Archive from “A Secret Location”
Small Press / Mimeograph Revolution, 1940s–1970s
We are pleased to offer for sale a captivating and important research collection of little magazines and other printed materials that represent, chronicle, and document the proliferation of avant-garde, underground small press publications from the forties to the seventies.
The starting point for this collection, “A Secret Location on the Lower East Side,” is the acclaimed New York Public Library exhibition and catalog from 1998, curated by Steve Clay and Rodney Phillips, which documented a period of intense innovation and experimentation in American writing and literary publishing by exploring the small press and mimeograph revolutions.
The present collection came into being after the owner “became obsessed with the secretive nature of the works contained in the exhibition’s catalog.” Using the book as a guide, he assembled a singular library that contains many of the rare and fragile little magazines featured in the NYPL exhibition while adding important ancillary material, much of it from a West Coast perspective.
Small press publications from the forties through the seventies have increasingly captured the interest of scholars, archivists, curators, poets and collectors over the past two decades. They provide bedrock primary source information for research, analysis, and exhibition and reveal little known aspects of recent cultural activity.
The Archive from “A Secret Location” was collected by a reclusive New Jersey inventor and offers a rare glimpse into the diversity of poetic doings and material production that is the Small Press Revolution. It provides a rich gathering for framing an understanding of the various drifts, swirls, and eruptions in the poetry and art firmament of the era, including: Beat Generation, Counterculture, New York School, Venice West, San Francisco Renaissance, Wichita Vortex, Black Mountain, Mavericks, Hippies, Diggers, and related iterations that inform, incite, and inspire one another and the culture at large in ways we are only now beginning to fully grasp.
The collection includes excellent runs and significant examples of important little mags including:
Angel Hair, Beatitude, Big Table, Black Mountain Review, C, Caterpillar, Fuck You, Gnaoua, Grist, The Hasty Papers, Insect Trust Gazette, J, Kulchur, Locus Solus, Matter, Measure, Miscellaneous Man, Merlin, Mother, Now, Open Space, The Outsider, Pacific Nation, Poems from the Floating World, Renaissance, San Francisco Earthquake, Set, Some/thing, Tree, Trobar, Whe're/, and Yugen.
Additionally, the collection includes a representative sampling of sixties West Coast counterculture publications, including: The San Francisco Oracle, The Southern California Oracle, Communications Company (the publishing arm of the Diggers); items relating to the explosive San Francisco music scene including a collection of handbills and postcards from Family Dog and others; newspapers and magazines of radical politics such as The Berkeley Barb, Ramparts, The Realist; uncommon pre-zine self-published journals of offbeat commentary such as Horseshit and Jack Green's Newspaper; and a wide assortment of pamphlets, magazines and diverse additional obscure and rarely seen publications from the period.
Selected Highlights from the Collection
Books and websites sited:
Andy Warhol, Poetry, and Gossip in the 1960s, by Reva Wolf
Damned to Fame: The Life of Samuel Beckett, by James Knowlson
RealityStudio: A William S. Burroughs Community (realitystudio.org)
Semina Culture, by Michael Duncan and Kristine McKenna
A Secret Location on the Lower East Side: Adventures in Writing, 1960–1980: A Sourcebook of Information, by Steve Clay and Rodney Phillips
click images to view larger (then use arrow keys to view all images as a gallery)
The Ark and The Illiterati were West Coast magazines with strong anarchist and pacifist leanings. The editors of The Illiterati met at the CPS (Civilian Public Service) camp in Waldport, OR, where they also encountered several of the contributors to the magazine, including: Alex Comfort, William Everson, and Kenneth Patchen. Kemper Nomland beautifully designed The Illiterati, which was handset in type and printed by the editors and others interned at Waldport.
The sole issue of The Ark came shortly after the war and very much in the shadow of the bomb. It was decidedly antiwar and anti-state; contributors included Kenneth Rexroth, Robert Duncan, and Paul Goodman. The Ark was set and printed by hand and features linoleum blocks by Ronald Bladen.
