Category Archives: Language Writing

Tuumba Press

magazines & Presses

Tuumba Press

Lyn Hejinian
Willits and Berkeley, California


Carla Harryman, Percentage (1979).

I founded Tuumba Press in 1976. It was a solo venture in that I had no partner(s) or assistant(s) but it was not a private or solitary one; I had come to realize that poetry exists not in isolation (alone on its lonely page) but in transit, as experience, in the social worlds of people. For poetry to exist, it has to be given meaning, and for meaning to develop there must be communities of people thinking about it. Publishing books as I did was a way of contributing to such a community—even a way of helping to invent it. Invention is essential to every aspect of a life of writing. In order to learn how to print, I invented a job for myself in the shop of a local printer. The shop was in Willits, California—a small rural town with an economy based on cattle ranching and logging; the owner of the shop (the printer, Jim Case) was adamant that “printing ain’t for girls,” but he took me on three afternoons a week as the shop’s cleaning lady. A year later I moved to Berkeley, and purchased an old Chandler-Price press from a newspaper ad. I knew how to run the press but not much about typesetting; friends (particularly Johanna Drucker and Kathy Walkup) taught me a few essentials and a number of tricks. The first eleven chapbooks (printed in Willits in 1976–77) had a slightly larger trim size than those I did myself (in a back room of the house in Berkeley)—I was using leftover paper in Willits, but in Berkeley I bought paper from a local warehouse and used the trim size that was the most economical (creating the least amount of scrap).

Dick Higgins, Cat Alley: A Long Short Novel (1976). (Tuumba 5).

Dick Higgins, Cat Alley: A Long Short Novel (1976). Tuumba 5.

The list of authors of the first books makes it clear that for the first year and a half I was looking to various modes of “experimental,” “innovative,” or “avant-garde” writing for information; the subsequent chapbooks represent a commitment to a particular community—the group of writers who came to be associated with “Language Writing.” The chapbook format appealed to me for obvious practical reasons—a shorter book meant less work (and expense) than a longer one. But there were two other advantages to the chapbook. First, most of the books I published were commissioned—I invited poets to give me a manuscript by a certain date (usually six months to a year away)—and I didn’t want to make the invitation a burden. And second, I wanted the Tuumba books to come to people in the mode of “news”—in this sense, rather than “chapbook” perhaps one should say “pamphlet.” It is for this reason, by the way, that I didn’t handsew the books; they are all stapled—a transgression in the world of fine printing but highly practical in the world of pamphleteering.

Lyn Hejinian, Berkeley, California, September 1997

Ted Greenwald, Smile (1981). (Tuumba 31.)

Ted Greenwald, Smile (1981). Tuumba 31.

Alice Notley, Doctor Williams’ Heiresses (1980). (Tuumba 28.)

Alice Notley, Doctor Williams’ Heiresses (1980). Tuumba 28.

Tuumba publications

Tuumba issued fifty pamphlets and a poster. In addition the press issued numerous small broadsides, cards, and other ephemera.

What follows is a complete checklist of the pamphlets and poster:

Andrews, Bruce. Praxis. 1978. Tuumba 18.

Armantrout, Rae. The Invention of Hunger. 1979. Tuumba 22.

Baracks, Barbara. No Sleep. 1977. Tuumba 11.

Benson, Steve. The Busses. 1981. Tuumba 32.

Bernheimer, Alan. State Lounge. 1981. Tuumba 33.

Bernstein, Charles. Senses of Responsibility. 1979. Tuumba 20.

Bromige, David. P-E-A-C-E. 1981. Tuumba 34.

Coolidge, Clark. Research. 1982. Tuumba 40.

Day, Jean. Linear C. 1983. Tuumba 43.

DiPalma, Ray. Observatory Gardens. 1979. Tuumba 24.

Dreyer, Lynne. Step Work. 1983. Tuumba 44.

Eigner, Larry. Flat and Round. 1980. Tuumba 25.

Eisenberg, Barry. Bones’ Fire. 1977. Tuumba 7.

Eshleman, Clayton. The Gospel of Celine Arnauld. 1977. Tuumba 12.

Faville, Curtis. Wittgenstein’s Door. 1980. Tuumba 29.

Fraser, Kathleen. Magritte Series. 1977. Tuumba 6.

Greenwald, Ted. Smile. 1981. Tuumba 31.

Grenier, Robert. Cambridge M’ass. 1979. Poster.

Grenier, Robert. Oakland. 1980. Tuumba 27.

Hall, Doug. Beyond the Edge. 1977. Tuumba 8.

