Open Space was published during 1964 for fifteen issues (number 0 or the “Prospectus” was published in the same month as the first issue, and two separate number 2’s and 4’s were published). The unofficial organ of the group of poets centered around Jack Spicer at Gino and Carlo’s Bar on Green Street and The Place on Grant Avenue, both in San Francisco’s bohemian North Beach, it was the production of Stan Persky, recently relocated from Los Angeles, who printed only fifty copies of each issue on a “multilith machine.” It was really intended for those whose poems appeared in its pages, such as Helen Adam, Robin Blaser, Ebbe Borregaard, Richard Duerden, Harold Dull, Larry Fagin (who later produced his own Adventures in Poetry in New York), Jess Collins, Jack Spicer, and George Stanley, all locals from North Beach or Berkeley.
Open Space Taurus Issue 4 (1964).
The covers of Open Space featured imaginative and unusual artwork by Jess Collins, Graham Mackintosh, Fran Herndon, and others. The magazine was quite spicy and a little gossipy—for instance, labeling the famed 1955 reading at the Six Gallery as “creamed cottage cheese.” Persky, somewhat standoffish from the others in the scene, lampooned any number of them, including Donald Allen and Madeline Gleason (she of the pre-punk red hair and attachment to the Virgin Mary, who had in the 1940s begun poetry readings everywhere in San Francisco, while composing poetry as she messengered securities throughout the financial district). Gleason, along with Helen Adam and James Broughton, formed one of the poetic coteries of San Francisco in the 1950s and ’60s, often at odds with the others, such as those centered around Spicer in North Beach or Robert Duncan in Berkeley, and all of whom were fairly irritated by Kenneth Rexroth and his “Beat Renaissance.” One editorial salvo irrupting from Persky began: “Open Space isn’t Group-Soup, bar set or queer coterie.” Nevertheless, Open Space was still a curious mixture of humor and high literary seriousness, publishing correspondence between Spicer and Lawrence Ferlinghetti on publishing ethics, or Charles Olson’s “Against Wisdom as Such,” alongside a hoax or an appropriation or a baseball issue.
Open Space 11 (1964). Cover photo of the editor by Margot Prattlesome Dross.
Open Space books include
Alexander, James. Eturnature. 1965.
Alexander, James. The Jack Rabbit Poem. 1966. Drawings by Paul Alexander. Published with White Rabbit Press.
Blaser, Robin. The Moth Poem. 1964.
Duerden, Richard. The Fork. 1965.
Duncan, Robert. The Sweetness and Greatness of Dante’s Divine Comedy. 1965. Cover drawing by the author.
Miles, Josephine. Saving the Bay. 1967.
Nerval, Gérard de. Les Chimères. 1965. Translated by Robin Blaser.