Big Table was launched Spring 1959, following the suppression of the Winter 1958 issue of The Chicago Review. An exposé in the Chicago Daily News revealed editors Irving Rosenthal’s and Paul Carroll’s plans to publish work by William S. Burroughs, Allen Ginsberg, Lawrence Ferlinghetti and other Beat writers, and the administration quashed the magazine. Rosenthal and Carroll, along with other Chicago Review editors, resigned and with the suppressed material started Big Table.
The first issue contained work by Jack Kerouac, Edward Dahlberg, and Burroughs, and was summarily impounded by the U.S. Post Office. The lawsuit was unsuccessful and Big Table continued through 1960 and five issues. Rosenthal left the magazine after the first issue and Carroll stayed on for the duration, publishing many of the poets from Donald Allen’s 1960 anthology, The New American Poetry.
Gilbert Sorrentino, contributing editor to Kulchur for two years and editor of no. 4, describes the spirit of the magazine: “Kulchur evolved a review style that … was personal, colloquial, wry, mocking, and precisely vulgar when vulgarity seemed called for … nothing was ever explained, the writing was elliptical, casual, and obsessively conversational. We wanted a flashing, brilliant magazine that had nothing to do with the academic world and we got one.” The magazine published writings by most of the writers of the avant-garde in a variety of areas including literature, film, theater, books, politics, and music during its run from 1960–66.
Beatitude—the quintessential Beat magazine—was “edited & produced on a kick or miss basis by a few hardy types who sneak out of alleys near Grant Avenue—the only responsible party being: John Kelly, publisher….” The magazine was founded in 1958 by Kelly, William J. Margolis, and jazz/surrealist poet Bob Kaufman, who said it “was designed to extol beauty and promote the beatific life among the various mendicants, neo-existentialists, christs, poets, painters, musicians and other inhabitants and observers of North Beach.”
Beatitude was initially printed on a mimeo machine at Pierre Delattre’s Bread and Wine Mission. Contributors included Allen Ginsberg, Lenore Kandel, ruth weiss, Philip Lamantia, Gregory Corso Richard Brautigan, and the editors, among dozens of others. There are 34 issues in the magazine’s first incarnation.
Poet William J. Margolis was an active participant in poetry scenes of both North Beach and Venice West. In addition to Beatitude, he edited The Miscellaneous Man (Berkeley, 1954–59), Mendicant (Boston, 1961), and a revival of his first magazine, Miscellaneous Man: The New Los Angeles Quarterly of Literature & Art (LA, 1968).
[Ref SC pp. 208–213; SL pp. 80–81]
Editors for the magazine include David Moberg, Lewis MacAdams, Duncan McNaughton, Peter Schjeldahl, and Jeff Giles. The magazine began in Northfield, MN before moving to Princeton, NJ and then to Buffalo, NY. Artist Michael Steiner created the cover of no. 4; other contributors to the issue include: Joe Brainard, Ron Padgett, Tom Veitch, Kenward Elmslie, Peter Schjeldahl, and more.
Poet and editor Ron Padgett recalls the origins of The White Dove Review; he was fifteen and worked in a bookshop in Tulsa, OK:
“Then I learned about Evergreen Review and suddenly started reading all these modernist poets such as LeRoi Jones and Frank O’Hara, and I subscribed to the magazines advertized in Evergreen Review like LeRoi Jones’s Yugen and Wallace Berman’s Semina. And when I looked at magazines like Yugen, I saw they were just little things stapled together, and so I went down to a local printer and asked, How do you do this? And he said, Oh, it’s nothing—it’s real easy. So I decided to start my own magazine. I invited Dick Gallup, who was [living] across the street and was writing poetry, to be co-editor and Joe Brainard, who was the best artist in school to the be art editor.”
