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Poetry New York: A Journal of Poetry & Translation

Magazines & Presses

Poetry New York: A Journal of Poetry & Translation

Page Delano, Cheryl Fish, Halima Gutman, Emmy Hunter, Benjamin Sloan, Tod Thilleman, Robert Thomson, Robert Timm, Gyorgi Voros, Burt Kimmelman, and others
New York

Nos. 1–12 (1985–2001).

Subtitle “A Journal of Poetry & Translation” begins with no. 2 and varies slightly throughout.

Poetry New York [1] (1985).

Poetry New York: A Journal of Poetry and Translation grew out of a creative writing workshop being held at the CUNY Graduate Center in the mid-1980s, when I was a doctoral student there. William Elton, a Shakespearean scholar, composed poetry from time to time; he started the workshop then. Soon he got the idea to start a poetry magazine. In naming it what he did, he was not thinking of Poetry New York: A Magazine of Verse and Criticism—famous for having published Charles Olson’s game-changing essay “Projective Verse,” in 1950. Our magazine was meant, in Bill’s conception, to rival Poetry Chicago and other “Poetry [Name of Place]” journals.

Our first issue appeared in 1985. Our intention was that Poetry New York (PNY) would be an annual. It came out more or less yearly, for twelve issues, ending in 2001. Having worked on the magazine’s inaugural issue, I became its coeditor for the second number; after that I served as the editor, for a couple of issues, then as the senior editor until the tent folded. Coeditors included, variously: Page Delano, Cheryl Fish, Halima Gutman, Emmy Hunter, Benjamin Sloan, Tod Thilleman, Robert Thomson, Robert Timm, Gyorgi Voros, and others.

PNY featured, along with poets and translators still trying to make their mark, a great many bright lights.

Poetry New York: A Journal of Poetry & Translation 2 (1988). Cover photograph by Star Black.

We also featured compelling artwork. Equally notable, PNY became a destination for translations. Our editorial policy was skewed toward publishing more than the occasional translation, perhaps because we originated within a doctoral program—our thought being that translators did not get as much opportunity to publish as did mere poets, and translation was also a scholarly endeavor. So translators had us in their sights.

PNY didn’t set a pace. It was not especially the nexus of any conversation; after all, we were an annual. Nevertheless, we were involved in the conversations of the day, and poets were glad to be represented in our pages. We had a terrific distributor, Bernhard DeBoer; I always got a kick out of seeing our new issue magically appear one day in a bookstore or even on the occasional newsstand. My own proclivities affected what was, in the end, a collective editorial policy. Our taste was always open to the experimental—over time, it gravitated toward the increasingly edgy. Principally, PNY’s contribution of significance had most to do with supporting avant-garde initiatives.

Some years after we had gotten off the ground, Harvey Shapiro sent me a back issue of the Yale Poetry Review, whose editing he had taken over when he was young, turning the publication into the original Poetry New York. I was both amazed to learn from Harvey, and embarrassed to admit I hadn’t known, of the Olson essay’s first being published there. For me, quite a bit their junior, Olson was a god whom I first read in 1965.

Poetry New York: A Journal of Poetry & Translation 3 (1989). Artwork by Michele Spark.

The irony in all this had to do with the fact that the work of Olson, and of others who were part of the post–World War II avant-garde, was a guiding spirit for me and other young writers I was hanging around with, first in the sixties. It drove much of our editorial decision-making when we were putting out a college magazine titled Transition. In 1967 my coeditor, Sherry Kearns (née Moore), and I had some grant money that a faculty advisor, David Toor, made available to us to spend. We arranged for Olson to be the keynote speaker/reader at a poetry convocation we hosted in Cortland, New York; its participants, some of whom would appear in the later iteration of PNY, included many Beats, Black Mountaineers, and others.

Two decades after that gathering in Cortland, when I would become PNY’s senior editor, a fellow doctoral candidate, Cheryl Fish, took on the main editing duties. Soon thereafter the magazine relocated from the Graduate Center, with Tod Thilleman assuming the editing while Emmy Hunter became our associate editor. We had shifted our center of operations to my apartment in Brooklyn, while maintaining a Manhattan post office box. Later PNY would be set up in Tod’s apartment, when I moved to New Jersey. In order to support PNY, which was no longer getting help from CUNY, I applied for a grant from NYSCA (the New York State Council on the Arts). Successive annual grants from there carried us through the remaining issues until, perhaps out of exhaustion, Tod and I called it quits.

It was a great run.

