The Work

In addition to the cluster of friendships among the various “Objectivist” writers initiated in the mid- to late-1920s and cemented by regular correspondence, this group of writers was also connected by their mutual interests in one another’s poetry. Through a series of little magazines, cooperative book publishing ventures, and other schemes, these writers spent considerable time and effort reading, publishing, and reviewing one another’s work, with several continuing to carry on sending each other their publications until their deaths more than forty years after their initial associations.

While the first explicitly “Objectivist” poems as such appeared in the February 1931 issue of Poetry, the Zukofsky-edited An “Objectivists” Anthology (published in 1932), and the subsequent publications of The Objectivist Press, most of the poets included in that group had already been publishing their writing for some time, usually in some of the era’s many little magazines. In fact, William Carlos Williams, the oldest of the group by more than a decade, published his first collection, Poems, in 1909, just a year after George Oppen, the youngest of the core group, was born. Apart from Williams, who published poetry and prose more or less continuously from 1909 until his death in 1963, the remainder of the “Objectivists” had two distinct periods of intense publication activity (from 1928-1935, and from 1962-1978) interrupted by an almost 30 year period of near total silence.

While each of the authors featured on this site enjoyed their own rich individual publication history, explored in greater depth on child pages for each individual writer, this page will detail several of the various collaborative publication efforts that various of these “Objectivist” writers participated in during their first period of activity (1928-1935), with a special emphasis placed on the several little magazines, anthologies and publishing cooperatives the “Objectivists” appeared in, edited, published, and financed.

“Objectivist” Publications

The “OBJECTIVISTS” 1931 issue of Poetry magazine

[copy content from the Lives section. Note also the importance of the little magazine, as can be seen in the contributor list and notes from Zukofsky’s Poetry issue. His inclusion of Ford/Tyler/Putnam in the “Symposium” is one way to acknowledge and include them, though their poetry does not match his view of “Objectivist” principles.

Poetry

At Pound’s urging, Zukofsky was given editorial power over a single issue of Harriet Monroe’s Poetry magazine in early 1931, and however awkwardly or unwillingly, used the issue to present “OBJECTIVISTS” 1931. The issue’s chief critical statements were authored by Zukofsky singly, but the issue contained work by 23 individual contributors,1Joyce Hopkins, listed as the author of the one-line poem “University: Old-Time,” was an invented name used for Zukofsky’s poetic refashioning of a letter from his friend Roger Kaigh several of whom (Zukofsky, Williams, Reznikoff, Oppen, and, for a short time, Bunting) met semi-regularly in New York City as a mutually supportive coterie.

Book Publishing Efforts, Real and Imagined

In addition to their involvement in a network of little magazines published during the era (discussed below), several members of this loose alliance were also united in a number of schemes to form and operate a press which would issue book-length collections. Two of these proposed publishing schemes, To, Publishers and The Objectivist Press, succeeded in issuing books by various “Objectivist”-affiliated writers in the years immediately following the appearance of the February 1931 issue of Poetry.

To, Publishers

To, Publishers was founded in late 1931 by George and Mary Oppen.2Zukofsky wrote to Pound on October 15, 1931: “Geo. Oppen is planning a publishing firm—To, Publishers, and I’m the edtr.” (Qtd. in Pound/Zukofsky, 104). Funded and operated by the Oppens from Le Beausset, a small village in the south of France near Toulon, the Oppens employed Zukofsky as To’s salaried editor, paying him $100 a month beginning in November 1931. On December 10, 1931 Zukofsky relayed their publishing plans to Ezra Pound, indicating that they expected to print a book every two months, and sharing their proposed list for their first year:

  1. Bill Walrus.
  2. E.P. Section I.
  3. If Oppen agrees—Tozzi/Buntn.3Pound had suggested in a letter the previous month that Bunting might translate the Italian poet Federigo Tozzi’s novel Tre croci (written in 1918 and published in just before his death of influenza and pneumonia in 1920). Bunting never produced this translation.
    only objection: we may have to pay Tozzi—is he alive?—& we cdn’t afford to pay both Bunting & Tozzi—But you write Oppen & see what he says. No, I don’t think we propose to be purely amurikun. In fact, we expect you to be on lookout for foreign material and make suggestions all the time.
  4. Possibly L.Z.
  5. Reznikoff. (probably)
  6. E.P. (2nd section).

Bob McA—cd. be taken care of the second year. We don’t want the same homocide squad allee time. By that time he shd. be rejected by everyone else & (have) polished off his Politics of Existence4This McAlmon book was never finished and remained unpublished at his death in 1956. A undated draft of the manuscript with a 1952 letter explaining the project of the novel can be found among his papers in Yale’s Beinecke Library. which has fine things in it—what I’ve seen—but needs to be cut (& I mean cut). Not just circumcised.5Pound/Zukofsky, 117

Sometime in late 1931 or early 1932, Oppen also sent Pound a letter from Le Beausset headlined “Publications in English” in which he gave thumbnail sketches of seven little magazines and described To, Publishers as

A new press, printing in France. Publishes chiefly brochures to sell for 8 Francs. Its program for the year includes: Prolegomena (collected prose) of Ezra Pound (to be published as a series); A Novelette and Other Prose, by William Carlos Williams; a novel by Charles Reznikoff; poems by Louis Zukofsky. and a translation of6Ezra Pound Papers, Beinecke (Yale), YCAL MSS 43, Box 38, Folder 1613

As their proposed list of publications makes clear, To, Publishers was nothing if not an “Objectivist” publishing venture: funded and operated from France by the Oppens, it employed Zukofsky as the managing editor, and planned to publish work by Williams, Pound, Zukofsky, Reznikoff, Oppen, Bunting, as well as An ‘Objectivists’ Anthology.7Rakosi, and Rexroth as well? Of these planned volumes, To only actually printed three before experiencing financial, import, and distribution difficulties which caused the Oppens to dissolved the press in 1933: a volume each of prose by Williams and Pound and the “Objectivists” anthology that Zukofsky had assembled.

In February 1932, To, Publishers did print and distribute their first book, William Carlos Williams’ A Novelette and Other Prose, following this by publishing Ezra Pound’s Prolegomena 1: How to Read, Followed by The Spirit of Romance, Part 1 in June 1932. The Oppens and Zukofsky encountered import and distribution difficulties almost immediately … [more needed]

In a long letter to Pound dated May 11, 1933, Zukofsky gave Pound an updated report on sales of To’s publications:

Since you ask: Bruce Humphries have brought [sic] to date from To
25-W.C.W. [Williams’ A Novellette]
75 – H.T.R. [Pound’s How to Read]
71 – “Obj” [An “Objectivists” Anthology]

To‘s total sales in U.S.A.:
150 – W.C.W. (Bill bought 50)
109- H.T.R.
130- Obj.

In Europe as far as I know
12-W.C.W.
28- H.T.R.
10-Obj.8The Selected Letters of Louis Zukofsky, 102.

Their inability to recoup their initial investment meant that the publishing venture was a financial failure, and the Oppens realized that they were quickly on pace to exhaust their limited capital. In August of 1932, George Oppen informed Zukofsky that he be unable to continue operating the publishing company (or pay Zukofsky to act as its managing editor) beyond the end of the year, and that they would have to scrap nearly all of their remaining plans for publication.9Zukofsky wrote to Pound on August 8, 1932: “Latest news from O[ppen]:—”Can’t continue To.” Which means my salary goes as well when the year is up—& will probably be reduced to $50 (if George can spare that much) a month, while it lasts. “The year is up”—may be this Setp. 1932—I’m not sure when my year started, since Buddy [George’s nickname] and I made no formal legal arrangements.” (Pound/Zukofsky, 132). Zukofsky’s salary was in fact reduced to $50, with October 1932 being the last month he received payment (Zukofsky, Letters to Pound, 8 October 1932, Yale).

An “Objectivists” Anthology

Though it proved short lived as a publishing concern, To, Publishers did issue one additional book, An “Objectivists” Anthology, which the Oppens had printed in August 1932 in Dijon. Edited by Zukofsky, the An “Objectivists” Anthology was divided into three sections: lyric (section 1), epic (section 2), and collaborations (section 3) and contained work by 14 poets,10The 14: Louis Zukofsky, Basil Bunting, Mary Butts, Frances Fletcher, Robert McAlmon, George Oppen, Ezra Pound, Carl Rakosi, Kenneth Rexroth, Charles Reznikoff, William Carlos Williams, Forrest Anderson, T.S. Eliot, and R.B.N. Warriston. The number swells to 15 if you count Jerry Raisman’s contribution to a collaboration with Zukofsky. more than half of whom also had work featured in the “Objectivists” 1931 issue of Poetry in the previous year.11The eight authors included in both publications were: Bunting, Rakosi, Reznikoff, Oppen, Williams, Zukofsky, Robert McAlmon, and Kenneth Rexroth. Of those who appeared here but not in Poetry, Pound and Eliot should be well-known enough not to need an introduction here. Zukofsky had attempted to include work by both men in his issue of Poetry, but had not been able to persuade either to give him work for that issue. Mary Butts (1890-1937) was a English modernist writer who was well-known to Ezra Pound and had previously been married to the poet and publisher John Rodker. Many of her papers are now held by Yale’s Beinecke Library. Frances Fletcher was a teacher and graduate of Vassar College who had published a slim volume of poetry A Boat of Glass in Philadelphia 1926 and was a friend of Marianne Moore’s. In 1935, she married and changed her name to Frances Hourlland. Many of her papers are now held by Bowdoin College. Forrest Clayton Anderson (1903-1977) published his first poem, “S2,” in the Fall 1929 issue of Charles Henri Ford’s magazine Blues and had poems included in each of the magazine’s final three issues, where they appeared along with work from Rexroth, Williams, and Zukofsky. He also published work in Eugene Jolas’ magazine transition and Richard Johns’ Pagany. Between 1929 and 1931, Anderson and Johns wrote each other quite often (65 pages of correspondence between Johns and Anderson from this period are preserved in the Pagany archive at the University of Delaware–a higher volume of correspondence with Johns than exists in the archive for all but a handful of other writers). Johns published Anderson’s “Sonnet” in the inaugural issue of Pagany alongside work by Mary Butts, McAlmon, Rexroth, Williams, and Zukofsky, included his “Hotel for Sailors” in the third issue alongside work by Zukofsky, Reznikoff, McAlmon, and Emanuel Carnevali, and printed poems by Anderson in the Autumn 1931 issue along with work by Butts, Carnevali, McAlmon, Raoksi, Williams, and Zukofsky. Anderson would publish several collections of poetry, including Sea Pieces and Other Poems (1935), Further Sea Pieces (1945), Circumnavigation of the halo of a world (1951), In the Forests of Hell and of Heaven (a long prose poem in nine sequences published in 1958), Toward Other Shores (1961), and Portlights (1972). Anderson’s poetry was included in Stephen Coote’s Penguin Book of Homosexual Verse (1983) and a collection of his papers are now held at the University of Idaho. About W.B.N. Warriston I have been able to discover very little biographical detail apart from the fact that he lived in the early 1930s in White Plains, New York. Besides his inclusion in An “Objectivists” Anthology, it appears that his poem “Sea Gulls” appeared in the Summer 1931 issue of Pagany along with work by Rakosi, Reznikoff, McAlmon, Zukofsky, Williams, and Howard Weeks, and his “Herald-Tribune Acme” in the Winter 1932 issue next to work by McAlmon, Rakosi, and Frances Fletcher. Warriston also published a poem, “Sanctuary,” in the July 1933 issue of Poetry magazine. 

Writer’s Extant

Chastened but not wholly discouraged by this failure of To, Publishers and his own loss of a monthly editor’s salary, Zukofsky next proposed the creation of a writer’s union to be called Writers Extant with a publishing arm to be called W.E., Publishers. Zukofsky circulated this proposal among several friends and allies, including both Ezra Pound and William Carlos Williams, asking them for their feedback and support. In a letter to Ezra Pound describing some of his plans for the venture, Zukofsky indicated that the editorial board was to be comprised of Tibor Serly, René Taupin, and himself, and its members to include Reznikoff and Williams, and possibly Rexroth, Moore, and McAlmon, Mina Loy, Wallace Stevens, and others.12Qtd. in Sharp’s dissertation: http://sharpgiving.com/Objectivists/sections/22.history.html?visited=1#22history-51, Zukofsky, Letter to Pound, 17 April 1933, Yale and referenced in Pound/Zukofsky, 141-142. In early April 1933, Williams replied with the following revised and severely abbreviated version of Zukofsky’s prospectus, which included renaming the proposed group The Writers Publishers, Inc.:

The Writers Publishers, Inc.

1. Membership in the group is limited to those writers who have in actual possession an available and complete book manuscript of high quality which is unacceptable to the usual publisher.

2. Manuscripts to be published by the group are to be selected (with advice) by a Director who shall be elected by a majority of the group members for the term of one year.

3. The business end of the group activities will be under the direction of a paid Secretary-Treasurer, under bond, who shall occupy the office indefinitely, or until removed by a two thirds vote of the existing membership at any time.

4. Initial funds are to be contributed by the charter members as may be agreed upon, to be added to later as the business of the group may prove profitable. 

5. The first membership will be made up of a selected, voluntary group who by a majority vote, after the first requisite is satisfied, will add to their numbers from time to time.

6. Resignation from the group may take place at the discretion of the member by which he is absolved from further financial responsibility at the same time relinquishing any claim he has had upon the group’s resources.

7. Dissolution of the group as an organization will be conditional upon an equal distribution among the members of all funds and other rights enjoyed by the group under its incorporation.

8. Further additions to these rules will be made from time to time.13In his May 6, 1933 letter to Zukofsky, Williams urged that any revision be kept to no more than “2 pages in all” and indicated that “a few paragraphs may be added: Reznikoff can take care of a proper arrangement of the items.” He also directed Zukofsky to show his revised version of the prospectus to Tibor Serly. See The Correspondence of William Carlos Williams and Louis Zukofsky, 156-157. 

Zukofsky forwarded Williams’ revisions to Pound within the week, urging Pound to take his own turn at revising:

Continuinwith organization—objection has been raised to “exclusiveness” of trade name. The Writers Publishers, Inc. has been suggested instead—& I enclose a copy of Bill’s revisionof the prospectus. I don’t think he gets the real purpose of the original prospectus. But maybe you can do better in an idle moment. I mean tho his draft wd seem to be more business-like than mine he doesn’t see how he‘s trapped himself again in the highbrow licherary circle of viciousness.” Fer gord’s sakez, you don’t think I wrote all the detail of that prospectus—the Organization section especially—without for a moment having my tongue in my cheek! But the serious intent of the prospectus which makes it a thing not merely of this administration (an attempt to work with the dead), but at least a working chance that shd. fit in with the neweconomy when people begin to realize it—and they’ll have to—is in the prospectus, I mean L.Z.’s. No use backsliding, whatever the difficulties of “style.And if you’re afraid that the idea is no good until L.Z. starts trying to write simple readable prose”—you write to letters to edtrs. now, you can write declarations in the future as of the Board of Writers Pubs. And L.Z. doesn t intend to sit down to write 4 pg. Prospectii in the future. When the time comes hell find it more simple to use the technique of advertising, and say: Prof. So & So is still going to the stool, ethically. Messrs. Splinters and Plate persist in cutting the razor of morality.14The Selected Letters of Louis Zukofsky, 98-100.