Padgett published five issues between 1959–60 with contributions from: Jack Kerouac, Allen Ginsberg, Clarence Major, Ted Berrigan (who was also in Tulsa), and Robert Creeley among many others. The Tulsa group—Padgett, Gallup, Berrigan, and Brainard—each found their way to New York City over the next couple of years, where Ted Berrigan founded C: A Magazine of Poetry and C Press in 1963 (with Lorenz Gude as publisher). C initially provided an outlet for work by the core group of Berrigan, Padgett, Gallup and Brainard, yet soon included contributions from John Stanton, Gerard Malanga, James Brodey, Ruth Krauss, John Ashbery, Joseph Ceravolo, James Schuyler, Kenward Elmslie, Barbara Guest, and many others.
The cover for C, vol. 1, no. 4 (shown above) reproduces Polaroids by Andy Warhol of Edwin Denby (featured in this issue) and Gerard Malanga. This is considered "the first-known instance in which Warhol used Polaroids for silkscreen portraits, a practice he did not pursue at the time but to which he would return and which would become his standard procedure for making portraits." [Ref. AW p. 22] As such this is an important publication for both art and literary collections and is quite scarce, especially in fine condition.
C Comics nos. 1–2 came out in 1964 and 1965 respectively. Both are drawn by Joe Brainard in collaboration with poet friends; no. 2 includes: John Ashbery, Bill Berkson, Kenward Elmslie, Dick Gallup, Barbara Guest, Kenneth Koch, Frank Lima, Frank O’Hara, Ron Padgett, Peter Schjeldahl, Jimmy Schuyer, and Tony Towle.
Jack Spicer’s J ran for eight issues; nos. 1–5 were edited by Spicer in North Beach where contributions were left in a box marked “J” in The Place, a bar on Grant Avenue in San Francisco. Nos. 6 and 7 (an Apparition of the late J) were edited by George Stanley in San Francisco and New York City respectively while no. 8 was edited by Harold Dull in Rome. Spicer believed that poetry was for poets and the magazine had a small circulation but cast a long shadow. Contributors included: Robin Blaser, Richard Brautigan, Bruce Boyd, Kay Johnson, Robert Duncan, Joe Dunn, Ron Loewinsohn, Joanne Kyger, Helen Adam, and others. Covers (sometimes hand-embellished) were by Fran Herndon, Russell FitzGerald and George Stanley.
The Spicer Circle magazine M appeared in 1962 in the period after J and before Open Space. Edited by poets Lew Ellingham and Stan Persky, the magazine published John Allen Ryan, George Stanley, Heinrich von Kleist (translated by Jim Herndon), Robin Blaser, William McNeill, Jack Moore, Gail Chugg, Bob Conner, David Melville and the editors. Ellingham spent years researching a biography of Spicer, which was eventually co-authored with poet Kevin Killian as Poet Be Like God (Wesleyan, 1998).
Stan Persky began Open Space in 1964, printing 50 copies of each issue on a multilith machine (whereas J was mimeographed). Like J, and M, Open Space was a very local (North Beach) magazine whose contents seemed primarily intended for those who contributed, including: Helen Adam, Robin Blaser, Ebbe Borregaard, Richard Duerden, Harold Dull, Larry Fagin, Jess Collins, Jack Spicer and George Stanley. The magazine was also “quite spicy and a little gossipy, for instance, labeling the famed 1955 reading at the Six Gallery as ‘creamed cottage cheese.’” A few years later, Persky moved to Vancouver where he was involved with the alternative newspaper Georgia Straight. He co-founded the “Georgia Straight Writing Supplement” which became New Star Books.
Journalist, editor, and publisher, John Bryan was described by the SF Chronicle in 1981 as “The King of the Underground Press.” Renaissance ran for 4 issues (1961–62) and published Leslie Woolf Hedley, Curtis Zahn, Charles Bukowski, Lenore Kandel, Alvaro Cardona-Hine, Gregory Corso, John Thomas, Jory Sherman and others. Notes from Underground published 3 issues between 1964–69[?] and was somewhat more Beat oriented, with contributions from Neal Cassady, Jack Kerouac, Bob Kaufman, Allen Ginsberg, William Burroughs, along with John Thomas and Carole Bergé.
