An Exhibit Celebrating The Bay Poetry Collection of the Cal State East Bay University Libraries' Special Collections
March 20, 2018–December 31, 2018
Banner copy researched & written by Aline Soules
Banners & exhibit case cards design by Brooke Dykman
Exhibit case copy written by Diana K. Wakimoto
The Place That Inhabits Us: Poems of the San Francisco Bay Watershed, Sixteen Rivers Press, San Francisco, California, 2010. The book cover artist, Tom Killion, was born and raised in Mill Valley, California. His landscape prints from linoleum and wood are strongly influenced by the traditional Japanese Ukiyo-e style of Hokusai and Hiroshige. His studio is on Inverness Ridge, near the town of Point Reyes Station.
A Strange New Cottage in Berkeley, Allen Ginsberg, A Poetry Folio 1963, San Francisco Arts Festival, San Francisco, California, 1963.
The Interior Castle, Madeline Gleason, Unicorn Press, Greensboro, North Carolina, 1980 (Memorial Edition).
To James B. Rector, Michael McClure, San Francisco, 1969.
Birth of a Poet, William Everson, Kresge College, University of California at Santa Cruz, Santa Cruz, California, 1971.
Dance Song, Anne Waldman, Ravine Press, Chicago, Illinois, 1975.
Director of Alienation: A Poem, Lawrence Ferlinghetti, Main Street Inc., Northampton, Massachusetts, 1976.
"VIII January Night", The Signature of All Things: Poems, Songs, Elegies, Translations, and Epigrams, Kenneth Rexroth, New Directions, New York, 1950.
Excerpts from a Life, Kenneth Rexroth, Conjunctions, Santa Barbara, California, 1981. Book cover painting by Kenneth Rexroth, circa 1929.
Here Comes Everybody: New & Selected Poems, Madeline Gleason, Panjandrum Press, San Francisco, California, 1975. Book cover drawing by Paul Blake.
The Interior Castle, Madeline Gleason, Unicorn Press, Santa Barbara, California, 1967.
"Let Them Not Leave", Here Comes Everybody: New & Selected Poems, Madeline Gleason, Panjandrum Press, San Francisco, California, 1975.
Unkinged by Affection, Robert Duncan, A Poetry Folio 1963, San Francisco Arts Festival, San Francisco, California, 1963.
The Day Five Thousand Fish Died in the Charles River, Jack Spicer, Kriya Press, Pleasant Valley, New York, 1967.
Early Routines, William S. Burroughs, Cadmus Editions, Santa Barbara, California, 1981. Book cover portrait of William S. Burroughs by David Hockney.
Three Mornings, Philip Whalen, Four Seasons Foundation, San Francisco, California, 1964.
Howl: And Other Poems, Allen Ginsberg, The City Lights Pocket Bookshop, San Francisco, California, 1956.
"Sight is just dust", Scattered Poems, Jack Kerouac, City Lights Books, San Francisco, California, 1971.
Scattered Poems, Jack Kerouac, City Lights Books, San Francisco, California, 1971. Book cover photo of Jack Kerouac by William S. Burroughs, Tangier, 1957.
Transfiguration, Michael McClure, Pomegranate Press, Cambridge, Massachusetts, 1973.
Neal in Court, Jack Kerouac, Arthur & Kit Knight, California, Pennsylvania, 1977.
Reggae or Not!: Poems, Amiri Baraka, Contact II Publications, Bowling Green, New York, 1981.
Black Poetry: A Supplement to Anthologies Which Exclude Black Poets, Ed. Dudley Randall, Broadside Press, Detroit, 1969.
"I'll Walk the Tightrope", Margaret Danner, Black Poetry: A Supplement to Anthologies Which Exclude Black Poets, Ed. Dudley Randall, Broadside Press, Detroit, 1969.
Moloch, Allen Ginsberg, Penmaen Press, Lincoln, Massachusetts, 1978.
Networks: An Anthology of San Francisco Bay Area Women Poets, Vortex Editions, Palo Alto, California, 1979. Book cover illustration by Mari Eckstein.
