Reports from the Bibliographic Bunker
Jed Birmingham on William S. Burroughs Collecting
Andy Warhol provided the cover for issue four of C: A Journal of the Arts. Edwin Denby and Gerard Malanga appear on the silk-screened cover. The cover is reprinted in Reva Wolf’s book on Warhol along with a discussion of the politics and gossip behind this image. Issue 4, like the Mad Motherfucker Issue of Fuck You with the Couch cover, is tough to get a hold of. Ars Libris sold a copy awhile back in a small, incomplete run of Cs. Expect to pay in the four figures if you ever get the opportunity.
Complete runs of C: A Journal of Poetry are elusive. The Fales Library possesses a C Journal archive but lacks a complete run. Syracuse University also holds a number of Berrigan’s papers including dummies for C Journal, yet they lack a complete run. The Berg Collection at the New York Public Library has about half of the issues. The Library’s Rare Book Division houses the editor’s (Berrigan’s) file of the mimeo. The NYPL possesses a complete run but they don’t know it. According to Secret Location on the Lower East Side, Issue 12 is missing from this collection.
Based on an email I received from Ron Padgett, Berrigan never published a twelveth issue of C: A Journal of Poetry. As evidenced by the text in Issue 11, he intended to publish one but the project never saw completion. Again according to Padgett, Berrigan viewed C Comics #1 as essentially the 12th issue. There is no indication as to Berrigan’s reasoning in this bibliographic detail.
Burroughs appears in Issue 9 and Issue 10 of C Journal. Fuck You Press issued Roosevelt After Inauguration in January of 1964. Ed Sanders included Burroughs in Fuck You, a Magazine of the Arts No. 5 Vol 7 in the summer of that year. Berrigan first published Burroughs in the summer of 1964. At the time, Burroughs still resided in Tangier, but given the flurry of mimeo activity Burroughs could see that the Lower East Side in New York City was the place to be. Burroughs saw this for himself during brief visits in 1963/1964. In C Journal 9, Burroughs contributed two pieces: “Giver of the Winds Is My Name” and “Intersection Shifts and Scanning from Literary Days by Tom Veitch.” Literary Days was published by C Press and I would guess that Berrigan sent Burroughs a copy for his review. As is common in the 1960s, Burroughs responded with a cut-up. In “Giver of the Winds Is My Name,” Burroughs incorporated Egyptian hieroglyphics for the first time. See my column on da levy and Burroughs for a brief discussion of this appearance.
In C Journal 10, Burroughs contributed “Fits of Nerves with a Fix.” According to the Maynard and Miles’ Burroughs bibliography, this issue hit the streets on February 14, 1965, St. Valentine’s Day. For the artists and writers of the Lower East Side, Burroughs must have been on their mind as he gave a famous reading at the American Theatre of Poets on that date. The C Press Time also appeared in 1965.
Burrroughs’ work in C Journal is listed as prose, but these pieces can be considered examples of Burroughs the poet. “Fits of Nerves with a Fix” reminds me of the work in Floating Bear 24 (“Spain and 42st,” “Dead Whistle Stop Already End,” and “Where Flesh Circulates.”) The look of the work on the page is especially similar. “Giver of the Winds Is My Name” also has the look of a poem in a way that differs from the block text and newspaper formats of other cut-ups from the period. This would suggest that Burroughs’ influence on the Second Generation New York School and even First Generation members like John Ashbery, stemmed not just from Naked Lunch and the cut-up novels, but also from the lesser known and underappreciated Minutes to Go and The Exterminator. These two books can be considered books of poetry for the lack of a better categorization and the work therein has similarities to the work in C Journal.
C: A Journal of the Arts
C Journal 9
William Burroughs, Giver of Winds Is My Name
William Burroughs, Intersection Shifts and Scanning from Literary Days by Tom Veitch
C Journal 10
William Burroughs, Fits of Nerves with a Fix
C Journal 12
Ted Berrigan skipped C Journal #12. He had been considering using the first issue of C Comics as issue 12 but decided against it.