Harryman, Carla. Percentage. 1979. Tuumba 23.

Harryman, Carla. Property. 1982. Tuumba 39.

Hejinian, Lyn. Gesualdo. 1978. Tuumba 15.

Hejinian, Lyn. The Guard. 1984. Tuumba 50.

Hejinian, Lyn. A Thought Is the Bride of What Thinking. 1976. Tuumba 1.

Higgins, Dick. Cat Alley: A Long Short Novel. 1976. Tuumba 5.

Howe, Fanny. For Erato: The Meaning of Life. 1984. Tuumba 48.

Howe, Susan. The Western Borders. 1976. Tuumba 2.

Inman, P. Ocker. 1982. Tuumba 37.

Irby, Kenneth. Archipelago. 1976. Tuumba 4.

Kahn, Paul. January. 1978. Tuumba 13.

Kostelanetz, Richard. Foreshortenings, and Other Stories. 1978. Tuumba 14.

Lipp, Jeremy. Sections from Defiled by Water. 1976. Tuumba 3.

Mandel, Tom. EncY. 1978. Tuumba 16.

Mason, John. Fade to Prompt. 1981. Tuumba 35.

Melnick, David. Men in Aida: Book One. 1983. Tuumba 47.

Notley, Alice. Doctor Williams’ Heiresses. 1980. Tuumba 28.

Palmer, Michael. Alogon. 1980. Tuumba 30.

Perelman, Bob. a.k.a. 1979. Tuumba 19.

Perelman, Bob. To the Reader. 1984. Tuumba 49.

Price, Larry. Proof. 1982. Tuumba 42.

Robinson, Kit. Riddle Road. 1982. Tuumba 41.

Robinson, Kit. Tribute to Nervous. 1980. Tuumba 26.

Rodefer, Stephen. Plane Debris. 1981. Tuumba 36.

Seaton, Peter. Crisis Intervention. 1983. Tuumba 45.

Silliman, Ron. ABC. 1983. Tuumba 46.

Silliman, Ron. Sitting Up, Standing, Taking Steps. 1978. Tuumba 17.

Watten, Barrett. Complete Thought. 1982. Tuumba 38.

Watten, Barrett. Plasma / Paralleles / “X”. 1979. Tuumba 21.

Wilk, David. For You/For Sure. 1977. Tuumba 9.

Woodall, John. Recipe: Collected Thoughts for Considering the Void. 1977. Tuumba 10.


Scans of the complete run of Tuumba are available on the Eclipse website.

Sun & Moon

magazines & Presses

Sun & Moon

Douglas Messerli
College Park, Maryland, and Los Angeles

Nos. 1–18 (1976–86).

Sun & Moon 1 (Winter 1976).

Sun & Moon magazine ran from 1976 to 1986, publishing eighteen issues, and Sun & Moon Press began in College Park, Maryland, in 1978 with the publication of poet Charles Bernstein’s Shade, with a cover by Susan B. Laufer. The press and magazine soon moved to Los Angeles. It is almost impossible to overestimate the importance of Sun & Moon to the community of experimentally minded writers in the United States, West or East Coast. A vibrant and flourishing publishing concern, continuing in the footsteps of New Directions, Sun & Moon effectively established a new avant-garde tradition for the end of the twentieth century and the beginning of the twenty-first. The press and the magazine mixed cultures past and present. The books were beautifully and carefully produced and printed in runs of 1,000 to 2,000 copies, which, according to proprietor Messerli, kept the unit costs down. Among the many avant-garde and experimental writers Sun & Moon has published are Henry James, André Breton, Gertrude Stein, Djuna Barnes, Jackson Mac Low, Barrett Watten, Lyn Hejinian, and Charles Bernstein in the Classics series, Lewis Warsh, Johnny Stanton, Curtis White, and Paul Auster in the New American Fiction series, and Rae Armantrout, Clark Coolidge, and Dennis Phillips in the New American Poetry series.

Charles Bernstein, Shade (1978). Sun & Moon Contemporary Literature Series no. 1. Cover by Susan B. Laufer.

Charles Bernstein, Shade (1978). Sun & Moon Contemporary Literature Series no. 1. Cover by Susan B. Laufer.

David Antin, whos listening out there (1979). Sun & Moon Contemporary Literature Series no. 4. Cover by the author.

David Antin, whos listening out there (1979). Sun & Moon Contemporary Literature Series no. 4. Cover by the author.

Sun & Moon Press books include

Ahern, Tom. Hecatombs of Lake. 1984. Sun & Moon Contemporary Literature Series, no. 21.

