Tag Archives: Robin Blaser

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…

Robin Blaser

photo © by Helen Adams

Robin Francis Blaser (May 18, 1925 – May 7, 2009) was born in Denver, Colorado, he grew up in Idaho, and came to Berkeley, California, in 1944. There he met Jack Spicer and Robert Duncan, becoming a key figure in the San Francisco Renaissance of the 1950s and early 1960s. He moved to Canada in 1966, joining the faculty of Simon Fraser University; after taking early retirement in the 1980s, he held the position of Professor Emeritus.

Blaser is also well known as the editor of The Collected Books of Jack Spicer, which includes Blaser’s essay, The Practice of Outside. The 1993 publication The Holy Forest represents his collected poems to that date.

In 2006, Blaser received a special Lifetime Recognition Award given by the trustees of the Griffin Trust for Excellence in Poetry, which also awards the annual Griffin Poetry Prize. Blaser won the Prize itself in 2008.


Section A: Books and Broadsides

A1. APPARITORS
First edition:
San Francisco: Auerhahn Press 1963
Broadside, 13″ x 20″, 300 copies, signed by the author and artist. Illustration by Fran Herndon.

Note: Issued as part of the 17th Annual San Francisco Arts Festival: A Poetry Folio 1963, which contained 8 broadsides in a paper folio.

A2. Blaser, Robin. THE MOTH POEM
a. First edition, regular copies:
San Francisco: Open Space, December 1964
Side-stapled and glued into printed wrappers, 5.5″ x 8.25″, 32 pages, 288 copies, letterpress printed by Graham Mackintosh. (Johnston A21)

b. First edition, hand-colored copies:
San Francisco: Open Space, December 1964
Side-stapled and glued into printed wrappers, 5.5″ x 8.25″, 32 pages, 12 copies with hand-colored end papers by the author, letterpress by Graham Mackintosh. (Johnston A21)

c. Second edition:
San Francisco: Open Space, December 1964
Side-stapled and glued into printed wrappers, 5.5″ x 8.25″, 32 pages, 288 copies, offset printed in letterpress wrappers by Graham Mackintosh. (Johnston A23)

A3. LES CHIMERES
a. First edition, regular copies:
San Francisco: Open Space, 1965
Saddle-stapled printed wrappers, 5.5″ x 8.25″, 32 pages, 500 copies, letterpress printed.
(Johnston A27)

b. First edition, hardcover copies:
San Francisco: Open Space, 1965
Hardcover in printed dust jacket, 5.5″ x 8.25″, 32 pages, 26 lettered and signed copies, letterpress printed.
(Johnston A27)

A5. CUPS
a. First edition, regular copies:
San Francisco: Four Seasons Foundation, 1968
Stapled printed wrappers, 24 pages, 1000 copies, letterpress printed. Published as Writing 17.

b. First edition, hardcover copies:
San Francisco: Four Seasons Foundation, 1968
Hardcover, 24 pages, 40 numbered and signed copies, letterpress printed. Published as Writing 17.

A6. IMAGE NATIONS 1-12 & The Stadium of the Mirror
London: Ferry Press, 1974

A7. Image Nations 13 & 14
North Vancouver: Cobblestone Press, 1975

A8. Harp Trees
Vancouver: Sun Stone House & Cobblestone Press, 1977

A9. Image Nation 15: The Lacquerhouse
Vancouver: W. Hoffer, 1981

A10. Syntax
Vancouver: Talonbooks, 1983

A11. The Faerie Queene and The Park
Vancouver: Fissure Books, 1987

A12. Pell Mell
Toronto: Coach House Press, 1988

A13. The Holy Forest
Toronto: Coach House Press, 1993

A14. Nomad
Vancouver: Slug Press, 1995

A15. Wanders, with Meredith Quartermain
Vancouver: Nomados, 2002


References consulted:

Alastair Johnston. A BIBLIOGRAPHY OF THE WHITE RABBIT PRESS
Berkeley: Poltroon Press in association with Anacapa Books, 1985

Auerhahn Press: Broadsides

>> return to AUERHAHN PRESS main page >>

Section B:
This index collects Auerhahn Press broadsides from 1959 through 1965.


1. Whalen, Philip. SELF-PORTRAIT FROM ANOTHER DIRECTION
First edition:
San Francisco: Auerhahn Press, 1959
Folded broadside tipped into printed wrappers, broadside measures 9″ x 19.5″ unfolded. Handset and printed by Jay McIlroy and Dave Haselwood.


2. Page, David. BABYWHIPLAND
First edition:
San Francisco: Auerhahn Press, 1961
Broadside folded once as issued, 5.25″ x 7.5″ (5.25″ by 15″ when open), 350 copies.