Pound does not appear to have attempted a revision, and Williams ultimately expressed his dissatisfaction with the proposed venture shortly before Zukofsky left for a tour of Europe, during which time Zukofsky met with Tibor Serly (in Budapest), René Taupin, Pound, and Bunting. By September 1933, both Zukofsky and the Oppens had returned to New York City from Europe, and Zukofsky arranged a meeting to discuss his proposal for a mutual publishing scheme on 24 September 1933 at the Oppens’ apartment at 214 Columbia Heights in Brooklyn.

The Objectivist Press

During the course of this meeting, attended by Zukofsky, the Oppens, Williams, and Reznikoff, the group considered several names for their venture (including Writers-Publishers and Cooperative Publishers), ultimately settling on The Objectivist Press,15On October 23, 1933, Zukofsky had written to Pound asking him to join himself, Williams, and Reznikoff as a partner in The Objectivists Press (a spelling he also included in a follow-up query to Pound dated October 29), but by November they had dropped the plural and reverted to The Objectivist Press, which is the name under which all their subsequent books were published.organized an editorial board with Zukofsky serving as the executive secretary (an unpaid position) and Pound and Williams acting as the ‘advisory board’, made a tentative publishing list, and drew up a plan to request subscriptions. In place of Zukofsky’s sprawling prospectus, the group eventually settled on Reznikoff’s simple statement of purpose, printed on the dust wrapper of their first books: “The Objectivist Press is an organization of writers who are publishing their own work and that of other writers whose work they think ought to be read.”

The press launched itself into existence through the publication of Williams’ Collected Poems 1921-1931, which was sold by subscription. As the first book issued by the Objectivist Press, the book’s dust jacket prominently featured the press’ name and address,1610 West 36th Street, located two blocks northeast of the Empire State Building in midtown Manhattan as well as praise from Marianne Moore, Ezra Pound, and René Taupin. Williams’ book, which featured a preface written by Wallace Stevens, was a modest success (it nearly sold out its initial edition of 500 copies, which would have netted a small profit for the press), and was followed in the same year by three of Reznikoff’s books, Testimony (a prose work which featured an introduction by Kenneth Burke), Jerusalem the Golden, and In Memoriam: 1933, which Reznikoff financed himself, and George Oppen’s Discrete Series (which featured an introduction by Ezra Pound).

The back cover of George Oppen's Discrete Series

The back cover of the dust jacket for George Oppen’s Discrete Series (1934), with publication information for The Objectivist Press.

The back cover of the dust jacket for Oppen’s book (shown at right) is particularly illuminating in regards to how The Objectivist Press presented itself: it began with Reznikoff’s formulation of the press’ mission, listed their previous publications and announced their plans to bring out “verse and prose by Basil Bunting, Tibor Serly, Carl Rakosi, René Taupin, Louis Zukofsky and others,” and indicated that the press’ advisory board was made up of Ezra Pound, William Carlos Williams and Louis Zukofsky (Sec’y).

While the press had begun with both Zukofsky’s lofty ambitions and a lengthy list of works they intended to publish, the Objectivist Press did not prove to be a long-lived concern, publishing only the five titles previously described before collapsing as a functional cooperative in late-1934/early 1935, when the Oppens quit poetry to devote their energies to direct political action, Zukofsky resigned his unpaid position as editor, and Williams turned to publishing his work elsewhere, first with Ronald Lane Latimer’s Alcestis Press, and then beginning in 1938, with James Laughlin’s New Directions Press. The relationship between Williams, Zukofsky, and the Oppens appears to have been strained by late 1934; Zukofsky wrote to Pound in November 1934 asking about the possibility of Faber & Faber printing his poem “Mantis,” and again in February 1935 asking explicitly for help in getting his 55 Poems manuscript published in England with Faber & Faber, both of which I take as signs that the Objectivist Press had failed, since Zukofsky had clearly intended for the press he had worked so hard to establish to publish his own work.17Zukofsky to Pound in a letter dated February 17, 1935: “You can, if it won’t hurt your own name, try and get me published with Faber & Faber. Serly off to Europe with my final arrangement and additions to 55 Poems–a most commendable typescript for you to look at. Time fucks it, and if I keep my MSS. in my drawer or my drawers, I might as well shut up altogether. … If you consent, think it opportune etc, to try my 55 on Faber & Faber, you need not worry about an introduction–I don’t want it–you can write a blurb for the dust-proof jacket if it jets out of you. Noo Yok at a standstill. Haven’t heart from Bill Willyums in moneths.” (Pound/Zukofsky, 160-161). Further confirmation of the timing of the split can be found in a letter from Williams to Zukofsky in March 1935 which indicates both that Williams hadn’t heard from Zukofsky for roughly 6 months and that he had heard that Zukofsky and the Oppens had had a falling out.18See The Correspondence of Williams Carlos Williams and Louis Zukofsky, 212. Lacking the capital to finance the publication of his 55 Poems through The Objectivist Press and unable to persuade Pound to intercede with Eliot on his behalf at Faber & Faber, Zukofsky did not manage to publish this manuscript until 1941, when the James E. Decker Press of Prairie City, Illinois brought out the book in a handsome hardcover edition.

The various schisms between Zukofsky, Williams, Pound, and the Oppens and their departures from or disillusionments with the press left Reznikoff alone among the collective’s founding members. Reznikoff, the lone lawyer among the group and the only one to own, in the form of a hand-operated printing press, the literal means of production, also retained the copyright for the press, publishing his collection Separate Way in 1936 under the imprint, but the venture had long since ceased to operate as a cooperative by this time. The Objectivist Press imprint then remained dormant until Louis and Celia requested its use from Reznikoff for their private publication of Louis’ A Test of Poetry in 1948. While the Zukofskys corresponded for a time in the late 1940s and early 1950s using The Objectivist Press letterhead with their home address as its current location, the imprint was never again used for future book publications.

[more needed here … How to read Zuk’s disavowal of leadership of any movement in 1934: He had tried to start a group/movement: halfheartedly, at first, and with some resistance. He really had tried, however, and had devoted a great deal of energy to trying to form a two publishing collectives, and had served as editor for them. Pound writes about hearing of others’ total lack of confidence in his business sense by 1931, the Oppens cut him off after failing to sell many books by 1933, and the new venture never quite convinces WCW, and doesn’t even manage to bring out his own book. Hard not to see this as Zuk trying, but failing, and the disavowal of the ‘movement’ as a function of anger/embarrassment at that failure. A May 11, 1935 letter to Pound is perhaps Zukofsky’s most explicit statement on what he took as the lessons of the failure of his publishing efforts: “But you needn‘t tell me that “All good books are Blocked by the present fahrty system”-why ‘n hell do you think I asked your aid? Between the New Masses crowd who can’t get the distinction that yr. poetry is one thing & yr. economics another, & yr. unwillingness to even look at my work to see what it says because I won’t embrace Social Credit, then last 3 years-I’ve not only lost whatever chance I might have had with commercial publishers, but have ostracized myself completely. I ain’t weeping about it-I‘m just seeing by my own lights. … I’ve sacrificed a good deal of my time with To, Objectivist Press, corresponding with 152 “poets” etc. to get up an issue of Poetry, an anthology etc., & the good things which resulted were their own cheque. However, I don’t care to do it again. I‘ve even stopped seeing “close friends” who’ve envied my station-to put an end to the bad taste of it all. For example, it is amusing & to a slight degree cheering that The Rocking Horse 5 years after my advent at the Univ. of Wis. has got round to speaking about E.P., W.C.W. etc. as if they were not exactly taboo-but I’m not going to commend the kids or take up correspondence with ’em to keep you & Bill “in shape” as you say. It won’t mean anything to you 1 yr. from now-& it won’t get me anywhere.” 19The Selected Letters of Louis Zukofsky, 120

Active Anthology

Active Anthology (1933) cover

The dust jacket cover of the Active Anthology, edited by Ezra Pound and published in 1933 by Faber & Faber.

In 1933, Ezra Pound published what he called an Active Anthology in Britain with Faber & Faber. Pound noted that “in this volume I am presenting an assortment of writers, mostly ill known in England, in whose verse development appears … to be taking place, in contradistinction to authors in whose work no such activity has occurred or seems likely to proceed any further,” and in the “Notes on Particular Details” at the end of the anthology, Pound wrote “I expect or at least hope that the work of the included writers will interest me more in ten years’ time than it does now in 1933.” Pound’s list of eleven authors for the anthology included a strong “Objectivist” core,20The anthology included work by Williams, Zukofsky, Bunting, Oppen, Louis Aragon (translated by e.e. cummings), e.e. cummings, Ernest Hemingway, Marianne Moore, D.G. Bridson, T.S Eliot, and Pound himself. featuring work by William Carlos Williams, Basil Bunting, Louis Zukofsky, and George Oppen. Pound had also considered including work which Zukofsky had forwarded him by Reznikoff, Rakosi and Rexroth, but none of these three ultimately passed muster with Pound.21He told Zukofsky that “The Reznikoff will appear to the Brit. reader a mere immitation [sic] of me, and they will howl that I am merely printin my followers.

It is I think just as good as parts of Lustra (1915, 1916) neither better nor worse. Very cleanly done but no advance in methodology. ((in most of it.))

Possibly by pickin’ out the Hebe element we can get something that will arouse interest. Remember an anth. like this has got to AROUSE interest without AT ANY POINT terminating ANY of the interest it arouses.

Its the sample of next weeks film, not the giving away of the end of the story.

The title of the Anth. is “The Active Element”. If I omit H.D. how am I to put in most of the Reznikoff you have sent.

my thesis bein that the ART of writing is (is still now continuously developing” (Pound/Zukofsky, 144). Pound similarly rejected rejected material Zukofsky had sent by Rakosi and Rexroth, telling Zukofsky in the same letter previously cited: “So far        Rakosi weak. Rexroth and the rest unsatisfactory.” In keeping with his simultaneously promotional and critical style, Pound both drew attention to the group and simultaneously sounded a note of caution by noting that “a whole school of shoal of young American writers seems to me to have lost contact with language as language. … In particular Mr Zukofsky’s Objectivists seem prone to this error, just as Mr Eliot’s followers tend toward neo-Gongorism.”22Page references for anthology needed.

[refine this part] Pound circulated a carbon copy of a call for this anthology in 23 Feb. 1933. In his letter to Zukofsky, he wrote: “I take it this is a chance to print all of THE and all of A. that is ready /

also send suggestions/ re other of yrs/ the chewing gum poem, and items of interest.

also has Rakoski anything new/ or have you any snug gestions

Oppen meritus causa?? couple of short poems??
lemme know if there are?

Basil [Bunting] seems to think Reznikoff is some good??? any piece d’evidence?

Can you help ole Bill Walrnss [Williams] to sort hiz self out.” 23Pound/Zukofsky, 143.

Zukofsky complied, sending work by Williams and Reznikoff. Pound’s next letter to Zukofsky, sent in April 1933, provides a fairly lucid view of his editorial views in regards to the anthology: “The Bill W[illia]ms/ is damn good. Shall prob. omit Footnote/ Ball Game / and Portrait of Lady ( the latter simply because the subject is less interestin’ than a lot of Bill’s other work.) I want another 15 Pages of him.

Your best stuuf is “The” and parts of A. …

Young Oppen has sent in stuff/ think three of ’em good enough to include.”24Pound/Zukofsky, 144

RMR Press

In the early 1930s, Kenneth Rexroth planned to found a press with his friends Milton Merlin and Joseph Rabinowitch. As they conceived it, the RMR Press (the initial letters of their last names) would publish a series of pamphlets and short books, with a special emphasis on poetry. Zukofsky, Pound, and Williams all wrote to Rexroth in support of the venture, offering selections of their own work for consideration and providing extensive lists of authors they felt might be interested in being included in the series. Zukofsky named Reznikoff, Oppen, Bunting, René Taupin, Whittaker Chambers, George Crosby, and Harry Roskolenko; and Pound recommended Rexroth approach Wyndham Lewis, Man Ray, Hilaire Hiler, Robert McAlmon, and Ford Madox Ford among his many literary contact his England and France. Carl Rakosi, in particular, appears to have believed that Rexroth would be shortly publishing a book of his poems, telling both Richard Johns and Harriet Monroe in the summer of 1931 that he was “planning to put out a book soon.” 25Pagany letters from Rakosi, U Delaware, and Poetry papers U Chicago. Unfortunately for Rakosi and others who may have had been making similar plans with Rexroth, the RMR Press never advanced beyond the planning stage, despite the several recommendations and clear expressions of interest by both Pound and Zukofsky. 26See A Life of Kenneth Rexroth, pp. 65, 75-76 for more background on RMR.

Little Magazines

The little magazine is something I have always fostered; for without it, I myself would have been early silenced. To me it is one magazine, not several. It is a continuous magazine, the only one I know with an absolute freedom of editorial policy and a succession of proprietorships that follows a democratic rule. There is absolutely no dominating policy permitting anyone to dictate anything. When it is in any way successful it is because it fills a need in someone’s mind to keep going. When it dies, someone else takes it up in some other part of the country – quite by accident – out of a desire to get the writing down on paper. I have wanted to see established some central or sectional agency which would recognize, and where possible, support little magazines. I was wrong. It must be a person who does it, a person, a fallible person, subject to devotions and accidents.

— William Carlos Williams27In The Autobiography of William Carlos Williams, 266.

The value of fugitive periodicals “of small circulation” is ultimately measured by the work they have brought to press. The names of certain authors over a space of years, or over, let us say, the past score years, have been associated with impractical publication. Carlos Williams has communicated with his readers almost exclusively via the reviews I have mentioned or by others even less public. …

The last twenty years have seen the principle of the free magazine or the impractical or fugitive magazine definitely established. It has attained its recognized right to exist by reason of work performed.

The work of writers who have emerged in or via such magazines outweighs in permanent value the work of the writers who have not emerged in this manner. The history of contemporary letters has, to a very manifest extent, been written in such magazines. The commercial magazines have been content and are still more than content to take derivative products ten or twenty years after the germ has appeared in the free magazines. There is nothing new about this.

Work is acceptable to the public when its underlying ideas have been accepted. The heavier the “overhead” in a publishing business the less that business can afford to deal in experiment. This purely sordid and eminently practical consideration will obviously affect all magazines save those that are either subsidized (as chemical research is subsidized) or else very cheaply produced (as the penniless inventor produces in his barn or his attic).

Literature evolves via a mixture of these two methods.

— Ezra Pound28In in “Small Magazines,”The English Journal 19.9 (November 1930), pp. 689-704.

In addition to the explicitly “Objectivist” publications already referenced, members of this group operated or were concentrated in a handful of little magazines and plotted or participated in several other publication schemes between 1928 and 1935. In many ways, Zukofsky’s invention and subsequent promotion of the group should be understood as a strategy oriented primarily around publishing concerns (chiefly, how could various members of the group consistently see that their work was printed), and as deeply intertwined with some of Ezra Pound’s long-term literary and cultural ambitions. While it be too simplistic to say that Zukofsky simply invented a purely fictional “movement” simply for the access that doing so offered him to Poetry and the promise of future publication, no attempt to understand the historical formation and promotion of the “Objectivists” can succeed without a deeper understanding of the landscape (and economics) of literary publishing in the United States in the preceding decade, especially the significant role played by anglophone little magazines.