Fast Speaking Woman, Anne Waldman, Red Hanrahan Press, Detroit, Michegan, 1974. Drawing by Ann Wilson.
"Fast Speaking Woman", Fast Speaking Woman, Anne Waldman, Red Hanrahan Press, Detroit, Michegan, 1974.
Earth House Hold: Technical Notes & Queries to Fellow Dharma Revolutionaries, Gary Snyder, New Directions Publishing Corporation, New York, New York, 1969. Book cover photograph "Homage to Edward Weston" by William Suttle.
Collected Poems, 1947-1980, Allen Ginsberg, Harper & Row, New York, New York, 1984.
The Drum: Writings by Literacy Students of the Bay Area, BALit, Sacramento, California, 1990. Book cover drawing by Efrain Lopez Jr. 1990.
"Organizing", Deirdre Sheratt, Crazy Ladies: An Anthology of Women's Poetry, Ed. Jan Glading, R. Lompa, Berkeley, California, 1980.
Crazy Ladies: An Anthology of Women's Poetry, Ed. Jan Glading, R. Lompa, Berkeley, California, 1980.
What Shall We Do Without Us?: The Voice and Vision of Kenneth Patchen, Kenneth Patchen, Sierra Club Books, San Francisco, California, 1984. Book cover painting by Kenneth Patchen.
The Place That Inhabits Us: Poems of the San Francisco Bay Watershed, Sixteen Rivers Press, San Francisco, California, 2010. Book cover illustration by Tom Killion.
Practice: A Book of Midrash, Dan Bellm, Sixteen Rivers Press, San Francisco, California, 2008. Book cover photograph by Judith Keenan.
"Sunday Rain", World as You Left It: Poems, Helen Wickes, Sixteen Rivers Press, San Francisco, California, 2015.
The Orbit of Known Objects, Lisa Erin Robertson, Sixteen Rivers Press, San Francisco, California, 2015. Book cover art: Moon Behind the Oak, 2010, by Susan Hall, oil on canvas.
World as You Left It: Poems, Helen Wickes, Sixteen Rivers Press, San Francisco, California, 2015. Book cover photograph by Michael Wickes.
Text from the banners on display in the Hayward Campus Library.
The books, journals, broadsides, recordings, and ephemera in this collection reflect the writing and publishing of poetry in the Bay Area from the early 1950s to the present. Earlier poets include James Broughton, Kenneth Rexroth, Robert Duncan, Allen Ginsberg, Lawrence Ferlinghetti, Jack Kerouac, Michael McClure, and William Everson.
Contemporary poets include Nina Lindsay, Helen Wickes, Rosa Lane, Murray Silverstein, and Carolyn Miller.
The banners and display cases highlight key poets in the collection.
Bay Area writers and artists arrived after World War II to find the last of bohemian culture in America. Kenneth Rexroth, father of the Renaissance and, later, the reluctant father of the Beat poets, said:
“This is the world in which over every door is written the slogan:
‘The generation of experiment and revolt is over. Bohemia died in
the twenties. There are no more little magazines’.”
The poets turned their backs on the mainstream, but often disagreed artistically and politically. Yet, their work shared an elegiac quality, responding to recent wars and the new restrictive cultural climate.
Their work was confessional and evoked the Pacific Coast and San Francisco; yet, influences ranged from European modernism and surrealism to Eastern religions and literature. They started many of their own publishing houses, small magazines, and journals, including City Lights Books and Evergreen Review.
If Kenneth Rexroth was the founding father of the San Francisco Renaissance, Madeline Gleason was the founding mother. She established the San Francisco Poetry Guild and, in 1947, organized what’s considered the first poetry festival in the U.S.—the Festival of Modern Poetry.
Rexroth, Muriel Rukeyser, Jack Spicer, Robert Duncan all read their work at the festival. The San Francisco Renaissance poetry movement began to coalesce.
Duncan taught at San Francisco State College, and introduced many of the poets to each other. They met in Rexroth’s home for conversations on literature, politics, and theology or met in bars and parks where Spicer shared strong opinions on poetry and publishing.