Antin, David. whos listening out there. 1979. Sun & Moon Contemporary Literature Series, no. 4.

Bernstein, Charles. Content’s Dream: Essays 1975–1984. 1986.

Bernstein, Charles. Shade. 1978. Cover by Susan B. Laufer. Sun & Moon Contemporary Literature Series, no. 1.

Brownstein, Michael. Oracle Night. 1982. Cover drawing by the author. Sun & Moon Contemporary Literature Series, no. 13.

Cory, Jean-Jacques. Particulars. 1980. Sun & Moon Contemporary Literature Series, no. 8.

Darragh, Tina. on the corner   to   off the corner. 1981. Sun & Moon Contemporary Literature Series, no. 10.

DiPalma, Ray. Cuiva Sails. 1978. Sun & Moon Contemporary Literature Series, no. 2.

Frank, Peter. The Travelogues (1971–1977). 1982. Sun & Moon Contemporary Literature Series, No. 12.

Greenwald, Ted. Word of Mouth. 1986.

Hejinian, Lyn. The Cold of Poetry. 1994.

Herbert, F. John. The Collected Poems of Sir Winston Churchill. 1981. Sun & Moon Contemporary Literature Series, no. 9.

Inman, P. Platin. 1979. Sun & Moon Contemporary Literature Series, no. 5.

Mac Low, Jackson. From Pearl Harbor Day to FDR’s Birthday. 1982. Sun & Moon Contemporary Literature Series, no. 14.

Messerli, Douglas. Dinner on the Lawn. 1979; revised edition 1982. Sun & Moon Contemporary Literature Series, no. 7.

Messerli, Douglas, ed. Contemporary American Fiction. 1983. Sun & Moon Contemporary Literature Series, no. 18.

Sherry, James. In Case. 1981. Sun & Moon Contemporary Literature Series, no. 11.

Stehman, John. Space Dictation. 1978. Sun & Moon Contemporary Literature Series, no. 3.

Vance, Ronald. I Went to Italy and Ate Chocolate. 1979. Sun & Moon Contemporary Literature Series, no. 6.

Warsh, Lewis. A Free Man. 1991.

Warsh, Lewis. Methods of Birth Control. 1983. Sun & Moon Contemporary Literature Series, no. 16.

Weinstein, Jeff. Life in San Diego. 1983. Cover and artwork by Ira Joel Haber. Sun & Moon Contemporary Literature Series, no. 17.

Wine, James. Longwalks. 1982. Sun & Moon Contemporary Literature Series, no. 14.

Là-Bas, experimental poetry and poetics

magazines & Presses

Là-Bas, experimental poetry and poetics

Douglas Messerli
College Park, Maryland

Nos. 1–13 (1976–79).

Là-Bas 9 (November/December 1977).


The thirteen mimeographed issues of the newsletter Là-Bas were published with great style and verve (as well as care and continuity). Editor Messerli described its mission in the first issue: “Là-Bas is sent free to poets who in their poetry have shown an interest in a poetry which (as Harold Norse in a letter to Là-Bas recently described) is not ‘poured into moulds,’ and whose poetry has reflected a valuing of the poetic process over artifact. Certainly Là-Bas is not entirely a new idea; the great mimeo magazines such as 0 to 9, “C,” The Floating Bear, the Once series, Open Space and The World have all in the past supported similar principles. But there is always a need for such publications to remind us that poetry is a force as much as a form.

And, currently—while there are many ‘little’ magazines publishing exciting poetry—there are very few publications intrinsically involved with the necessary interchange between the individual poet and the poetry community at large. Moreover, Là-Bas is something new, one hopes, not merely a new version of an old idea. Là-Bas prints not only new poetry, but revisions and reactions (response to poetry, theory, news of interest to poets—whatever). And, most importantly, because it is a poet’s publication, not a publisher’s, Là-Bas seeks new ideas and suggestions…. Like the poetry it publishes, Là-Bas will not be poured into moulds.”


Là-Bas 7 (May 1977).

Là-Bas 11 (March–April, 1978) This issue guest edited by Phyllis Rosenzweig and Bernard Welt.

Là-Bas 11 (March–April 1978). This issue guest-edited by Phyllis Rosenzweig and Bernard Welt.


magazines & Presses


James Sherry and Tom Savage; later James Sherry
New York

Nos. 1–10 (1976–79).

Roof Books continues to publish.

Roof 1 (Summer 1976).


