Tag Archives: Tom Raworth

Matrix Press

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[note: this Booktryst essay has been excerpted  for clarity of topic.]

A Checklist of Matrix Press (London 1961-4)
by Alastair Johnston

Tom Raworth started Matrix Press in 1961. His first book was a tiny edition of poems by Pete Brown. He then issued three numbers of a magazine called Outburst. One, in collaboration with the Finnish poet Anselm Hollo and the American Gregory Corso was Outburst: The Minicab War, a humorous salvo in the class war.  Outburst became part of a network of avant-garde writers and aired the trans-Atlantic voices of Creeley, Dorn, Levertov, Fee Dawson, and Olson for the first time in Britain.

In an interview with Andy Spragg, Raworth explained his reason for starting his own press:

TR: I was following threads of people I liked in the Allen anthology [The New American Poetry, edited by Don Allen, Grove Press, 1960]… Dorn, O’Hara, Creeley, Ginsberg and so on… hard to do then in London (though Better Books and Zwemmers in Charing Cross Road were occasional sources) and I got used to having to write to the US for books. It crossed my mind that if I liked this stuff there might be a few others who would too. Around then, late 1959 early 1960, my father-in-law gave us a delayed wedding present of £100. I can’t remember how I’d got interested in letterpress printing: it might be genetic… years later I discovered my father had wanted to be a printer, and that an ancestor, Ruth Raworth, had printed one of Milton’s early books in the 17th C. Anyway, I got a small Adana press ?rst and then a larger treadle press. Offset printing was slowly taking over and letterpress equipment and type was not too expensive then. By late 1960/early 1961 I was in correspondence with Dorn, Creeley and others in the US and had met Anselm Hollo, Michael Horovitz, Pete Brown and others here. I printed the ?rst small booklet (a couple of tiny poems by Pete Brown) on the Adana. I was working then in the Euston Road, at Burroughs Wellcome, the manufacturing pharmacists, and a photographer friend there, Steve Fletcher, had a brother who was an engraver and shared a workshop just off Oxford Street with a letterpress printer. They let me move the treadle press there so they could use it for small jobs and in return I could have access whenever I wanted. I’d met, and become good friends with, David Ball and Piero Heliczer (also a letterpress printer with his Dead Language in Paris). So I did small books of Dorn, Ball and Heliczer. And two and a half issues of the magazine Outburst. I had to set two pages at a time (only enough type for that) on the ?oor at night after work, carry it into town the next day, print the pages on the press with whatever colour ink was in use, go home, sort the type back into the case and start again.


1. Brown, Pete. SAMPLE PACK
London: Matrix Press, 1961

According to Raworth, about 6 copies were printed. The poems were collected in Let Em Roll Kafka, Brown’s book from Fulcrum Press (London, 1969). Best-known today as the lyricist for the rock band Cream, Pete Brown was Britain’s first performance poet who earned his living giving readings. He was the first reader at the Morden Tower in Newcastle, one of the most important poetry venues in England in the 60s.

“When John Lennon was still in art college Pete was turning on Liverpool with his synthesis of Beat poetry, Bop jazz, and British humour.” — Stuart Montgomery

2. OUTBURST, No. 1, edited by Tom Raworth
London: Matrix Press, 1961

Handset by Raworth in Gill Sans, Perpetua, Times Bold, Ultra Bodoni. Printed by Richard Moore and Sons. Cover photo (& 2 more inside) by Steve Fletcher.

Contributors include Anselm Hollo, Tram Combs, Robert Creeley, Fielding Dawson, Denise Levertov, Ed Dorn, Christopher Logue, Gary Snyder, Charles Olson, Michael Horovitz, Piero Heliczer, Ian Hamilton Finlay, Pete Brown, Gregory Corso, and others.

The advertisements for other little magazines, like Migrant, Yugen and New Departures, show how closely networked the avant-garde was in the 1960s. Gael Turnbull (1928-2004) was a key figure in the literary small press movement. A Scottish doctor he started Migrant Press in 1957 and continued operating it (with a mimeograph machine) after he moved to Ventura, California. He published many of the same poets as Raworth, including Dorn, Hollo and Ian Hamilton Finlay, whose The Dancers Inherit the Party is reviewed in this issue of Outburst.

London: Matrix Press, 1961

White or blue wrappers, each page in a different color of ink. Cover photo by Steve Fletcher.

