As National Poetry Month continues to roll along, the Electronic Resources and Systems department wishes to draw special attention to an important online historical resource for small press poetry magazines, Independent Voices.
This Open Access archive is especially valuable for making full text searching available for a number of rarer Little Magazines, especially those from out the 60s and 70s. Most of these earlier titles were previously only available in library special collections or from rare book dealers, often at steep prices. Now they are readily available to all.
Notable titles in the Little Magazine sub-collection include those local to San Francisco, such as Steve Abbott‘s Soup, edited from out his one bedroom Haight apartment where he raised his daughter as a single gay man in the 80s (copies of physical issues may be found in Gleeson’s Rare Book Room); Ishmael Reed and former California Poet Laureate Al Young‘s Y’Bird as well as their later mag Quilt (edited from out the East Bay); and Kathleen Fraser‘s groundbreaking How(ever) focused upon women experimentalist poetry (edited while she taught at SF State); along with the seminal first issue of the Black Mountain College Review edited by Robert Creeley. Also see El Corno Emplumado edited by Margaret Randall, and Joglars edited from out Providence by then youngsters Clark Coolidge and Michael Palmer.
In addition to the Little Magazine sub-collection, with its abundant number of poetry mags, there are several other sub-collections, including Black American, LGBT, Latino, Native American, and Campus Underground, often with editors originating from out, and representing viewpoints of, social groups underrepresented in the larger publishing circles of the time.
Using the search feature for the full collection reveals overlap between the sub-collections. For instance, the Berkeley Barb (out of the Campus Underground collection) harkens back to a time when poetry held a more prominent presence in campus news. Poets regularly making it not only into the pages but also gracing the cover as well occupying headlines. Prominent “Beat” poet Allen Ginsberg appears on the May 27, 1966 issue which includes his then brand new long poem “Wichita Vortex Sutra” in its entirety and reproduces his handwritten note to the editors on the lower corner of the front page.
Try searching for a favorite poet active sometime during the 1960s-1990s and see what you might find. Small presses and magazines are built out of close knit communities, even when participants might live at quite a distance from each other. It’s fascinating to follow the trails and unearth surprises.
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Gleeson Library gained early access to this collection in 2017, as a member of the Center for Research Libraries (CRL), before it went fully public in January 2019. It is one of Reveal Digital’s collaborative projects with libraries and others to make an abundant array of primary source documents openly accessible.
Featured Image: Close up of Manroot 10 “Jack Spicer issue” fall 1974, edited by Paul Mariah and San Francisco’s own, poet Richard Tagett. Courtesy of Memorial Library, University of Wisconsin – Madison