Roof was to hold all the different writing tendencies under it. The first issue included many of America’s best-known writers of the time: Ashbery, Creeley, Duncan, and Ginsberg to name a few. It also contained many new writers who were at Naropa for that session. The well-known writers were supportive of what I was doing so long as it furthered the aims of their writing, but they were not supportive of alternative tendencies in writing that cut across the grain of the established conflict in American letters. (At the time, the conflict was between the day-to-day personism of the New York School/Beat group against the “Academic” modernism. Looking back on it today, we see the conflict as the two sides of the Objectivist tendency, but then it was a serious cultural conflict between liberal academics and the counterculture.) I did not feel that the established writers were interested in the same issues as the younger writers, so for the second issue of Roof I put out the word that I was publishing new writing by new writers. I met and published Bruce Andrews, Charles Bernstein, and Ron Silliman, and others of what was to become language poetry.

Robert Grenier, A Day at the Beach (1984). Co-published with the Segue Foundation.

Robert Grenier, A Day at the Beach (1984). Copublished with the Segue Foundation.

Soon after I published the third issue of Roof, Andrews and Bernstein started L=A=N=G=U=A=G=E, a magazine devoted to critical writing by poets. The energy of the moment swung decisively in the direction of a more complex and political prosody as opposed to simplified prosody with political or personal content. The tendency included a group of about ten poets in New York, twenty in the Bay Area, five in D.C., and a few others scattered about the country and in Canada who began to read each other in a different way than we read any other poetry. In the beginning of language writing, there were public “Talks” and private meetings to discuss what poetry might be, and publications like Roof, L=A=N=G=U=A=G=E, This, Hills, and Sun & Moon to publish and promote it. People began to derisively call it a school and attack both its methods and its politics, but it was clear that most, not all, of the talented younger writers were interested in these issues. I began to publish longer sections of people’s work at the same time that the poets were writing longer pieces, and grouping poets by geography. In 1978, I began to publish books, with my own Part Songs. Since then, Roof has published about one hundred books, including several by Ron Silliman, Bruce Andrews, Hannah Weiner, Kit Robinson, Bob Perelman, Jackson Mac Low, Nicole Brossard, and Diane Ward. Roof is also known for critical books such as Bernstein’s edited The Politics of Poetic Form: Poetry and Public Policy, Alan Davies’s Signage, Steve McCaffery’s North of Intention, and Ron Silliman’s The New Sentence.

— James Sherry, New York City, November 1997

Roof books include

Andrews, Bruce. Wobbling. 1981. Copublished with the Segue Foundation.

Bernstein, Charles. Controlling Interests. 1980. Copublished with the Segue Foundation.

Davies, Alan. Active 24 Hours. 1982. Copublished with the Segue Foundation.

Day, Jean. A Young Recruit. 1988.

Gottlieb, Michael. Ninety-six Tears. 1981. Copublished with the Segue Foundation.

Grenier, Robert. A Day at the Beach. 1984. Copublished with the Segue Foundation.

McCaffery, Steve. North of Intention: Critical Writings 1973–1986. 1986.

Seaton, Peter. The Son Master. 1982.

Sherry, James. Part Songs. 1978.

Silliman, Ron. The Age of Huts. 1986. Cover drawing by Lee Sherry.

Silliman, Ron. The New Sentence. 1987.

Weiner, Hannah. Little Books/Indians. 1980. Copublished with the Segue Foundation.


Scans of the complete run of Roof are available on the Roof page at Jacket 2.

The Figures

magazines & Presses

The Figures

Geoffrey Young and Laura Chester; later Geoffrey Young
Berkeley, and Great Barrington, Massachusetts


Lydia Davis, Story and Other Stories (1985).


Geoff Young and Laura Chester began The Figures in 1975 in Berkeley, claiming the name of the press from Charles Olson’s Maximus Poems. Young and Chester had earlier edited Stooge magazine, which had provided them with the experience in publishing they needed to begin their small press. The Figures grew to be one of the three or four most important publishers of experimental writing in the country, publishing some 135 titles. Its first publication, Mixed Doubles: Fifteen Poems by Artie Gold and Geoff Young, was an elegant limited edition.

Jack Collom and Lyn Hejinian (2000).

Jack Collom and Lyn Hejinian, Sunflower (2000).