According to Raworth: “This issue was done with the hope that it might give a benevolent lift to the satirists of the Establishment, who want very much to destroy a possibly REAL revolution by making entertainment of it, and England’s future darker — The Minicab War is the Synthesis of Class War.”

Note: In June 1961 Michael Gotla of Welbeck launched a fleet of 400 minicabs on the streets of London, that carried advertising and undercut the well-established black cabs. Soon things turned nasty with hundreds of bogus phone calls to the minicab companies ordering cabs, black taxis hemming in the smaller vehicles, even vandalism as the situation escalated. In an editorial in August, under the headline “What the Public Wants,” The Times wrote: “It is fairly obvious that for many people in London finding a taxi has become too chancy and paying for it too stiff.” Minicab War contains spurious interviews with T. S. Eliot, John Betjeman, (Prime Minister) Harold MacMillan, George Barker, Bertrand Russell, Martin Bormann, & various cabbies. The perpetrators were Tom Raworth (O’Moore), Gregory Corso (De la Rue) & Anselm Hollo (Sykes). Martin Bormann was Hitler’s personal secretary. It was believed he had escaped Germany after the War and fled to South America so he remained alive in British popular culture, resurfacing on the beach in Brazil with Great Train Robber Ronnie Biggs in the Sex Pistols’ movie The Great Rock ‘n’ Roll Swindle (dir: Julian Temple, 1980).

4. OUTBURST, No. 2 , edited by Tom Raworth
London: Matrix Press, 1963

Some pages printed in colored ink.

Contributors include Douglas Woolf, Paul Blackburn, Leroi Jones, Fielding Dawson, Allen Ginsberg, Gregory Corso, Larry Eigner, Ruth Weiss, Ed Dorn, David Meltzer, Alan Sillitoe, Carol Bergé, Piero Heliczer, Paul Klee (translated by Anselm Hollo), Pentti Saarikoski (translated by Anselm Hollo), Philip Whalen, and others.

Brighton: Dead Language & London: Matrix Press

Cover photo by Ph Mechanicus; the image is reused from the last page of Outburst, No. 2.

According to Raworth:  “Piero was living with us; he and I printed in on my treadle press which was off Oxford Street in Richard Moore’s print-shop…”

According to Alastair Johnston: “Ambitious design using the gutter as a focal point. Each page has a black bar printed in the gutter which then continues across the fold. Large condensed Gill Sans headers make striking compositions. The text is in Perpetua with Times Bold. One leaf is printed on lavender paper.”

6. Hollo, Anselm. HISTORY
London: Matrix Press, 1963

Set in Linotype Times, printed on Brookleigh Bond wove paper; price 3 shillings.

Colophon: This book has been set in Times Roman type. The two drawings are by Ken Lansdowne. Nelson is by Gregory Corso. A photograph of the cover illustration was supplied by Steve Fletcher. All blocks were made by Barry Hall. 350 copies were printed. Designed and printed by Tom Raworth

AJ: History by Anselm seems like the transitional book from matrix to goliard, since barry made the blocks. i guess you met him at this point and decided to collaborate from then on? it looks like a really light impression, or else some of it is offset, and it says typeset and printed by you, so what press were you using?

TR:  It was done on my treadle press, the Adana, smaller than the later Goliard press one, which was stored at the print shop of Richard Moore, three floors up off Oxford Street where the deal was that he could use it for small jobs (his main press was a large Heidelberg). That came about because one of the other two craftsmen in the shop, the engraver (there was also a diestamper and process engraver) was the brother of my friend Steve Fletcher a photographer, who took the photo on the front of the second issue of Outburst.

London: Matrix Press, March 1964

Drawing by Barry Hall

From the Colophon: This book is set in Times Roman. There are 350 copies Designed and printed by Tom Raworth, Flat 3, Stanley House, Finchley Rd, London NW11 20.3.64

According to Johnston: Dorn visited England to teach at the University of Essex. He and Raworth became lifelong friends and collaborated later at Zephyrus Image, when both were living in San Francisco in the mid to late 70s.

8. Ball, David.TWO POEMS
London: Matrix Press, August 1964

Drawing by Gene Mahon. This book is set in Baskerville and Times Roman (cover title in Verona).