The emergence of the “Objectivists” coincided with the trough of the Great Depression, an economic event which produced a precipitous decline in literary publishing, especially of poetry. Al Filreis has noted that while American publishers had recorded sales of 214 million new books (and corresponding profits of $42 million) in 1929, that number had been almost halved by 1933, with sales falling to just 111 million. Poetry publishing was hit especially hard, with the number of new poetry titles issued in the United States decreasing more than 20% in 1932 alone.29Modernism from Left to Right, 114. As depression-era economics contracted a book publishing market for poetry which had already shown profound disinterest in their work, not only did Zukofsky and his fellow “Objectivists” attempt to print and distribute books through the several publishing schemes previously described, they also participated vigorously in the longtime staple of the avant-garde, the little magazine.

Though the circulation of these magazines tended to be fairly small,30Circulation estimates for many of the era’s little magazines can be found in […] little magazines had been crucial in the promulgation of both modernism and avant-garde or experimental American literature at least since the 1910s.31Harriet Monroe founded Poetry in 1912 with Ezra Pound as foreign editor, to cite just one very well-known example, with the magazine playing an very important role beginning the next year in promoting what later came to be known as imagism. These aspirational, combustible, and often short-lived publications were particularly important in the emergence and formation of a group of writers like the ‘Objectivists,’ many of whom were little-known writers who not only lacked the means needed to reliably print their own work but whose aesthetic sensibilities (and ethnic/religious identities) frequently placed them squarely outside the mainstream of their age.

In fact, a careful study of the “Objectivists” and their pre-February 1931 publishing history offers abundant evidence of the importance of little magazines to each of the group’s core members, and even the most cursory perusal of their correspondence indicates that frustration about reliable access to publication (especially in the United States) was among their chief literary concerns. Pound and Williams, the group’s eldest affiliates, had been active in reading, contributing to, and occasionally editing little magazines since as early as 1909, when Pound made his first appearance in Ford Madox Ford’s English Review, and both men continued actively engaging with little magazines on both sides of the Atlantic well into the 1930s.32In a chapter entitled “Pound, Founder of Periodical Studies” from their book Modernism in the Magazines, Robert Scholes and Clifford Wulfman offer a thorough account of Pound’s shifting but frequently intense involvement with various literary magazines through the first several decades of his career. They point out that for the 9 year period from 1912-1920 (his prime years in London), Pound averaged around one magazine publication per week, and in the four year stretch from 1917-1920 he averaged more than 91 magazine publications a year. Furthermore, from 1909-1923, Pound was involved in various capacities with ten separate magazines in England and the United States (pp. 4-7, especially). While their close attention to Pound’s involvement with literary magazines wanes after 1923, Pound continued to be deeply interested in the quality of literature available to readers in both England and the United States, and continued to make suggestions, interventions, and attempts at editorial colonization well into the 1930s. Scholes and Wulfman observe that while his anti-semitism and support for fascism “have not endeared him to many people,” they also argue that “the Pound of the first three decades of the twentieth century was a different figure: a brilliant and indefatigable supporter of other writers and artists, a talented and learned poet, and a literary and cultural critic of enormous energy and biting wit. … Quite simply he had more to do with our present understanding of modernism than any other individual. He was a pioneer of comparative literary studies, of cultural studies, and of periodical studies … However one may rank his creative achievement as a poet, one much put him at the very top as an impresario and propagandist for the view of modernism that prevailed in the English-speaking world” (viii). Leonard Greenbaum provides a more balanced and less laudatory view of Pound’s combustible and often predatory relationship to little magazines in his The Hound & Horn: The History of a Literary Quarterly, though he does note that Pound served as an editor or foreign correspondent for at least 9 separate little magazines between 1912 and 1935: namely, Poetry (from 1912-1917), The New Freewoman (1913), The Egoist (1914), Blast (1914), The Little Review (from 1917-1921), Two Worlds (from 1925-1927), his own magazine The Exile (published between 1927- 1928), The New Review (from 1931-1932), and Westminster Magazine (1935). See pages 96-124 especially.

At the time that the “Objectivists” were first presented to the poetry-reading public, the extent to which nearly all of the issue’s contributors would have been known by American readers (and to Zukofsky himself) would have been achieved almost entirely by other little magazines. Of all the writers Zukofsky included in the February 1931 issue of Poetry, only Williams and Reznikoff had previously published volumes of any of their work in the United States.33While Williams was certainly the best-known writer included in the “Objectivists” issue of Poetry, the list of books he had published in the United States was limited to his self-published 1909 collection Poems (which he later regarded as embarrassing juvenilia), his 1917 collection Al Que Quiere!, his 1920 hybrid work Kora in Hell: Improvisations, and his 1921 collection Sour Grapes (all published by Four Seas in Boston), and his prose works In the American Grain (published by Albert and Charles Boni in 1925) and Voyage to Pagany (published by the Macaulay Company in 1928). Robert McAlmon had published several of his books by this time (mostly through Contact Editions, a publishing company which he owned and operated), but all had been printed in Europe. McAlmon’s Contact Editions had also published Carnevali’s A Hurried Man from Paris in 1925. Basil Bunting had published a private edition of his collection Redimiculum Matellarum from Milan in 1930, but this collection would have been obscure even to the most assiduous collector of poetry in the United States. Even these two exceptions can be a little misleading, however, since in 1931 it had been 8 years since Williams had published a volume of his own poetry in the United States or in Europe,34His hybrid work Spring and All (published by McAlmon’s Paris-based Contact Editions) and his chapbook Go Go (published by Monroe Wheeler’s Manikin Press in New York City) were both issued in 1923. meaning that for almost a decade any new poetry by Williams would have appeared exclusively in little magazines. Similarly, the only volumes of Reznikoff’s poetry that were not self-published had been issued more than a decade previously: Poems, a slim collection issued in 1920 by the Samuel Roth Bookshop, and Uriel Accosta: A Play and a Fourth Group of Verse, published by the Cooper Press in 1921.35A prose work by Reznikoff, By the Waters of Manhattan, had been published by Charles Boni in 1930. As Zukofsky’s essay on Reznikoff’s work in the “Objectivists” 1931 issue evinces, Reznikoff’s poetry, the bulk of which was self-published, would have been quite obscure outside of a very small circle in New York City.36Apart from the three titles previously described, Reznikoff had self-published three volumes of poetry, three collections of drama, and a prose work prior to 1931, each of which had been typeset and printed by hand on a small printing press which Reznikoff owned and operated from the basement of his apartment building.

During the mid to late 1920s and early 1930s, the years during which the “Objectivist” nexus was first formed, Pound, Williams, and Zukofsky each enjoyed fluctuating editorial affiliations with a number of little magazines, many of which served as overt and sometimes covert vehicles for the development and promotion of the “Objectivists” both singly and as a group.

There are a few surviving letters from the era that clearly demonstrate the contours of interest for various members of the group. One particularly interesting document is a short document entitled “Publications in English” which George Oppen appears to have written, probably either late in 1931 or early in 1932, from Le Beausset, France and sent to Ezra Pound.37This document, held at Yale’s Beinecke Library can now be accessed online: https://brbl-dl.library.yale.edu/vufind/Record/4300755. “Publications in English” comprises 3 typed pages which give Oppen’s brief survey and description of several contemporary little magazines, including Blues, which “[p]ublishes excellent work … [m]any would wish, however, that there should be indicated some distinction between the work of Williams and work still relying for distinction chiefly on ‘modernity’,” Pagany, which “publishes work by the group of authors also represented in Blues, (tho they can be classified as a group only by a similarity in degree of merit), but maintains that standard more consistently,” The New Review, which “contains the best of available work … [and is] less inhibited in explaining itself to the “general public” than are most magazines of its class”, Hound and Horn, which was “ordinarily described as scholarly. Certainly can be relied on for an intelligent and informed attitude”, American Mercury, edited by H.L. Mencken, who “is said to have a large following among college students, and is probably in accord with the most intelligent to be found in any number. It would not be accurate to say that the magazine is devoted to advertising, but it is probably felt that the justification of its existence is indicated by the price it is able to charge for space,” Poetry, described as a “fairly conservative publication. Nevertheless often of interest.” and Contempo, which Oppen described as a “magazine concerned with liberal or radical political theses” which had “praised or declared allegiance to William Carlos Williams, Kenneth Burke, Benjamin de Casseres, and Eugene O’Neil[l].”38

Another revealing document is a letter written by Zukofsky to Ezra Pound on February 5, 1931, at almost the same time as the “Objectivists” appeared in Poetry. Commenting on Pound’s recent suggestion in Norman MacLeod’s little magazine Morada that American writers organize their own publishing cooperative, Zukofsky advised Pound: “why not begin with your suggestion in Morada 5 and organize a writer’s syndicat (membership rules up to you) You can get 100 writers to contribute $5—or you can get 50 writers to contribute $5 and 10 to contribute $10 and use that to pay for your first or first two volumes. You can, or should be able to, get free advertising (or credit) from Hound & Horn, Symposium, Blues, Pagany, Morada, Front, The New Review, Criterion, etc. That should give you the 300 or 400 or 500 subscribers you want. There are also the subscription lists (?) of these magazines to circularize. Breathes there a pote with putt so dead he wd. spent more than 10¢ for breakfast even if [he] had the $5 I suggest he “give away” to his syndicat?39Pound/Zukofsky, 91

The Dial

While The Dial never functioned as an “Objectivist” outlet per se, it was significant both as the preeminent American little magazine devoted to literature through most of the 1910s and 1920s, and because it provided a hospitable forum for William Carlos Williams’ work throughout the 1920s and was, after Poetry, which had published Zukofsky’s sonnet “Of Dying Beauty” in the January 1924 issue,40Available online at the Poetry Foundation’s website: https://www.poetryfoundation.org/poetrymagazine/browse?contentId=16224 the first paying publication to publish Louis Zukofsky’s poetry.

Publishing History

The Dial41Named after Margaret Fuller and Ralph Waldo Emerson’s famous transcendentalist magazine of the mid-19th century was founded as a political literary fortnightly in Chicago in 1880 by Civil War veteran Francis F. Browne, who published it continuously for more than 30 years until his death in 1913. His heirs sold the magazine a few years later to Martyn Johnson, who announced himself as the magazine’s new publisher in July 1916. Following his purchase of the magazine, Johnson quickly began work on two tasks: the installation of a new editorial staff and the relocation of the magazine’s headquarters to New York City. After his first choice for editor, George Bernard Donlin, was forced to leave the magazine to pursue treatment for his tuberculosis, Johnson hired the former New York Post reporter Harold Stearns to serve as associate editor, and Stearns proceeded in short order to persuade Clarence Britten to leave his teaching post at the University of Wisconsin to serve as an assistant editor for the magazine. The magazine’s relocation was accomplished by the spring of 1918, by which time Johnson had obtained an editorial office at 152 West Thirteenth Street in Greenwich Village, the location from which the magazine was operated for the remainder of its run. Johnson also recruited Scofield Thayer, a Harvard graduate and son of a wealthy wool merchant in Worcester, Massachusetts, to serve as a financial backer of the magazine. Johnson and Thayer had a series of disagreements over the board’s editorial policy which culminated late in 1919 with Thayer joining forces with Dr. James Sibley Watson, a fellow Harvard graduate and the grandson of two of the founders of the Western Union Telegraph Company, to buy the magazine outright from Johnson.

Following Watson and Thayer’s purchase of the magazine, all of The Dial‘s previous editorial staff departed, save Clarence Britten, who remained on staff to aid in the transition to new ownership. Watson became the magazine’s publisher, Scofield Thayer became its editor, and Stewart Mitchell was hired as managing editor. Watson and Thayer also reorganized the magazine as a monthly publication which would place a greater emphasis than previously on literature and the arts. In February 1920, Gilbert Seldes was added as the second associate editor, with Britten leaving the magazine before the publication of the April 1920 issue. Mitchell resigned as managing editor by the end of the year, following which Seldes became managing editor. Shortly after The Dial‘s reorganization, Thayer also hired Ezra Pound as a foreign advisor, proposing in March 1920 that Pound be paid $750 a year to act as an agent in finding suitable work.42Not long previously Pound had left The Little Review, where he had served for more than two years as their “London editor.” Pound continued working in this capacity until April 1923, when Thayer informed him he was no longer wanted.[documentation needed] In addition, Thayer worked assiduously not only to attract contributions from well known writers, but also recruited a series of European correspondents who sent regular letters with updates on developments in arts and literature from their various locales; The Dial’s list of foreign correspondents included Ezra Pound,43Pound’s first “Paris Letter” appeared in the October 1920 issue. John Eglington,44Eglington’s first “Dublin Letter” appeared in the March 1921 issue. T.S. Eliot (who had been Scofield Thayer’s schoolmate at both Milton Academy and at Harvard),45Eliot’s first “London Letter” appeared in the April 1921 issue. Hugo von Hofmannsthal,46Hofmannsthal’s first “Vienna Letter” appeared in the August 1922 issue. and Thomas Mann.47Mann’s his first “German Letter” appeared in the December 1922 issue.

In July 1921, shortly after Seldes’ appointment as managing editor, Thayer left New York City for Europe, settling in Vienna and submitting to psychoanalysis with Sigmund Freud by the end of that year. For the next two years, Thayer was both significantly engaged with the publication of The Dial and active in European literary and cultural circles, meeting a number of significant continental writers and amassing a significant collection of modern art. In January 1923, Seldes took an extended trip to Europe where he worked with Thayer on assembling Living Art, a book containing reproductions of artworks in Thayer’s collection, and writing his own book The Seven Lively Arts. Upon his departure Kenneth Burke began serving as de facto managing editor of the magazine, with significant assistance from Sophie Wittenberg. In July 1923, Thayer returned to New York City and at the end of that year initiated a weekly series of “Dial dinners,” but his mental health began to deteriorate the following year, and he shuttled between New York, Bermuda, and Europe. Seldes did not return from Europe until September 1923, and despite Burke’s pleading, he never resumed his managing editor duties. When Burke temporarily departed the magazine in late 1923, The Dial was functionally without a managing editor for some months.

In January 1924, Seldes was officially replaced as managing editor by Thayer’s close friend Alyse Gregory, who retained Whittenberg and Burke as assistants. Early in 1925, however, Gregory informed Thayer that she planned to return to England with her husband, the novelist Llewelyn Powys and would be unable to continue her duties. Thayer moved quickly to recruit Marianne Moore to replace Gregory as managing editor. Moore agreed in late April 1925 to leave her job at the New York Public Library to work for The Dial, and Thayer announced Moore’s appointment as the magazine’s acting editor in the May 1925 issue. Sophie Wittenberg also left the magazine at this time and was replaced as an assistant by Thayer’s cousin Ellen Thayer.

Soon after Moore’s editorial appointment, Thayer left New York City and effectively ceased fulfilling any editorial duties for the magazine.The Dial announced Thayer’s resignation as editor of the magazine in June 1926 (though it continued to list him as an “advisor), and Moore promotion to full editor in January 1927, but Thayer’s involvement in the day-to-day affairs had been essentially nil since the summer of 1926.48In February 1926, while living in Germany, Thayer suffered a severe breakdown, and was institutionalized for several months following his return to the United States. No known extant correspondence to any of his previous literary or artistic contacts from Thayer exists after February 1926, and Thayer spend much of the rest of his life in and out of sanatoria and accompanied by caretakers and guardians. This thumbnail sketch relies heavily on both Nicolas Joost’s Schofield Thayer and the Dial: An Illustrated History, especially pp. 3-20, 30, 74-113 and the overview to Schofield Thayer’s papers, held by Yale’s Beinecke Rare Book and Manuscript Library.