Bryan then went on to publish San Francisco Open City Press, which is considered a precursor to such publications as The Berkeley Barb in its coverage of certain topics, such as the Free Speech Movement. It ran 15 issues in 1964–65. Bryan then moved to Los Angeles where he became best known for publishing the weekly Open City (1967–69), which featured a regular column by Bukowski, “Notes of a Dirty Old Man,” whose eponymous collection published by Essex House in 1969 became his breakout book. Open City published 93 issues—with a peak circulation of 35,000—before ending in 1969, the result of financial problems due to obscenity charges. Bryan later published Sunday Paper, Appeal to Reason and Peace News following the September 11, 2001 attack.
The San Francisco Earthquake was well-produced and distributed by City Lights. The contributor roster is wide ranging; the editors bring in Beat and cut-up influences such as William Burroughs and Claude Pelieu (who co-edited no. 3), along with diverse writers such as Ed Sanders, Liam O’Gallagher, and George Bataille. Edward Ruscha and Dick Higgins appear in no. 4, 1968. Herman would become an editor at Higgins’s Something Else Press during the final phase of its run in the seventies. He also published the Nova Broadcast Series of pamphlets from 1969–73.
There is an affinity between The Insect Trust Gazette (the name came from a line by William Burroughs) and The San Francisco Earthquake that hovers around editorial concerns with collage and cut-up, along with European, particularly French, influences. Issue no. 1 includes Antonin Artaud (translated by David Rattray) along with Brion Gysin. No. 3 is a masterpiece of visuality in the small press and is replete with all manner of verbal / visual expressions in concrete poetry, typographic experiments, graphic codes, photographs and more from contributors: N.B. Shein, outsider artist Friedrich Schroder-Sonnenstern, Sinclair Beiles, Roger Hillyard, Annette Riddle, the editors and others.
Ed Sanders’s magazine was clandestinely published from “a secret location on the Lower East Side” and for the book of the same title he recalled: “Fuck You was part of what they called the Mimeograph Revolution, and my vision was to reach out to the ‘Best Minds’ of my generation with a message of Gandhian pacifism, great sharing, social change, the expansion of personal freedom (including the legalization of marijuana), and the then-stirring messages of sexual liberation.”
The magazine ran for thirteen issues while Fuck You Press published about two dozen books and anthologies, including The Toe Queen Poems by Sanders and Bugger: An Anthology, both of which are included in the collection, as is Sanders’s one-shot magazine, The Dick: An Occasional Newsletter of Observation, Literature & Commentary.
Poet, novelist, editor, publisher and printer, Charles Plymell, is a prime mover of the Wichita Vortex and a stalwart embodiment of the small press ethos. Grist was published by the Abington Book Shop in Lawrence, KS. Editor John Fowler is quick to thank various guest- and co-editors, chief among them Plymell and George Kimball. Plymell edited no. 7 (1966) which features, along with Glen Todd, Bob Branaman, Roxie Powell, Claude Pelieu, and Mary Beach, the first publication of Steve [S. Clay] Wilson’s artwork. Plymell would print the first issue of Zap Comix in San Francisco in 1968 and Wilson was a regular contributor to Zap from the second issue forward. Plymell edited, printed, and published three issues of Now (1963–65) which is among the most interesting magazines of its time.
Since he owned and operated a multilith press he was able to change the stock size and introduce color as the material dictated. Plymell made good use of these options, particularly with respect to the use of color in Now Now and format in Now Now Now. Contributors included: Philip Whalen, William Burroughs, Norman Mustil, Michael McClure, Allen Ginsberg, Bruce Connor, Wallace Berman, Dennis Hopper, Ken Irby, Stan Brakhage, Roxie Powell, among others. Plymell also edited The Last Times in 1967, and more recently, Coldspring Journal, and Cherry Valley Editions.
Poems from the Floating World was edited by Jerome Rothenberg and published in the late fifties and early sixties by his Hawk’s Well Press; both enterprises were concerned with issues of the “deep image” in poetry, the sense of “the content of vision emerging in the poem.” The magazine published work by James Wright, Gunnar Ekelof, Paul Celan, Denise Levertov, Robert Bly, Robert Duncan, Gary Snyder and others, while the press published first books by Rothenberg, Robert Kelly, and Diane Wakoski.
