Founded in 1968 by James Bertolino and Warren Woessner, Abraxas was one of Wisconsin’s first independent little magazines. Bertolino coedited Abraxas 1 and 2, edited 3 and 5, and discontinued his association after 5. Woessner edited numbers 4 and 6–10, when David Hilton joined as a contributing editor. Abraxas 14/15 was a joint effort by Abraxas and Chowder Review (edited by Ron Slate). Issues 16–22 featured reviews of small press poetry books (excluding Abraxas 20, Bright Moments: A Collection of Jazz Poetry, now in its third printing). Abraxas Press has also published 11 pamphlets, chapbooks, and books, including Essays and Dissolutions by Darrell Gray, Clinches by Ray DiPalma, The Moving Journal by Jim Stephens, and The Part-Time Arsonist by F. Keith Wahle.
Abraxas 11 [c. 1976].
In 1981 Ingrid Swanberg assumed editorship, returning Abraxas
to a format primarily featuring poetry (from an all-reviews format). Woessner remains Senior Editor; the late David Hilton discontinued his association as an editor in the 1980s, although he continued to publish his poetry in Abraxas
into the late ’90s. Swanberg edited Abraxas
23/24, the Special Madison Issue, and Abraxas
25/26, the Special Wisconsin Issue. Subsequently, she put together nos. 27/28 (1983), 29/30 (1984), 31/32 (1985), 33 (1985), 34 (1986), 35/36 (1987), 37, the Twentieth Anniversary Issue (1988–89), 38/39 (1990), 40/41 (1991), 42/43 (1997), 44/45 (2006), 46 (2007), and 47 (2010). Under Swanberg’s editorship the magazine’s format has expanded to include poetry in translation, a commitment fully developed with 38/39 and 40/41, in which Abraxas
published a substantial selection of César Vallejo’s poetic sequence Trilce
, taken from the only authorized edition published by Vallejo in Lima in 1922, and published in Abraxas
for the first time since that year. Abraxas
38/39 and 40/41 present 52 of the 77 poems of Trilce
in the original Spanish and in a new English translation, with a critical commentary, by translator próspero saíz. Since 1983, Abraxas
has offered poetry in translation from Spanish, French, Portuguese, Swedish, German, Polish, Hungarian, Russian, Chinese, and Sanskrit, including poems by Sophia de Mello Breyner Andresen, Siv Arb, Homero Aridjis, Christian Arjonilla, Antonin Artaud, Stanisław Barańczak, Yolanda Blanco, Yves Bonnefoy, Antonio Cisneros, Sandor Csoori, Pablo Antonio Cuadra, Helen Dorion, Gunther Faschinger, Tu Fu, Thomas Jastrun, Margarita Leon, Antonio Machado, Pablo Neruda, Imre Oravecz, José Emilio Pacheco, Marcelin Pleynet, Hans Raimund, Liu Shahe, Yan Shih-Bo, Marie Uguay, Wang Wei, Yogeshvara, Zhu Xiao-Zang, and more.
Abraxas’s primary commitment is to contemporary American poetry, presenting work by both established and lesser-known writers.
Abraxas 13 [c. 1978].
Contributors over the years include A. R. Ammons, Michael Andre, Ivan Argüelles, marcia arrieta, John M. Bennett, Douglas Blazek, Jane Blue, Joseph Bruchac, Jeanne Bryan, Diane Burns, Charles Bukowski, Grace Butcher, David Chorlton, Leonard Cirino, Andrei Codrescu, Jack Collom, Mary Crow, Roselyn Elliott, David Lincoln Fisher, Stuart Friebert, Diane Glancy, Anselm Hollo, Albert Huffstickler, Will Inman, John Jacob, George Kalamaras, Maurice Kenny, T. L. Kryss, Denise Levertov, Philip Levine, d.a. levy, Duane Locke, Gerald Locklin, Jami Macarty, John McKernan, Andrea Moorhead, Sheryl L. Nelms, B. Z. Niditch, Achy Obejas, Theresa Pappas, Simon Perchik, John Perlman, Judith Roitman, próspero saíz, Joseph Stanton, Thoman R. Smith, D. E. Steward, Carl Thayler, William Stafford, D. R. Wagner, Marine Robert Warden, Roberta Hill Whiteman, A. D. Winans, William Winfield, Christina Zawadiwsky, et al. As ever, Abraxas
seeks to discover new and authentic talent. Recognized across the country as one of the best of the literary independents, Abraxas
continues to offer an increasingly rare opportunity to emerging writers for their work to be chosen on the basis of merit, and to be presented in the company of the best contemporary poetry.
— Ingrid Swanberg, Madison, Wisconsin, September 2010
Abraxas 49 (2015). Cover painting by Willard Markhardt.
Abraxas books and chapbooks (complete)
DiPalma, Raymond. Clinches. 1970.
[NA]. Abraxas Christmas Gift Catalog. ca. 1979.
Gray, Darrell. Essays and Dissolutions. 1977.
Kryss, T. L. The Secret of the Bodhi Tree. 2011. Broadside. Momentaneous Monograph no. 1.
Stephens, Jim, ed. Bright Moments: A Collection of Jazz Poetry. 1980. Abraxas 20.
Stephens, Jim. The Moving Journal. 1980. Published under the imprint Furious Alto Break.
Stephens, Jim. Posthumous Work. 1975.
Trudell, Dennis. Eight Pages. 1975.
Trudell, Dennis, ed. Wire in the Blood: Political Poems from Madison, Wis. 1982.
Vallejo, César. Trilce. próspero saíz, trans. 1992. Abraxas 38/39 and 40/41.
Wahle, F. Keith. The Part-Time Arsonist. 1971.