3. Duncan, Robert. A BOOK OF RESEMBLANCES
First edition:
San Francisco: Auerhahn Press, n.d.
Broadside, 8″ x 15.5″, illustrated by Jess




4. Blaser, Robin. APPARITORS
First edition:
San Francisco: Auerhahn Press 1963
Broadside, 13″ x 20″, 300 copies signed by the author and artist. illustrated by Fran Herndon.



5. Shelley, Percy Bysshe. A VALENTINE FROM THE AUERHAHN
First edition:
San Francisco: Auerhahn Press, [1964]
Broadside, 7.25″ x 4″.

6. Whalen, Philip. GODDESS
First edition:
(San Francisco): Auerhahn Press, December 1964
Broadside, 8 1/2″ x 12″, 125 copies.




7. Welch, Lew. RICHER THAN THE RICHEST FALCONER
First edition:
(San Francisco): Auerhahn Press, (1965)
Broadside, 9.5″ by 15.5″, 125 copies printed for Don Carpenter.



Cow

Inspired by Stan Persky’s OPEN SPACE, Luther T. Cupp edited COW, which ran for three issues from 1965-1966. Cupp was nicknamed “Link” by Jack Spicer and went by the name Link Martin.

1. COW, The San Francisco Magazine of Livestock, No. 1, Cow Soup Issue, edited by Luther T. Cupp
mags_cow01(San Francisco): (Cow) (1965)
First edition, side stapled printed wrappers, 8.5″ x 11″, 11 pages, mimeograph.

Contributors: Doug Palmer, Deneen Brown, Lawrence Fagin, Stan Persky, Robin Blaser, J. Mac Innis, George Stanley, Harold Dull, Joanne Kyger, Jack Spicer, Ronnie Primack, Link.

2. COW, The Magazine of Afro-Judeo Culture, No. 2, The Un-escalation Issue, edited by Luther T. Cupp
mags_cow02(San Francisco): (Cow) (1965)
First edition, side stapled printed wrappers, 8.5″ x 11″, 11 pages, mimeograph.

Contributors: Jim Thurber, Robin Blaser, Stan Persky, Bill Brodecky, Mike Hannon, Larry Fagin, Geoff Brown, Michael Ratcliffe, Joanne Kyger, Jamie MacInnis, Luis Garcia, J.C. Alexander, Gail Dusenbery, Hune Voelcker, George Stanley.

3. COW, No. 3, Pregnant Cow Issue, edited by Luter T. Cupp
mags_cow03(San Francisco): (Cow) (1966)
First edition, side stapled printed wrappers, 8.5″ x 11″, 11 pages, mimeograph.

Contributors: Bill Deemer and Andrew Hoyem, Stephen Mindel, Marga NewComb, Robin Blaser, Michael Ratcliffe, H.M. Wickenheiser, Jim Semark, Helen Adam, Gordon Gatom, Mike Hannon, SMN.

Measure

wieners


“The three simple, almost starkly working-class issues of Measure followed glorious and overlooked “underground” poet John Wieners from Black Mountain College home to Boston, across country to San Francisco, and back to Boston again. In his years in San Francisco, from 1958 to 1960, Wieners attended (sometimes serving as host at his Scott Street apartment) the legendary Sunday afternoon poetry workshops of the charismatic poets Robert Duncan and Jack Spicer. Also present at the workshops were George Stanley, Harold Dull, Robin Blaser (The Pacific Nation), and many others…”
— from A Secret Location on the Lower East Side (Granary Books, 1998)

Measure, No. 1, edited by John Wieners
mags_measure01Boston: Measure, Summer 1957
Saddle-stapled printed wrappers, 5.5″ x 8.5″, 48 pages, letterpress printed at the Press of Villiers Publications..

“Measure is edited by John Wieners. It will be issued with the four seasons only through your support… Please understand that the opinions expressed in this magazine do not necessarily reflect those of the city.”

Contributors:
Tom Balas – “Le Fou”
Charles Olson – “Le Bonheur!”, “The Charge”, “Spring”
Edward Marshall – “One:”, “Two:”
Robin Blaser – “Poem”, “Letters to Freud”, “Poem by the Charles River”
Edward Dorn – “The Rick of Green Wood”
Larry Eigner – “Millionem”, “Brink”
Frank O’Hara – “section 9 from Second Avenue”
Fielding Dawson – “Two Drawings”
Stephen Jonas – “Word on Measure”, “Expanded Word on Measure”
Michael Rumaker – “Father”
Gavin Douglas – “The Blanket”
Jack Spicer – “Song for Bird and Myself”
Jonathan Williams – “Two Poems for Whitman, the Husbandman”
Robert Duncan – “The Propositions”

Measure, No. 2, edited by John Wieners
mags_measure2San Francisco: Measure, Winter 1958
Saddle-stapled printed wrappers, 5.5″ x 8.5″, 64 pages, letterpress printed at the Press of Villiers Publications.

