Reports from the Bibliographic Bunker
Jed Birmingham on William S. Burroughs Collecting
1. Nov 2, 1963 TLS from Anthony Linick to Dave Meltzer — Letter SIGNED by Linick. Linick along with Donald Factor was editor of NOMAD magazine which ran for 10 issues from the Winter 1959 to Autumn 1962. Nomad was published in London and Culver City CA. Contributors included Paul Blackburn, Charles Bukowski, Cid Corman, Gregory Corso, Robert Creeley, Allen Ginsberg, Denise Levertov, Gael Turnbull, Louis Zukofsky and William Burroughs. Linick is asking Meltzer’s support for a research project concerning the literary underground since WWII. The letter mentions a questionnaire (not present) to obtain information on the small press movement.
2. Artwork. Pen on paper drawing (8 1/2″ by 11″) of mother and child (Mary and Child) surrounded by multi-colored (green blue yellow orange) fingerpainting. No signature.
3. Typed Letter January 29, 1966 from cowboy poet Kell Robertson (KDR Albuquerque NM) to Meltzer and all. Letter talks of the poetry reading scene in Albuquerque. Mentions FOLKTHING2 performance.
4. Typed Letter(??) from Nam June Paik to Meltzer. Letter is a free form poem TELE-PET with PAIK and ROBOT magic markered over the poem. Paik is a Korean American video artist. Nam June Paik (rhymes with “cake”) is widely credited as the founder of a new art form called video art. Born and raised in Seoul, Korea, Paik and his family were forced to leave in 1949 because of the Korean War. In 1956 he graduated from the University of Tokyo and went to Germany to continue his studies as a musician and composer. In the 1960s, under the influence of John Cage and the Fluxus group, he began to exhibit television sculpture. By the early 1970s he had settled in New York where he made a major breakthrough with the first appearance of video art — which has become widely influential as an art movement. “Radio dominated 50 years and …..gone/TV will dominate 50 years and …..will gone” The poem which features radio / TV / cybernetics is a unique expression of Paik themes which include speculating on the future mediums of art and expression.
5. Typed Letter signed from Sol Hurok to Meltzer dated Sept. 28, 1965. Letter on San Francisco Mime Troupe letterhead. Letter briefly discusses the details of a play to be presented at the theatre with Hurok requesting Meltzer’s presence at a rehearsal. Emigrating to the United States in 1906, Hurok was a peddler, streetcar conductor, bottle washer, and hardware salesman before becoming the foremost impresario of his age. By his own estimation, he presented more than 4,000 artists and companies, among them Pavlova, Marian Anderson, the Comédie Française, the Old Vic Company, the Royal Ballet, Andrés Segovia, Jean-Louis Barrault, and Victoria de los Angeles. The film Tonight We Sing (1953) was based on his autobiography, Impresario (1946). We are in debt to Sol Hurok for his role in making ballet one of the most popular theatrical art forms in the 20th century.
6. Holograph letter Jan. 1964 from “Freezing R Keisters Singers” (possibly George Herms) (Healdsburg CA) to Meltzer. Letter contains a poem and a drawing in gold paint. “Clarity / Lucidity / To stand / Under the light / and pass / the pure sound / of joy / thro a human horn.” Poem possibly titled “I’m with You.”
7. TLS from I (Idell, Aya Tarlow) to ld dated August 1963. Letter typed on Globe Photos Inc of Hollywood CA letterhead. Handwritten notations throughout letter. Tarlow describes her struggles as a poet. Poem ‘There is a unity in surrender’ typed on back of page one. Enclosed Newsweek article about the marriage of Gregory Corso.
8. Postcard from London to Ray Johnson. Postcard is an interesting example of Johnson’s conception of correspondence art. Possibly from Fluxus artist Robert Falliou. Postcard mentions Emmet Williams. Raymond Edward Johnson was born in 1927 in Detroit, Michigan. His first experiences using the mail as an art medium stretch back to 1943 with his friend Arthur Secunda. From 1946-48 he studied alongside Robert Rauschenberg and Jasper Johns at the experimental Black Mountain College in North Carolina with faculty members Joseph Albers, Robert Motherwell, John Cage, Merce Cunningham, Buckminister Fuller, and Willem and Elaine DeKooning. He moved to Manhattan and showed annually with the American Abstract Artists which included Ad Reinhart among its members. By 1955, the trailblazing Johnson was painting over and cutting up images of Elvis Presley. A year later a portrait of Ike would appear in the Robert Rauscenberg collage and Roy Lichtenstein would include fuzzy pictures of Mickey Mouse by. But it would be seven long years later Johnson-crony Andy Warhol would immortalize Elvis for the first time. By then Johnson had moved on. The trailblazing Johnson was a fixture on the Manhattan scene, heralded as an innovator by the heroes-to-be of Pop and Fluxus. A pre-Factory Warhol crony, he joined Billy Name and a handful of others to provide the creative atmosphere that Andy bounced off of. In the early sixties, long before there was an Internet, Johnson’s greatest performance work- the New York Correspondence School, an international network of poets and artists who used the low-tech medium of the postal system- freely exchanged artwork, objects and anything else deemed worthy by it’s participants, many of whom became the cultural movers and shakers of the next several decades. The epicenter of this decentralized whirlwind? Ray Johnson- “the most famous unknown artist in the world.”
9. TLS from Aya Tarlow to Meltzer. Letter includes a drawing of a bird and a collage.
10. Form TL from Joel Climenhaga to Friends with Holograph letter to Meltzer regarding birth of child signed by Climenhaga. Form letter describes Climenhaga’s doings at UNC where he is teaching at the moment. In 1961 he originated TRANSIENT PRESS, when he published the first issue of Seed, a poetry magazine, under its imprint. During the greater part of the 1960s, other magazines (Jacaranda, Ferment, Rananim and Open Letter) were published through TRANSIENT PRESS. Later, during the 1970s and 1980s, other ephemeral poetry magazines and literary journals were published on an irregular basis under his editorship through TRANSIENT PRESS; these included Awakening, The Back Shelf Dispatch, Below Ground Level, Counsel for the Offense, Foundation, Greenage, Inner Dimension, Jonah’s Gourd, Lighthouse in the Coming Storm, Noah, Only Two Believers, Qua Qua, Rock Drill, Scop, Stone Cottage, This Time, White Lion and Zymosis. Climenhaga was a noted scholar on Kenneth Patchen.
11. Typed Poem “Peyote Night” from Yvonne Bond to Meltzer (August 1963)
12. Typed Letter from “Herms” (George Herms) of Malibu to Meltzer Nov. 1962.
13. TLS from Eric Andersen to Meltzer, May 1964. Andersen, singer/songwriter writes about family life and its conflict with art; his upcoming physical for the draft, the Greenwich Village Music scene.
14. Signed Typed Postcard from Joel Climenhaga to Meltzer dated Jan. 1963
15. “Combination Theatre Poem and Birthday Poem for Ten People” mailed to Meltzer from NYC Mar 1964. Ten people include Billy Name, Wallace Berman, Meltzer and others.
16. Holograph letter from Jerry Rockwell (musician) to Meltzer dated Feb. 1966.