In an all-new exhibit for Spring 2014, the University Library will feature displays of rare books, letters, broadsides, and other materials relating to the post-war Beat, San Francisco Renaissance, Counter-Culture movements and the larger poetry scene in the Bay Area up to the present.
Running from April through August 2014, the Bay Poets Collection Exhibit focuses on one of the University Libraries’ many Special Collections, giving students, faculty, and staff a glimpse into the fascinating publications, broadsides and manuscripts that make up this unique resource.
The San Francisco Bay Poetry Collection contains books, journals, broadsides, recordings, and ephemeral materials that reflect the writing and publishing of poetry in the Bay Area from the late 1920s to the present.
The collection contains extensive holdings of key figures who influenced the San Francisco Renaissance, Beat, and counterculture movements during the 1950s, ’60s, and ’70s. Among those represented are Kay Boyle, DIane Di Prima, Gregory Corso, Gary Snyder, Allen Ginsberg, Madeline Gleason, Lawrence Ferlinghetti, Jack Kerouac, Michael McClure, and many more.
There is a particularly outstanding collection of materials by William Everson (aka Brother Antonius), most of which have been signed by the poet. Also strongly represented are publications by poets Robert Creeley and Robert Duncan.
There is also a representative collection of other writers native to the area, as well as those whose work contributed to the overall Zeitgeist in which the Bay poets flourished. Represented, too, are many local presses which specialize in the publication of poetry, as well as several hundred poetry journals, and many anthologies.
The total number of items in the Bay Poets Collection exceeds 7,000, includes over 300 broadsides (many signed), and over 500 poetry periodicals.
The Floyd Erickson Special Collections Room in the University Library has among its treasures row after row of published books, pamphlets, and broadsides authored by participants in the San Francisco Renaissance of the 1950s and '60s - a time in which poetry as a form of literary expression experienced a new and purposeful flowering that had a massive effect on American culture in the last half of the 20th century.
To be able to have access to these materials was a heady enough experience in itself, but to be charged with sharing this collection with a wider audience - as we have tried to do in this exhibit - was a rare and special privilege! It was also a daunting challenge.
The difficulty, of course, is where to begin when confronted with such a wealth of material from so many different poets and other players from the time period covered in the collection.
In the end, the best approach seemed to be that of simply creating as many biographies of these "Bay Poets" as we could; the next step was selecting those that best gave a feeling for the scope and depth of the collection, but which were also politically and socially relevant in the larger Beat and Renaissance movements.
To focus on the individual authors or poets, we chose to format each poster with a single, stark head shot of that poster's author, accompanied by her/his biography, and visually softened by the artwork from the covers of their published works.
This poster template allowed us to evoke the simplicity and openness that were often the central characteristics of the literary expression during this period. It also had the added advantage of making each author more approachable as a human being - demystifying, e.g., the likes of Alan Ginsberg, Richard Brautigan and Jack Kerouac.
All the images utilized in the exhibit were from our Special Collections materials.
Producers: Richard Apple, Jared Mariconi
Concept and Content Development: Diana Wakimoto, Richard Apple
Text, Posters and Graphic Design: Richard Apple
Editor: Diana Wakimoto
Editorial and Archival Support: Diana Wakimoto, Anna Graves
Copyright 2014 by the CSUEB University Libraries Exhibits Committee