— Burt Kimmelman, New York, May 2017

Contributors include

Mina Alexander
Karen Alkalay-Gut
Yehuda Amichai
Lew Asekoff
John Ashbery
Jane Augustine
Vyt Bakaitis
Michael Basinski
Kenneth Bernard
Charles Bernstein
Star Black
Yves Bonnefoy
Charles Borkhuis
William Bronk
John Cage
Nick Carbo
Robert Carnevale
Alex Cigale
Norma Cole
Wanda Coleman
Billy Collins
Clark Coolidge
Cid Corman
Robert Creeley
Enid Dame
Jordan Davis
Bei Dao
Robert Dana
Diane di Prima
Sharon Dolin
Joseph Donahue
Mark Ducharme
Denise Duhamel
Rachel Blau DuPlessis
Stephen Ellis
Ted Enslin
Zhang Er
Dan Featherston
Tom Fink
Norman Finkelstein
Ed Foster
Philip Fried
Chris Funkhouser
Madeline Gins
Andrey Gritsman
Rachel Hadas
Leigh Harrison
Michael Heller
Barbara Henning
Gerrit Henry
Robert Hershon
John High
Colette Inez
Rin Ishigaki
Ronald Johnson
Devin Johnston
Amy King
Basil King
Phyillis Koestenbaum
Richard Kostelanetz
Dean Kostos
Ann Lauterbach
David Lehman
Donald Lev
Joel Lewis
Jackson Mac Low
Gwynn McVay
Samuel Menashe
Henri Michaux
Stephen Paul Miller
Sheila E. Murphy
Eileen Myles
Valery Oisteanu
Peter O’Leary
Sharon Olinka
Joel Oppenheimer
Gordon Osing
Maureen Owen
Simon Perchik
Kristin Prevallet
Anna Rabinowitz
Carl Rakosi
Corinne Robins
Bertha Rogers
Jerome Rothenberg
Mark Rudman
Ed Sanders
Leslie Scalapino
Elio Schneeman
Leonard Schwartz
Hugh Seidman
Harvey Shapiro
Eleni Sikélianòs
Michael Stephens
Nikki Stiller
Stephanie Strickland
Chris Stroffolino
John Taggart
Nathaniel Tarn
Madeline Tiger
Shu Ting
Anne Waldman
Keith Waldrop
Rosmarie Waldrop
Mark Wallace
Lewis Warsh
Rosanne Wasserman
Tom Weatherly
Afaa Michael Weaver
Bruce Weigl
Hannah Weiner
Henry Weinfield
Ben Wilensky
Harriet Zinnes

Poetry New York: A Journal of Poetry & Translation 6 (Winter 1993/Spring 1994). Cover art and drawings by Tod Thilleman.

Portraits and Home Movies

Magazines & Presses

Portraits & Home Movies

Larry Fagin
New York
Fall 1968–Spring 1969

Clockwise from top left: Anne Waldman and Lewis Warsh, Larry Fagin, Ted Berrigan, Gerard Malanga, Joan Fagin, the lake at Central Park.

During the Fall of 1968 and through the next spring, I fooled around with a cheap Super 8 movie camera, making three-minute portraits of poet friends. I completed seven of these, planned others, and hoped to add music. I also shot some rolls of “our gang” goofing off at a beautiful pink house on Long Island, which belonged to Bill Berkson’s mother. Another roll shows the ongoing poker game at Dick Gallup’s apartment. This ritual was eventually moved to George Schneeman’s and had a fifteen-year run. Hannah Weiner took the wedding footage. Joan Inglis and I were married by Michael Allen, the pastor of St. Mark’s Church in-the-Bowery. Both the ceremony and the reception were held in the Schneemans’ large apartment on St. Mark’s Place. Lewis Warsh was my best man and Anne Waldman was the bridesmaid. Attendees were a who’s who of the East Village poetry and art scene. In spite of (or because of) social upheaval and the war in Vietnam, it was a time of giddy, even joyful, group activity: collaborative writing, little magazines and pamphlets, weekly poetry readings, endless parties, rock concerts, dope smoking, wild sex, and political protests. You can look it up. Twenty-eight year later, these little reels of film turned up in a box in my closet. There were some exposure problems (I never really knew what I was doing), but much of the footage was presentable. Julie Harrison cleaned it up and transferred it to videotape, then we set about editing and laying some music for the portraits. Ron Padgett did the commentary for the group scenes in his inimitable, down-home manner.

Larry Fagin, New York City, 1997

Portraits & Home Movies: 1968–1969 by Larry Fagin and Julie Harrison. Produced by Julie Harrison. Edited by Julie Harrison and Larry Fagin. Original footage by Larry Fagin. Music selected by Larry Fagin. Narration by Ron Padgett.

The Poetry Project Newsletter

magazines & Presses

The Poetry Project Newsletter

Ron Padgett, Ted Greenwald, Bill Mackay, Frances LeFevre, Vicki Hudspith, Ed Friedman, and others
New York

Nos. 1 (December 1972)–

The Poetry Project Newsletter is still in operation.

