Joglars and Symbolic Capital

Joglars 1 (1964Joglars #1 appeared in Spring 1964, and its lineup of eleven contributors closely followed the tendencies that the Coolidge-Palmer correspondence was already indicating: a strong showing from the Black Mountain group (Fielding Dawson, Joel Oppenheimer, John Wieners, Jonathan Williams), two Bay area poets (Gary Snyder and Michael McClure), and the Objectivists Zukofsky and Niedecker. The lineup of poets is supplemented by the magazine’s first in what would be an ongoing commitment to work in other arts and media--in this case, a score and performance instructions for an orchestral piece composed by Zukofsky’s son Paul. The remaining two contributors, Carol Bergé and Robert Kelly, can be seen representing the Downtown New York poetry scene described earlier in this chapter and of which Dawson and Oppenheimer were part as well in the wake of the Black Mountain College diaspora precipitating the school’s closure in 1965.

            By June 16, 1964 Coolidge is able to report to Palmer the following: “3 copies sent to all contributors. . . 100 copies sent to ‘divers’ poets & people free free free!! I don’t like to come on poverty but, other bookstores & library-circulars (for which many thanks!) have gotta wait.” Nevertheless, favorable reviews of the first issue of Joglars were coming in from all quarters:

A Letter, of ecstatic praise (“best first issue of a mag I’ve ever seen...” etc.) from somebody named Sam Abrams (claims he met me at LeRoi’s reading [. . . .]) Card from Louis, “thanking”, says “we’ll be talking soon” [. . . .] 2 letters from Paul Blackburn -- first, very praising to Joglars “keep it up” &c. with 3 poems, not bad very Blackburn, at least one we might be able to use.

A week later, June 23, Coolidge reports high praise from Creeley: “Thanks very much for the copy of your first issue--which I think a fine job indeed.[...] So really all of it is a pleasure, and again thanks for sending it.”

            In addition to the praise, Coolidge finds himself inundated not only with submissions for future issues--“running out of tongue licking reject envelopes,” he tells Palmer on October 8, 1964--but also, consistent with the gift economy and free exchange that so often characterizes the small press poetry world, free copies of numerous other publications, as he reports to Palmer on June 23, 1964: The Outsider, edited by Jon Edgar Webb out of New Orleans; Burning Deck, a short-lived magazine that would eventually evolve into Burning Deck Press, edited by Rosmarie and Keith Waldrop in Providence; Set, edited by Gerrit Lansing in Gloucester, Massachusetts; and the last issue (#9) of visual artist Wallace Berman's magazine Semina, inscribed with the words “dug yr first issue--cool selection.”

            Beyond simply a free exchange of goods, however, such interaction ultimately serves as a means of mutual support between fellow poet-publishers. For example, Coolidge writes to Palmer on October 8, 1964 that the “Insect cats sent Burroughs’ address -- so I wrote him and sent mag.” The reference to “insect cats” remains a mystery unless one knows that the Insect Trust Gazette was a little magazine edited by Bob Basara, Leonard Belasco and Jed Irwin out of Philadelphia that ran for three issues from 1964 to 1968. While William Burroughs never appeared in Joglars, Coolidge would include Basara’s work in the final issue, and his “Bond Sonnets” ran in the Summer 1965 Insect Trust #2. An example of his own efforts in cut-up and collage techniques, the “Bond Sonnets” were largely forgotten until I discussed them in an essay published in a joint issue of New American Writing and Jacket (2001); Craig Dworkin has since made the text available on his Project Eclipse website. (Information on the magazines mentioned in this paragraph can be found in Steven Clay and Rodney Phillips, A Secret Location on the Lower East Side: Adventures in Writing, 1960-1980 [New York: New York Public Library and Granary Books, 1998].)