But the press really hit its stride three years later, in 1978, with a host of titles by younger language-centered writers in simpler but carefully produced “trade” editions with good covers. Among the important books The Figures published in 1978 are Steve Benson’s As Is, Kit Robinson’s Down and Back, Rae Armantrout’s Extremities, Christopher Dewdney’s Spring Trances in the Control Emerald Night, and Bob Perelman’s 7 Works. Although never again equaling in one year this annus mirabilis of language writing, the press went on to achieve a solid list including, among other important works, Lydia Davis’s Story and Other Stories; Clark Coolidge’s The Crystal Text; Johanna Drucker’s Italy; Steve Benson’s Blue Book; Lyn Hejinian’s Oxota: A Short Russian Novel; and festschrifts for James Schuyler in 1991 and Bernadette Mayer in 1995; as well as Ted: A Personal Memoir of Ted Berrigan by Ron Padgett (1993). Young informally closed The Figures in 2005, although he has published a couple of titles under the imprint since: his own The Point Less Taken (2013) and Michael Gizzi’s Complete Poems (2015).

Kathleen Fraser, Each Next: Narratives (1980).

Kathleen Fraser, Each Next: Narratives (1980).

The Figures books include

Auster, Paul. Wall Writing. 1976.

Benedetti, David. Nictitating Membrane. 1976. Prints by Allen Schiller.

Benson, Steve. As Is. 1978.

Benson, Steve. Blue Book. 1988. Published in association with Roof. Cover image by Ross Bleckner.

Bernheimer, Alan. Cafe Isotope. 1980.

Chester, Laura. My Pleasure. 1980. Cover reproduction of a painting by Guy Williams.

Clark, Tom. Baseball. 1976. Cover and other illustrations by the author.

Collom, Jack, and Lyn Hejinian. Sunflower. 2000.

Davidson, Michael. The Prose of Fact. 1981. Cover reproduction of a painting by Richard Diebenkorn.

Davis, Lydia. Story and Other Stories. 1983. Cover photograph by Lizbeth Marano.

Dewdney, Christopher. Spring Trances in the Control Emerald Night. 1978.

Drucker, Johanna. Italy. 1980. Cover and drawings by the author.

Einzig, Barbara. Disappearing Work: A Recounting. 1979. Cover by Mercy Goodwin.

Fraser, Kathleen. Each Next: Narratives. 1980.

Gold, Artie, and Geoff Young. Mixed Doubles: Fifteen Poems. 1975.

Hejinian, Lyn. Writing Is an Aid to Memory. 1978.

Perelman, Bob. 7 Works. 1978. Cover by Francie Shaw.

Raworth, Tom. Ace. 1977. Illustrations by Barry Hall.

Rice, Stan. Some Lamb. 1975.

Robinson, Kit. Down and Back. 1978.

Rodefer, Stephen. The Bell Clerk’s Tears Keep Flowing. 1978.

Silliman, Ron. Tjanting. 1981. Introduction by Barrett Watten.

Young, Geoff. Subject to Fits. 1980. Cover by Mel Bochner.


Magazines & Presses


Bob Perelman and Michael Waltuch
Iowa City, Cambridge, San Francisco and Berkeley

Nos. 1–9 (March 1973–Spring 1983).

Bob Perelman and Michael Waltuch (1); Bob Perelman (2–9).

No. 6/7 is the double issue “Talks.” Covers by Francie Shaw (1, 2, 4, 6/7), Francis Shaw and John Bakti (3), and John Winet (5).

Hills 2 (March 1973). Cover by Francie Shaw.

Edited by Bob Perelman, and following him all over the country, Hills was the sweetest of all language-centered journals, with covers often resembling cows. The first issue, from Iowa City, was coedited with Michael Waltuch and included the work of Iowa poet Darrell Gray, as well as some experimental and exotic work by Kit Robinson and Josephine Clare. Included also are some of the earliest translations (by Anselm Hollo, Eliot Anderson, and editor Perelman) of the Slovenian poet Tomaž Šalamun. All the work in this first issue is clustered toward the top of the page, leaving white space below. Hills 2 is typed on a more elegant typewriter (perhaps by Bob Grenier) and some of his Sentences appear within, for instance: “SWEET / expect accept object.” Hills 4 was typeset by Barrett Watten, and includes work by Ron Silliman, Carla Harryman, Bruce Andrews, and Fanny Howe, as well as Iowan and Poetry Comics editor Dave Morice. With issue 5, Perelman and the magazine moved to San Francisco, and the cover is appropriately reproduced from a photo by Jon Winet of Center Ice, The Cow Palace.

Hills 2 (n. d.). Cover by Francie Shaw.

