In the spring of 1974 I was twenty-five and living in San Francisco’s Mission District in a studio apartment with a bed that rolled out from the wall. Energized by poetry and friendship, I set out to publish a little magazine I called Streets and Roads. The title was taken from a reading textbook found in the supply room of the elementary school where I was working as a teacher’s aide. Larry Fagin’s Adventures in Poetry was a model for that kind of light-hearted appropriation.
I solicited work from a miscellaneous assortment of mostly new friends, Alan Bernheimer, Barrett Watten, Carla Harryman, Merrill Gilfillan, Andrei Codrescu, Robert Harris, Steve Benson, Dena Harris Harris, Ralph Gutlohn, and Bob Perelman. Of these only a few were then living in San Francisco, and most had yet to meet each other. Overall they had little in common.
I formatted the text on my Olympia manual typewriter and created a cover with snapshots of the neighborhood including shots of my then girlfriend, myself on a fire escape, and familiar locations like New China Restaurant, Altamont Hotel, and the El Capitan and York movie theaters. The magazine was photocopied, stapled, and distributed by hand and by mail. Several copies were placed at City Lights Bookstore.
Streets and Roads 2 (1975). Entire issue devoted to Kit Robinson’s The Dolch Stanzas. This issue was never released, but The Dolch Stanzas was published by This in 1976.
The following year, on my return from a few months in New York, I started work on issues two and three. Issue two was to be my poem sequence The Dolch Stanzas, written using sight word lists at my teacher’s aide job, with a cover graphic taken from a book on music theory. Issue three was The Slime of the Ancient Mariner by Tom Veitch with original cover art and illustrations by comic artist Greg Irons. Unfortunately my efforts to attain funding from the Coordinating Council of Literary Magazines (CCLM) were unsuccessful, and the new issues went on the back burner.
Streets and Roads 3 (1975). Entire issue devoted to Tom Veitch’s The Slime of the Ancient Mariner. Cover art and illustrations by Greg Irons. This issue was never released.
Various changes precluded further efforts—a new relationship, an abortive attempt at earning a graduate degree in education, and a night shift at the Oakland Bulk Mail Center. In 1976, Barrett Watten’s This Press published The Dolch Stanzas as a chapbook. The Slime of the Ancient Mariner is as yet unpublished, but a photo of Irons at work on an illustration for the text appears in You Call This Art?: A Greg Irons Retrospective, by Patrick Rosenkranz.
Within a year or two, a number of the authors included in Streets and Roads were living in San Francisco, contributing to magazines such as This and Hills, congregating at the Grand Piano coffeehouse on Haight Street, and writing up a storm. Streets and Roads remains a little-known marker of the start of something big.
In 2015, I revived the Streets and Roads imprint to publish Catalan Passages, a chapbook containing nine poems and fourteen photos from a 2014 visit to Barcelona, printed in an edition of 150 copies and distributed hors commerce.
— Kit Robinson, Berkeley, January 2017