A follow-up to Alcheringa and an offshoot of the New Wilderness Foundation (formed by Jerome Rothenberg and Charlie Morrow to “explore the relation between old & new forms of art-making”), New Wilderness Letter, edited by Rothenberg, offered the following opening statement: “The editor—a poet by inclination & practice—recognizes poesis in all arts & sciences, all human thoughts & acts directed toward such ends: the participation in what the surrealist master André Breton called a ‘sacred action’ or what Gary Snyder defined as the ‘real work of modern man: to uncover the inner structure & actual boundaries of the mind.’ The New Wilderness Letter will therefore not be specialized & limited by culture or profession but will be a report, largely through the creative work itself, of where that process takes us.” That process led to some very interesting places indeed. Issues were devoted to such topics as the “role of poets/artists as ‘technicians of the sacred,’” “writing and reading as co-existent with human origins,” “poetics and performance,” “dream-works,” and, for issue 11, coedited with David Guss, “The Book, Spiritual Instrument.” Among the diverse contributors to the various issues are Carolee Schneemann, Barbara Einzig, Allen Ginsberg, Pauline Oliveros, Michael McClure, Allan Kaprow, Edmond Jabès, Dick Higgins, David Meltzer, George Herms, Howard Norman, Linda Montano, and Jackson Mac Low. Eleven regular issues were published between January 1977 and December 1982, at which time New Wilderness Letter merged with Wch Way. Rothenberg characterized the role of New Wilderness Letter with these words: “There is a primal book as there is a primal voice, & it is the task of our poetry & art to recover it—in our minds & in the world at large.”
New Wilderness Letter 5/6 (vol. 1, no. 5, September 1978).
New Wilderness Letter 10 (September 1981). “Special Dream-Work Issue” edited by Barbara Einzig. Cover photograph of Carolee Schneemann by Lisa Kahane.
New Wilderness Letter 11 (1982). “The Book, Spiritual Instrument,” edited by Jerome Rothenberg and David Guss. Cover image by Michael Gibbs.
Jerome Rothenberg. A Poem in Yellow After Tristan Tzara. Metal felt-tipped pen. Ca. 1980.
Scans of the complete run of the New Wilderness Letter are available on the New Wilderness page at Jacket 2.