The Poetry Project Newsletter, vol. 150, no. 1 (April/May 1994). This issue includes a facsimile of the Poetry Project Newsletter 1 (December 1, 1972).


Begun in 1972, the Poetry Project Newsletter was mimeographed on the Gestetner machine in the Project’s office; its corner-stapled pages listed new publications and upcoming events of interest to the Project’s community. Most of these had to do with poetry, but there were also announcements of plays, performances, and art exhibits, as well as an occasional plea for a cheap apartment to rent or kittens in need of a home. Early issues made almost no mention of Poetry Project events, since at that time, the Project’s mailing list of 250 or so received weekly flyers publicizing the programs at St. Mark’s. Over the years, the newsletter expanded to include poems, articles, columns, reviews, comics, ads, and calendars of Project events, becoming—and, sadly, remaining—one of the few publications that regularly list and review poetry books from small- and medium-sized presses. During the 1980s, typed stencils and mimeography gave way to typesetting and offset printing. Then, as personal computers became affordable, typesetting and paste-up gave way to desktop publishing. Today, each thirty-two-page issue is mailed to a list of over 3,500 and is distributed nationally for sale at newsstands and bookstores; subscriptions are available to institutions and individuals. Although it continues to draw upon the Project for its sense of locale, the publication also addresses the interests of a national (and somewhat international) community of readers who share an interest in the more communicative and adventurous aspects of contemporary poetry.

— Ed Friedman, New York City, October 1997

Poetry Project: The Newsletter of The Poetry Project at St. Mark’s Church-in-the-Bowery 114 (May 1985).

Poetry Project: The Newsletter of The Poetry Project at St. Mark’s Church in-the-Bowery 114 (May 1985).

The Poetry Project

Magazines & Presses

The Poetry Project

Allen Ginsberg reads in St. Mark’s Church Sanctuary, ca. 1976 (Maureen Owen sits on the steps to his right).

Allen Ginsberg reads in St. Mark's Church Sanctuary, ca. 1976 (Maureen Owen sits on the steps to his right). Courtesy The Poetry Project.

Insane Podium: A Short History
The Poetry Project, 1966–

by Miles Champion

The Poetry Project at St. Mark’s Church in-the-Bowery was founded in the summer of 1966 as a direct successor to, and continuation of, the various coffeehouse reading series that had flourished on the Lower East Side since 1960. The first of these, at the Tenth Street Coffeehouse on the gallery block between Third and Fourth Avenues, moved to Les Deux Mégots on East Seventh Street in 1962 (both establishments were co-owned by Mickey Ruskin, who would later open Max’s Kansas City); from March 1963, readings were held at Moe and Cindy Margules’s Café Le Metro at 149 Second Avenue, where the 13th Step sports bar is now.

Allen Ginsberg has traced the lineage back further, to the readings at the MacDougal Street Bar (later the Gaslight Café) in the late 1950s, which were prompted by the popularity of readings organized earlier in that decade on the West Coast by poets associated with the San Francisco Renaissance and the Berkeley Renaissance of the 1940s. Before that, Ginsberg suggests, there was the Paris of the Existentialists (the name Les Deux Mégots—The Two Butts or Fag-Ends—was, after all, a play on Les Deux Magots, the famous Left Bank café), and, predating that by some 2,000 years, the Forum of Ancient Rome.

Broadly contemporary with the Poetry Project’s founding were the Sunday afternoon readings hosted by Ted Berrigan at Izzy Young’s Folklore Center on Sixth Avenue at Third Street; Joe Brainard, Joseph Ceravolo, Dick Gallup, Gerard Malanga, Ed Sanders, and Aram Saroyan read there, among others, and Clark Coolidge gave his first-ever reading there in July ’66.

A snapshot of the relevant poetry landscape in the years immediately prior to the Project’s founding would include the publication in 1960 of Donald M. Allen’s groundbreaking anthology The New American Poetry (with its five groupings of Black Mountain, San Francisco Renaissance, Beat, New York School, and Other), and the Vancouver and Berkeley poetry conferences of, respectively, 1963 and 1965.

Flyer for a reading by Aram Saroyan at The Poetry Project at St. Mark’s Church, January 31, 1968. Date and location is on the flyer's verso.

Flyer for a reading by Aram Saroyan at the Poetry Project at St. Mark’s Church, January 31, 1968. Date and location are on the flyer’s verso.

