“Angel Hair sleeps with a boy in his head” was the line from the Jonathan Cott poem that caught Lewis Warsh’s and my fancy, our duetted “ear,” and we settled on Angel Hair as the name for our magazine and press. Jon was an old high school friend from New York, where we’d been literary pals exchanging Rilke, Alan Watts, Aldous Huxley, Lady Murasaki, Beckett plays, Berryman’s “Homage to Mistress Bradstreet,” various “little” magazines (Jon gave me a copy of Ted Berrigan’s “C” magazine), and our own early and awkward poems. Lewis and I met at a Robert Duncan reading at the 1965 Berkeley Poetry Conference through a friend of Jon’s and it was love at first sight. We seemed to be on a similar wavelength—both serious and romantic about poetry, studying it and the small press “underground” scene outside “the academy.” Lewis was already extremely knowledgeable. He knew the work of and had met Jack Spicer, Robin Blaser, other “legends,” and was collecting White Rabbit Press books. A voracious reader and writer, he also had several novels under his belt that he’d composed in high school. We founded our press on the spot.
By September I had returned to school and Lewis was back on the Lower East Side, settling by Spring 1966 into the apartment at 33 St. Mark’s Place and working for the Welfare Department. His salary sponsored our first ventures, in fact. We decided to use printer Ronnie Ballou from Williamstown who printed Silo (the Bennington College literary magazine). His Chapel Press, with the exception of Silo, had printed mostly grocery lists until then and his prices were cheap. (I think the first issue was about $150 and the cover was leftover Silo paper.) Angel Hair had an ultimately modest run of six issues, although the press continued through marriage, separation, and divorce in myriad—both simple and elegant—ways: mimeo, offset, in addition to the occasional letterpress-printed broadsides and books.
— Anne Waldman, Boulder, Colorado, September 15, 1997
Anne Waldman and Lewis Warsh, photomat portraits, New York City, 1968.
Angel Hair helped define the community of poets on the Lower East Side in the late ’60s (as “C” magazine, Kulchur, Fuck You/ a magazine of the arts, Yugen, and Mother had done in the early part of the decade). Jonathan Cott introduced Anne Waldman and me to one another at the Berkeley Poetry Conference in summer 1965, and part of our impetus for starting the magazine was to publish his work along with our own, and the few other poets we knew, like Gerard Malanga and Chuck Stein. Anne was editing Silo at Bennington College, so it was convenient—once we gathered material for the first issue—to use the same printer and the same Fabriano paper stock for the cover (a different color for every issue). When Anne graduated in June 1966 she moved into my apartment, a large floorthrough at 33 St. Mark’s Place in Manhattan (now a body piercing shop) and within a year we began publishing books (Lee Harwood’s The Man with Blue Eyes and Gerard Malanga’s 3 Poems for Benedetta Barzini were the first titles) as well as continuing the magazine. We lived together in that apartment for three years, and the table of contents of Angel Hair reflects not only our evolving tastes as poets but the constant stream of visitors who passed through our door: Ted Berrigan was a nightly guest, and we invariably hosted a party every Wednesday night after the readings at The Poetry Project. Our plan as editors was to focus on poets of the New York School and also to include West Coast writers like Robert Duncan, Joanne Kyger, Ebbe Borregaard, and Jim Koller whom we’d met on our travels. The magazine stopped after six issues when Anne and I separated, but we both continued publishing books under the Angel Hair imprint until 1978.
— Lewis Warsh, Brooklyn, New York, September 1997
Jim Carroll, 4 Ups and 1 Down (1970). Cover by Donna Dennis.
Anne Waldman comments:
“Our first little pamphlet had been English poet Lee Harwood’s The Man with Blue Eyes. Artist and writer Joe Brainard (one of my all-time heroes!) had generously agreed to design a cover for the little book (Lee’s first) and offered us several possibilities. After we decided on the one with simple, unmistakable Brainard lettering I went ahead and had it printed on blue paper without further consultation. And the whole project went to press. Several weeks later I proudly handed Joe a copy and he seemed both surprised and amused. ‘Blue? I’d meant it to be white. But that’s okay.’”
The story of Angel Hair is beautifully told by Lewis and Anne in side by side
introductions to The Anthology. In celebration of Granary Books’ offer of a complete Angel Hair collection, we have made this text available online.
Alice Notley, Incidentals in the Day World (1973). Cover by Philip Guston.
Anne Waldman, Giant Night (1968). Cover by George Schneeman.
Angel Hair books include
Berkson, Bill. Recent Visitors. 1973. Cover and drawings by George Schneeman.
Berkson, Bill. Shining Leaves. 1969. Cover by Alex Katz.
Berrigan, Ted. Many Happy Returns. 1967. Broadside.
Berrigan, Ted. Nothing for You. 1977.
Brainard, Joe. I Remember. 1970.
Brainard, Joe. More I Remember. 1972.
Brainard, Joe. More I Remember More. 1973.
