Tuesday, December 30, 2008

spit out the truth

The photo at left shows Hemingway with Fidel Castro in 1960. But for now let's talk about Hem's poems. Yes, poems.

Over the years there have been nine unauthorized editions of the poems. All or most of these editions contain 18 poems, which are most of the poems Hem wrote and published while he was living in Paris in the 1920s. The critical response to his verse is mostly based on the pirated editions, which are filled with errors.

One of these unauthorized editions was published by City Lights in San Francisco in 1960. It sold for 50 cents. We have not been able to find any reviews of this edition at all. (The edition of Hem's poems to consult is Nicholas Gerogiannis's Nebraska edition of 1992, 171 pages in length.) The City Lights book is 28 pages.

The bio note in Poetry for January 1923 calls Hem "a young Chicago poet now abroad, who will soon issue his first book of poems." Edmund Wilson quipped that these "are not particularly important" but they do show the writer moving in the main poetic current of the time, at least very generally: what might be called precise yet poignant discernment.

He tried to spit out the truth;
Dry-mouthed at first,
He drooled and slobbred in the end;
Truth dribbling his chin.

Seems like a bad page in a Nick Adams story, lineated.

non-sewing circle and non-profit

"The spirit of Dada is perhaps the best attitude for editors." So wrote Marvin Malone of the Wormwood Review.

The Wormwood Review seems to have started publishing in 1960, although I've found one note that suggests 1959.

Malone (born 1930) was its long-time editor, living (at some point during the long run) in Stockton, California. By 1990 an observer was noting 30 years of the mag. "If anyone wants to find out what is going on in today's avant-garde (yes, it lives), here is one of the first places to turn," says Bill Katz in the Library Journal (May 1, 1990). The communist-affiliated magazine Mainstream ran a symposium on little magazines in 1962 and for the December issue featured a statement by Malone. The role of the little mag in the USA, Malone opined, was "to persist in publication even though the format goes from print, to offset, to mimeograph," "to air the taboos" including "the stasis of culture in the USA at the pre World War II level," "to discomfit as much as possible the self-assured literary critics; to set up an active dissent against the easy success of X. J. Kennedy, Alan Dugan," and "to oppose the idea that 'black is black, white is white, and that gray is red'" (Mainstream, Dec. '62, pp. 41-42).

Well, it seems that actually Sandy Taylor founded Wormwood, along with Jim Scully and Morton Felix and that a little "later on" (how much later?) Taylor "ran it with Marvin Malone." Malone apparently took Wormwood to the west coast, although I have no info that it was founded elsewhere.

Malone was "a pharmacologist. He was a very well-known...researcher in pharmacology." (Obscure in the Shade of the Giants ed. Jerome Gold, Black Heron Press, 2001.) Malone died at 66 on 11/26/96.

Yes, Marvin Malone did Wormwood all these years on the side. Otherwise he served on editorial boards for the Journal of Natural Products, Economic Botany, and the International Journal of Pharmacognosy and was active as a member of the American Society of Pharmacology and Experimental Therapuetics. He was on the faculty of the University of the Pacific School of Pharmacy for many years.

Wormwood issued a broadside in 1963 that finally made an editorial statement (earlier issues had not): "The Wormwood Review is still non-beat, non-academic, and non-sewing circle and non-profit... not afraid of either wit or intelligence... published when sufficient good material has accumulated--this happens about four times a year."

Monday, December 22, 2008

space worked out logically

The year 1960 was the peak of the era of the powerful new space planners, who were specialists "in the science of making interior office space work out logically, i.e. profitably" (so said Architectural Forum in 1957). Michael Saphier Associates, a firm that really established itself with the design of its own new offices, had been founded in 1937. Lawrence Lerner joined them '49. Lerner studied design at Brooklyn College and studied in an experimental program organized by the Russian-born architect Serge Chermayeff. The photo here was taken in 1960, not long after the completion of the Saphier offices at 488 Madison Avenue.

Source: New York 1960, Stern, Mellins, Fishman, p. 562.

Saturday, December 20, 2008

reel-to-reel Zukofsky

On November 3, 1960, Louis Zukofsky turned on his reel-to-reel recorder and made a tape of himself reading 40 poems, and then sent it off to the Library of Congress. Where it sat for many years in their audio collection. Well, sat is not quite fair. Probably some researchers ventured into the archive there and listened. But then PennSound got permission from Zukofsky's executor, Paul Zukofsky, to put the poet's recordings of his poems online. Above you see just the poems he read that day from Some Time. There is much more, so have a look and listen.

This morning I blogged about an extra poem I heard embedded in there. Go here to find out more about that bonus track.

Friday, December 19, 2008

Yahweh's tautology cycled through

I am that I am. Am I? Am that. I am. I am. That I am. I am that I am. I am that I'm I. Am I I that I am? Am I? That I am I am. That am I am I. I I that am am. Am that. I am. Am I that I am? I am I that. I am I am that. Am that I am I. And that I. Etc. This is Brion Gysin performing "I Am" in 1960. Thanks to Danny Snelson and Ubuweb. Now have a listen.

Friday, December 5, 2008

first book

In the photo: poet Barbara Guest in 1960. That year Guest published her first book of poems, The Location of Things (Tibor de Nagy).