While it had the advantage of beginning with a fairly large circulation for a literary review, the magazine was always operated at a fairly steep deficit, and the magazine’s inability to increase its subscription or advertising revenues and heavy reliance on subsidy from its wealthy owners was to prove its downfall later in the 1920s.49Joost estimates that the magazine had a circulation of roughly 10,000 in 1920, and that while it cost roughly $750 per issue to print, the magazine’s running deficit was $4,000-5,000 per month. Thayer wrote to Ezra Pound in September 1920 that their current deficit was about “$84,000 annually” and that they would need to increase circulation tenfold to ever clear expenses. The magazine’s business manager would later estimate the cash deficit for 1920 at around $100,000, offset by cash receipts of just $24,000. By 1922, they had nearly doubled cash receipts (to $45,000) but cash deficits had only been cut to $65,000, with some 85% of this total going to editorial and manufacturing costs. Sales from newsstands averaged about 3,500 per issue in 1920, climbing to just over 4,500 by November 1922 and reaching a high-water mark of 6,261 with the December 1922 issue (which contained Eliot’s The Waste Land). Typical monthly sales figures ranged between 4,000-5,000, and revenues from these sales can be estimated using the published sales price: 35 cents a copy for first several four months of 1920, 40 cents per copy from May-December of 1920, and then 50 cents per copy from January 1921 until its final issue in July 1929. Subscriptions, which had numbered just under 3,000 in 1920, had risen to 7,440 by February 1923. The print run appears to have peaked with the January 1923 issue, of which 18,000 copies were printed. While The Waste Land had been an enormous success, nothing else the magazine was to print would have quite an impact on sales, or the international literary world. For more details on the finances and circulation of the magazine, see Schofield Thayer and the Dial, 20, 30, 40-42, and Alan Golding’s “The Dial, The Little Review, and the Dialogics of Modernism” in Little Magazines and Modernism: New Approaches, especially n. 10 on p. 70). During its run and whatever its limitations, however, The Dial published a broad range of important literary and artistic work from a broad base of transatlantic contributors, and through its generous payments, did much to subsidize the production of Modernist visual and literary art through the 1920s. In particular, The Dial was notable for its annual award, announced in June 1921 and first given in January 1922, of two thousand dollars to “acknowledge the service to letters of some one of those who have, during the twelvemonth, contributed to its pages,” as well as the generous regular rates it offered to its contributors: it paid two cents per word for prose in English, twenty dollars per page of verse, and twenty-five dollars per picture for the right to reproduce a picture or object which had not been previously exhibited, all of which were considerably higher rates than those on offer from most other comparable literary reviews of the time.50Schofield Thayer and the Dial: An Illustrated History (52, 59-61).

Connection to the “Objectivists”

As far as the “Objectivists” are concerned, the magazine’s strongest connections were with Pound and Williams, each of whom appeared frequently in the magazine while Pound served as foreign correspondent and then again after Moore became editor. Both men were also chosen as chosen as recipients of the Dial’s lucrative annual award, with Williams receiving it in 1926 and Pound in 1927. While Williams frequently bad-mouthed the magazine in letters to Pound, Zukofsky, and his friend Kenneth Burke (who worked for The Dial) his feelings about the publication were not so negative as to lead to him boycotting or ceasing to send them new work for publication. The Dial was responsible for publishing some of Louis Zukofsky’s earliest published poems, as Marianne Moore accepted and printed four of his poems in the December 1928 issue.51The poems were “tam cari capitis”; “Song Theme”; “Someone said, ‘earth’”; and “The silence of the good,” Apart his appearances earlier that year in two issues of Pound’s The Exile (which included the publication of “Poem Beginning ‘The’,”) Zukofsky’s only previous publication in a national magazine had been his sonnet “Of Dying Beauty,” which had appeared in the January 1924 issue of Poetry.

The Little Review

Publishing History

Often mentioned in the same breath with The Dial in histories of influential American Modernist magazines, The Little Review was a monthly literary magazine founded in Chicago in March 1914 by Margaret Anderson, who had previously worked as a book reviewer and critic for a number of publications, including The Dial. In its earliest issues, the magazine championed the anarchism of Emma Goldman and evinced strong sympathies for both feminist issues and Imagist-inflected poetry. In 1916, Anderson met and formed an intense friendship with the artist Jane Heap, with Anderson inviting Heap to become a co-editor of the magazine shortly thereafter. Anderson and Heap briefly moved the magazine to the San Francisco Bay Area before relocating to Greenwich Village in 1917, and in the same year they enlisted Ezra Pound to serve as the magazine’s “London editor.”52Pound’s affiliation with the magazine was announced in the April 1917 issue and he published an editorial explaining his decision to join The Little Review in the following month. Pound remained the magazine’s “London editor” until until 1919. His name was absent from the editorial page of the May 1919 issue and the June 1919 issue contained only the cryptic note “Ezra Pound has abdicated and gone to Persia. John Rodker is now the London Editor of the Little Review.” Pound returned to the editorial staff of the magazine in 1921 at the invitation of Margaret Anderson (by which time he was living in Paris and serving as the foreign correspondent for Scofield Thayer’s The Dial). His name is featured in the “Administration” section of the magazine’s front matter along with Anderson, Francis Picabia and jh [Jane Heap] beginning with the Autumn 1921 issue, and remained there until he left the magazine for good in the spring of 1923. For more on Pound and Anderson’s relationship, see Pound/The Little Review: The Letters of Ezra Pound to Margaret Anderson: The Little Review Correspondence, published in 1989 by New Directions. Heap and Anderson continuing publishing the magazine as a monthly until the conclusion of their sixth volume, when financial strains prompted them to begin publishing the magazine first as a bi-monthly (starting in May 1920) and quickly thereafter as a quarterly (starting in September 1920).

While the magazine never had anything approaching the financial clout or circulation numbers enjoyed by The Dial,53The Little Review did not pay its contributors, for example, and estimates of its circulation have generally ranged between 1,000-2,000. The Little Review nonetheless did enjoy a reputation as a bold and daring publication, earned by its willingness to discover and publish significant modernist and avant-garde visual art and writing from a impressive range of international contributors.54See Margaret Anderson’s The Little Review Anthology, published in 1953, for a good cross-section of work published by the magazine during its heyday. The Little Review, to a much greater extent than The Dial, also revelled in its avant-gardism, describing itself in the Spring 1922 issue, for example, as “AN ADVANCING POINT TOWARD WHICH THE ‘ADVANCE GUARD’ IS ALWAYS ADVANCING.”55See here. The remark is unattributed, but should probably be ascribed to one or more of the listed editorial staff, which at this point consisted of Anderson, Heap, and Pound. Anderson and Heap also gained some measure of infamy (and respect) for both their championing of the Baroness Elsa von Freytag-Loringhoven’s Dadaist poetry and their decision to serialize James Joyce’s Ulysses.56Anderson and Heap published 23 installations of Joyce’s work, beginning with their March 1918 issue and ending with their September-December 1920 issue. Three of the issues containing installments from Joyce’s work were seized by the United States Post Office and burned as obscene, but it was the instalment featuring work from Joyce’s “Nausicaa” chapter in the July-August issue which directly precipitated the obscenity suite. Anderson published “‘Ulysses’ in Court,” her own an account of the trial, almost immediately after its conclusion in the January-March 1921 issue of The Little Review and discussed the case at some length in her autobiography, My Thirty Years’ War, published in 1930. The case has subsequently been explored in great detail in a number of books and articles, both scholarly and popular alike. This latter decision ultimately led to a high-profile obscenity case in February 1921 which Anderson and Heap lost (they were fined $100 and ordered to cease publishing installments of Ulysses).57For more on this obscenity trial, see Holly Baggett’s “The Trials of Margaret Anderson and Jane Heap.” A Living of Words: American Women in Print Culture. Ed. Susan Albertine. Knoxville: University of Tennessee Press, 1995 (169-188) and Marisa Anne Pagnattaro’s “Carving A Literary Exception: The Obscenity Standard And Ulysses”Twentieth Century Literature: A Scholarly and Critical Journal 47.2 (2001): 217-240.

In 1923, Anderson turned over most of the magazine’s editorial duties to Heap and moved to France, where she became, at Heap’s urging, a student at G.I. Gurdjieff’s Institute for the Harmonious Development of Man at a château just south of Paris. In January 1924, Heap opened The Little Review Gallery, a gallery dedicated to modern art, in New York City, operating it at first from the magazine’s offices before moving it into its own space on 5th Avenue (now home to the Parsons School of Design) in late 1925, and to a Midtown address near Bryant Park in 1927, just a few months before it closed permanently. Late in 1925, Heap moved to France to study more closely with Gurdjieff, and following the publication of the Autumn 1926 issue of The Little Review, Anderson and Heap suspended publication of the magazine until May 1929, when they published a final issue of the magazine from Paris which included over 50 responses to a questionnaire designed by Heap.

Connection to the “Objectivists”

While its importance as a vehicle for significant Modernist artistic expression is well established, the The Little Review‘s relationship to the “Objectivists” is far subtler, being comprised of a deep but fairly early connection to both Pound and Williams and the publication of three poems by Rakosi in 1925. Between 1917 and 1920, The Little Review frequently published work by both Pound, who served as the magazine’s foreign editor for much of this time, and Williams.58Williams’ first appearance in the magazine came with the the October 1917 issue, which featured three of his “Improvisations.” He appeared in another eleven issues between 1917 and the May-June 1920 issue, which carried his story “Danse Pseudomacabre.” His relationship with the magazine was much reduced after Jane Heap took over primary editorial duties, Williams did publish a notable letter in the Autumn 1922 issue praising the magazine’s Spring 1922 issue, which had featured the work of the French painter Francis Picabia, who Williams admired a great deal. This letter can be read here: http://library.brown.edu/pdfs/1299783092750000.pdf#page=103. The Little Review‘s other connection to the “Objectivists” was as the organ which provided Carl Rakosi with his first publication of note. In 1925, new the city and still an unknown poet, Rakosi called upon Jane Heap at her Greenwich Village office/apartment, where he presented her with a sheaf of his own writing upon the recommendation of his friend, the novelist Margery Latimer. To Rakosi’s surprise and great joy, Heap accepted his poems and agreed to publish them in The Little Review, where three of them appeared in the Spring 1925 issue.59The poems were “Sittingroom by Patinka,” “The January of a Gnat,” and “Flora and the Ogre.” Rakosi would later describe this success as one of the great moments of his life. See his biography on this site for more details. [Improve this section? Question of timing–the magazine folded before Zukofsky and the others were ready to appear in it, with the exception of Rakosi, and Anderson would likely have been much more amenable to their work than Heap, who was less interested in imagism and more interested in surrealism.]

The Hound & Horn

Publishing History

The Hound & Horn was founded in 1927 by Harvard undergraduates Lincoln Kirstein and Varian Fry. Initially intended to serve as a magazine for the Harvard undergraduate community (it had been subtitled “A Harvard Miscellany”),60There was a Harvard undergraduate literary magazine then extant (the Harvard Advocate), but Kirstein and Fry both felt that the current editorial staff was uninterested in admitting them to their clubbish circle. They initially appear to have sought to establish their breakaway publication on the model provided by The Harvard Monthly, which had been published at Harvard between 1885 and 1917 and which had been edited by and published contributions from several Harvard undergraduates who later went on to achieve various measures of literary success. Kirstein soon developed grander ambitions for the magazine, seeking to model the magazine on T.S. Eliot’s The Criterion61In his foreward to The Hound & Horn Letters, Kirstein wrote that “The Criterion, later the Dial, were models of what magazines might be; both seemed so elevated and comprehensive in their spectra that, at the start, The Hound & Horn aimed to have been modestly enough, a mere “Harvard Miscellany.” But we printed a trial issue and secretly hoped that somehow it would please Eliot [the issue had included a two-part critical essay on Eliot by R.P. Blackmur and a bibliography of Eliot’s published work by Varian Fry]. … Eliot seemed to me, at the time, the most important authority in the world for anything and everything that could occupy me” (xvi). and taking its title from the concluding couplet of Ezra Pound’s 1908 poem “The White Stag”:”Tis the white stag, Fame, we’re a-hunting / Bid the world’s hounds come to horn!” Kirstein and Fry were also clear, from the very beginning, about their intentions to use the magazine to break from nineteenth century aesthetic influences and more fully embrace the spirit of literary modernism on the Harvard campus.62In the first issue, Fry published an “Announcement” which concluded by asserting that “THE HOUND & HORN takes as its point of departure what is at once a valediction and a call to action. … [I]t bids farewell to land whose long familiar contours have ceased to stir creative thought: it bids farewell — and sounds the hunting horn” Fry would further clarify his editorial intentions, writing in a 1934 letter that he wrote to “hail the new and glittering world they [Joyce, Eliot, Stein, Picasso and Stravinsky] and their influences were creating, and to bid farewell to the stodgy in the nineteenth century and its heavy hand on the twentieth” (Quoted in Leonard Greenbaum’s The Hound & Horn: The History of a Literary Quarterly, 26-27).

In the summer of 1928, the magazine added two new editors, Bernard Bandler, a close friend of Kirstein’s who later went on to a significant career in psychiatry, and R.P. Blackmur, a highly cultured autodidact who ran a Cambridge bookshop and later went on to an illustrious career as a critic, poet, and English professor at Princeton University. Like Kirstein, Bandler and Blackmur both wanted The Hound & Horn to expand into an international literary periodical, an opportunity which seemed particularly ripe with the recent failur of The Dial. Disagreement over this issue, along with Bandler’s editorial enthusiasm for the Humanism movement, became a major source of tension with Fry, who quit the magazine late in 1929. Fry’s departure as an editor was followed a short time thereafter by Blackmur, for reasons unclear, though he continued to be a regular contributor to the magazine.

Having emerged victorious in his conflict with Fry, Kirstein pushed ahead with his plan to establish The Hound & Horn as a national magazine and hoped to fill much of the niche occupied by the recently defunct The Dial. While the Hound & Horn did not pay contributors as generously as The Dial had, its rates were much more generous than many other little magazines, which helped it to attract intelligent criticism and modernist-inflected literature during the darkest years of the Great Depression.63For more on Hound & Horn‘s relationship to The Dial, see Greenbaum’s The Hound and Horn, 40-44. Regarding payment for contributors, The Dial had paid $20 / page for poetry and $10 / page for prose. In a 1929 letter to Ezra Pound, R.P. Blackmur indicated that the Hound & Horn provided rates of $7.50 / page for poetry and $3.50 for prose. While much reduced from the rates offered by The Dial in its heyday, this was still considerably more than that offered by other prominent modernist little magazines. For example, Eugene Jolas’ transition had paid contributors just 50 cents / page, while Margaret Anderson’s The Little Review did not pay contributors at all (The Hound & Horn Letters, 25). Following Kirstein’s graduation from Harvard in 1930, the two remaining editors moved the magazine’s editorial offices to New York City, where it operated out of small offices in Manhattan until it ceased publication in 1934. In October 1931, the magazine added A. Hyatt Mayor to the editorial staff, and early in 1932 the editorial board added two regional contributing editors: Allen Tate (who served as “southern editor”) and Yvor Winters (who served as “western editor”).64For a thorough history of the magazine, see Leonard Greenbaum’s The Hound & Horn: The History of a Literary Quarterly (Mouton, 1966) and Mitzi Berger Hamovitch’s The Hound & Horn Letters (University of Georgia Press, 1982).

