The unknown magazine of Ginsberg, Kerouac and Burroughs

Featured image

Rhinozeros Issue 2 (via Reality Studio)

In 1960, Allen Ginsberg was travelling South America with fellow poet Lawrence Ferlinghetti, but after Chile, Argentina and Bolivia, he decided to go it alone. In the back of a truck full of natives, Ginsberg arrived in Peru, where he visited Cusco, then Machu Picchu. He stayed there at the forest guardhouse, in a room whose walls were covered in newspaper. Letters were written there which described the cliffs and cordilleras of the Andes.

A few weeks later, Ginsberg continued to Lima on the invitation on Sebastian Salazar Bondy, a writer he had met in Chile. One afternoon in Lima, Ginsberg saw the Peruvian poet Martin Adan, who was living in the same hotel. They sat together and talked a while. “Why do you write bullshit?” Adan asked Ginsberg, to which the latter answered, “At least I shower every day. And my feet don’t smell like dead spiders.”

Following their meeting, Ginsberg wrote a poem about Adan: “To an Old Poet in Peru.” It was included in his book of poetry Reality Sandwiches, published by Ferlinghetti’s City Lights Publishers in 1963 — but it first appeared in Rhinozeros,a German magazine of poetry, in 1960. In that same issue, there’s a poem by Samuel Beckett, “Saint-Lo,” written about his experience in the titular French town after the Battle of Normandy in World War II. There’s also a reproduction of a Jean Cocteau drawing along with a greeting.

There’s not much information online about Rhinozeros, which ran from 1960 to 1965. It was published by the Dienst brothers: Rolf-Gunther and Klaus-Peter, who did the calligraphy for each issue. The magazine of concrete poetry remains a “typographic marvel,” in the words of Jed Birmingham of Reality Studio (a website dedicated to William S. Burroughs, from which I accessed Rhinozeros issues). Most of Rhinozeros is in German, but there are a few exceptions:

Let’s wait for night.
The day has been a lonely one.
Letters I didn’t send lie on the table,
Waiting, loveless, as unread.
I hoped you’d come here, but you didn’t.
The hills were beautiful as always,
though I couldn’t see them clearly,
looking at other things,
trying to fill up time
writing these letters.
Soon, I’ll take them down and mail them.
[They’ll go out tonight]
Then I’ll close the door and wait for you
in large, dark shadows.

That was written by Theodore Enslin, one of the most musical poets of American avant-garde. It’s called “P.S.” and was published in the “Beat Issue” of Rhinozeros, which included Ed Dorn, Gregory Corso, Gary Snyder, Michael Horovitz, Allen Ginsberg, William Burroughs, Peter Orlovsky, Jack Kerouac and Piero Heliczer.

The Dienst brothers were interested in the Beat Generation, concrete poetry and the cut-up technique. They produced 10 issues of Rhinozeros in five years. Their contributors were outstanding: Ezra Pound, Jean Cocteau, Henry Miller. Burroughs was one of the most prolific. To Rhinozeros, he contributed “Wind Hand Caught in the Door,” “Novia Express,” “Be Cheerful, Sir Our Revels Touching Circumstance” and “Text.”

A few months ago, I showed Rhinozeros to a friend. He asked me — likely already knowing the answer — if the magazine was to be viewed more than read. I can’t remember what I told him. I must have said something about the contents, about the list of contributors, undoubtedly impressive. Then, as I couldn’t find the words, I quoted Jed Birmingham (this time from Mimeo Mimeo): “For bibliophiles, this is the artists’ magazine equivalent of the finest of high class porn.”

The Airship, 9-09-2014

Advertisements

Fuck You: A Magazine of the Arts

Featured image

Fuck You (via File Magazine)

“Then I pressed on the spot where the groin is joined to the cock,
Slipped a finger into his arse and massaged him from inside.
The secret sluices of his juices began to unlock.
He melted into what he felt. “O Jesus!” he cried.”