This West Coast school of poetry (later known at the Beats) was aesthetically different from the San Francisco Renaissance, but came west to be part of and influenced by those poets. The core group met in 1944 in New York—Herbert Huncke, Allen Ginsberg, William S. Burroughs, Lucien Carr, Jack Kerouac, and expanded. By the mid-1950s, all but Burroughs and Carr had moved west.
In 1955, Rexroth organized the now-famous Six Gallery Reading featuring Michael McClure, Ginsberg, Gary Snyder, Philip Whalen, and Philip Lamantia. Ginsberg performed and premiered his famous poem, Howl, at that event.
The most well-known examples of Beat literature include Allen Ginsberg’s Howl, William S. Burroughs’ Naked Lunch, and Jack Kerouac’s On the Road, all published in the late 1950s.
Herb Caen of the San Francisco Chronicle coined the team “Beatnik,” combining “Beat” with “Sputnik,” Russia’s space satellite. The popularity of Beats expanded into national culture. By the 1960s, the Beats filtered into the hippie and counterculture movements. The bridge was Neal Cassady, but many original Beats participated, especially Ginsberg, a major figure in the anti-war movement. The hippies also engaged in the civil rights movement.
The Beats influenced too many poets and novelists to mention. Of note, LeRoi Jones/Amiri Baraka (a one-time Beat writer) helped initiate the Black Arts movement. His poetry was included in Black Poetry: A Supplement to Anthologies which Exclude Black Poets. Students at the University of Michigan complained that anthologies used in introductory poetry course excluded Black poets. Broadside Press created a small collection that sampled Black American poets, including poets of the Harlem Renaissance like Claude McKay and Jean Toomer, mature and established poets like Robert Hayden and Gwendolyn Brooks, and younger poets like Don L. Lee and Etheridge Knight.
The Beats continued to write and new writers followed. Postbeat Poets included Anne Waldman, Andy Clausen, Eileen Myles, Paul Beatty, Jim Cohn, Thomas R. Peters, Jr. (who also owned a Beat book shop), among others.
Gary Snyder, one of the Beats (although Clive Matson, another Beat poet, said he doesn’t like to be called a Beat anymore) explored Japanese and Buddhist thinking in the 1960s in his book Earth House Hold: Technical Notes & Queries to Fellow Dharma Revolutionaries. As the years progressed, he became an environmental activist and is known as the “poet laureate of Deep Ecology.”
In the 1970s, the movement that was known in the North Beach area of San Francisco began to spread through the wider Bay Area. The Singing East Bay and Beyond celebrated fifty years of the Poet’s Dinner, 1927-1976. In 1979, an anthology of San Francisco Bay Area women poets called Networks was published by Vortex Editions in Palo Alto.
By the 1980s, collected works emerged. Ginsberg’s Collected Poems, 1947-1980 was published by Harper & Row, NY in 1984, attesting to the national stature of the movement. Another anthology of women writers, Crazy Ladies, was printed in the 1980s by R. Lompa, Berkeley.
What Shall We Do Without Us?: the Voice and Vision of Kenneth Patchen was published in 1984 by Sierra Club Books in San Francisco, reflecting the now aging Beats, as Patchen had died in 1972.
The 1990s saw further expansion. The article “Bay Area Celebrates Poetry in ‘Open Boat’,” Asianweek, 1993 notes an anthology of poems from Asian America in San Francisco and Berkeley. Poets included Chitra Divakaruni, Garrett Hongo, Maxine Hong Kingston, David Woo, among others.
The Drum: Writings by Literacy Students of the Bay Area was published by BALit and distributed by the California State Library Foundation, promoting new young writers.
... the collection not only celebrates new local writers, but new publishing models.
Many Beats began their own publishing operations, most notably Lawrence Ferlinghetti and City Lights Books. Ferlinghetti ran a bookstore and published works that, at the time, were not accepted by traditional publishers.
Today, new publishing models have emerged, such as Sixteen Rivers Press. Founded in 1999 by seven San Francisco Bay Area writers, their goal is to create a sustainable, shared-work publishing collective run by and for Bay Area Poets.
Examples of works issued by this press include Dan Bellm (Berkeley), Lisa Erin Robertson (Sonoma County), and Helen Wickes (Oakland).