When the readings at Café Le Metro came to an end in late 1965, the poets—Paul Blackburn, Carol Bergé, Jerome Rothenberg, and Diane Wakoski among them—found themselves temporarily without a home. Various tensions—racial, political—had pulled the Metro series apart; Moe Margules was a Goldwater Republican, and the already strained relations between him and the Umbra poets—a collective of predominantly African-American writers living on the Lower East Side, including Steve Cannon, Tom Dent, David Henderson, Calvin C. Hernton, Lenox Raphael, Ishmael Reed, Rolland Snellings (later known as Askia M. Touré), Lorenzo Thomas, and Brenda Walcott—had become outwardly hostile by the fall. Also, the going rate for a cup of coffee in 1965 was a dime, and Margules had instituted an unpopular 25¢ minimum. St. Mark’s Church was only a half-block away, and the church’s rector, the Reverend Michael Allen, was very much a community figure on the Lower East Side. (Realtors had yet to coin the term “the east village,” although the bohemian drift east was already underway, having been occasioned by rising rents west of Broadway.) Indeed, Allen had gone so far as to claim artists and writers as his allies, for being among the very few in society who were, as he put it, “doing theology.”

St. Mark’s Church itself had a long history of social activism, and had championed the arts since the 1800s, a commitment that would only intensify in the years 1911–37, under the unorthodox rectorship of the decidedly modernist Dr. William Norman Guthrie. Guthrie was a collaborator of Frank Lloyd Wright’s whose enthusiasm for dance (and incorporation of it into his services) did not sit well with all of his parishioners, or the wider Episcopal Church. For Guthrie, dance—or “eurythmic ritual”—was the earliest art form as well as the most direct language of religion.

In 1919, Guthrie assembled an Arts Committee comprised entirely of people who lived locally, including Kahlil Gibran, Vachel Lindsay, and Edna St. Vincent Millay. Martha Graham danced at the church in 1930, as did Ruth St. Denis in 1933, with Guthrie reciting St. Denis’s poems between what the New York Times described as her “exotic religious dances.” (Isadora Duncan almost danced at the church in 1922, but the event was canceled at the last minute—as was a later talk Duncan was scheduled to give—due to the intervention of William T. Manning, the Bishop of New York; the bare feet of certain dancers, it seems, were less acceptable than others.) William Carlos Williams lectured in the Sunday Symposium series in April 1926, and incoming rector in 1943, the Reverend Richard E. McEvoy, introduced a visual arts program. When Reverend Allen arrived in 1959, W. H. Auden was a parishioner (he lived two blocks south on St. Mark’s Place and had a favorite pew at the back of the church) and the Civil Rights Movement was at its height, active nearby in Stuyvesant Town and Peter Cooper Village. (Allen rode the “freedom buses” through the South in the early sixties, and in late 1972—two years after stepping down as rector at St. Mark’s—he visited North Vietnam as part of a peace delegation invited by the Vietnam Committee of Solidarity with the American People to address human rights issues in the area.)

Flyer for a reading by Anne Waldman and Kenward Elmslie at The Poetry Project at St. Mark’s Church, May 28, [1969].

Flyer by Joe Brainard for a reading by Anne Waldman and Kenward Elmslie at the Poetry Project at St. Mark’s Church, May 28, [1969].

In 1961, Archie Shepp—also a member of Umbra—began organizing free jazz concerts in the church’s West Yard on Sunday afternoons. In July 1963, the Umbra collective held a “Freedom North” arts festival at St. Mark’s, saluting the Freedom Movement and showcasing the work of African-American painters, sculptors, photographers, poets, and musicians, including Shepp, Lloyd Addison, Tom Feelings, Al Haynes, Joe Johnson, Charles Patterson, Norman H. Pritchard, Freddie Redd, and Edward Strickland. The first issue of the collective’s magazine, Umbra, had come out in March (edited by Dent, Henderson, and Hernton), one of the first instances of the marriage of aesthetics and militant separatism that would later be associated with the Black Arts Movement.

In 1964, Ralph Cook, a young playwright who had struck up a friendship with Reverend Allen—and who was head waiter at the Village Gate restaurant, where Sam Shepard was working as a busboy—founded the experimental playwrights’ workshop, Theater Genesis, which would go on to be one of the very first off-off-Broadway theaters (along with Caffe Cino, Judson Poets’ Theater, and La MaMa), operating out of St. Mark’s for the entirety of its fourteen-season run, until its closure in 1977 (Cook’s friendship with Reverend Allen led to him becoming Lay Minister for the Arts at St. Mark’s).

Continue reading

In 1965, Allen invited John Brockman—a young businessman with an office uptown, who was attending Theater Genesis events in the evenings—to coordinate screenings of experimental films at the church, a well-attended series that culminated in Brockman organizing the monthlong Expanded Cinema Festival in November ’65 at the Filmmakers’ Cinémathèque, based on an initial idea of Jonas Mekas’s and featuring performances/screenings by Claes Oldenburg, Nam June Paik, Robert Rauschenberg, Carolee Schneemann, Jack Smith, Andy Warhol, La Monte Young, and many others. (It’s worth noting that Allen issued his invitation to Brockman at a time when the City had banned so-called “underground” films.)

