letterpress printed.

Text from Robert Duncan and Jess Collins holograph noting the various issues, limitations, and prices of the forthcoming book.


References consulted:

Bennett, Joy and James Polson. IRVING LAYTON: A BIBLIOGRAPHY 1935-1977
Montreal: Concordia University Libraries, 1979

Bertholf, Robert J. ROBERT DUNCAN: A DESCRIPTIVE BIBLIOGRAPHY
Santa Rosa: Black Sparrow Press, 1986

Butterick, George F. and Albert Glover. A BIBLIOGRAPHY OF WORKS BY CHARLES OLSON
New York: The Phoenix Book Shop, 1967

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

Novik, Mary. ROBERT CREELEY, AN INVENTORY 1945-1970
Kent: The Kent State University Press, 1973

Woodward, Kathleet. DOCUMENTS FOR NEW POERTY II: PAUL BLACKBURN: A CHECKLIST
San Diego: Archive for New Poetry, 1980

Wyatt, Andrea. A BIBLIOGRAPHY OF WORKS BY LARRY EIGNER, 1937-1969
Berkeley: Oyez, 1970

The Divers Press

Prospectus of The Divers Press. Palma de Mallorca, 1953

Divers Press Checklist


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

Raising pigeons and chickens on a farm in Littleton, New Hampshire, Robert Creeley heard, through “a fluke of airwaves,” poet Cid Corman’s weekly radio program from Boston, “This Is Poetry.” Inspired, Creeley read on the program during a weekend in 1950 when he was showing chickens at the Boston poultry show. And so began a network of literary friendships that inspired a generation of poets (“A knows B, B knows C, and there begins to be increasing focus. And I think that we were curiously lucky that that focus was not literally a question of whether we were all living together or not.”). Galvanized, Creeley tried unsuccessfully to start his own little magazine, but ended up giving Cid Corman at Origin much of the material he had collected, including work by Denise Levertov, Paul Blackburn, and Charles Olson, to whom the first issue of Origin was devoted.

Against this background it is not surprising that Creeley, called “The Figure of Outward” by Olson, whom he met through Corman, would himself venture forth as a publisher in 1953 with Martin Seymour-Smith’s All Devils Fading. In addition to two volumes by Paul Blackburn and one each by Larry Eigner and Robert Duncan, in 1954 Creeley issued a volume of poems by Canadian poet Irving Layton and Japanese poet Katué Kitasono’s self-translated poems, Black Rain. The last volume he published, in 1955, was American novelist Douglas Woolf’s “painful rite of passage,” The Hypocritic Days. Creeley published his own The Kind of Act of in 1953 and A Snarling Garland of Xmas Verses and The Gold Diggers, both in 1954. In 1982, Creeley wistfully remembered the serious, edgy nature of the press: “I don’t recall that the Divers Press paid anybody anything—it was my first wife’s modest income that kept any of it going—and so our choices had to be limited to writers as existentially defined as ourselves.”

“What I felt was the purpose of the press has much to do with my initial sense of [The Black Mountain Review] also. For me, and the other writers who came to be involved, it was a place defined by our own activity and accomplished altogether by ourselves—a place wherein we might make evident what we, as writers, had found to be significant, both for ourselves and for that world—no doubt often vague to us indeed—we hoped our writing might enter… there had to be both a press and a magazine absolutely specific to one’s own commitments and possibilities. Nothing short of that was good enough.”

— Robert Creeley, Introduction to the AMS Press reprint (1969) of The Black Mountain Review

— Steve Clay and Rodney Phillips in A SECRET LOCATION ON THE LOWER EAST SIDE (Granary Books, 1998)