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# Magazine

Magazines & Presses

# Magazine

Brian Breger, Harry Lewis,
and Chuck Wachtel
New York

Nos. 1–18 + 3 unnumbered issues: April 1978 (precedes # 1), El Clutch Y Los Klinkies by Victor Hernández Cruz, 1981, and “Infinite #,” September 1983 (1978–83).

# 1 (May 1978). Cover by Robin Tewes.

I met Brian Breger and Chuck Wachtel on a Friday sometime back in 1973 or ’74. I know it was a Friday afternoon, because I was tending bar at the Tin Palace (three days each weekend starting on Friday). They walked in: Brian, tall and lanky, and Chuck, small and wiry. They introduced themselves as young writers and students/friends of Joel Oppenheimer, whom they studied writing (and life…) with up at City College. Joel had told them to go and find me and “hang out.” We’ve been hanging out (one way or another) since then.

# [unnumbered] (April 1978). Cover by Basil King.

After a year, of hanging at the bar most afternoons, and talking poetry and life, we came up with the idea that we should publish a magazine. (I had just finished as one of the founders and editors of Mulch magazine and press.) We all knew and really liked Noose, edited and published by Joe Early and Sam Abrams. (Noose worked as a free mailed magazine and each issue had work by writers who had received two mimeograph stencils to do what they wanted with and send back to be in the next issue. It was wonderful and always surprising and fun as well and often just plain great to read.) The three of us really liked that idea but also wanted to do something that was a little more fixed and edited and produced. We came up with the idea of doing one issue a month, of about sixteen pages, and then doing a cheap offset printing with a cover and mailing it to as many writers and anyone else that was interested as possible. It was great fun and very free after years of careful and very demanding editing of Mulch (which was a very finely and clearly organized and edited operation, with my cofounder Basil King and our younger partner David Glotzer). # was a liberation for me and a chance to network; and I think it was the same for Brian and Chuck—but for them it was a chance to learn and develop as writers (which in the end was what we realized Joel meant when he told them to find me and “hang out”).

After a few years we started doing chapbooks and finally got a New York State Arts grant to keep publishing. By that time we had enough work for about another year, but we had each gone off in other directions and we just decided it was time to end it. We decided to do one last bigand then retire the project. But it has had a life of its own and still comes up in many different accounts of that time back then, back there—it has become HISTORY.

ONE LAST THING: the name of the mag is #, not number. The name was given to us by Ted Greenwald who simply said, one day, when we were all trying to come up with a name, “Here, this is it: #. Not the word, the sign—get it?” And we did.

Some More on #

When I look back at all that we did (History and Memory now) it seems hard to imagine that we did that much and it seemed—just what we did and just part of our lives …

I look at the list of contributors and each brings back a moment. That’s the great thing about doing a magazine that is so personal and a regular part of your routine.

We published almost everyone we were connected to as writers: Basil King (both as artist and writer: who he is), Martha King, Susan Sherman, Michael Stephens, Steve Vincent, Paul Metcalf, Toby Olson, Rochelle Owens, George Economou, Robert Kelly, Michael Lally, Richard Ellman, Ted Greenwald, Joel Oppenheimer, Hubert Selby, Joe Johnson, Hettie Jones, Maureen Owen, Oliver Lake (almost nobody knew he was a great poet as well as a world-class composer/musician—I had the great pleasure of performing with him and he was surprised when we wanted to publish him!), Allan Kaplan, Jack Marshall; and then we decided to do some chapbooks and they were really special and still hold up—particularly Paul Blackburn’s By Ear (the third time I was able to publish a book by the central figure in my own coming-of-age as a writer and translator). There were also translations: my Mayakovsky, George Economou’s Cavafy, Phileodemos, Armand Schwerner’s Max Jacob, and others.

AND Robin Tewes’s art and art direction and a wide range of artists who became part of the whole experience.

We decided to end things and were about to publish the last full collection of short stories by Hubert Selby Jr. when a major publisher decided to bring it out. The pleasure was in knowing that it was Chuck Wachtel and I that had edited and gotten the whole thing rolling; and finally that was what it was all about: getting the whole thing, that we were part of, rolling.

— Harry Lewis, New York, March 2017

# [unnumbered] (December 1978). By Ear by Paul Blackburn. Cover by Robin Tewes. This is a special unnumbered issue of # magazine.

Infinite # (September 1983). Cover by Robin Tewes. This is a special unnumbered issue of # magazine.