In January 1966, Reverend Allen gave the displaced poets from Café Le Metro a characteristically enthusiastic welcome. A Reading Committee was formed, comprised of Carol Bergé, Paul Blackburn, Allen Planz, Paul Plummer, Jerome Rothenberg, Carol Rubinstein, and Diane Wakoski (George Economou joined later in the year, although the committee was largely a nominal body by then). It would not be contentious to state that, if it were possible to single out just one person as having particularly nurtured the community and context out of which the Poetry Project grew, then that person would be Paul Blackburn. Blackburn had been organizing and attending readings in New York for a decade, often passing the hat to make sure whoever was reading got paid something, and also lugging his Wollensak reel-to-reel tape machine to readings to record them, creating a unique and irreplaceable audio archive in the process (Blackburn’s tapes are now housed in the Archive for New Poetry at UCSD). Jerome Rothenberg has called Blackburn the “moving force” of the readings at Le Metro, and Anne Waldman has described him as the Poetry Project’s “subtle father.”

Various poets read at St. Mark’s in the months leading up to the Poetry Project’s official founding: Harold Dicker, Ree Dragonette, Anselm Hollo, David Ignatow, Jackson Mac Low, Frank Murphy, M. C. Richards, and, on April 28, 1966, John Ashbery, who had recently returned from a ten-year sojourn in Paris, and was introduced by Ted Berrigan.

The task Reverend Allen had set himself was to provide an institutional framework in which both arts and community projects could flourish; he knew funding was necessary if the church’s arts programs were to survive. A month or so after Ashbery’s reading, Reverend Allen received a phone call: Harry Silverstein, a professor of sociology at the New School for Social Research, wanted to know if St. Mark’s could use $90,000.

The improbable story of how the incipient arts programs at St. Mark’s would come to receive a two-year grant of a little under $200,000 from the Department of Health, Education and Welfare under President Lyndon B. Johnson’s administration is related in Bob Holman’s much-quoted (if still-unpublished) “History of the Poetry Project,” which contains transcripts of the oral testimonies of thirty-five people that Holman began interviewing in spring 1978, when the Poetry Project’s director at the time, Ron Padgett, was able to hire him thanks to funds from the Comprehensive Employment and Training Act, a federally funded reeducation program. The basic facts are outlined in Daniel Kane’s book All Poets Welcome: The Lower East Side Poetry Scene in the 1960s, and run as follows. In May 1966, the Health, Education and Welfare Office of Juvenile Delinquency and Development found itself with funds earmarked for the socialization of juvenile delinquents—funds that it needed to allocate by the end of the fiscal year, or risk losing entirely. Federal employee Israel Garver called his friend Harry Silverstein to ask if Silverstein had any ideas.

Silverstein’s first call went out to the Judson Memorial Church, which already had a prominent arts program in place; but it turned out that Al Carmines (of the Poets’ Theater) didn’t particularly care for sociologists, and didn’t want them snooping around. And so it came about that the Reverend Allen’s phone rang. Allen couldn’t quite believe it, but Silverstein seemed to be in earnest, and before they knew it they were in discussion with Ralph Cook, Robert Amussen—who was on the Vestry of St. Mark’s and the Board of Theater Genesis, and who also happened to be editor-in-chief at Bobbs-Merrill—and several others. One week later, a grant proposal for a multi-arts project with a full schedule of readings, workshops, screenings, and theater performances (as well as a budget for publications) landed on a desk in Washington. Its title: “Creative Arts for Alienated Youth.”

These various strands shook out into three distinct arts projects. Theater Genesis was, of course, already in place at St. Mark’s, and the poets, as we know, chose the name The Poetry Project (the Olsonian echo was intentional). The third project, the Film Project, proved to be the shortest-lived (under the aegis of St. Mark’s and the New School, at least), due in part to the high cost of rental equipment, the frequency with which this equipment was stolen, and the 16mm equivalent of “musical differences” between its co-runners, Ken Jacobs and Stanton Kaye. Before it fell apart, the Film Project and its equipment were housed in the old Second Avenue Courthouse building (where Anthology Film Archives is now), which St. Mark’s had leased from the City for $100 a year. This was also where the Poetry Project held its first workshops, and where the Project’s first secretary, Anne Waldman, had a satellite office (Lewis Warsh had a desk and phone there, too: he took reservations for Theater Genesis). Jacobs left St. Mark’s after a year, and took the Film Project off in his own direction—as the Millennium Film Workshop—soon after that; the workshop is still running on East Fourth Street today. St. Mark’s held onto the Old Courthouse lease for a number of years, sponsoring Peter Schumann and his Bread & Puppet Theater’s activities there, and giving up the lease when Schumann decided to move on.

