C: A journal of poetry

A collage

C cover by Joe Brainard
“C” cover by Joe Brainard, courtesy of Fales Library Avant Garde Archive

C: A Journal of Poetry  first appeared in May of 1963, edited by Ted Berrigan and published by Lorenz Gude. It became an influential showcase for the work of New York School poets and artists — like Berrigan himself, along with Ron Padgett, Joe Brainard, Kenneth Koch, James Schuyler, John Ashbery, Dick Gallup, David Shapiro, and others — it was a predominantly male list, though Barbara Guest and a few others (including Alice B. Toklas!) made appearances. The Fales Library has only a partial collection of the journal; all of the images included below are from that archive. To match the scattershot nature of the image collection, this commentary will be a collage of quotes from friends and fellow poets of Berrigan's in Nice to See You: Homage to Ted Berrigan, edited and introduced by Anne Waldman for Coffee House Press in 1991.  

From “For Ted,” a poem by Ed Sanders: 

Colophon detail

We were both using the same
mimeo machine
at the Phoenix Bookshop
in 1963
you for “C” magazine
I for “Fuck You / A Magazine of the Arts”

It was obvious
we were slaves
to the lyre and the bee

C colophon detail 

From a piece called “Big Ted,” a memory of Berrigan shared by Lewis MacAdams: 

“He handed me a copy of ‘C.’ (Robert Wilson at Phoenix Bookshop complaining to me one wintry night not long thereafter after Ted had come in huge and muffled with a slightly unhappy Sandy trying to sell Wilson some paintings she’d done — gouged some few dollars out of Wilson then disappeared into the blowing snow, bell ringing as wooden door slam — Wilson: ‘I don’t know why he prints that magazine on legal-sized paper. Bookstores will never carry them. No one will ever buy them.’)”

“C” cover by Joe Brainard, courtesy of Fales Library

 From “A Personal Memoir,” by Aram Saroyan:

“At that time, Ted Berrigan occupied a position somehow between the elder and the younger poets … I had come across a copy of his legal-sized, mimeographed magazine, ‘C,’ at the Kornblee Gallery on the Upper East Side, and I was aware of him and his Oklahoma cohorts Ron Padgett and Dick Gallup, as well as the young painter and writer, Joe Brainard, who did the ‘C’ magazine covers, as a sort of high-spirited band of mavericks … he published my poems in ‘C,’ as I published the ‘C’ gang’s in the magazine I started that fall, Lines. We collaborated several times … in his brightly lit Lower East Side apartment, the walls of which were full of Brainard’s intricate, mandala-like collages, as well as works by other painter friends of the New York School.”

C cover by Joe Brainard