“Magick is for the ones who ball, i.e. throw across”

Contributors:
Michael Rumaker – “The use of the Unconscious”
Robin Blaser – “The Hunger of Sound”
Robert Creeley – “Juggler’s Thot”
Michael Rumaker – “8 Dreams”
Jack Kerouac – “4 Choruses”
Charles Olson – “Descensus Spiritus No. 1”
Robert Duncan – “The Maiden”
Robert Creeley – “They Say”, “She Went to Say”
Jack Kerouac – “235th Chorus”
Edward Dorn – “Notes from the Fields”
Robert Duncan – “The Dance”
Stuart Z. Perkoff – “Feats of Death, Feasts of Love”
V. R. Lang – “The Recidivists”
Gregory Corso – “Yaaaah”
James Broughton – “Feathers or Lead”
Michael McClure – “The Magazine Cover”, “One & Two”
Robert Creeley – “The Tunnel”, “Just Friends”
Richard Duerden – “Musica No. 3”
Stephen Jonas – “Books 3 & 4 from a Long Poem”

Measure, No. 3, edited by John Wieners
mags_measure03Milton: Measure, Winter 1962
Saddle-stapled printed wrappers, 5.5″ x 8.5″, 36 pages, letterpress printed at the Press of Villiers Publications.

“THE CITY / 1 AM – Unreasonable fear, of the shadows of Harry Lime, of the dead reappearing”

Contributors:
James Schuyler – “Shed Market”, “Joint”
Gerrit Lansing – “Explorers”
Barbara Guest – “Safe Flights”, [untitled] “Once when he was a small boy…”,  “Abruptly, as if a Forest Might Say”
Helen Adam – “Anaid si Taerg (Great is Diana)”
Madeline Gleason – “Wind Said, Marry”
Robert Duncan – “What do I Know of the Old Lore?”
Jack Spicer – “Central Park West”
Larry Eigner – “Poem”
Tom Field – [untitled] “Form is never more than the extension…”
Edward Marshall – “Times Square”, “2”, “3”
John Wieners – “The Imperatrice”
Philip Lamantia – “Opus Magnum”
Sheri Martinelli – “Ruth Gildenberg”
Michael Rumaker – “The River at Night”
Charles Olson – “The Year is a Great Circle…”, The Post Virginal”, [untitled] “Desartes, age 34…”
John Haines – “Poem”, “Pawnee Dust”

Poet as Crystal Radio Set

Although known primarily among a coterie of poets in the San Francisco Bay Area at the time of his death in 1965, Jack Spicer has slowly become a towering figure in American poetry. He was born in Los Angeles in 1925 to midwestern parents and raised in a Calvinist jack-spicerhome. While attending college at the University of California-Berkeley, Spicer met fellow poets Robin Blaser and Robert Duncan. The friendship among these three poets would develop into what they referred to as “The Berkeley Renaissance,” which would in turn become the San Francisco Renaissance after Spicer, Blaser and Duncan moved to San Francisco in the 1950s.

In 1954, he co-founded the Six Gallery in San Francisco, which soon became famous as the scene of the October 1955 Six Gallery reading that launched the West Coast Beat movement. In 1955, Spicer moved to New York and then to Boston, where he worked for a time in the Rare Book Room of Boston Public Library. Blaser was also in Boston at this time, and the pair made contact with a number of local poets, including John Wieners, Stephen Jonas, and Joe Dunn.

Spicer returned to San Francisco in 1956 and started working on After Lorca. This book represented a major change in direction for two reasons. Firstly, he came to the conclusion that stand-alone poems (which Spicer referred to as his one-night stands) were unsatisfactory and that henceforth he would compose serial poems. In fact, he wrote to Blaser that ‘all my stuff from the past (except the Elegies and Troilus) looks foul to me.’ Secondly, in writing After Lorca, he began to practice what he called “poetry as dictation”.

