In his landmark critical history, The Marginalization of Poetry: Language Writing and Literary History, Bob Perelman stressed the importance of the creation of literary venues (magazines and small presses) for the nurturing of new writing, singling out This for particular attention, as “the first self-conscious journal of what would become known as language writing. The name and character of the movement were uninvented at the time, nor were many of the future participants in touch yet, but the magazine was clearly motivated by a sense of literary progress.” In his discussion, Perelman places This and language writing in the context of literary history, providing for it a distinguished genealogy: “At the time there were many writers, involved in different social formations and providing various formal models, from which language writing would arise.
This 9 (Winter 1978–79). Cover and photographs by Barrett Watten.
A short list would include figures associated with Black Mountain, the New York School, the San Francisco Renaissance: Charles Olson, Frank O’Hara, and Jack Spicer, each of whom had recently died but whose work was still appearing; Robert Creeley, Robert Duncan, Larry Eigner; the aleatory work of Jackson Mac Low and John Cage; John Ashbery, Ted Berrigan, Alice Notley, Clark Coolidge, Bernadette Mayer, and Ron Padgett; Tom Raworth, David Bromige, and Michael Palmer. The Objectivists were still active and were in fact a much stronger presence than they had been in prior decades: George Oppen had just won the Pulitzer Prize and Louis Zukofsky was in the process of finishing “A.” …Compared to the range of formal possibilities and social groupings and postures this partial list includes, the work and literary information in This 1 was quite limited. But [the magazine was] important in its positing of literary space. It established, at least in embryonic form, a way of connecting private reading and writing desires with some sense of public consequence and thus with a future. All the above writers could conceivably be used, not simply read.”
“One could see, without reading any of the words in the issue, that This 1 issued a double appeal to fresh beginnings and revered ancestors. The cover displays drawings by Grenier’s very young daughter Amy done at the stage when signification was just beginning to emerge from marks on paper (i.e., when big circles first mean heads and two smaller circles with centered dots mean eyes). Balancing this originary gesture, inside were photos of the masters: one of Charles Olson, who had died the previous year, and one shot from street level of the very old Pound…. The issue’s simultaneous claim to originariness, a tradition, and a productive future follows the basic patterns of Pound’s, Zukofsky’s, and Olson’s manifestos.”
— Bob Perelman, The Marginalization of Poetry: Language Writing and Literary History (Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press, 1996)
Barrett Watten, Decay (1977).
This Press books include
Andrews, Bruce. Sonnets (Momento Mori). 1980.
Coolidge, Clark. The Maintains. 1974.
Coolidge, Clark. Quartz Hearts. 1978.
Eigner, Larry. Country / Harbor / Quiet / Act / Around: Selected Prose. 1978. Introduction by Douglas Woolf. Edited by Barrett Watten.
Greenwald, Ted. You Bet! 1978.
Grenier, Robert. Series: Poems 1967–1971. 1978. Cover by Francie Shaw.
Harryman, Carla. Under the Bridge. 1980.
Perelman, Bob. Primer. 1981.
Robinson, Kit. The Dolch Stanzas, 1976.
Silliman, Ron. Ketjak. 1978.
Watten, Barrett. Decay. 1977.
Watten, Barrett. 1–10. 1980.
This 4 (Spring 1973). Cover by Louise Stanley.
A scan of Barrett Watten’s index to the complete run of This is available on the Eclipse website.