Piero Heliczer – Film

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This index includes films by Piero Heliczer, with a short section at the end highlighting films that Piero Heliczer appears in

Films by Piero Heliczer: 

1. THE AUTUMN FEAST (1961) [film on Ubu Web]
Format: 8mm, 14 minutes, black and white and color, silent / sound on tape
Writer/Director: Piero Heliczer
Cinematography: Jeff Keen
Cast: Piero Heliczer, Kate Heliczer, Jacqueline Keen and others
Music: Angus MacLise – cembalum, Tony Conrad – mandolin, Piero Heliczer – flute

Note:  a deliberately non-synchronous film, shot in 8mm with the sound on tape. Piero Heliczer reads his poem “The Autumn Feast,” and the visuals interact with, but do not represent what is read.

“A grown up fantasy based on Guy Fawkes Day, the great children’s holiday of England, which is a combination of Halloween and the Fourth of July.” – Piero Heliczer.

“The Autumn Feast lays bare (there should be something that rhymes with hair here or bare there) the mythic structure behind the orange domes and cardboard battlements and gilded gables of our Pasty National Howard Johnsons Baghdad. It rubs the very noses of our mannequins in our mold and sends us spinning into the street – undone and toothless” – Jack Smith

2. THE SOAP OPERA (c. 1964)
Format: 16mm, 13 minutes, silent
Cinematography: Piero Heliczer
Cast: Piero Heliczer, Angus MacLise, Jack Smith, Marian Zazeela, LaMonte Young and others.

“This is basically a documentary on the beginnings of the cultural revolution on the Lower East Side, New York. While finishing this film, Piero Heliczer starred in Jack Smith’s FLAMING CREATURES and later in Bill Vehr’s AVOCADA.” – The Film-Makers Coop

“Also known as THE HOME OPERA and THE PANIC OPERA. At home in a small loft in the early days of the Golden Age of the Lower East Side. With Piero Heliczer, Angus Maclise, Jack Smith, LaMonte Young, Marian Zazeela and others.” – Piero Heliczer.

3. DIRT (1965) [film on Ubu Web]
Format: 8mm, 12 minutes, color/black and white, silent with sound on tape
Writer/Director: Piero Heliczer
Producer: Andy Warhol
Cast: John Cale, Storm De Hirsch, Bobby Driscoll [Nun], Dee Dee Driscoll, Rose Feliu-Pettet [Bride], Charles Henri Ford, Julie Garfield, Kate Heliczer, Sally Kirkland, Gretl Learned, Angus MacLise, Gerard Malanga, Jack Martin, Ann Mattingley, Barbara Maultsby, Jonas Mekas, Mario Montez, Irene Nolan, Bobby Notkoff, Barbara Rubin, Edie Sedgwick, Harry Smith, Jack Smith, Charles Stanley, Andy Warhol, La Monte Young, Marian Zazeela
Music: Marc Antoine Charpentier: Kyrie and Credo from the mass, “Assumpta Est Maria”
Filming location: New York City

Note: planned as a three hour epic, but when finished was only 12 minutes: also known as BATH SEQUENCE.

“Two nuns take a bath, then meet a sailor on the Staten Island Ferry. With Irene Nolan, Gretl Learned, Angus Maclise, Mario Montez and others.” – Piero Heliczer.

“Among all the new movies (it has been quiet lately on the underground scene) Piero Heliczer’s Dirt touched me most deeply. Its beauty is very personal and lyrical. And every frame of it is cinema. I can do not justice to this beautiful work in one paragraph. It was shot on 8mm and much of its beauty and its cinema come from 8mm properties of camera and film. It is all motion. Together with Brakhage’s Songs, Branaman’s abstractions and Ken Jackob’s not yet released work, Heliczer’s Dirt is one of the four works that use 8mm film properly and for art’s sake” – Jonas Mekas, Village Voice.

4. THE LAST RITES (1965)

5. SATISFACTION (c. 1965)
Format: 16mm, 10 minutes, color/black and white, silent with sound on tape
Writer/Director: Piero Heliczer
Cinematography: Piero Heliczer
Cast: John Cale, Sally Kirkland [The Nun], Angus MacLise, Gerard Malanga [Flash Gordon], Mario Montez, Irene Nolan [School Girl], Barbara Rubin [The Nun], Jack Smith [God], Frances Stillman [The Nun]
Music: The Rolling Stones (“Satisfaction”)
Sound Engineer: Tony Conrad

“A nun goes to Heaven and arrives there at the same time as Flash Gordon. With Sally Kirkland (as the Nun), Irene Nolan (as the School Girl), Frances Stillman and Barbara Rubin (as Nuns), Gerard Malanga (as Flash Gordon, Jack Smith (as God), Jack Martin, Angus Maclise, Mario Montez, and others.” – Piero Heliczer.