The very famous and important double issue 6/7 prints a number of the “Talks” then given in different San Francisco venues (including the San Francisco Art Institute, 80 Langton Street, and various lofts and apartments). According to Perelman, the talk series began in 1977 and numbered nearly forty over the next five or so years: “A ‘talk’ is a broad designation—was the situation educational, creational, dramatic? Was information to be presented or were values to be embodied: was the focus on the speaker or the community or the speaker and audience? The answers varied. All speakers were presented with a common problem: to say something in public. In various cases this meant talking spontaneously, referring to notes and texts, reading written out essays, or abandoning written essays in midstream.” Talkers included Bill Berkson, Barrett Watten on “Russian Formalism and the Present,” Steve Benson with “Views of Communist China,” Bob Perelman on “The First Person,” Michael Davidson on “The Prose of Fact,” and Ron Silliman on “The New Sentence.” Hills 8 includes a play by Carla Harryman entitled The Third Man. Its cast included Steve Benson and Kit Robinson.

Hills 3 (April 1976). Cover by John Batki and Francie Shaw.

Hills 3 (April 1976). Cover by John Batki and Francie Shaw.


Scans of the complete run of Hills are available on the Eclipse website.


magazines & Presses


Barry Alpert
Silver Spring, Maryland

Vol. 1, nos. 1–3; vol. 2, nos. 1–3; vol. 3, nos. 1–3 (1972–76).

Vort, vol. 1, no. 1 (Fall 1972).


For all but one of its nine issues, Vort followed the same pattern in its plain, large-format issues, creating a little critical universe for each of two authors. The sole divergence from the pattern was the fifth issue, which was devoted wholly to Robert Kelly and his work. Perhaps more an encyclopedia in parts than a magazine or journal, the issues included a photograph of each author, a small collection of each author’s work, three or four critical studies, homages, commentaries, and long and detailed interviews with each author by editor Alpert. Throughout its existence, Vort covered the following writers: Ed Dorn and Tom Raworth, Anselm Hollo and Ted Berrigan, David Bromige and Ken Irby, Fielding Dawson and Jonathan Williams, Robert Kelly, Gilbert Sorrentino and Donald Phelps, David Antin and Jerome Rothenberg, Jackson Mac Low and Armand Schwerner, and, in the last issue, Guy Davenport and Ronald Johnson. Planned but never completed were issues on the work of John Ashbery, John Cage, Jack Hirschman, David Meltzer, and Something Else Press alumni. Vort is an unfortunately unfinished encyclopedia of the New American Poetry, but is still very useful for the information it contains and still a relevant model.

Vort vol. 3, no. 2 (no. 8) (1975).

Vort, vol. 3, no. 2 (no. 8) (1975).


magazines & Presses


Ron Silliman
Oakland and San Francisco

Nos. 1–18 (1970–81)

Tottel’s 1 [1970].


Named after the first anthology of English poetry, Tottel’s Miscellany of 1557, Ron Silliman’s mimeo Tottel’s published mostly controversial and always innovative work. In each of eighteen issues, with contributors including Bruce Andrews, Rae Armantrout, Clark Coolidge, Ray DiPalma, Larry Eigner, David Gitin, Robert Grenier, David Melnick, and Thomas Meyer, Silliman printed the most radically disjunctive work he could find. One of the original San Francisco language poets, he seemed driven by his own catholic and authentic background to organize (he has been a prison and tenants rights organizer, editor of the Socialist Review, a lobbyist, and teacher). Silliman’s biographical statement in Michael Lally’s anthology None of the Above: New Poets of the U.S.A. (1976) can serve as a good introduction to Tottel’s: “I started out as a conventional writer of lyrical poems, but, as the forms I’d inherited, common to any writer circa ’65/’66, had no more reason or meaning for their existence than conformity & habit, I became quickly frustrated & bored. I wanted something more than a half-art.

Tottel’s 17 (1978). Cover: “Philip Whalen models ‘Fat Pants’ made by Alaya Stitchery.”

Tottel’s 17 (1978). On the cover, “Philip Whalen models ‘Fat Pants’ made by Alaya Stitchery.”

The pseudo-formalist approach of the post-Projective writers, with which I experimented for a time, offered no real solution. At best, the equation of the page to ‘scored speech’ was a rough metaphor & it excluded more of the world than it could bring in…. Thus when Coolidge & then Grenier extended the definition of language beyond discourse, it seemed that a reinvestigation of the whole act of writing was not only possible, but necessary. Any other tendency now is mere decoration.” Silliman has published an influential collection of essays, The New Sentence (1987), and edited a defining anthology of language writing, In the American Tree (1986). Two of his own volumes, Ketjak (1978) and Tjanting (1981), are widely respected for their radical experimentation and lively rebelliousness. He has taken as his literary mothers Gertrude Stein and Laura Riding, which helps explain his conflation of politics and poetics: “poetics must be concerned with the process by which writing is organized politically into literature” and “there can be no such thing as a formal problem in poetry which is not a social one as well.”

