Contour Quarterly

Magazines & Presses

Contour Quarterly

Christopher Maclaine and Norma Smith

Nos. 1–4 (1947–49).

Contour Quarterly 1 (April 1947).


Filmmaker, poet, and editor Christopher Maclaine, together with Norma Smith, produced four issues of Contour Quarterly (1947–49). Filmmaker Jordan Belson was the art editor for no. 1. The magazine published such writers as Robert Duncan, Jack Spicer, Bern Porter, Chris Rambo (a San Francisco poet, he was among the conscientious objectors group at Waldport, Oregon), Philip Lamantia, Madeline Gleason, Curtis Zahn, James Schevill, Kenneth Patchen, and Denise Levertov. No. 3 included the first publication by photographer Charles Brittin (writing as C. William Brittin), who went on to become an important figure in Los Angeles documenting local Beat culture, Venice Beach, the Civil Rights Movement, antiwar activities, and much more. He exhibited at Wallace Berman’s roofless Semina Gallery in 1960. Maclaine published four books of poetry: The Automatic Wound (1948), The Crazy Bird (1951), Words (1954), and The Time Capsule (1960). His four films are The End (1953), The Man Who Invented Gold (1957), Beat (1958), and Scotch Hop (1959). He was a major catalyst in the early Beat days of San Francisco; according to J. J. Murphy in Film Culture, he was known as “the Antonin Artaud of North Beach.” After years of prodigious drug and alcohol use, Maclaine was institutionalized in the late sixties and died in 1975.


Contour Quarterly 2 (September 1947).