Amsterdam Annual

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Reports from the Bibliographic Bunker

Jed Birmingham on William S. Burroughs Collecting

William Burroughs in Amsterdam Annual, 1971-1972

Download a PDF of William Burroughs in the Amsterdam Annual, 1971-1972

Our fearless man exploring the Library of Interzone has emerged from deep within its bowels (where all the good Burroughs shit is, of course) with yet another unrecorded find. Yes, Eric Shoaf dropped me a line reporting that he found (via Jeffrey Weinberg) a copy of Amsterdam Annual Sept. 1971 to Sept. 1972 published out of Amsterdam in 1972, which features an excerpt from The Job, as well as “The Literary Technique of Lady Sutton Smith.” Pretty cool selections in themselves but what makes the Annual pop is the presentation. Portfolio format on individual single sheets with a cardboard illustrated cover. It has to be seen to be appreciated and described. Shoaf was kind enough to send images which are reproduced here. Burroughs’ appearance is in English; others are in Dutch. There is a graphic novel, underground comix or zine feel to the Burroughs appearance that coupled with the portfolio format (which I am a sucker for) makes for a unique item. The colophon (which looks handstamped) stresses it is handmade and has a run of only 250 copies. So copies are out there. I wonder why this item has fallen through the cracks to be missing from the major bibliographies. It also does not seem to be in WorldCat but I am not the most reliable user so my search terms might not have done the trick.  

Needless to say, Shoaf never saw one before; it was new to me as well. What we have here is an unrecorded item that is also very cool and fun. A nice combination. Time will tell if the Annual with prove to be a coelacanth pulled from the depths by the Jimmy Houston of Burroughs anglers only to disappear back into the murk. But there is hope as coelacanths, once thought extinct as of 1938, appear from time to time in the most unlikely of locations. Keep an eye out.

The format of the Amsterdam Annual reminded me of another rare and somewhat forgotten Burroughs item that is part of a confusing entry in M&M: Ex 3. Allegedly published out of Tangier in 1964, Ex does not get listed in the book’s index but is listed as C96:

“Afternoon Ticker Tape”
The Burrough [1964:1-2]

A magazine edited by WSB, mimeographed by Jeff Nuttall. Run-off pages from the My Own Mag insertion (C95) were sent by Nuttall to WSB in Tangier who issued them there in Ex. 3, Tangier, 1964. A folder containing a variety of loose and stapled sections in no fixed order, one of which was The Burrough.  

Ex 3, 1964I have always had doubts about this entry. Entry C95 describes “Afternoon Ticker Tape” as being in “The Cut Up” Issue of My Own Mag and numbers it as Issue 5. This is incorrect. It is Issue 6. The Tangier Issue is Issue 5. I have also seen 1965 given as the publication date for Ex 3 not 1964. The real question is whether Burroughs “issued” Ex 3 in Tangier; that is whether he was the editor or publisher and if Tangier was the location of publication. I do not think so but the information on the magazine is scant. I suspect Burroughs provided his text to the editors and that was the extent of his involvement. He may have assisted in the distribution of the magazine in Tangier. 

I have seen Ex 3 offered for sale three times. Twice from booksellers in Italy. This give a clue to the location of publication for Ex. Searching through WorldCat and online booksellers, it appears that Emilio Villa, Mario Diacono, and Giovanni Debernardi were the editors of Ex from 1963 to 1968. The magazine ran for six issues in a variety of formats: For example, Issues 1 and 3 were folded sheets in a portfolio, Issue 4 came in a box, and Issue 5 was a broadside. Clearly this is an artist magazine. The MoMA library possess a copy of Ex in its holdings as does Yale, which possesses several issues. Emilio Villa was an Italian poet and visual artist who had ties to the Brazilian concrete poetry scene. Diacono was also a poet and later in life moved to Boston and ran a gallery there. He left Boston to manage the collection of the Maramotti family, which runs the Max Mara fashion house in Italy. Ex 1 was published in Rome; I have seen Milan also listed as a place of publication for certain issues. In any case it is doubtful that Burroughs had direct involvement with the “issuing” of the magazine unless one of the editors was visiting or living in Tangier in 1964.  

There was a copy of Ex 3 available for sale from Peter Harrington in London, although I cannot fully get behind it as a pick of the week. They bought the book from one of the Italian dealers a few years back and doubled the price on it. The magazine sat there for years and it was quite overpriced. I just missed out on it and it is a regret of mine because it looks like a really cool item. The inclusion of Burroughs in an artist magazine with ties to concrete poetry is right up my alley. I will have to be quicker next time.  

Written by Jed Birmingham and published by RealityStudio on 1 June 2019.

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