Tottel's 3 (June1971). This whole issue is devoted to publishing the poems of Rae Armantrout.

Tottel’s 3 (June 1971).


Scans of the complete run of Tottel’s are available on the Eclipse website.


magazines & Presses


Barrett Watten and Robert Grenier;
later Barrett Watten

Lanesville, Massachusetts; Iowa City; Franconia, New Hampshire;
San Francisco and Oakland

Nos. 1–12 (Winter 1971–Fall 1982).

No. 5 includes a 16 page card insert by Robert Grenier. All covers are by Barrett Watten, except no. 1 (Amy Grenier) and no. 4 (Louise Stanley).

Barrett Watten and Robert Grenier (1–5); Barrett Watten (6–12).

This 1 (Winter 1971). Cover by Amy Grenier.


In his landmark critical history, The Marginalization of Poetry: Language Writing and Literary History, Bob Perelman stressed the importance of the creation of literary venues (magazines and small presses) for the nurturing of new writing, singling out This for particular attention, as “the first self-conscious journal of what would become known as language writing. The name and character of the movement were uninvented at the time, nor were many of the future participants in touch yet, but the magazine was clearly motivated by a sense of literary progress.” In his discussion, Perelman places This and language writing in the context of literary history, providing for it a distinguished genealogy: “At the time there were many writers, involved in different social formations and providing various formal models, from which language writing would arise.

This, 9 (Winter 1978–79) Cover and photographs by Barrett Watten.

This 9 (Winter 1978–79). Cover and photographs by Barrett Watten.

A short list would include figures associated with Black Mountain, the New York School, the San Francisco Renaissance: Charles Olson, Frank O’Hara, and Jack Spicer, each of whom had recently died but whose work was still appearing; Robert Creeley, Robert Duncan, Larry Eigner; the aleatory work of Jackson Mac Low and John Cage; John Ashbery, Ted Berrigan, Alice Notley, Clark Coolidge, Bernadette Mayer, and Ron Padgett; Tom Raworth, David Bromige, and Michael Palmer. The Objectivists were still active and were in fact a much stronger presence than they had been in prior decades: George Oppen had just won the Pulitzer Prize and Louis Zukofsky was in the process of finishing “A.” …Compared to the range of formal possibilities and social groupings and postures this partial list includes, the work and literary information in This 1 was quite limited. But [the magazine was] important in its positing of literary space. It established, at least in embryonic form, a way of connecting private reading and writing desires with some sense of public consequence and thus with a future. All the above writers could conceivably be used, not simply read.”

“One could see, without reading any of the words in the issue, that This 1 issued a double appeal to fresh beginnings and revered ancestors. The cover displays drawings by Grenier’s very young daughter Amy done at the stage when signification was just beginning to emerge from marks on paper (i.e., when big circles first mean heads and two smaller circles with centered dots mean eyes). Balancing this originary gesture, inside were photos of the masters: one of Charles Olson, who had died the previous year, and one shot from street level of the very old Pound…. The issue’s simultaneous claim to originariness, a tradition, and a productive future follows the basic patterns of Pound’s, Zukofsky’s, and Olson’s manifestos.”

Bob Perelman, The Marginalization of Poetry: Language Writing and Literary History (Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press, 1996)

Barrett Watten, Decay (1977).

Barrett Watten, Decay (1977).

This Press books include

Andrews, Bruce. Sonnets (Momento Mori). 1980.

Coolidge, Clark. The Maintains. 1974.

Coolidge, Clark. Quartz Hearts. 1978.

Eigner, Larry. Country / Harbor / Quiet / Act / Around: Selected Prose. 1978. Introduction by Douglas Woolf. Edited by Barrett Watten.

Greenwald, Ted. You Bet! 1978.

Grenier, Robert. Series: Poems 1967–1971. 1978. Cover by Francie Shaw.

Harryman, Carla. Under the Bridge. 1980.

Perelman, Bob. Primer. 1981.

Robinson, Kit. The Dolch Stanzas, 1976.

Silliman, Ron. Ketjak. 1978.

Watten, Barrett. Decay. 1977.

Watten, Barrett. 1–10. 1980.

This 4 (Spring 1973). Cover by Louise Stanley.

This 4 (Spring 1973). Cover by Louise Stanley.


A scan of Barrett Watten’s index to the complete run of This is available on the Eclipse website.