In 1957, Spicer ran a workshop called Poetry as Magic at San Francisco State College, which was attended by Duncan, Helen Adam, James Broughton, Joe Dunn, Jack Gilbert, and George Stanley. He also participated in, and sometimes hosted, Blabbermouth Night at a literary bar called The Place. This was a kind of contest of improvised poetry and encouraged Spicer’s view of poetry as being dictated to the poet. (more…)

Jack Spicer

youngspicer

 

Although known primarily among a coterie of poets in the San Francisco Bay Area at the time of his death in 1965, Jack Spicer has slowly become a towering figure in American poetry. He was born in Los Angeles in 1925 to midwestern parents and raised in a Calvinist home. While attending college at the University of California-Berkeley, Spicer met fellow poets Robin Blaser and Robert Duncan. The friendship among these three poets would develop into what they referred to as “The Berkeley Renaissance,” which would in turn become the San Francisco Renaissance after Spicer, Blaser and Duncan moved to San Francisco in the 1950s.


Jack Spicer Checklist:

Section A: Books, Chapbooks, and Pamphlets
Section B: Broadsides, Posters, and Postcards
Section C: Contributions to Books and Other Publications
Section D: Contributions to Periodicals
Section E: Miscellaneous Prose


At Berkeley, Spicer studied linguistics, finishing all but his dissertation for a PhD in Anglo-Saxon and Old Norse. In 1950 he lost his teaching assistantship after refusing to sign a “loyalty oath” to the United States, which the University of California required of all its employees under the Sloan-Levering Act. Spicer taught briefly at the University of Minnesota and worked for a short period of time in the rare books room at the Boston Public Library, but he lived the majority of his life in San Francisco working as a researcher in linguistics.

jack-spicer
Jack Spicer at the opening of the 6 Gallery, Halloween 1954. Photo by Robert Berg.

Spicer helped to form the 6 Gallery with five painter friends in 1954. It was at the 6 Gallery during Spicer’s sojourn east that Allen Ginsberg first read Howl. As a native Californian, Spicer tended to view the Beats as usurpers and criticized the poetry and self-promotion of poets like Ginsberg and Lawrence Ferlinghetti, as well as the Beat ethos in general. Always weary of labels and definitions, Spicer tended to associate with small, intimate groups of poets who lived in the North Beach neighborhood of San Francisco. Spicer acted as a mentor and teacher to these young poets by running poetry workshops and providing (sometimes caustic) advice for young poets.

In a 1975 New York Times article, Richard Ellman concluded: “Jack Spicer’s poems are always poised just on the face side of language, dipping all the way over toward that sudden flip, as if an effort were being made through feeling strongly in simple words to sneak up on the event of a man ruminating about something, or celebrating something, without rhetorical formulae, in his own beautiful inept awkwardness. It’s that poised ineptitude and awkwardness of the anti-academic teacher, the scholar of linguistics who can’t say what he knows in formal language, and has chosen to be very naive and look and hear and do. Spicer was not a very happy poet. He was obsessed with possibilities he could only occasionally realize, and too aware of contemporary life to settle for anything less in his work than what he probably could not achieve. He must have been a great spirit.”


Further Reading:

Herndon, James. EVERYTHING AS EXPECTED
San Francisco, Winter 1973

Foster, Edward Halsey. JACK SPICER 
Boise: Boise State University, 1991

Killian, Kevin and Lewis Ellingham. POET BE LIKE GOD: JACK SPICER AND THE BERKELEY RENAISSANCE
Hanover: Wesleyan University Press, 1998

Gizzi, Peter. THE HOUSE THAT JACK BUILT THE COLLECTED LECTURES OF JACK SPICER
Hanover: University Press of New England, 1998

Gizzi, Peter and Kevin Killian. MY VOCABULARY DID THIS TO ME: THE COLLECTED POETRY OF JACK SPICER
Middletown: Wesleyan University Press, 2008


Online Resources:

Academy of American Poets
The Bancroft Library – Jack Spicer Papers 1939-1982
Book Forum
Emory University – Jack Spicer Papers
Jacket Magazine – excerpt from Vancouver Lecture 3
Penn Sound – audio recordings
Poetry Foundation
University of Buffalo 


References Consulted:

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

Dorbin, Sanford. A CHECKLIST OF THE PUBLISHED WRITING OF JACK SPICER*
Sacramento: California Librarian, October 1970
[* the first (and only?) checklist of Jack Spicer’s writing]

Johnston, Alastair. A BIBLIOGRAPHY OF THE AUERHAHN PRESS & ITS SUCCESSOR DAVE HASELWOOD BOOKS
Berkeley: Poltroon Press, 1976

Johnston, Alastair. A BIBLIOGRAPHY OF THE WHITE RABBIT PRESS
Berkeley: Poltroon Press, 1985

Lepper, Gary M. A BIBLIOGRAPHICAL INTRODUCTION TO SEVENTY-FIVE MODERN AMERICAN AUTHORS
Berkeley: Serendipity Books, 1976