The idea, then, was a simple one: the arts projects would run, “youth” would hopefully gravitate toward them (and away from the streets), and the sociologists—Silverstein and his colleague Bernard Rosenberg—would observe and take notes. To quote Michael Allen (from his 1978 interview with Holman): “We were not out to reform kids. It was our commitment that people find their own identities. What we were after was the opposite of juvenile delinquency: a serious, meaningful, committed community.” As it turned out, the New School’s involvement only lasted for a year (it was bureaucratically slow, administratively inefficient), although Silverstein did eventually publish his report in 1971.

The grant allowed for three salaried positions for the poets, and the Project’s first office staff was Joel Oppenheimer (Director), Joel Sloman (Assistant), and Anne Waldman (Secretary). The first official reading at St. Mark’s under the Poetry Project’s newly minted auspices was, fittingly, a solo reading by Paul Blackburn on Thursday, September 22, 1966. When it became apparent that some audience members were unable to get fully behind the idea of readings on Tuesday and Thursday nights (plus there was a clash with a series at the Guggenheim on Thursdays), the Project adopted a format that was well known from Café Le Metro days: open readings on Mondays and featured readers on Wednesdays. The first Wednesday-night reader was Lawrence Ferlinghetti, who read to an audience of 1,200 (with 500 turned away at the door) on October 19. The Reading Committee that had been formed at the start of the year gradually melted away.

The HEW grant included funds earmarked for workshops and a journal to be published three times a year. Sam Abrams, Ted Berrigan, Joel Oppenheimer, and Joel Sloman taught the first workshops; the journal didn’t quite turn out as planned. A professionally printed, perfect-bound journal, edited by Oppenheimer and titled The Genre of Silence, proved to be a one-off (its title was a reference to the muzzling of Isaac Babel’s authorial voice by Joseph Stalin, a clear if clunky sign that the Poetry Project felt somewhat conflicted about the source of its funds, as well as related expectations as to what the journal should be).

The Project and its community found its needs better met by a proposal of Joel Sloman’s: the quicker and cheaper publication of an in-house mimeographed magazine. The first issue of The World was edited by Sloman and appeared in January 1967, some months before the already assembled Genre of Silence, publication of which had been variously held up. Dan Clark provided the cover art, and the issue contained work by Ted Berrigan, Jim Brodey, Michael Brownstein, Marilyn Hacker, John Perreault, Carol Rubinstein, and Michael Stephens, among others.

This is an an abridged version of Miles Champion’s history of the Poetry Project. The complete essay can be found on the Poetry Project website.

Flyer for a reading by Larry Goodell and Stephen Rodefer at The Poetry Project at St. Mark’s Church, September 26, [no year].

Flyer for a reading by Larry Goodell and Stephen Rodefer at The Poetry Project at St. Mark’s Church, September 26, [no year].

The Paris Review

Magazines & Presses

The Paris Review

Poetry editor, Tom Clark
New York

1964–1974 (nos. 32–56).

The Paris Review 35 (Fall 1965).


One of the great literary magazines of the latter half of the twentieth century, The Paris Review was founded in 1953 by novelist Peter Matthiessen and Harold Hume. The model for the magazine was Ford Madox Ford’s Transatlantic Review, especially as it fell under the influence of Ezra Pound, and the idea was to recapture the Paris of the 1930s and the aura of explosive experimentation of that time. Soon after its founding, Matthiessen asked George Plimpton to edit and serve as the public relations arm of the magazine. The first poetry editor was Donald Hall. The Paris Review has been remarkably astute in predicting literary success and has indeed published most of the important fiction writers and poets of our time.

The Paris Review interviews, entitled either The Art of Fiction or The Art of Poetry, have become known worldwide and have been influential in establishing almost a new literary genre, the author interview. Issue 31 (Winter/Spring 1964), edited by the second poetry editor, X. J. Kennedy, was devoted to an anthology of “Poets of the Sixties” that included, among others, John Hollander, James Dickey, Robert Bly, W. S. Merwin, and James Wright. However, with issue 32 (Summer/Fall 1964), Tom Clark assumed the poetry editorship and began publishing two generations of the New York School in the issues beginning with number 35 (which included Ron Padgett, Aram Saroyan, and an interview with William S. Burroughs). Issue 36 added Barbara Guest, and issue 40 printed three of Ted Berrigan’s Sonnets and two poems by John Ashbery (“The Bungalows” and “The Chateau Hardware”). Poems in issue 41 were almost all by poets associated with the New York Schools, including Ashbery, Berkson, Coolidge, Gallup, Koch, Lima, Padgett, Schuyler, and Towle. Issue 43 contains the famous interview with Jack Kerouac by Ted Berrigan, witnessed by Aram Saroyan. Clark was poetry editor for ten years and twenty-five issues, until 1974 and issue 56, which contained his own “At Malibu” as well as work by Anne Waldman, Lewis MacAdams, and Alice Notley, and a portfolio of “Imaginary Drawings for Book Covers” by George Schneeman.