Heavily subsidized by Lincoln Kirstein (or, to be more accurate, by Kirstein’s father, Louis, the chairman of Filene’s, a prominent Boston-based department store chain),65Greenbaum indicates that the magazine’s financial records show that it the magazine’s circulation fluctuated between 1,500 and 4,000 and that the magazine operated at a loss of roughly $10,000 annually–a sum that would be roughly equivalent to $140,000-$180,000 in 2017 terms. See Greenbaum’s “The Hound & Horn Archive,” The Yale University Library Gazette, Vol. 39, No. 3 (January 1965), 145: https://www.jstor.org/stable/40858055. the magazine folded following the publication of the Summer 1934 issue, when Kirstein withdrew his patronage in order to devote his energies and resources towards the foundation of the School of American Ballet and the New York City Ballet with George Balanchine.66In his foreward to The Hound & Horn Letters, Kirstein wrote “I abandoned the magazine after seven years, not entirely because my interests had altered and I was otherwise magnetized (by the ballet). The real reason I did not fight to continue Hound & Horn … was that I didn’t give a damn for politico-philosophical tendencies which I felt were devouring the magazine’s space, and I was neither equipped to deal nor interested in dealing with them. I felt inadequate, and still do, with those delighted by ratiocination, with energies that mentate as sport” (xi-xii).

Connection to the “Objectivists”

The relationship of the “Objectivists” to The Hound & Horn was accomplished primarily through Ezra Pound and, to a lesser extent, through Louis Zukofsky and William Carlos Williams. With the discontinuation of his own magazine The Exile in 1928 and cessation of The Dial in 1929,67Pound had served as The Dial‘s “foreign advisor” and editor from 1920-1923 and had work published in four of the magazine’s first six issues. After one his typical spats with the editor, he resumed more friendly relations when Marianne Moore assumed editorship of the magazine in 1925. Pound received the magazine’s Dial Award (which included a $2000 prize) in 1927, and published work in each of the magazine’s final three issues. Pound was in search of other outlets through which to exert his influence on American artistic and literary culture, and appears to have briefly considered The Hound & Horn as one suitable vehicle for his purposes. Writing in response to a letter from R.P. Blackmur soliciting a recent Canto for the magazine, Pound first asked about the magazine’s willingness “to do what The Dial and Criterion won’t” and almost immediately thereafter proposed forming an “overt alliance” with the magazine by offering his services as the magazine’s foreign editor.68Quoted language appears in letters from Blackmur to Pound, dated 20 May and 2 October 1929, which appear to quote previous messages from Pound (The Hound & Horn Letters, 25-27). Blackmur responded to Pound’s overtures in October 1929 with a mixture of enthusiasm and qualified caution, declining his offer of an overt alliance but reemphasizing his interest in publishing new Cantos and suggesting that the magazine would “take everything you send us (especially poems and stories), do our best to agree with you, and publish so much as we can of it. … This would amount to your gracing us as Contributing Editor.”69The Hound & Horn Letters, 27.

Shortly after this offer, Pound sent along three poems from Basil Bunting, urging the editors to “give this precedence in time over other mss. I have sent on” and publish all three poems together in the magazine. Blackmur and Kirstein declined to publish Bunting, which annoyed Pound, though they did gratefully accept and publish three of Pound’s Cantos (XXVIII–XXX) in their April-June 1930 issue, and included excerpts from his correspondence in several subsequent issues. Following Blackmur’s departure as managing editor, Pound began directing his recommendations and editorial judgment toward Kirstein, repeatedly urging Kirstein to publish several writers he felt enthusiastic about, including Bunting, McAlmon, and Zukofsky. While Kirstein and Bandler ignored the overwhelming majority of Pound’s recommendations, they did accept for publication Zukofsky’s lengthy critical essay on notable Harvard man Henry Adams70This was serialized in three parts, the first of which appeared in the April–June 1930 issue. Pound was pleased with this, singling it out as worthy of note in a review of “Small Magazines” he published in the November 1930 issue of English Journal: “At the present moment there are a number of free reviews in activity. Of these The Hound and Horn appears to me the most solid. It has taken over the heritage of whatever was active in the Dial. It has got rid of nearly all the Dial‘s dead wood and rubbish. This purgation may endanger its safety. The advance in critical writing which I have mentioned seems to me apparent in Zukofsky’s essay on Henry Adams, serialized in Hound and Horn, and in Hyatt Mayor’s criticism of painting” (792). and included Zukofsky’s poem “Aubade, 1925” along with his review of William Carlos Williams’ involvement with Pagany in the January–March 1931 issue.71Zukofsky had also submitted a review of Pound’s Cantos to Hound & Horn sometime in 1930, but Bandler rejected it for publication as being “only a partial review,” since, in his view, while Zukofsky had “elucidated Pound and interpreted him” he had “seen him completely from within” and had not “attempted to estimate him from without” (The Hound & Horn Letters, 144-145). Pound also suggested, in March 1931, that Kirstein form a personal acquaintance with both Williams and Zukofsky, though Kirstein does not appear to have followed up on this suggestion,72 “as to local scene / I shd/ advise you to dig out ole Bill Williams// not necessary to AGREE. I shd/ also advise you to put up with being irritated by Zuk” (The Hound & Horn Letters, 60). and Pound angrily terminated his relationship with Hound & Horn shortly thereafter, ostensibly over Kirstein’s failure to publish Olga Rudge’s translation of Jean Cocteau’s “Mystère Laïc,” writing: “It only remains for me to express sincere regret for the time wasted by me in correspondence with H & H and say that taken as a whole our relations have been thoroughly unsatisfactory to me. I wish I had never heard of yr / magazine and I think you a god damn fool not to have printed the M.L. both for its integral quality and for its value proportionally to what you do print.”73The Hound & Horn Letters, 63. Pound’s relationship with Hound & Horn was probably doomed as soon as Blackmur left the magazine as an editor, since none of the subsequent editors seemed to value his editorial opinions very much. The relationship between Pound and Hound & Horn already seems to be faltering by November 1930, when Bernard Bandler wrote to Pound rejecting his essay “Terra Italica,” and continues to deteriorate over a series of letters exchanged through Pound’s final angry outburst in July 1931. For more on the collapse of Pound’s relationship with Hound & Horn, see Greenbaum’s Hound & Horn 109-124, Michael Flaherty’s “Hound & Horn (1927-1934),” in The Oxford Critical and Cultural History of Modernist Magazines and The Hound & Horn Letters, 36-37, 43, 58-59, 62-64, 80.

After Kirstein’s association with Pound had been severed, Hound & Horn was a less hospitable place for Zukofsky and others in Pound’s circle to seek publication, particularly since Kirstein’s associates and editorial advisors Dudley Fitts, A. Hyatt Mayor, and Yvor Winters already held strongly negative views of Zukofsky.74See The Hound & Horn Letters, 79, 81, 83 (Fitts on Zukofsky), 96-97 (Mayor), 180-181, as well as the correspondence section of the January–March 1933 issue of Hound & Horn, which contains a heated exchange between Bunting and Yvor Winters regarding Winters’ caustic review of An “Objectivists” Anthology. A letter from Zukofsky to Kirstein giving his side of the dispute with Winters can be found in The Selected Letters of Louis Zukofsky, 82-84.

In July 1931, Kirstein did send Zukofsky the manuscript of some Rakosi’s poems, asking for Zukofsky’s opinion regarding publication, and while Zukofsky replied to Kirstein urging their publication and offering detailed criticism of Rakosi’s work (and a recommendation that Kirstein solicit work from Kenneth Rexroth, The Hound & Horn ultimately declined to publish Rakosi.75See The Selected Letters of Louis Zukofsky, 78-80.

It appears that on at least two occasions, Kirstein had accepted a manuscript of Zukofsky’s for publication, only to subsequently reject it after further consultation with other editors. The second time this occurred it was in relation to a heated exchange of letters between Yvor Winter and Zukofsky regarding René Taupin’s L’Influence du symbolism francais sur la poesie Americaine. These letters, which had reached the proof stage, were ultimately pulled from publication in the magazine, along with poems which Zukofsky had submitted a few months previously. Zukofsky suspected that Winters may have had some hand in the letters being withdrawn from publication, and wrote Kirstein asking for an explanation and the return of his manuscripts, if the decision not to publish was in fact final.76See The Selected Letters of Louis Zukofsky, 82-84. Kirstein apparently returned the manuscripts, ending Zukofsky’s relationship with the magazine.

Recalling his magazine’s association with Pound, Kirstein himself would later write: “We printed nearly everything he sent us, but finally, in spite of his lovely poems and his marvelous letters, we couldn’t face the attendant coterie of lame duck discoveries he was always capriciously harboring, and we were relieved to let him be obscene about us other ‘little’ magazines.”77Quoted in Greenbaum, The Hound & Horn, 104. It’s difficult to draw any other conclusion from a phrase like “lame duck discoveries” than that Kirstein and the other editors of Hound & Horn had little but contempt for Bunting, McAlmon, Zukofsky, and Rakosi.

The only other writer affiliated with the “Objectivists” to have had work published in Hound & Horn was William Carlos Williams, whose poem “Rain” appeared in the October–December 1929 issue and whose “In a ‘Sconset Bus,” appeared in the July–September 1932 issue.78Three brief items of correspondence between Williams and Kirstein are included in The Hound & Horn Letters, pp. 138-140.

The Exile

Ezra Pound’s short-lived magazine The Exile, which comprised just four issues published in 1927 and 1928, might properly be considered the first proto-“Objectivist” publication.79Tom Sharp has argued not only that The Exile was the group’s “first public meeting place,” but that the publication of work by some many writers later identified as “Objectivists” in the magazine establishes the group firmly within the Poundian poetic tradition and “expresses many of the principles, especially about the importance of group activity, that Pound continued to impress upon them” (http://sharpgiving.com/Objectivists/sections/01.history.html) A look at the writers published in the final three issues of Pound’s magazine shows a fairly high degree of overlap with Zukofsky’s editorial selection, with Pound publishing work by Zukofsky,80Zukofsky’s first major publication, “Poem Beginning ‘The'” appeared in The Exile 3, and the fourth and final issue of The Exile also featured another dozen or so pages from Zukofsky. Rakosi,81Pound published four poems by Rakosi in The Exile 2 and his poem “Extracts from A Private Life” in The Exile 4, Williams,82Williams’ “The Descent of Winter,” which Zukofsky had been instrumental in editing, was published in The Exile 4. Williams wrote to Pound on May 17, 1928: “Your spy Zukofsky has been going over my secret notes for you. At first I resented his wanting to penetrate- now listen! – but finally I sez to him, All right, go ahead. So he took my pile of stuff into the city and he works at it with remarkably clean and steady fingers (to your long distance credit be it said) and he ups and choses a batch of writin that yous is erbout ter git perty damn quick if it hits a quick ship – when it gets ready – which it aren’t quite yit. What I have to send you will be in the form of a journal, each bit as perfect in itself as may be. I am however leaving everything just as selected by Zukofsky. It may be later that I shall use the stuff differently.” (Pound/Williams, 82) Zukofsky and Wiliams had first met in April of that year, which means that Williams had known Zukofsky for less than 2 months at the time that he sent Pound this remarkable indication his editorial trust., Robert McAlmon,83The Exile 2 included McAlmon’s short story “Truer than Most Accounts” and an essay of his on Gertrude Stein was included in The Exile 4 and Howard Weeks,84His poem “Stunt Piece” was published in The Exile 3 each of whom Zukofsky would include in the “Objectivists” 1931 issue of Poetry. The Exile represented Pound’s first (and only) attempt to edit and publish his own magazine, and its failure demonstrated some of his limitations as an editor and publisher. While Pound was justly proud of his ability to identify significant voices early in their career and recommend them to more established publications, he does appear to have been temperamentally unsuited to the careful, patient, politic work of editing a longstanding, catholic literary journal, in the way that, say, Harriet Monroe proved to be with Poetry.85For a balanced appraisal of Monroe’s considerable skills as an editor and publisher as against the self-serving accounts Pound and his acolytes have tended to promote, see John Timberman Newcomb’s excellent “Poetry‘s Opening Door: Harriet Monroe and American Modernism” (pp. 85-103) in Little Magazines & Modernism: New Approaches, edited by Suzanne Churchill and Adam McKible. 

Publishing History

Pound issued the first issue from of The Exile in the Spring of 1927, from Dijon, France, where it had been printed by Maurice Darantiere.86Dariantiere was well known to Pound as the printer of much of work issued by Robert McAlmon’s Contact Editions and because he had printed James Joyce’s Ulysses for Sylvia Beach when she had been unable to find a printer willing to issue it in an English-speaking country. Pound had hoped that the magazine might be able to be readily imported into England and the United States and made arrangements for the first issue of the magazine to be sold by authorized agents in New York, Paris, and London. To his great exasperation, Pound found that importing a publication printed abroad to the United States met with all kinds of expensive bureaucratic difficulties. Consequently, beginning with the second issue, published in Autumn 1927, Pound published The Exile through an American publisher, the Chicago-based Pascal Covici.87Covici would later move to New York City and form a publishing firm with Donald Friede, who had been vice-president of Boni-Liveright. Covici-Friede were best known for limited editions of literary works, but they published some commercial fiction during the Depression. Covici formed a significant and long-lasting friendship and publishing relationship with John Steinbeck, and when Covici-Friede went bankrupt in 1938, Covici moved to Viking Press, and brought Steinbeck along with him. Covici died in 1964. A longer explanation of this change in site of publication would appear in the third issue, but the second issue did include the following acerbic single page “Note re 1st Number” from Pound:

Extract of Mr. Price’s account of the New York Customs House.

“An assistant customs appraiser grabbed my arm the other day and said, ‘Say, the fellow that wrote that stuff in your magazine must be a narcotic fiend! Nobody has thoughts like those except under the influence of drugs! We don’t want stuff like that here—we’re going to have to defend our women and children against the Bolsheviks pretty soon!!’ ”

In fact, the behavior of a customs department plus the state of our copyright laws are such that but for Mr. Covici undertaking to print this second issue, the the editors would have desisted.

Why the United States has a copyright law designed chiefly to encourage theft, I am unable to say.

As to Mr. Coolidge’s economic policy, I have one further suggestion—namely, that he can completely eliminate the cost of lunatic asylums by dressing the present inmates in customs uniforms and placing them in ports and along the frontiers. This will dispense with the present employees entirely and the public will be just as well served.88Ezra Pound, “Note re 1st Number”, The Exile, Volume 2 (Autumn 1927), 120.

The second issue also featured a changed and reduced list of authorized agents, which now comprised just the Gotham Book Mart in New York City and Simpkin, Marshall, Hamilton, Kent and Co. in London (there was no Paris agent), giving some indication of Pound’s intended (anglophone) audience. The issue itself contained editorial material by Pound as well as a long selection from John Rodker’s poem “Adolphe 1920,” poems by R.C. Dunning, and Carl Rakosi, a short prose selection from Joe Gould’s legendary Oral History, and longer prose pieces from Robert McAlmon and Stella Breen.89Breen’s story, “My Five Husbands,” was the only piece of writing by a woman included in all four issues of Pound’s journal. Even by the standards of the time, this is stunningly poor representation, and reflects poorly on Pound’s catholicity of taste. George Oppen’s judgement on gender matters as they relate to Pound seems particularly fitting; among the scraps of paper Oppen had pinned to the walls of his writing space in his last years was this “Note to Pound in Heaven”: “Only one mistake, Ezra! / You should have talked / to women.” (Selected Prose, Daybooks, and Papers, 235).

