One of the great literary magazines of the latter half of the twentieth century, The Paris Review was founded in 1953 by novelist Peter Matthiessen and Harold Hume. The model for the magazine was Ford Madox Ford’s Transatlantic Review, especially as it fell under the influence of Ezra Pound, and the idea was to recapture the Paris of the 1930s and the aura of explosive experimentation of that time. Soon after its founding, Matthiessen asked George Plimpton to edit and serve as the public relations arm of the magazine. The first poetry editor was Donald Hall. The Paris Review has been remarkably astute in predicting literary success and has indeed published most of the important fiction writers and poets of our time.
The Paris Review interviews, entitled either The Art of Fiction or The Art of Poetry, have become known worldwide and have been influential in establishing almost a new literary genre, the author interview. Issue 31 (Winter/Spring 1964), edited by the second poetry editor, X. J. Kennedy, was devoted to an anthology of “Poets of the Sixties” that included, among others, John Hollander, James Dickey, Robert Bly, W. S. Merwin, and James Wright. However, with issue 32 (Summer/Fall 1964), Tom Clark assumed the poetry editorship and began publishing two generations of the New York School in the issues beginning with number 35 (which included Ron Padgett, Aram Saroyan, and an interview with William S. Burroughs). Issue 36 added Barbara Guest, and issue 40 printed three of Ted Berrigan’s Sonnets and two poems by John Ashbery (“The Bungalows” and “The Chateau Hardware”). Poems in issue 41 were almost all by poets associated with the New York Schools, including Ashbery, Berkson, Coolidge, Gallup, Koch, Lima, Padgett, Schuyler, and Towle. Issue 43 contains the famous interview with Jack Kerouac by Ted Berrigan, witnessed by Aram Saroyan. Clark was poetry editor for ten years and twenty-five issues, until 1974 and issue 56, which contained his own “At Malibu” as well as work by Anne Waldman, Lewis MacAdams, and Alice Notley, and a portfolio of “Imaginary Drawings for Book Covers” by George Schneeman.