0 to 9

magazines & Presses

0 to 9

Bernadette Mayer and Vito Hannibal Acconci
New York

Nos. 1–6 (April 1967–July 1969), and Supplement to No. 6, entitled Street Works (1969).

0 to 9 4 (1968).


“What is a body artist? Someone who is his own test tube,” quips painter David Salle about performance artist, filmmaker, and writer Vito Hannibal Acconci, probably the prime example of an artist who experiments on himself and his own life, using his body and its movements as his materia artistica. Born in New York City in 1940, Acconci returned to the Lower East Side in 1964 to teach at Brooklyn College and the School of Visual Arts after graduating from Holy Cross College and the Iowa Writers’ Workshop. Acconci was first a writer, and with his sister-in-law, Bernadette Mayer, edited one of the most experimental of all the early mimeo magazines. 0 to 9 included works by a phalanx of literary experimentalists, including the minimalist works of Aram Saroyan and Clark Coolidge, along with the graphic works of artists Sol LeWitt, Michael Heizer, and Robert Smithson, and performance-oriented work by Jackson Mac Low, Steve Paxton, and Acconci himself.

Art historian Kate Linker places Acconci’s earliest language-oriented work as a poet, including 0 to 9, in the perspective of his later accomplishments: “Zeroing in on or ‘targeting’ language, the works attempt to materialize language, to give words body and weight—substance but not depth. Throughout the pieces, language points to itself, reflexively describing its motion over the page along with its capacities for accumulation, juxtaposition, and interplay. These early poems comprise a series of ruthlessly logical operations on poetic space. Although the literalism of the language indicates an assault on the ‘expressive’ author or self, the poems reinforce the modernist prescription to acknowledge the limits of the medium. They renounce language’s referential function, its ability to evoke a world off the page; instead their aim, Acconci has written, was to ‘Use language to cover a space rather than uncover a meaning.’” In the tradition of little magazines of the 1960s, 0 to 9 published a supplement and several books in addition to the magazine.

In “A Lecture at the Naropa Institute, 1989,” Poetics Journal (1990), Bernadette Mayer discusses the conception and structure of Story:

“This is the first book I ever published. I published it myself. It’s called Story. It has no page numbers. It’s about thirty pages. The way it came into being was I wrote a story that was about falling down, tripping and falling down. It was nicely written, experimentally so, but it seemed dull. So I tried to figure out what to do with it; and being a twenty-year-old person at the time, I went overboard and made a structure that is like a diamond shape where I accumulated other texts. I was very interested in American Indian myths at that time so I included a Kwakiutl myth about hats and about smoking; their description of a hoop and arrow game; and then an Italian folk tale about fourteen men who went to hell; another Italian tale about a man who sold cloth to a statue; then from Coos myth texts, a story of the five world makers, and the man who became an owl. Then I accumulated some lists from the dictionary of other words for beginning, middle and end. There’s a recipe for true sponge cake, there’s a 19th-century letter about etiquette, a couple of quotes from Edgar Allan Poe, and an article by the biologist Louis Agassiz about coral reefs.

Each of these things I thought was relevant to the diamond-shaped nature or accumulation of the story…. As I was saying to Clark Coolidge, there is some aspect of this work that I can’t remember (as to how I did it). I took the longest work which was the story I’d written about falling, and I made that begin at the beginning and end at the end. Everything was going on in the exact middle of the work, and at the beginning and end only one thing was going on and it was gradually accumulating and decreasing. To make things worse, I decided to interrupt the text at random moments with all the words I could think of that would mean story…. There are fifty-one…anecdote, profile, life-story, scenario, love-story, lie, report, western, article, bedside reading, novel, thumbnail sketch, talk, description, real-life story, piece, light reading, confessions, dime novel, narrative poem, myth, thriller. It was interrupted at random. The confluences were amazing. All of a sudden it would say detective story, and the section that was randomly chosen to be a detective story really became one. Or could become one in the reader’s mind. Probably more so than in my mind.”

0 to 9 Books (complete)

Acconci, Vito Hannibal. Book / Transference: Roget’s Thesaurus. 1969.

Acconci, Vito Hannibal. Four Book. 1968.

Mayer, Bernadette. Story. 1968.

Mayer, Rosemary. Book: 41 Fabric Swatches. 1969.

Piper, Adrian. Three untitled booklets. 1968.

Saroyan, Aram. Coffee Coffee. 1967.



Vito Hannibal Acconci, Four Book (1968).


Bernadette Mayer, Story (1968).