Aram Saroyan, the son of one of America’s most beloved novelists, grew up on New York’s West End Avenue and attended Trinity School, a private prep school in the same neighborhood. He attended the University of Chicago for a while and had his first poem published in the Nation. Returning to New York, he worked at Bookmasters bookstore near Times Square and at Virginia Admiral’s Academy Typing Service (she was a poet and the mother of actor-to-be Robert De Niro). After traveling cross-country to show his poems to Robert Creeley, then in Placitas, New Mexico, Saroyan was finally ready, at age twenty-one, to start his own little magazine, Lines, in 1964.
Richard Kolmar, Games (1966). Cover by Larry Zox.
In Friends in the World (Coffee House Press, 1992), he recalled: “I was eager to make contact with my literary contemporaries, and the little magazine was a nice entrée into the milieu. Young poets need a place to publish, and the magazine gave me an excuse to make contact with anyone whose work I liked.” As it turned out, he published the work of at least four of the most talented male poets of his generation: Ted Berrigan with his aggressively mimeo “C” magazine; Ron Padgett with his delicately weird and offset White Dove Review; Tom Clark, poetry editor of the prominently nonmimeo Paris Review; and Clark Coolidge, whose first book, Flag Flutter & U.S. Electric, was published by Lines in 1966. Saroyan joined Berrigan when he visited Jack Kerouac in Lowell, Massachusetts, for his legendary Paris Review interview. The look of mimeo was perfect for Saroyan and for Lines, which published the community of poets whom he admired, in their more “abstract” or minimalist moments.
The strikingly simple covers and the carefully composed pages make Lines among the most elegant of all the 1960s mimeograph magazines. Saroyan published six issues of the magazine and several books (including Ted Greenwald’s Lapstrake and John Perreault’s Camouflage), before leaving New York, and the ’60s, to begin a different life: “When I started to write again in Bolinas, California, it wasn’t minimal poetry anymore, but a long poem about my life, marriage, and fatherhood. Strawberry Saroyan had been born at the hospital in Stoneham, Massachusetts, on October 20, 1970.”
Lines books (complete)
Berrigan, Ted, with Ron Padgett. Noh. 1965. Lines Broadsheet No. 1.
Coolidge, Clark. Clark Coolidge. 1967.
Coolidge, Clark. Flag Flutter & U.S. Electric. 1966. Cover design by the author.
Greenwald, Ted. Lapstrake. 1965. Cover by Joe Brainard.
Kolmar, Richard. Games. 1966. Cover by Larry Zox.
Perreault, John. Camouflage. 1966.
Saroyan, Aram. Aram Saroyan. 1967.
Saroyan, Aram. Works. 1966.
Stein, Gertrude. Gertrude Stein. 1967.
Clark Coolidge, Flag Flutter & U.S. Electric (1966). Cover design by the author.
Scans of the complete run of Lines are available on the Eclipse website.