The Paris Review, vol. 9, no. 35 (Fall 1965).

The Paris Review 43 (Summer 1968).

Poets Press

magazines & Presses

Poets Press

Diane di Prima
New York


Alan Marlowe, John’s Book (1969). Introduction by Robert Creeley.


One of the most influential people in Diane di Prima’s life was her grandfather, Domenico Mallozi, a writer for the anarchist newspaper Il Martello (The Hammer) on New York City’s Lower East Side. His granddaughter followed in his footsteps, both as a writer and as an activist and internationalist, during the 1960s cofounding the New York Poets Theatre (which from 1961 to 1965 produced one-act plays by poets, with sets and decorations by a variety of artists), coediting The Floating Bear with LeRoi Jones [Imamu Amiri Baraka], and serving as a contributing editor to both Yugen and Kulchur.

David Henderson, Felix of the Silent Forest (1967). Introduction by LeRoi Jones.

David Henderson, Felix of the Silent Forest (1967). Introduction by LeRoi Jones.

From her apartment at 54 East Fourth Street in New York, and later from Kerhonkson in upstate New York, she ran the Poets Press. About its beginnings, she is characteristically to the point: “I bought a Davidson 241 and put it in a storefront…I went to ‘printing school’ for a week and learned how to run the machine (I was the only woman in the class), and I got on with it.” Poets Press published nearly thirty books, including many of di Prima’s own, as well as the first books of Audre Lorde, Jay Wright, and David Henderson, and works by Herbert Huncke and Michael McClure. Di Prima lived in Timothy Leary’s psychedelic community in Millbrook, New York, for six months in 1966–67 and published Leary’s Psychedelic Prayers in 1966. John Ashbery’s Three Madrigals was published in holograph reproduction in 1968. Di Prima moved in 1968 to the West Coast, where she continues her active involvement in poetry, publishing, and antiwar and ecological projects. She has taught in the Poetics Program at the New College of San Francisco and founded the San Francisco Institute of Magical and Healing Arts.

Diane di Prima, L.A. Odyssey (1969). Cover by George Herms.

Diane di Prima, L.A. Odyssey (1969). Cover by George Herms. 


Growing up in the fifties, you had to figure it out for yourself—which she did, and stayed open—as a woman, uninterested in any possibility of static investment or solution. Her search for a human center is among the most moving I have witnessed—and she took her friends with her, though often it would have been simpler indeed to have gone alone. God bless her toughness and the deep gentleness of her hand!”
Robert Creeley, “Foreword for Diane” in Diane di Prima’s Pieces of a Song: Selected Poems (San Francisco: City Lights, 1990)

Poets Press books include

Ashbery, John. Three Madrigals. 1968.

Creeley, Robert. Mazatlan: Sea. 1969. Printed at the Cranium Press.

Creeley, Robert. 5 Numbers. 1968. Cover design, rubberstamp print by William Katz.

Di Prima, Diane. Earthsong: Poems 1957–1959. 1968. Cover drawings by George Herms.

Di Prima, Diane. Hotel Albert Poems. 1968.

Di Prima, Diane. L.A. Odyssey. 1969. Cover by George Herms.

Di Prima, Diane. The New Handbook of Heaven. N.d., (reprint of Auerhahn Press edition of 1963).

Di Prima, Diane. New Mexico Poem. 1968. (There is a question as to whether this is a Poets Press book.)

Di Prima, Diane, trans. Seven Love Poems from the Middle Latin. 1965.

Di Prima, Diane, ed. War Poems. 1968. Cover by John Braden.

Doyle, Kirby. Sapphobones. 1966.

Duncan, Robert. Play Time Pseudo Stein. 1969. Cover by the author.

Henderson, David. Felix of the Silent Forest. 1967. Introduction by LeRoi Jones. Cover by Bret Rohmer.

Huncke, Herbert. Huncke’s Journal. 1965. Drawings by Erin Matson.

Leary, Timothy. Psychedelic Prayers after the Tao Te Ching. 1966.

Lorde, Audre. The First Cities. 1968. Introduction by Diane di Prima.

Marlowe, Alan. A Handbook of Survival into the New Age. 1964. Broadside.

Marlowe, Alan. John’s Book. 1969. Introduction by Robert Creeley.

Marlowe, Alan. To a Growing Community (to Allen Ginsberg). 1968. Broadside.

Matson, Clive. Mainline to the Heart. 1966. Introduction by John Wieners. Drawings by Erin Matson.

McClure, Michael. Little Odes, Jan.–March 1961. 1968.

