Sugar Mountain

Magazines & Presses

Sugar Mountain

Tom Clark and Lewis Warsh
Bolinas, California

Sugar Mountain (August 1970). Cover photograph of Alice Notley by Jayne Nodland. Sole issue.

Tom Clark and I edited the one-shot magazineSugar Mountain in the spring of 1970. We were both living in Bolinas, California, a small coastal village an hour north of San Francisco. Joanne Kyger and John Thorpe were there when I arrived from New York in October 1969; Bill Berkson, Jim Carroll, and Lewis MacAdams were soon to appear. Charlie Vermont, Clark Coolidge, Scott Cohen, and Harris Schiff were living in San Francisco and Berkeley and were frequent visitors; Anne Waldman, Joe Brainard, Alice Notley, and Ted Berrigan came for short periods. Suddenly there was a poetry community (by 1971, Robert Creeley, Bobbie Louise Hawkins, Aram Saroyan, David Meltzer, Ebbe Borregaard, Philip Whalen, and Donald Allen were all semi-permanent residents) and Sugar Mountain reflects the beginning of it all.

It was a kind of miracle for so many poets of different stripes (Black Mountain, Beat Generation, New York School, San Francisco Renaissance) to interact and collaborate on a daily level, dissolving the borders between life and poetry, and much of it had to do with the magic of Bolinas, situated on a fragile cliff overlooking the Pacific with the lights of San Francisco blinking in the distance. The beautiful cover photo of the young Alice Notley evokes the feeling of freedom in the air. The title came from a song by Neil Young, with the enigmatic refrain, “You can’t be twenty on Sugar Mountain.” Bolinas was a place you never wanted to leave, but by the end of the 1970s many of the poets had moved away; On the Mesa, an anthology of Bolinas poets, published by City Lights, appeared in 1971, another glimpse of this short-lived but very lively and intoxicating world.

— Lewis Warsh, New York, January 2017