Magazine & Presses


Clark Coolidge and George [Michael] Palmer
Cambridge, and Providence, Rhode Island

Nos. 1–3 (1964–66).

Joglars 3 (1966). Cover by John Furnival.


The first push toward Joglars came in the summer of 1963 at Vancouver in Warren Tallman’s kitchen. Charles Olson was telling a bunch of young poets how we ought to start a magazine to publish poets’ correspondence, specifically that between Charles and Bob Creeley. So Fred Wah, Michael Palmer, and I began discussing a possible three-way editorship. But when we all got home the plan broke in two, Fred starting Sum in New Mexico and Michael and I Joglars from Cambridge (MP) and Providence (CC). We did the first two issues together and then I did the third one myself when Michael went to Europe. The title came from Michael, and his interest in the Troubadours. Like most starting poets I think we wanted primarily to find and show more of the work we were fascinated with (it was such a rich period, compared to now) plus get in touch with the poets who were writing it. Issue 3 shows my increasing interest in the younger New York School poets, and a brief brush with the Concrete movement. And now it strikes me as odd that we didn’t publish Olson in the magazine. Or Creeley. A life of its own.

— Clark Coolidge, The Berkshires, Massachusetts, September 23, 1997

Joglars, vol. 1, no. 2 (Winter 1964).

Joglars 2 (Winter 1964).

Joglars, vol. 1, no. 1 (Spring 1964).

Joglars 1 (Spring 1964).


magazines & Presses


Charles Bernstein and Bruce Andrews
New York

February 1978–October 1981.

Vols. 1–3 consist of thirteen issues (9 and 10 were a double issue), three supplements, and one table of contents for vols. 1–4. Vol. 4 was published as an issue of the Canadian journal Open Letter (Fifth Series, no. 1, Winter 1982). Open Letter is edited by Frank Davey; the L=A=N=G=U=A=G=E issue was edited by Charles Bernstein and Bruce Andrews.

L=A=N=G=U=A=G=E 1 (February 1978).


The early to mid-1970s marked a rising ferment of experimental activity in the poetry world: the most extreme texts of the previous decade tumbling out, the coming (or returning) into print of earlier radical modernist works shaking up the apparent canon, the development of new preoccupations and modes of working that could not be contained within the mainstream or even within the available (and established) alternatives, and cross-pollinations with other art forms confronting similar problems and opportunities—all against a backdrop of political and social unsettling, at home and abroad. Face-to-face communities of aesthetically radicalized poets sprang up in the San Francisco Bay Area, New York, and Washington, D.C., where new reading series, presses, and magazines set the stage for intense discussions of new poetic possibilities as well as critical and historical thinking about poetry by the poets themselves (rather than by scholars or critics). Animated discussion of poetics went on in letters, in conversation, and in public talks, but there was no print forum for these ongoing exchanges.

Announcement for the publication of L=A=N=G=U=A=G=E, ca. 1977.

Announcement for the publication of L=A=N=G=U=A=G=E, ca. 1977.

And so, in 1977, in consultation with Ron Silliman in California, we sketched out plans for a New York–based, self-produced magazine of information and commentary, L=A=N=G=U=A=G=E. The first issue appeared in February 1978 and went out to our initial subscribers—about 200 by the end of the first year—and was also distributed through a few bookstores. The first three volumes were typed on legal-size sheets on an IBM Selectric typewriter, sprayed to prevent smearing, and then pasted into our format by our designer, Susan Bee. The initial run was offset printed, although we often produced additional copies by photocopying. We stopped publishing the magazine in 1981, with our fourth volume, a perfect-bound book copublished with the Toronto magazine Open Letter. In 1984, Southern Illinois University Press published an anthology, The L=A=N=G=U=A=G=E Book, including about half of what we had published; this anthology was reissued by the press in 1997.

— Bruce Andrews and Charles Bernstein, New York City, September 1997

Bruce Andrews, Charles Bernstein, Ray DiPalma, Steve McCaffery, and Ron Silliman. Legend (1980) L=A=N=G=U=A=G=E / Segue,. Cover by Betsi Bradfass.

Bruce Andrews, Charles Bernstein, Ray DiPalma, Steve McCaffery, and Ron Silliman, Legend (1980). Cover by Betsi Brandfass.

Also issued

Legend, collaborations by Bruce Andrews, Charles Bernstein, Ray DiPalma, Steve McCaffery, and Ron Silliman. 1980. Copublished with the Segue Foundation.


Scans of the complete run of L=A=N=G=U=A=G=E are available on the Eclipse website.