Some/thing was co-edited by Rothenberg and David Antin and initiated ideas of an emerging ethno-poetics signaled in the first issue with the inclusion of “Aztec Definitions: Found Poems from the Florentine Codex.” No. 3, with a yellow perforated cover by Andy Warhol, is devoted to “A Vietnam Assemblage” and includes Allen Ginsberg and Jackson Mac Low. After Some/thing, Rothenberg, and Dennis Tedlock edited Alcheringa, “A First Magazine of the World’s Tribal Poetries,” followed by the Rothenberg-edited New Wilderness Letter.
John Wieners, born in Milton, MA in 1934, received an A.B. degree from Boston College in 1954 and in the same year famously heard Charles Olson read at the Charles Street Meeting House during Hurricane Hazel. So impressed with the elder poet, Wieners spent a year at Black Mountain College studying with Olson and Robert Duncan. In 1957, while working with the Poet’s Theater in Cambridge, he edited the first issue of Measure.
By 1958 Wieners moved to San Francisco where no. 2 was published. Subtitled “Magic,” contributors include: Michael Rumaker, Robin Blaser, Robert Creeley, Jack Kerouac, Charles Olson, Robert Duncan, Edward Dorn, Stuart Z. Perkoff, V.R. (Bunny) Lang (one of the founders of the Poet’s Theater in Cambridge), Gregory Corso, James Broughton, Michael McClure, Richard Duerden and Stephen Jonas. By no. 3 (1962), Wieners was back in Milton where he published work by James Schuyler, Barbara Guest, Helen Adam, Madeline Gleason, Jack Spicer, Larry Eigner, John Haines and others, including Gerrit Lansing who was living in Gloucester.
The first issue of Lansing’s Set (1961) included work by Wieners and Stephen Jonas along with many others published in Measure, as well as John McGavern, Robert Kelly, and Frater Perdurabo (a name taken by Aleister Crowley, meaning “I will endure”). No. 2 published work by Jonas, Wieners, Kelly, and Lansing with LeRoi Jones, Diane Wakoski, and Kenward Elmslie. The covers for both issues of Set are by Gloucester artist and friend of Charles Olson, Harry Martin.
The Communications Company (Com/Co) was founded by Chester Anderson and his partners Claude and Helene Hayward as "the publishing arm of the Diggers." Their remarkable output of manifestos, leaflets, broadsides, street sheets and other published items during the spring and summer of 1967 (and part of 1968 as The Free City Collective) is a record of the anarchist Diggers stirrings of the sixties counterculture in Haight-Ashbury.
Com/Co publications were printed on two Gestetner mimeograph machines that were picked up from the Ramparts offices by Anderson; many were created anonymously while others were credited to their authors, including; Emmett Grogan, Chester Anderson, Lew Welch, Gary Snyder, Michael McClure and Richard Brautigan. [Collection includes approx. 24 Com/Co items along with a related San Francisco Mime Troupe benefit dinner menu, Oct 15, 1965 and a card “Do Not Touch” created by Richard Brautigan for a Peter Berg (co-founder of the Diggers) and Brautigan event in support of artist Bruce Conners' 1967 run for City Supervisor).
Both of these publications include writings by Chester Anderson, co-founder of the Communications Company and also editor of Underhound and several issues of Beatitude.
Vanguard magazine was published by the San Francisco gay liberation youth organization Vanguard. Founded in 1965, it is considered to be one of the first gay-liberation organizations by many historians.
Beatitude Press also published BEATITUDE/east and a book of poems by Diane diPrima.