It’s a poem, and it’s not mine. In the original version, “The Platonic Blow, by Miss Oral,” or “A Day for a Lay,” or “The Gobble Poem,” or “The blowjob poem,” there’s more verses written by W. H. Auden around 1948. The author didn’t want to publish it but didn’t want to destroy it either, and everybody knows how this sort of story usually ends: The writer asks for his editor to destroy all manuscripts, the editor says yes, of course, you have my word, but he doesn’t do it, and a few years later he or someone else finds one of the papers, a poem or a novel or a supermarket bill, and decides to publish it. So that’s what happened: Ed Sanders, the poet and activist, snatched that poem from W. H. Auden notebook and published it in the February 1965 issue of Fuck You: A Magazine of the Arts.

That was the “Mad Motherfucker Issue.” The magazine was celebrating its third anniversary, and the issue was dedicated to “all those who have been depressed, butchered or hung up by all these family unit nazis, fascists, war-freaks, department of License creeps, fuzz,” etc. It included a cover by Andy Warhol, with a sex scene from his Couch movie; an announcement on the formation of The Fugs, Sanders and Tuli Kupferberg’s band (Tuli also published in the magazine); poems by Lawrence Ferlinghetti, LeRoi Jones, Gerard Malanga, Ted Berrigan and Gregory Corso. Allen Ginsberg contributed an untitled poem dated from December 19, 1962 and an article about a dream he had with Peter (probably Peter Orlovsky, Ginsberg’s partner and fellow poet) and Norman Mailer. Orlovsky submitted three pages of drawings from his notebooks; there’s one of Charles Chaplin on a screen in a Damascus movie house.

“I’ll print anything”, wrote Fuck You founder Sanders, who was also then owner of the legendary Peace Eye Bookstore in New York. Send whatever you want, poems, “banned manuscripts,” “your plans for the pacifist holocaust,” and we will publish everything — that was pretty much the idea. From 1962 to 1965,Fuck You was edited, published and printed at a “secret location” on the Lower East Side of New York. All copies (roughly 500) were printed on a mimeograph machine, making the magazine one of the most important of the so-called “mimeo revolution” during the 1960s and ‘70s, when there was a proliferation of independent magazines thanks to the mimeograph, which allowed people to print quick and cheap. Suddenly, it was like everyone could be a publisher.

This is how Fuck You started: Sanders was sitting in a bar with some friends from Catholic Worker. They had just seen Jonas Mekas’s movie Guns of the Trees, and Sanders announced he was going to publish a poetry journal called Fuck You: A Magazine of the Arts. His friends showed some skepticism, but the next day he began typing stencils. The first issue was out in a week. He bought a small mimeograph machine and started printing copies, which he gave out for free. But he sent them away too, to Allen Ginsberg (who was in India) and Nikita Khrushchev and Fidel Castro and Picasso and Beckett. The name of the magazine was catchy, Sanders earned some respect as a publisher, and quickly he began receiving manuscripts from his heroes.

You could argue that Fuck You connected two different generations: the Beats of the ‘50s and the counterculture of the late ‘60s. In A Secret Location on the Lower East Side by Steven Clay and Rodney Phillips, Sanders says that he was trying to bring to the “Best Minds” of his generation a message of Gandhian pacifism, great sharing, social change, the expansion of personal freedom (including the legalization of marijuana) and the thrilling ideas of sexual liberation.

Thirteen issues of Fuck You were published, most of them by a fairly fixed staff, that included Sanders, Nelson Barr, Al Fowler, Taylor Mead, John C. Harriman, C.V.J Anderson (the editor of Crawdaddy!,  the first U.S. magazine of rock music criticism), Charles Olson and John Wieners. Not-so-regulars included Harry Fainlight, Diane di Prima, Frank O’Hara and Jean Morton, among others. The last issue was published in 1965. There’s no further information about the end, it just stopped suddenly.

The Airship, 25-08-2014