6. VENUS IN FURS (1965)
Format: 16mm, 16 minutes, color, silent with sound on tape
Director: Piero Heliczer
Cinematography: Piero Heliczer
Cast: John Cale, Piero Heliczer, Angus MacLise, Lou Reed, Barbara Rubin, The Velvet Underground
Music: The Velvet Underground (“Heroin”, “Venus in Furs” with Piero Heliczer on saxophone)
Sound Engineer: CBS-TV News

“This companion film to SATISFACTION is set at the opposite solstice and recapitulates part of DIRT. With Julie Garfield and Barbara Rubin (as Nuns), Chas Stanley (as Death), Margaret Boyce Cam (as the Nurse), Lou Reed, John Cale, Angus Maclise and others. A chess game under the bridge becomes a party in Hell. A must for lepidopterists.” – Piero Heliczer.

Format: 16mm, 11.5 minutes, color, silent with sound on tape
Cast: Arnold Rockwood (as the Policeman), Jack Smith (as LBJ), Rene Ricard, Ira Cohen, Wm. de Vore, Gerard Malanga, Tuli Kupferberg (as Bonnie Prince Charlie), Jose Rodriguez Soltero (as the Priest), Angus MacLise, Irene Nolan (as Marlene Dietrich), Chas Henry Ford, Jane Waldren, Wendy Norins, Andy Warhol, and many others
Music: Tony Conrad

“The story of Joan of Arc as applied to the present revolution in arts and mores. The Gothic is applied to the War in Vietnam. The film is experimental in the sense that in it the visual becomes tactile. With Arnold Rockwood (as the Policeman), Jack Smith (as LBJ), Rene Richard, Ira Cohen, Wm. de Vore, Gerard Malanga, Tuli Kupferberg (as Bonnie Prince Charlie), Jose Rodriguez-Soltero (as the Priest), Chas. Henri Ford, Jane Waldren, Wendy Norins and many others.” – Piero Heliczer.

Format: 16mm, 24 minutes, color/black and white, silent with sound on tape
Cast: Tom Raworth, Mary and Gudmundur Gudmunsson Erro, Agneta Freiberg, Jane Fagin, Michael Malce, Francois le Coeur, Jackie Curtis, Viva, Michal Auder, Terence Ork, Mario Anniballi, Jud & Jeni Yalkut, Marion Brown, Mossa Bildner, Dexter Kelly, Betsy Greenstein, Gerorge Whitman, Alferdo Leonardi, Patti-Lee Chenis, Cornelia Wessels, Joseph Arak, Jose Rodriguez-Soltero, Rolando Pena, Suzanne de Maria, Lohr Wilson, Jerry Benjamin, Jack Smith (as Casanova), Michael Snow (as Aristotle), Gerard Malanga (as Orfeo) and many others
Music: Claudio Monteverdi (“Orfeo – Act III”)

Format: 8mm, 5 minutes, color, silent with sound on tape
Cast: Antoine Perich and others

“The action takes place in a pissoir in june/1958 the weather is very good every now and then it/ rains very hard at night there is lightning in/ the day time bright sun without rain bows the / day is bright as urine/ some of the action takes place on the outer/ surface of the pissoir shell/ harunobu wears a white noh mask and/ reddish black wig her japanese dress is white/ lack and red like a st raphael advertisement/ jean sebastien bach/ gregory shaxper/ with antoine perich and others.” – Piero Heliczer.

10. BESSIE SMITH (1967)
Format: 16mm, 6 minutes, color, silent with sound on tape

“Photographed by gerard malanga in the subways of new york (actually the set of the blue centaur left over from the economy cutbacks at mgm and paramount/ joseph smith; patti lee chenis/ barrabas son to joseph smith: bill iwata/ captain john smith/ captain smiths band white masks mustaches armored round quattrocento helmets/ angel black face wears a checkered ginham dress/ band of angels/ johann sebastian back wears a wig in blackface looks a lot like george washington two fingers of his left hand are missing/ bessie smith: lily ocasio/ joseph smith and barabbas smith are played by one man preferably buster keaton/ angel and bach are played by one man preferably django reinhardt/ captain smiths band is played by the band of angels.” – Piero Heliczer.

11. THE NAKED LUNCH (1968)
Format: 1/4″ magnetic tape, 30 minutes

“A film for tape recorder no projector needed/ sound by wm burroughs.” – Piero Heliczer.