The third issue of The Exile was published in Spring 1928, and contained the longest and most varied list of contributors. The issue began with poems by William Butler Years (four sections each from the poems “Sailing to Byzantium” and “Blood and the Moon”), and followed these with Zukofsky’s “Poem Beginning ‘The’,” a portion of Pound’s own “Canto XXIII,” and the conclusion of Rodker’s “Adolphe 1920.” [more on Zukofsky’s poem beginning ‘The’?] Pound also gave space in the issue to prose and poems by R.C. Dunning, poetry by Clifford Gessler, Howard Weeks, and Herman Spector, prose pieces from Payson Loomis and Morley Callaghan, and an assortment of Pound’s editorial pronouncements on various topics, most of which touch on his contempt and despair for the American cultural and political scene, with a few jabs thrown in at various European nations for good measure. The issue also contained a single page “Desideria” from the editor:

Quite simply: I want a new civilization. We have the basis for a new poetry, and for a new music. The government of our country is hopelessly low-brow, there are certain crass stupidities in administration that it is up to the literate members of the public to eradictae [sic]. … I say “new” civilization, I don’t know that I care about its being so very different from the best that has been, but it must be as good as the best that has been.90108

Pound also gave greater context to the issues and difficulties he had encountered in trying to import the first issue and the reasoning behind his decision to move publication to Chicago and the delays in publication the magazine has suffered, writing:

The first issue of The Exile printed in Dijon was strictly my own affair. Mr. Price91John Price, a New York newspaperman that Pound had partnered with in publishing and importing the magazine. See The Ezra Pound Encyclopedia, 113-115. assured me that America cd. absorb 300 copies. The Port of Noo York assured Mr. Price that magazines were not dutiable. On that understanding I had no need of anyone’s cooperation.

The Port of New York saw Exile, found that it was dated “Spring 1927” instead of “April 1927” and proclaimed that Exile was not a magazine but a “book”. Thereby illustrating the nature of the bureaucratic mindersatz.

The tax imposed on “books” at the American frontier as result of our governing powers, ever desirous of maintaining the present state of national stupidity, wd. effectively preclude the possibility of my printing Exile in my own front yard and shipping it to the scattered intelligentzia of Texas, Albany and the outlying gehennae. I mean save at greater expense that it is worth.

Hence the delays in the appearance of subsequent numbers. For any enjoyment the present issue affords the famished reader, the said reader may thank Mr. Covici.92”Interaction,” 109

Pound published a fourth and final issue of The Exile in Autumn, 1928.93Covici had informed Pound by September that he was planning to form a partnership with Donald Friede and attempt to move their operations to New York City, and that Pound’s magazine had been too unprofitable for him to continue publishing it. This issue included some 30 pages of assorted political and social commentary by Pound, William Carlos Williams’ “The Descent of Winter,” a lengthy mix of prose and poetry that Zukofsky had been instrumental in editing,94More needed here a brief review of Gertrude Stein’s work by Robert McAlmon, more than a dozen pages of prose and poetry by Zukofsky, poetry by Carl Rakosi, excerpts from recent correspondence Pound had had with Samuel Putnam, short works by John Cournos, Falkoff-Kliorin, and Benjamin Perret, and “Data,” an article in which Pound attempted to “set down a few dates, and give a list of the periodicals where the struggle took place. Sic: [places where] Contemporary americo-english non-commercial literature struggled into being,”95104 provided a bibliography of his own work as well as that of Williams and McAlmon, and offered a rambling catalogue of various of his other enthusiasms, including the violin playing of his mistress, Olga Rudge.96It really is a pity that Pound didn’t have access to a micro-blogging platform and a large social media marketing budget. He would have loved it.

Writing about The Exile in 1930, Pound summarized its accomplishment thusly: “In Exile I managed to publish [John Rodker’s] Adolphe and a little work by McAlmon, W. C. Williams, Louis Zukofsky, and one poem by Howard Weeks.” 97”Small Magazines” English Review, 701

Blues

In February 1929, the twenty-one year old Charles Henri Ford and the African-American poet Kathleen Tankersley Young published the first issue of their magazine Blues: A Magazine of New Rhythms from Ford’s apartment in Columbus, Mississippi. The magazine grew out of Harriet Monroe’s rejection of Ford’s poems for publication in Poetry, and Ford having met Young (via a letter of introduction from the legendary Greenwich Village character Lew Ney) in San Antonio, Texas the previous year. Encouraged by both Ezra Pound98Ezra Pound wrote in a 1928 letter to his father Homer: “C. H. Ford is starting a local show, with Spector, Bill Wms. and Vogel, and printing Zuk. Let’s see what they can do.” Quoted in Ezra Pound to His Parents, 618 and William Carlos Williams, whom Young had persuaded to lend his name to the magazine as a contributing editor, Ford and Young launched Blues as a monthly publication dedicated almost exclusively to “new” poetry, much of which was written by young authors who admired or were in some way connected with Ezra Pound.

Publication History and Connection to the “Objectivists”

The first issue of Blues (February 1929) contained just under 30 pages of poetry from a dozen contributors, including featured two short poems by Louis Zukofsky, as well as work by Parker Tyler and Norman Macleod. The second issue (March 1929) carried a brief “program” from Pound, a manifesto from Williams about the role and direction of a new little magazine in America devoted to poetry, and three poems by Zukofsky. The third issue (April 1929) published three short poems by Norman Macleod and featured Kenneth Rexroth’s first ever published poem, the fourth issue (May 1929) contained another prose statement from Williams published under the title “A Note on the Art of Poetry,” two additional Macleod poems, and four poems by Zukofsky, and the fifth issue (June 1929) included poetry by Parker Tyler, Kenneth Rexroth, and Harry Roskolenkier. The sixth issue,  published in July 1929, was the editors most ambitious issue to date. Conceived and promoted as their “expatriate” issue, it contained new work by a host of significant American modernist writers living in Europe: Gertrude Stein, H.D., Kay Boyle, Eugene Jolas, Walter Lowenfels, Harry Crosby, Leigh Hoffman, Harold Samelson, and Laurence Vail.

Following the appearance of the “expatriate” issue, Ford retreated from a monthly to to a quarterly publishing schedule, and the seventh issue (issued in Fall 1929 as the magazine’s “First Quarterly Number”) also featured the magazine’s first major aesthetic overhaul, complete with a new cover design by Andree Rexroth (Kenneth’s wife). The issue itself included a short prose “introduction to a collection of modern writings” from Williams, and poetry by Williams, Richard Johns, Parker Tyler, Kenneth Rexroth, and Norman Macleod. Prior to the publication of the eighth issue in Spring 1930, Ford moved Blues from his home in rural Mississippi to New York City’s Greenwich Village.99Greenwich Village was the natural choice for Ford for several reasons. First, it was where Kathleen Tankersley Young, his associate editor had been based, and the base from which she had worked to promote the magazine. Second, Young had already established a strong relationship with Lew Ney, who became the magazine’s patron and publisher upon Ford’s move to the city. Finally, the bohemian reputation and sexual permissiveness of the village was a strong attractor for the openly gay Ford, who stifled under the provincial and inhibiting restraints of his Mississippi hometown. Following his move to the city, Ford acquired Lew Ney as Blues patron and publisher100Lew Ney, born Luther Emanuel Widen, was already publishing the little magazines Parnassus (“A Wee Poetry Magazine”) and Bohemia (“A Magazine of Good Fellowship”) and was such a prominent fixture in the community that he was known colloquially as the “Mayor of Greenwich Village.” Ney and Ford operated Blues from an address at 12 E 15th Street, on the edge of Union Square Park, and less than half a mile from the Gramercy Park address that Richard Johns would relocate Pagany to later in 1930. and set about ingratiating himself into the bohemian gay community then operating in nearby Greenwich Village.101For an intimate personal account of Ford’s years in Greenwich Village, see Charles Henri Ford and Parker Tyler’s 1933 novel The Young and Evil. For a more academic summary of this period in the history of Blues, see Alexander Howard’s “Blues: A Magazine of New Rhythms and the Belated Renovation of Modernism” in The Journal of Modern Periodical Studies, Volume 5, Number 2, 2014, especially pp. 188-190.

The eighth issue of Blues featured four poems by Zukofsky and two by Williams, and was followed by a ninth and final issue of the magazine in Fall 1930. This last issue, which touted on its cover an article entitled “Can the Poet Change the World?” by Gottfried Benn and Johannes R. Becker, also included poetry by Forrest Anderson, William Carlos Williams, and Louis Zukofsky, and was the first issue for which Kathleen Tankersley Young was not listed as an associate editor.

Despite their best efforts, Ford and Ney could not make the magazine a viable concern, and Blues suspended publication of the magazine after the ninth issue appeared in Fall 1930. [cut or keep??? Once Ford had become ensconced in Greenwich Village with direct access to a more like-minded cohort of writers, his dalliance with Pound, Williams, and Zukofsky had seemingly outlived its purpose, and most of the remaining space in Blues began to be devoted to differently minded writers.] Even as their influence in Blues began to wane and the magazine folded, Williams and Zukofsky had already identified in Richard Johns’ Pagany another possible vehicle for spreading both their work and some of their ideas about the role and function of writing. A quick glance at the contributor list for both Blues and Zukofsky’s “Objectivists” issue of poetry is quite telling, however. Of the 23 individual contributors Zukofsky published in the February 1931 issue of Poetry, a full [x] had also appeared in Blues. While Ford and Tyler, the magazine’s editors were not given their own space in Zukofsky’s issue, he did feature their ideas and their poetry in a “symposium” included in the magazine, showing the magazine’s relative influence and importance in the nucleation of those writers Zukofsky chose to present as “Objectivists.” Blues was, in other words, one of the major literary gathering places for Zukofsky, a fact borne out by the close correspondence of publication’s contributor list with that of “OBJECTIVISTS” 1931.

Pagany

In April 1929, Richard Johns, the 24 year old son of prominent Boston attorney Benjamin Newhall Johnson, wrote to William Carlos Williams declaring his intention to establish a new quarterly magazine published from Boston and dedicated to presenting the work of writers born in the United States, including those then living abroad. Johns’ own literary credentials were meager: he had not graduated from either high school of college (though he had attended Classical High School in his hometown of Lynn and taken courses in poetry and literary theory at Columbia) and had at that time only published a very small number of his own poems, and those in little-known magazines. Johns was, however, both wealthy and ambitious enough to attempt to recruit Williams’ aid in launching his publishing venture. In his introductory letter, Johns informed Williams of his desire to name the magazine Pagany, in tribute to Williams’ recently published novel A Voyage to Pagany, invited Williams to serve as an associate editor for the magazine, and asked him to contribute both a manifesto and “a good bit of your work” for the magazine. 102Quoted in Pagany: Toward a Native Quarterly, 3. Williams and Johns exchanged a series of letters in July of that year, with Williams eventually replying:

Yes, I am with you but I’d like best not to have any official editorial status–unless you prefer otherwise. I can’t see that my name would help you. Besides, I am now american representative for a french quarterly and Blues has my name on its stationary – meaning nothing. Yet, if you want my name you may use it. …

My suggestion is that I write for each quarterly a few pages, five to twenty, in which I shall be permitted to develop a theme, slowly and steadily, the native theme and its implications. In addition you may occasionally accept a poem, or a prose bit now and again. But the pages I write will be signed and published on my own responsibility, not that of the magazine. You could then attack me in the same issue as you may care to. Is that what you want? …

Le’s see more of your mind relative to the undertaking. Then I’ll write the manifesto, yes I will, after which you may open the screen door and point to the exit if you wish to without in the least offending …

[as a postscript] But I’m for you and I like your deliberation. I’ll do everything I can to further your project which may be important if it can be organized on some basis of decency (not moral)103Quoted in Pagany: Toward a Native Quarterly, 11-12.

Publication History
Pagany 1.1 cover

The cover of the first issue of Richard Johns’ Pagany: A Native Quarterly, published in January 1930.

With Williams’ approval secured and a fifteen hundred dollar loan from his father the first year of publication, Johns pushed forward with his plans, printing a thousand copies of the first issue of Pagany: A Native Quarterly in January 1930.104In the announcement which inaugurated the magazine’s first issue, Johns offered the following explanation of the title: “Pagus is a broad term, meaning any sort of collection of peoples from the smallest district or village to the country as an inclusive whole. Taking America as pagus, any one of us as the paganus, the inhabitant, and our conceptions, our agreements and disagreements, our ideas, ideals, whatever we have to articulate is pagany, our expression.” (A Return to Pagany, 50). Throughout its twelve issue run, Johns made only a handful of exceptions to its “Americans only” publication policy, printing the prominent English modernist Mary Butts and the French poet and graphic artist Georges Hugnet (through the intervention of Gertrude Stein), publishing (at Pound’s suggestion) Olga Rudge’s translation of Jean Cocteau’s “Mystère Laïc” after Hound & Horn had failed to publish it in a timely enough fashion for Pound, and printing Basil Bunting’s loose translation of a Horatian ode “A Cracked Record,” though the newlywed Bunting had submitted the poem during the six months that he was living in New York. Like each of the subsequent issues, the first issue of the magazine was printed in black on a brightly colored cover stock (in this case, orange), and prominently featured the magazine’s visual mark, a stylized tree within growing in a fenced enclosure, which had been designed by Johns’ friend Virginia Lee Burton, and a complete list of the magazine’s contributors, with each contributor’s name printed in the same size type.

Though Williams had declined Johns’ offer to appear on the magazine’s masthead as an associate editor, the first page of the first issue of the magazine did include a brief manifesto he had written, and throughout the magazine’s run Williams solicited and reviewed contributions from many of his friends and acquaintances, offered occasional editorial suggestions and publishing advice, and regularly contributed his own writing (most notably, his novel White Mule, which was written for and serialized by Pagany). Williams also put Zukofsky and several others in touch with Johns early enough to have their work included in the first issue105Zukofsky’s first letter to Johns, indicating that Williams “has suggested that I get in touch with you,” was dated November 7, 1929. University of Delaware Special Collections, MS 110, Box 10, Folder 260

Johns was also aided and encouraged by a number of other avant-garde publishers and editors, most notably Johns’ hometown friend Sherry Mangan, who had edited the recently defunct magazine Larus;106Both Mangan and Johns lived in Lynn, Massachusetts and both were the sons of prominent Boston-area professionals with Harvard pedigrees. Mangan’s father, John Joseph Mangan, had earned an M.D. from Harvard Medical School and had established a children’s clinic in Lynn, and was also an accomplished historian, having written a history of Lynn and a massive biography/psychological portrait of the Dutch humanist theologian Desiderius Erasmus. The younger Mangan had printed a poem by Johns in the final issue of Larus, and the relationship between the two men was amicable enough that they arranged for Larus unfulfilled subscriptions to be absorbed by Pagany. Blues editor Charles Henri Ford;107Ford enthusiastically shared news of Pagany with his stable of contributors to Blues, and should be credited with connecting Johns to writers Kenneth Rexroth, Erskine Caldwell, Noman Macleod, Parker Tyler, Kathleen Tankersley Young, and Forrest Anderson. Gorham Munson, who had edited the expatriate journal Secession from 1922-1924 and would later found the Social Credit journal New Democracy;108In July 1929, Munson replied to Johns’ query about his experiences with Secession by sending the names and addresses for elevent potential contributors to the magazine, including Kenneth Burke, Jean Toomer, and Hart Crane. See Pagany: Toward a Native Quarterly, 14-15. and Ezra Pound, each of whom encouraged their literary acquaintances and former contributors to consider sending their new work to Pagany.