Spellman, A. B. The Beautiful Days. 1965. Introduction by Frank O’Hara. Cover by Ross Perez. Drawings by William White.

Wright, Jay. Death as History. 1967.

Poems Collected at Les Deux Mégots/Poets at Le Metro

magazines & Presses

Poems Collected at Les Deux Mégots/Poets at Le Metro

Dan Saxon
New York

Nos. 1–20 (December 1962–January 1965).

Poets at Le Metro 19 (December 1964).


During the 1950s, East Tenth Street between Third and Fourth Avenues housed a number of art galleries exhibiting the most advanced art in America on a street that until then had been occupied by pawnshops, pool rooms, and sheet metal shops. During that decade, the area became a primary stomping ground for the young Abstract Expressionist painters and their attendant theorists/promoters, Harold Rosenberg and Clement Greenberg. Here, also, poet Frank O’Hara served as an important link between artists and poets in the East Village. Art openings became mandatory for “networking,” and several of the galleries along Tenth Street also offered poetry readings and jazz. The Tenth Street Coffee House, owned by Micky Ruskin, was the scene from 1960 until 1962 of the first poetry readings in the area (organized by Chester Anderson, Howard Ant, and Ree Dragonette, and including Carol Bergé, Jackson Mac Low, and Diane Wakoski among the readers). Ruskin then moved his cafe and the readings to a larger basement storefront at 64 East Seventh Street, christened Les Deux Mégots Coffee House. The Monday and Wednesday night readings organized there by poet Paul Blackburn were transferred a year later, in February 1963, to Cafe Le Metro, owned by Moe and Cindy Margules (Ruskin went on to open Max’s Kansas City, a famous nightspot frequented by Andy Warhol and other stars of the downtown art and music scenes in the 1960s).

Poets at Le Metro 8 (April 1964).

Poets at Le Metro 8 (April 1964).

At both Les Deux Mégots and Cafe Le Metro, poet Dan Saxon distributed Ditto masters to the readers, who would write directly on the stencils, and used a Ditto machine to produce a magazine that that he circulated for free. Among those who spoke or sang in the coffeehouses were Julian Beck of the Living Theatre, Ted Berrigan, Paul Blackburn, Allen Ginsberg, William S. Burroughs, Diane di Prima, Bob Dylan, Frank O’Hara, Gerard Malanga, LeRoi Jones, Denise Levertov, Charles Reznikoff, Lawrence Ferlinghetti, John Wieners, and Gregory Corso, most of whom also appeared in the pioneering mimeos produced by Saxon. In February 1964, Cafe Le Metro became the battleground for one of the most important First Amendment fights in New York City’s literary history. A city license inspector appeared at a reading by Jackson Mac Low and issued a summons, citing the New York Coffee House Law of 1962, which outlawed unlicensed “entertainment.” Enforcement of this law in such cases would have put the small neighborhood coffeehouses that did not serve liquor out of business, because cabaret licenses were expensive, and were accompanied by more stringent fire department codes and other regulations. The poetry community, led by Allen Ginsberg, Paul Blackburn, and Ted Berrigan, fought for and won the right to read poetry without a cabaret permit.

[Information adapted from Bill Morgan’s The Beat Generation in New York: A Walking Tour of Jack Kerouac’s City (San Francisco: City Lights, 1997).]

The Pacific Nation

magazines & Presses

The Pacific Nation

Robin Blaser
Vancouver, Canada

Nos. 1–2 (June 1967–1969).

The Pacific Nation 1 (June 1967). Cover by Fran Herndon.


The youngest poet of the immediate Spicer circle, Robin Blaser gained his own experience of mimeography as an assistant in 1955 for the Pound Newsletter produced by the English Department at the University of California at Berkeley. Blaser was devoted to his friend and mentor Jack Spicer and edited his collected books, appending a long, well-argued essay on Spicer’s work. Blaser shares Spicer’s concern for the structure of language: “syntax is arrangement, it’s all the word means, the way the sentence is arranged. Generally speaking it is subject, verb & object (the way the sentence moves), a sentence is a way of feeling/thinking both (not just thinking which is in your head) but the materialisation of it. Language is the instrument and you are the musician. We all are. It’s wonderful to listen to language in the street.” After his first two books were published by Open Space, Blaser left Berkeley to teach at Simon Fraser University in Vancouver (or more correctly Burnaby), British Columbia, where he started The Pacific Nation. The first issue included poems and an essay (semi-autobiographical and theoretical) by Blaser, one poem by Jack Spicer, a Blaser translation of a letter of Artaud’s on Nerval, Michael McClure’s The Moon Is the Number 18, an early John Button drawing, and the first printing of the first five chapters of Richard Brautigan’s Trout Fishing in America.

Pacific Nation 2 (1969).

The Pacific Nation 2 (1969). Cover by Michael Morris.