The San Francisco Oracle published 12 issues between 1966–68 and was a key outlet and model for the bourgeoning counterculture taking place. The issue pictured announces “A Gathering of the Tribes for a Human Be-In” with Allen Ginsberg, Timothy Leary, Richard Alpert, Michael McClure, Jerry Rubin, Dick Gregory, Gary Snyder, Jack Weinburg, Lenore Kandel and “All of S.F. Rock Groups” held Jan. 14, 1967. There were many imitators but none captured the moment quite as vividly as the original.
The Oracle of Southern California, also known as The Los Angeles Oracle (among other names), acknowledged the S.F. Oracle as their spiritual parent and published nine issues between 1967–68. It was established to "explore the many roads to life-enhancement, the many ways of centering one’s consciousness, of releasing the joyous spirit within." Vol. 1, no. 2 features an interview with Allan Watts.
The Temple of Man was founded by Robert "Baza" Alexander and officially incorporated in 1960. Originating in San Francisco, Alexander moved it to his Venice, California home in 1958.) It became a vital place for poets, writers and artists to meet, particularly those identified with the Beats, and served as repository and archive of their work. George Herms was made a minister in The Temple by Alexander. Free Wallace Berman posters were given out at The Temple of Man’s Benefit for the Magic Theatre. Berman was tragically killed in a car accident on his fiftieth birthday, Feb. 18, 1976. Frammis is “an October tribute to the Wallace Berman Retrospective at the University Art Museum, Berkeley, Sept. 21–Nov. 11, 1979, and continual revolutionary activism by poets/artists of California.”
Written by Thomas W. Dunker and illustrated by his brother Robert, Horseshit: The Offensive Review was published initially by Gauntlet Press, then by Scum Press of Hermosa Beach, CA. Horseshit is an anti-establishment, anti-war, anti-military, sexist, satiric magazine whose watchword is “Attack.” It’s an unusually outspoken underground counterculture magazine that makes a point of indicating that it’s not a member of the Underground Press Syndicate. Four issues were printed between 1965–70.
Life is a Lousy Drag, written by Jim Schock and illustrated by Trubee Campbell, is a condemnation of Beat life, in the words of the author: “[a]n excursion along Grant Street—lair of the mystic hipsters—to examine those rapt, poetic creatures who never once turn their bearded faces to behold truth, light, sun or life.”
ONE Magazine, founded in Los Angeles in 1953, was the first pro-gay publication in the United States. It was part of the landmark Roth v. United States case, which helped define obscenity in relation to the First Amendment. The magazine was edited by Don Slater. The July 1959 issue contains the essay “The Homosexual and the Beat Generation” by Wallace de Ortega Maxey, along with contributions from William Lambert, Lou McLean, Dal McIntire, Jess Luther, Willis Eberman, Alden Kirby, and Blanch M. Baker, M.D., Ph.D.
The Hashish Cookbook is a sixties classic written by Ira Cohen’s then-girlfriend, Rosalind, under the pseudonym “Panama Rose” (though some attribute authorship to Cohen). The received narrative has Brion Gysin suggesting that Rosalind write the book; it was published by Cohen’s Tangier-based Gnaoua Press in 1966. Cohen edited the one-shot magazine Gnaoua, present in the collection and described above.
The collection falls into four categories:
1) Little magazines
2) Poetry books and pamphlets
3) Poetry anthologies
4) Counterculture, radical politics, art and diverse related materials
Title list of all magazines in the collection is presented below including literary, counterculture, radical politics and others.
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Best & Company
The Black Mountain Review
The Black Panther
C & C Comics
The California Quarterly
City of San Francisco Oracle
The Deer and Dachsund
East Side Review
The Floating Bear
Friendly Local Press
Fuck You: A Magazine of the Arts
The Galley Sail Review
Poems & Pictures
Poems Collected at Les Deux Mégots
Poems from the Floating World
Poetry Fund Journal
Poets at Le Metro
The San Francisco Earthquake
The San Francisco Review
The Second Coming Magazine
Southern California Oracle
Spit in the Ocean
Stolen Paper Review
Three Penny Press
The Tiger's Eye
Trace: A Chronicle of Living Literature
The Trembling Lamb
The Unspeakable Visions of the Individual
The White Dove Review