Connection to the “Objectivists”

While neither Johns nor Pagany could ever said to have acted as the mouthpiece for a single group or movement, “Objectivist” writers had ready access to the magazine and appeared in nearly every issue. The connection between Johns and the other Objectivists was facilitated by Williams and Zukofsky, and began with the magazine’s founding more than a year before the appearance of the Poetry issue which would announce and name the “group.” The January 1930 issue included poetry by Zukofsky, Rexroth and McAlmon, as well as Williams’ manifesto and a short critical essay on the work of Gertrude Stein. In Williams’ brief manifesto he suggested that “the scientific age is drawing to a close” and that amidst a proliferation of “bizarre derivations,” the mind needed a place to search “for that with which to rehabilitate our thought and our lives.” His proposal was greater fidelity “[t]o the word, a meaning hardly distinguishable from that of place, in whose great, virtuous and at present little realized potency we hereby manifest our belief,”109Quoted in Pagany: Toward A Native Quarterly, 50 an idea which he further developed in his essay on the writing of Gertrude Stein published later in the same issue.110Here, Williams wrote: “How in a democracy, such as the United States, can writing, which has to compete with excellence elsewhere and in other times, remain in the field and be at once objective (true to fact) intellectually searching, subtle and instinct with powerful additions to our lives? It is impossible, without invention of some sort, for the very good reason that observation about us engenders the very opposite of what we seek: triviality, crassness, and intellectual bankruptcy. And yet what we do see can in no way be excluded. Satire and flight are two possibilities but Miss Stein has chosen otherwise. But if one remain in a place and reject satire, what then? To be democratic, local (in the sense of being attached with integrity to actual experience) Stein, or any other artist, must for subtlety ascend to a plane of almost abstract design to keep alive. To writing, then, as an art in itself. Yet what actually impinges on the senses must be rendered as it appears, by use of which, only, and under which, untouched, the significance has to be disclosed. It is one of the major problems of the artist. “Melanctha” is a thrilling clinical record of the life of a colored woman in the present day United States, told with directness and truth. It is without question one of the best bits of characterization produced in America. It is universally admired. This is where Stein began. But for Stein to tell a story of that sort, even with the utmost genius, was not enough under the conditions in which we live, since by the very nature of its composition such a story does violence to the larger scene which would be portrayed. … The more carefully the drawing is made, the greater the genius involved and the greater the interest that attaches, therefore, to the character as an individual, the more exceptional that character becomes in the mind of the reader and the less typical of the scene. … Truly, the world is full of emotion — more or less — but it is caught in bewilderment to a far more important degree. And the purpose of art, so far as it has any, is not at least to copy that, but lies in the resolution of difficulties to its own comprehensive organization of materials. And by so doing, in this case, rather than by copying, it takes its place as most human. To deal with Melanctha, with characters of whomever it may be, the modern Dickens, is not therefore human. To write like that is not, in the artist, to be human at all, since nothing is resolved, nothing is done to resolve the bewilderment which makes of emotion an inanity. That, is to overlook the gross instigation and with all subtlety to examine the object minutely for “the truth” — which if there is anything more commonly practised or more stupid, I have yet to come upon it. To be most useful to humanity, or to anything else for that matter, an art, writing, must stay art, not seeking to be science, philosophy, history, the humanities, or anything else it has been made to carry in the past.” (Quoted in Pagany: Toward A Native Quarterly, 58-59.)

Immediately after reading the first issue of Pagany, Zukofsky wrote to Johns, sharing his praise for the format and subject matter of Pagany and submitting an additional seven poems for consideration for future issues, three of which were selected for the second issue of Pagany.111In a letter dated January 8, 1930, Zukofsky wrote: “The format seems to me excellent: quite the proper thickness, and the matter being honest – to say the least – what else is there to say.” University of Delaware Special Collections, MS 110, Box 10, Folder 260. In addition to Zukofsky’s poems, the second issue (April-June 1930) contained Williams’ brief story “Four Bottles of Beer.”112Williams, who wrote Johns with his private criticism of each issue, concluded his critique of this issue with praise for Zukofsky: “As you know I highly prize whatever Louis Zukofsky does. I think his poem the best in the issue if not the best – oh well.” In a subsequent letter written June 5, 1930 he informed Johns “Louis Zukofsky has a swell essay on the American phase of the modernists in poetry, what they have said and done. It is rather prejudiced in my favor but it is good. Why not write asking him to let you see it?” (Quoted in Pagany: Toward A Native Quarterly, 124, 127). On April 15, 1930, Zukofsky wrote to Johns to submit another cluster of poems and an essay,113Johns never published any of Zukofsky’s prose, but Zukofsky’s “For a Thing By Bach” did appear in the magazine’s fourth issue. and shortly thereafter he informed Johns that he had recently seen Charles Reznikoff and hopeful to shortly have some of his work to share with Johns. Zukofsky did in fact forward Johns some of Reznikoff’s poems, which Johns had reviewed and accepted by mid-July 1930.114Zukofsky wrote to Johns on July 19, 1930, telling him “I am glad you are keeping the Reznikoff poems,” sharing Reznikoff’s Bronx address and encouraging him Johns to get in touch with him directly. In October 1930, Zukofsky enlisted Johns to write a letter of support for his application in late 1930 for a Guggenheim Fellowship, and in early November Zukofsky informed Johns that he would be editing an issue of Poetry magazine and asked to see any of Johns’ own work. Johns duly complied, with Zukofsky writing back on November 17, indicating that he was potentially interested in Johns’ poem “The Sphinx” and asked for his assent to some editorial pruning. Johns and Zukofsky exchanged several additional letters before a final version of “The Sphinx” satisfied both the author and its editor, and the was included in Zukofsky’s issue of Poetry.

Johns was also instrumental in encouraging Williams to work in earnest on White Mule, Williams’ first attempt at pure fiction. The first chapter of the novel appeared in the third issue of Pagany (July-September 1930), and Johns printed future chapters of the book in serial form as quickly as Williams was able to produce them, ceasing only when the magazine folded. Apart from the first chapter of White Mule and a short story by McAlmon, the third issue contained no work by “Objectivist” writers, though it did included poetry published by Emanuel Carnevali, an expatriate friend of Williams whose translations of two poems by Arthur Rimbaud were included in Zukofsky’s issue of Poetry.115Carnevali served as associate editor of Poetry for six months in 1919, and the Poetry Foundation has published a good thumbnail biographical sketch on their website: https://www.poetryfoundation.org/poets/emanuel-carnevali. The fourth issue of the magazine (October-December 1930) included another poem from Carnevali, as well as two short poems by Williams,116”Flowers by the Sea” and “Sea-Trout and Butterfish” Zukofsky’s “For a Thing By Bach,” and Charles Reznikoff’s excellent “The English in Virginia, April 1607.”

Late in 1930, Johns decided to move Pagany from the one-room apartment he had occupied in Boston to a new apartment/office at 9 Gramercy Park in Manhattan, a move which he completed by December 1930. Johns’ relocation to New York City gave him access to an expanded circle of writers and literary figures, including both Williams and (following his return to New York City after his brief stint at the University of Wisconsin-Madison) Zukofsky. Sometime late in 1930, Zukofsky also forwarded some of Rakosi’s work to Johns, just as he had done with Reznikoff, and Zukofsky and Johns met for the first time in person near Christmas 1930 when Zukofsky returned to New York City on a break from schoo in Madison.117Zukofsky references their meeting in a February 1931 letter to Pound, stating that Johns was “very quiet when I saw him in N.Y. this Xmas—said he wd. do at least a second year of Pagany” (Pound/Zukofsky, 92). In a letter dated December 31, 1930, Zukofsky expressed his pleasure at Johns’ accepting some of Rakosi’s work and gave Johns postal addresses for both Rakosi (Callman Rawley) and Kenneth Rexroth.118Rexroth was apparently a regular visitor to Johns’ office at Gramercy Park during the short time Rexroth was in New York City, where Rexroth frequently helped Johns arrange type and otherwise assist in production and pre-publication work (A Return to Pagany, 275-278). After learning that Johns had accepted some his poems for publication, Rakosi wrote Johns almost immediately, offering newer revisions of the poems Johns planned to publish and asking to see a copy of the magazine. In his very next letter, undated but almost certainly written in early 1931, Rakosi asked Johns about the price of the magazine and expressed a desire to see back numbers of the magazine, requesting specifically that Johns send him any previous “numbers in which the work of Pound, Williams, Reznikoff, and Zukofsky have appeared.” 119Undated letter to Richard Johns. Archive of Pagany, 1925-1970 (Box 8, Folder 188). University of Delaware Library Special Collections, Newark, Delaware. Rakosi’s request here is particularly interesting since it gives a very clear indication that Rakosi at least had some sense of his involvement with something like a group prior to the appearance of the “OBJECTIVISTS” 1931 issue of Poetry, and that he had formed this affinity despite being located in Houston, Texas, hundreds of miles from the other writers he named to Johns as being specifically interested in.

The first issue of the second volume (published in January 1931) included another installment of Williams’ White Mule, a poem by McAlmon and four from Zukofsky, and a rambling, prickly review and critique of Pagany‘s first year by Ezra Pound. In February 1931, Zukofsky published Johns’ poem “The Sphinx,” which was dedicated to Williams and offers a description of Williams happily building and destroying sand sculptures on a beach vacation with his family in the “OBJECTIVISTS” 1931 issue of Poetry.120The events described in Johns’ poem took place at Good Harbor Beach during an eight day vacation the Williams family had taken with Johns and “a lady friend” to East Gloucester, Massachusetts in late summer 1930. Williams describes the trip briefly in a September 9, 1930 letter to Zukofsky included in The Correspondence of William Carlos Williams and Louis Zukofsky, 70, and Johns also described the episode in a brief prose story, “Figure,” which he published in the April-June 1931 issue of Pagany. Rakosi made his first appearance in Pagany in the April-June 1931 number, which included three of his poems along with Reznikoff’s “A Group of Verse,” Zukofsky’s “Blue Light,” a poem by Howard Weeks, and another installment of Williams White Mule. The July-September 1931 issue included three of Pound’s Cantos, four poems by Norman Macleod, Basil Bunting’s “A Cracked Record,” Rakosi’s “The Founding of New Hampshire,” and a further chapter of White Mule.121Sometime in 1931 Johns had hosted a dinner party for Basil Bunting at Lou and Bill Chapman’s in Bethel, Connecticut, which Williams and possibly Zukofsky attended. In March 1931, Zukofsky forwarded three poems by W.B.N. Warriston to Johns, and by late June, Zukofsky had returned to New York City from Madison, Wisconsin, where he had spent an unhappy year in graduate school and expressed his eagerness to meet with Johns in person. Zukofsky continued to send his own work to Johns, and invited Johns in September 1931 to send along any of his own work and any work by previously unpublished authors he wished to have considered for inclusion in the “Objectivists” anthology Zukofsky was then preparing. The same month, Zukofsky also forwarded work by Frances Fletcher, encouraging Johns to contact her and his friend Warriston directly.

The fourth and final issue published in 1931 continued to display heavy “Objectivist” sympathies, as it contained a new chapter from Williams’ White Mule, a story by McAlmon, two poems by Norman MacLeod, single poems by Zukofsky and Carnevali, and three new poems by Carl Rakosi. The January-March 1932 issue of Pagany featured six poems by Norman Macleod, three from Carl Rakosi, another White Mule chapter, and a new story from McAlmon.

In early January 1932, Williams wrote to Johns to explain his growing involvement in plans to revive his little magazine Contact. In his letter Williams appears to be sensitive to what may have a felt a frustrating and potentially competitive move to Johns, plying Johns with both praise and reassurances that he saw Contact filling a narrower and therefore complementary literary function to that provided by Pagany.122”I wish I could sit down and finish White Mule. I have never enjoyed writing anything more. But since you are willing to go on taking the bits as they come I’m not going to rush it. It is a real pleasure to me that you are pleased because I am writing it for you. The last Pagany shows the results of your experience in publication during the last two years, it is uniformly excellent reading from beginning to end. I have read the last issue particularly carefully inasmuch as I want all the help I can get in making up Contact. The only result of my cogitations so far has been an appreciation of your work. But C. will not have the general reading appeal that you have sought. In the first place I will not be able to use so much material and in the second I want to bear down more than you have cared on the significance of the word, as material. One feature of C. will be my own Comments. Perhaps this is sheer vanity. I dunno. But it is my purpose for all that and the thing that has made me want to take the trouble to go on – and to give up the time. I want to speak of Pagany (sooner or later) as the result of effective good taste in selecting material the hide bound minds of present day publishers have muffed. But Contact, rightly or wrongly, is more narrowly aimed. Perhaps that will be what’s the matter with it. Anyhow it is half printed and will be out by the end of the month – as it looks now.” (Quoted in A Return to Pagany, 378). Whatever his reassurances meant to Johns, the reemergence of a Williams-edited Contact, particularly when combined with the emergence of the collaborative book publishing ventures, certainly siphoned off most of Johns’ “Objectivist” contributors. Apart from regular installments of Williams’ White Mule, the only work from core “Objectivist” writers to appear in the final three 1932 issues of Pagany was the first section of Zukofsky’s “A,” which Johns included in the July-September issue.123Zukofsky had discussing the possibility of publishing selections from “A” as early as October 1930, when he first mentioned the project to Johns in a letter. The final year of Pagany did also feature a handful of poems by Norman Macleod and a single poem by Harry Roskolenko, both of whom were included in Zukofsky’s issue of Poetry.

Williams’ withdrawal from offering active editorial advice on poetry submissions coincided with the death of Johns’ father (and benefactor) Benjamin Johnson in February 1932. The disposition of his father’s estate dramatically reduced Johns’ source of financial support and contributed significantly to the demise of Pagany. While Johns’ magazine did publish fiction and poetry by an extraordinary array of significant American writers, the magazine had never been a commercial success.124In part, Johns was hampered by poor timing. Black Tuesday (October 29, 1929) took place just as Johns was finalizing his first issue, and resulted in the immediate loss of all his major advertisers (more than half a dozen prominent Boston businesses had taken out paying ads in the first issue). Johns paid contributors fairly generous sums: $3 / page for prose and a minimum of $3 for a half-page poem, but the loss of advertising revenue when combined with the usual lack of subscribers and dwindling sales from bookshops meant that Johns was never able to make Pagany a profitable enterprise, no matter its literary quality. In the face of increasing debts and diminished prospects of continued subsidy from family funds, Johns ceased publication of Pagany following the belated appearance of the magazine’s twelfth issue in February 1933.

In 1934, Johns married Veronica Parker, with whom he collaborated on a series of mystery novels, before moving to Cuttingsville, Vermont and devoting himself to photography and horticulture. In 1969, Johns collaborated with Stephen Halpert to produce A Return to Pagany, which includes a wealth of documentary information related to the magazine. The full archives for the magazine, including extensive correspondence between Johns, Williams, and Zukofsky are held in the University of Delaware’s Special Collections.