Brodey, James. Identikit. 1967. Cover photograph by Bob Cato.
Brownstein, Michael. 5 American Tantrums. 1970. Cover by Donna Dennis.
Bye, Reed. Some Magic at the Dump. 1978.
Carroll, Jim. 4 Ups and 1 Down. 1970. Cover by Donna Dennis.
Carter, Charlotte. Sheltered Life. 1975. Cover by Raphael Soyer.
Clark, Tom. Neil Young. 1970.
Clark, Tom. Sonnet. 1968. Broadside.
Clark, Tom, and Ron Padgett. Bun. 1968. Cover by Jim Dine.
Coolidge, Clark. Ing. 1968. Cover by Philip Guston.
Coolidge, Clark. Own Face. 1978.
Corbett, William. Columbus Square Journal. 1976. Cover by Philip Guston.
Cott, Jonathan. Elective Affinities. 1970.
Creeley, Robert. In London. 1970. Printed by The Grabhorn-Hoyem Press.
Denby, Edwin. Snoring in New York. 1974. Cover by Rudy Burckhardt. Published in association with Adventures in Poetry.
Elmslie, Kenward. Girl Machine. 1971.
Fagin, Larry. Parade of the Caterpillars. 1968. Cover by George Schneeman.
Fagin, Larry. Twelve Poems. 1972. Cover by George Schneeman.
Fagin, Larry, and George Schneeman. Landscape. 1972.
Gilfillan, Merrill. Truck. Cover by Joe Brainard. 1970.
Giorno, John. Birds. 1971.
Greenwald, Ted. Makes Sense. 1975. Cover by George Schneeman.
Harwood, Lee. The Man with Blue Eyes. 1966. Cover by Joe Brainard.
Kyger, Joanne. Joanne. 1970. Photograph of the author by Bill Berkson.
Malanga, Gerard. 3 Poems for Benedetta Barzini. 1967. Photograph of the author by Stephen Shore.
Mayer, Bernadette. The Basketball Article. 1975.
Mayer, Bernadette. Eruditio Ex Memoria. 1977. Cover by the author.
Mayer, Bernadette. The Golden Book of Words. 1978. Cover by Joe Brainard.
Mayer, Bernadette. Moving. 1971. Cover by Ed Bowes. Drawings by Rosemary Mayer.
Notley, Alice. Incidentals in the Day World. 1973. Cover by Philip Guston.
O’Hara, Frank. Oranges. 1969. Cover by George Schneeman.
Rosenberg, David. Blues of the Sky. 1974. Interpreted from the Ancient Hebrew Book of Psalms. Cover by George Schneeman.
Rosenberg, David. Some Psalms. 1973. Cover by Hannah Wilke.
Rosenthal, Bob. Cleaning Up New York. 1976. Cover by Rochelle Kraut.
Schiff, Harris. I Should Run for Cover But I’m Right Here. 1978. Cover by Rudy Burckhardt.
Schiff, Harris. Secret Clouds. 1970. Cover by Joe Brainard.
Schjeldahl, Peter. Dreams. 1973. Cover by James Rosenquist.
Schuyler, James. Verge. 1971. Broadside. Printed by Andrew Hoyem.
Stanton, Johnny. Slip of the Tongue. 1969. Cover and drawings by George Schneeman.
Stein, Charles. The Virgo Poem. 1967.
Thomas, Lorenzo. Dracula: A Long Poem. 1973. Cover by Britton Wilkie.
Thomas, Lorenzo. Fit Music. 1972. Cover by Cecilio Thomas.
Torregian, Sotère. The Golden Palomino Bites the Clock. 1967. Cover by George Schneeman.
Veitch, Tom. Eat This: A Story. 1974. Cover by Greg Irons.
Vermont, Charlie. Two Women. 1971. Cover photograph by Harry Gross.
Waldman, Anne. Giant Night. 1968. Cover by George Schneeman.
Waldman, Anne. Icy Rose. 1971. Broadside. Printed by the Cranium Press.
Waldman, Anne. O My Life! 1969. Cover by George Schneeman.
Waldman, Anne. Up Through the Years. 1969. Cover by Joe Brainard.
Warsh, Lewis. The Maharajah’s Son. 1977.
Warsh, Lewis. Moving Through Air. 1968. Covers by Donna Dennis.
Warsh, Lewis, and Tom Clark. Chicago. 1970. Printed by The Grabhorn-Hoyem Press.
Weiner, Hannah. Clairvoyant Journal (1974). 1978. Cover photograph of the author by Tom Ahern.
Wieners, John. Asylum Poems. 1969. Cover by George Schneeman.
Wieners, John. Hotels. 1974. Cover by Gordon Baldwin.
Wilkie, Britton. Limits of Space and Time. 1971.
For further information on Angel Hair the reader is referred to The Angel Hair Anthology (Granary Books, 2001), edited by Anne Waldman and Lewis Warsh.