Format: 16mm, 40 minutes, black and white, silent

Format: 16mm, 39.5 minutes, black and white, silent

Film with Appearances by Piero Heliczer: 

1. BENGASI (1942)
Director: Augusto Genina
Writers: Edoardo Anton, Ugo Betti, Alessandro De Stefani, Augusto Genina
Piero Heliczer (as Sandrino Berti (aka “Pucci”))

Director: Nunzio Malasomma
Writers: Nunzio Malasomma, Sergio Pugliese
Piero Heliczer (as “un altro bambino”)

Format: 16mm, 45 minutes, black and white, mono
Writer/Director: Jack Smith
Cinematography: Jack Smith
Cast: Francis Francine (as himself), Sheila Bick (as Delicious Dolores), Joel Markman (as Our Lady of the Docks), Mario Montez (as The Spanish Girl (aka Dolores Flores)), Arnold Rockwood (as Arnold), Judith Malina (as The Fascinating Woman), Marian Zazeela (as herself), Beverly Grant (as Whirling Dervish), Piero Heliczer (as himself)
Music: Tony Conrad
Filming Location: New York City

“An experimental film that features graphic sexual imagery, an earthquake, and a lipstick commercial.”

4. COUCH (1964)
Format: 16mm, 54 minutes, black and white, silent
Director: Andy Warhol
Producer: Andy Warhol
Cast: Bingingham Birdie, Rufus Collins, Gregory Corso, Allen Ginsberg, Kate Heliczer, Pierre Helzicer, Jane Holzer, Jack Kerouac, Mark Lancaster, Joseph LeSeuer, Naomi Levine, Gerard Malanga, Taylor Mead, Billy Name (as Billy Linich), Ivy Nicholson, Ondine, Peter Orlovsky, John Palmer, Amy Taubin, Gloria Wood

The couch at Andy Warhol’s Factory was as famous in its own right as any of his Superstars. In Couch, visitors to the Factory were invited to “perform” on camera, seated on the old couch. Their many acts-both lascivious and mundane-are documented in a film that has come to be regarded as one of the most notorious of Warhol’s early works. Across the course of the film we encounter such figures as poets Allen Ginsberg and Gregory Corso, the writer Jack Kerouac, and perennial New York figure Taylor Mead.

5. SCREEN TEST(1965)
Format: 16mm, 3 minutes, black & white, silent
Director/Producer: Andy Warhol
Cinematography: Gerard Malanga

Piero Heliczer, dressed in a broad-brimmed black hat and high collar, is placed in front of a plastic sheeting. He slowly smokes a cigarette, occasionally blowing a smoke ring. Towards the end of the roll he smiles, closes his eyes and sticks his tongue out at the camera

Note:between 1964 and 1966 Andy Warhol made about 500 different Screen Tests of various personalities who visited his atelier Factory.

6. BROTHEL (1966)
Format: 16mm, 45 minutes, color, mono
Director/Writer: Bill Vehr
Producer: Bill Vehr
Cinematrography: Bill Vehr
Cast: Mario Montez, Jack Smith, Piero Heliczer, Tosh Carillo, Francis Francine

Brothel is a 45-minute color film starring Mario Montez, Jack Smith, Piero Heliczer, Tosh Carillo, and Francis Francine. Filmmaker Carl Linder was particular taken with Vehr’s film, describing the film’s protagonist as “neo-romantic, Beardsley-esque phantoms from an Oscar Wilde garden.”

7. HOMEO (1967) [link to Dailymotion]
Format: 16mm, 38 minutes, color
Director: Étienne O’Leary
Cast: Michel Asso, Michel Auder, Yves Beneyton, Dennis Berry, Juliet Berto, Margareth Clémenti, Pierre Clémenti, Francis Conrad (as Konrad), Billy Copley, François De Menil, Barbara Girard, Michèle Giraud, Piero Heliczer, Nicole Laguigner, Taylor Mead

O’Leary’s second film is a disjointed collage of beautifully shot footage: cityscapes, signs and billboards, nudes and cameos by other French actors/filmmakers of the day.

8. NO PRESIDENT (1967)
Format: 16mm, 50 minutes, black and white
Director: Jack Smith
Cast: Tally Brown, Tosh Carillo, Doris Desmond, Charles Henri Ford (as Lady Dracula), Bill Fortenberry, Francis Francine, Piero Heliczer, Donna Kerness, Nancy King, Robert Lavigne, Gerard Malanga, Joel Markman, Gay Martini, Mario Montez, Irving Rosenthal

Note: original title was “The Kidnapping of Wendell Willkie by the Love Bandit”