“Matter is when it is for the sake of the work, & is the work therein contained, no more…. That is my axe now, & I hope the chips fall in a pile fed by other wielders; to get some kindling these cold days,” says Robert Kelly in the editorial statement in the first issue. Overlapping only slightly with Kelly’s Brooklyn-published little magazine Trobar, Matter was a newsletter from up the Hudson River, created to produce a sense of literary community and to overcome the isolation created by distance. Matter was simply but elegantly produced in four issues of 16–22 pages each, mimeographed on yellow, white, and blue paper, and carefully designed with a poem to a page and spacious margins. The first, third, and fourth issues were printed at Bard College, where Kelly has taught for many years, and the second came out of Buffalo’s student bookstore (Kelly was a guest professor in the poetry program at the State University of New York at Buffalo). Like many mimeographed magazines, Matter was sold for a nominal amount ($1.00) at alternative bookstores such as the Eighth Street, Phoenix, and Peace Eye bookstores in New York, at City Lights Books in San Francisco, and at the legendary Asphodel Book Shop in Cleveland. The three New York bookstores no longer exist. Matter published a variety of material, including the anthropoetically influenced work of Clayton Eshleman of Caterpillar magazine and the deep-image/dream work of Kelly, Ted Enslin, Diane Wakoski, Rochelle Owens, and George Economou. Issue 2 includes Jackson Mac Low’s poem “TO SAVE/WILDLIFE AND AID US, TOO,” which consists of lines selected and arranged by schematic chance from a New York Times article by Secretary of the Interior Stewart L. Udall. Issue 4 includes a three-page poem by the avant-garde filmmaker Stan Brakhage (who had, at the age of nineteen, been a poet living in the basement of Robert Duncan and Jess Collins’s house). Matter Books, edited primarily by Joan Kelly, produced a dozen fine works, among them Gerrit Lansing’s first book, The Heavenly Tree Grows Downward, and Charles Olson’s long poem Apollonius of Tyana.
Gerritt Lansing, The Heavenly Tree Grows Downward (1966). Preface by John Wieners.
Matter Books include
Alexander, D. Mules Balk. 1967.
Bialy, Harvey. Love’s Will: Poems 1967. 1968.
Enslin, Theodore. The Diabelli Variations and Other Poems. 1967.
Greene, Jonathan. The Reckoning. 1966.
Irby, Kenneth. The Flower of Having Passed Through Paradise in a Dream: Poems 1967. 1968.
Kelly, Robert. Twenty Poems. 1967.
Lansing, Gerrit. The Heavenly Tree Grows Downward. 1966. Preface by John Wieners.
Kenneth Irby, The Flower of Having Passed Through Paradise in a Dream: Poems 1967 (1968).