In relation to the “Objectivists,” Pagany provided an important and congenial outlet for the work of a whole network of loosely affiliated writers both immediately before and after the appearance of Zukofsky’s issue of Poetry. When it came to the poetry he published in Pagany from 1930 through early 1932, Johns’ editorial decisions were clearly influenced by the views of Williams and Zukofsky, and it is possible that the network and community fostered by Pagany also had some influence on the editorial choices Zukofsky made when selecting the contributors he included in his issue of Poetry, just as was true of The Exile and Blues.125There was no other little magazine that had a greater overlap of contributors with Zukofsky’s issue of Poetry, as Johns published poetry by Williams, Zukofsky, Bunting, Reznikoff, Rakosi, McAlmon, Rexroth, Macleod, Howard Weeks, Harry Roskolenko, Charles Henri Ford, Parker Tyler, and Emanuel Carnevali in Pagany. This relationship, however, has been largely neglected and poorly described in the scholarly literature to date. For example, in her Barbed-Wire Entanglements: The “New American Poetry,” 1930-1932,” Marjorie Perloff seeks to explore what she calls Zukofsky’s “‘Objectivist’ experiment” through the lens of a close examination of Johns’ Pagany. While Perloff’s effort is notable in the degree of attention it pays to understanding Zukofsky and the other “Objectivists” in relation to a contemporary little magazine, she gets a number of important facts wrong, claiming for example that “In his capacity as informal poetry advisor, moreover, Zukofsky evidently persuaded Johns to publish poems by his “Objectivist” friends Carl Rakosi, Charles Reznikoff, George Oppen, and Basil Bunting, by Kenneth Rexroth and Yvor Winters, Mary Butts and Mina Loy.” 126Barbed-Wire Entanglements: The “New American Poetry,” 1930-1932,” Modernism/Modernity 2:1 (January 1995), 148. This essay was also included in Perloff’s 2004 book, Poetry On and Off the Page, published by the University of Alabama Press. Firstly, Johns never printed any work by Oppen, and it is strange indeed to imagine as plausible the suggestion that Mary Butts and Yvor Winters’ appearance in Pagany might be attributable to Zukofsky’s editorial persuasion; in the first place, both Butts and Winters had work included in the inaugural issue of Pagany, well before Zukofsky’s editorial influence on Johns had been established,127The correspondence from Zukofsky to Johns contained in the Pagany archive, which Perloff concedes in a footnote that she did not herself consult, includes only a single, brief handwritten note from Zukofsky to Johns written prior to the publication of the first issue of Pagany. Johns’ letters to Zukofsky do not appear to have survived. and in the second place, Winters and Zukofsky were not on friendly terms, with the two men engaging in a vicious spat in the pages of The Hound & Horn just a few years later.

Apart from questions of editorial influence, there is no disputing that Johns was a significant figure both personally and creatively for Williams in the early 1930s, as his encouragement and the outlet provided by Pagany were largely responsible for Williams trying his hand at fiction and effort spent writing White Mule which, once completed, later spawned two sequels: In the Money and The Build-Up.128Williams admitted as much himself in a gracious letter he wrote to Johns in June 1937 just after New Directions had published the novel in full: “These are orders for you not to buy White Mule. As you may know it was released by Laughlin June 10 and has received a very good break from the reviewers, so much so that it looks like a winner. If it turns out to be a big success I want you to realize that I realize the important part you have played in the matter from the first. Without your early appreciation and most generous backing it might never have been written. Your critical acumen in suggesting that I leave out another complicating element in the story is also appreciated by me. Therefore, Mr. Richard Johns, it will give me the greatest pleasure in the world to sent to you (as soon as I get it) the first presentation copy of the book outside of my immediate family–and good luck to you. In just a few days you’ll have the book. It’s well made. I wish I could present it in person” (Quoted in A Return to Pagany, 512).

Contact

Robert McAlmon and William Carlos Williams first met in 1920 at a party hosted in New York City by the anarchist poet Lola Ridge. The two men quickly became friends, and before long, joint publishers of a little magazine, which they called Contact. Between December 1920 and the summer of 1921, when McAlmon left for Paris, McAlmon and Williams published four issues of Contact, and in June 1923, Williams published the fifth and final issue of Contact‘s first run with assistance from Monroe Wheeler.129The initial run of Contact can be read here: (pdf). For most of its first run, Contact was a fairly homely, homespun affair with a quite limited range. While its circulation never rose above 200 copies, Contact did provide an early outlet for Williams to develop and air his idiosyncratic views about the possibilities for a modern American literature rooted both in vernacular speech and a distinctly American locality.

In February 1921, McAlmon entered into marriage of convenience with the Bryher (Annie Winifred Glover), the daughter of Sir John Ellerman, one of the wealthiest men in Britain.130Byher proposed to McAlmon on Valentine’s Day (during tea at a New York City hotel), and they married later the same day at the New York City Hall. McAlmon described their marriage in a letter to Williams as “legal only, unromantic, and strictly an agreement. Bryher could not travel and be away from home, unmarried. It was difficult being in Greece and other wilder places without a man. She thought I understood her mind, as I do somewhat and faced me with the proposition. Some other things I shan’t mention I knew without realizing.” (The Autobiography of William Carlos Williams, 219). This last sentence appears to be an allusion to Bryher’s sexual preferences: Bryher was a lesbian and had been involved for some time in a romantic relationship with H.D. for some time. Involving herself in a traditional heterosexual marriage, Bryher felt, would protect both her and H.D. from unwanted accusations of impropriety or worse. Following their marriage, McAlmon and Bryher moved to London (which McAlmon hated) and then to Paris, where McAlmon used his father-in-law’s wealth to found the Contact Publishing Company and publish important modernist writing under the Contact Editions imprint, including books by his wife Bryher (Annie Ellerman), Gertrude Stein, Ernest Hemingway, Williams and himself.131For a good description of Bryher/Ellerman’s and McAlmon’s relationship, see Shari Benstock’s Women of the Left Bank: Paris 1900-1940, especially pp. 357-362.

Late in 1931, despite his involvement with Pagany, Williams was persuaded to resurrect Contact as a quarterly magazine (subtitled “An American Quarterly Review”). The impetus (and funding) for the magazine’s resumption was provided by Sally and Martin Kamin and David Moss, ambitious but inexperienced publishers who earlier in the year had revived McAlmon’s Contact Editions imprint to publish West’s novel The Dream Life of Balso Snell in New York City. While McAlmon was listed as an “associate editor” on the masthead and contributed to the magazine, his involvement in the actual editing and publishing of the second run of the magazine was nil. Instead, Williams managed the second run of Contact with the novelist Nathanael West.

Contact 2.1 cover

The cover of the first issue of the second run of William Carlos Williams’ Contact: An American Quarterly Review , published in February 1932.

Like PaganyContact carried very little criticism and primarily printed poetry and short stories. The first issue of the second run, which Williams and West had largely assembled by November of 1931, was published in February 1932. The issue contained work by several “Objectivists,” which is particularly unsurprising as Williams and Zukofsky were corresponding regularly at this time about Zukofsky’s plans for An “Objectivists” Anthology. Of the work included in this issue, Williams was most enthusiastic about Charles Reznikoff’s “My Country ‘Tis of Thee,” a long prose account derived from old legal records which Zukofsky had recommended to him,132See his letters to Zukofsky in The Correspondence of William Carlos Williams and Louis Zukofsky , pp. 105-111. but the issue also featured Robert McAlmon’s story “It’s All Very Complicated,” two poems by Zukofsky (“Ferry” and “Madison, Wis. Remembering the Bloom of Monticello”). In addition to this work by his “Objectivist” peers, Williams also published three prose pieces in the issue: an editorial (“Comment”), a remembrance of African-American women he had known (“The Colored Girls of Passenack — Old and New”) and a brief account of small magazines (“The Advance Guard Magazine”).

The last of these is particularly interesting, both because it immediately preceded the first installment of David Moss’ very detailed bibliography of little magazines published in American since 1900 and because gave a brief account of Williams’ perception of the history of little magazines over the past two decades. After summarizing the rise and fall of several magazines, Williams concluded:

In all, the “small magazine” must, in its many phases, be taken as one expression. It represents the originality of our generation thoroughly free of an economic burden. Technically many excellent services to writing have been accomplished. Nothing could be more useful to the present day writer, the alert critic than to read and re-read the actual work produced by those who have made the “small magazine’’ during the past thirty years.133”The Advance Guard Magazine,” Contact 2.1 (February 1932), 89-90.

Though Williams’ involvement with the magazine had been accompanied by a surge of excitement, he began to evince doubts about his involvement almost immediately, confessing to Zukofsky just a week after he had relayed details about the planned contents of the magazine’s first issue in November 1931 that “Were it not for Reznikoff’s thing I’d quit the Kamin quarterly at once, as is I’m holding on only long enough to see if I can put over the first issue. Maybe I won’t even last as long as that. The more I think of it the more certain I become that it’s the wrong lead for me.”134The Correspondence of Williams Carlos Williams and Louis Zukofsky, 111.

Williams’ ambivalence is made even more plain by the fact followed this letter just a few days later with another to Zukofsky in which he equivocated “And perhaps after all I am going on with Contact – I dunno for sure yet. It’s like the weather.” before ultimately writing “yes, I’m going on with it.” in by hand between the two sentences.135The Correspondence of Williams Carlos Williams and Louis Zukofsky, 113.

By December, Williams was once again working on preparing the final set of manuscripts, ultimately cutting Reznikoff’s original “My Country ‘Tis of Thee” manuscript in half, within a plan to print the second part in a subsequent issue. After several printing delays, the issue appeared in February 1932, though not to Williams’ delight, as he wrote Zukofsky in mid-March: “Yes Contact is out – down and out in so far as I am concerned: the first issue is the cheapest sort of a subterfuge for good faith in carrying out an agreement.” Zukofsky’s response to the issue echoed this disappointment: “Lowenthal brought his copy of Contact around the other day to show me. Moskowitz & Kaminsky’s job sure looks poor. They space my first poem wrong, & there are misprints in both,” but tempers his concern somewhat by continuing to enquire about the possibility of publication in future issues: “What about the second issue? All made up? Or could you use the preface to An “Objectivists” Anthology I once read to you in Grey’s restaurant? Or Movements 1, 5, and 6, or any one of em, of “A”? Or is Number 2 not coming out?” In response to Zukofsky’s query about whether there would even be a second issue, Williams replied “I don’t think I’ll use anything of yours in the next issue – if there is one. But if the second, or next, issue shows any kind of improvement over number 1 then– I’ll use your new Cantos of A in the third // At present I am holding back the material for no 2 until I have some assurance that I shall not be disgraced again.”136To read the full exchange in context, see The Correspondence of Williams Carlos Williams and Louis Zukofsky, 124-126.

Despite Williams’ continued ambivalence about the enterprise, he wrote Zukofsky that while he “var[ied] from disgust to confidence … the damned thing seems to have a root.”137The Correspondence of Williams Carlos Williams and Louis Zukofsky, 129 The root had taken strong enough hold in Williams that a second issue of Contact (dated May 1932 on its title page) was published in late June. This issue featured another McAlmon story, “Mexican Interval,” two poems and an editorial comment from Williams, and the second part of Reznikoff’s “My Country ‘Tis Of Thee,” complete with set of nineteenth century illustrations featuring depictions of “Oratorical and Poetical Gestures” and “Simple Bodily Pain,” “Love,” “Gratitude,” and “Simple Laughter” which Williams had inserted into the text.138He wrote to Zukofsky on July 4, 1932: “You’ll see that we’ve taken liberties with Reznikoff’s contribution. If you should hear from him I’d like to know what he says. And I’d appreciate your own reaction. The cuts are from a book of about the time the incidents in his collect occurred and do set off his findings rather nicely – in my opinion. If he wants to use the cuts in his book as it will later appear I’ll be glad to let him have them. I hope at least that he will not take exception to what I have done.” A few weeks later Zukofsky replied indicating that while he hadn’t seen Reznikoff, he “seemed pleased in a letter.” The Correspondence of Williams Carlos Williams and Louis Zukofsky, 131-132. Though Williams was more pleased with the printing of this second issue, and considered it an improvement on the first issue, he recognized that the magazine cost more to produce than it could realistically hope to recoup in sales, and continued to express frustration with the editorial duties, writing to Zukofsky in late July that he was “next to hopeless about Contact. a dull chore – not enough good work or too much. I can’t tell which: a quarterly can’t be just amusing, must be weighted – if to be excused.” In his his next letter to Zukofsky he confided that “I have gently told Kamin that after this year there will be no Contact (in all probability) for little Willie.”139The Correspondence of Williams Carlos Williams and Louis Zukofsky, 133, 135

Williams was serious about his discontent, and contributed to just one more issue of the magazine, resigning as an editor late in 1932. The third and final issue (October 1932) contained a brief editorial comment by Williams as well as his story, “For Bill Bird,” McAlmon’s poem “Farewell to Alamos,” and two poems each by Carl Rakosi (published under the joint title “African Theme, Needlework, Etc.”) and Louis Zukofsky (“Song 9” and “Song 10”). It appears from Williams’ and Zukofsky’s correspondence that there were initially plans to bring out a fourth issue of Contact (to complete the series) under the editorship of a “‘group’ – proletarian in feeling,” for which Zukofsky had submitted two poems each by himself and by Oppen.140Williams’ wrote to Zukofsky on December 15, 1932: “Nope! I’m out, completely out – so am returning the poems herewith. The one about the sink is the best to my taste and an excelent composition, perhaps you’d care to send it to “Contact #4″ directly,” and returned Oppen’s submission courtesy of Zukofsky in February 1933, along with news that he had declined James Leippert’s offer to serve as associate editor of his magazine The Lion and Crown, telling Zukofsky: “No sir, not twice in the same trap.” See The Correspondence of Williams Carlos Williams and Louis Zukofsky, 145-146. The mooted fourth issue never appeared, however, and Contact folded following the loss of both Williams and West, who left New York to pursue a screenwriting career in Los Angeles, as editors, having published just three issues in its second run.141Scans of much of the second run of Contact can be viewed here: (pdf). For more on McAlmon and Williams’ involvement with Contact, see Paul Mariani’s William Carlos Williams: A New World Naked, pp. 174-186 (the first run), and pp. 319-339 (the second run).

The New Review

In 1930, Samuel Putnam established The New Review as “An international notebook for the arts, published from Paris,” installing Ezra Pound as the magazine’s associate editor. In fact, Pound’s affiliation with this new publication likely empowered him to decisively cut off relations with Kirstein and The Hound & Horn as and when he did, since he may well have believed that he had found, in The New Review, a publishing outlet that would prove more tractable to his editorial judgment. Pound’s influence over Putnam’s magazine can be plainly seen as early as the second issue, which contained “A”-3 and “A”-4, two movements from Zukofsky’s ongoing epic autobiographical poem, as well as “Imagism,” Zukofsky’s review of René Taupin’s L’Influence du Symbolisme Français sur le Poésie American (de 1910 à 1920), which had been the occasion of Zukofsky’s heated war of words with Yvor Winters.

[more on the relationship between Putnam and Pound and Zukofsky. Zukofsky includes Putnam’s sonnet in the “Symposium” section of the “Objectivists” as something which he feels Parker Tyler and Charles Henri Ford ought to be interested in … from Tom Sharp: “Zukofsky wrote on 25 April 1931 to ask Pound to convince Putnam to publish an anthology of “Objectivists” which he would edit—and also, to improve Zukofsky’s reputation, a book of his poetry.1 Putnam had already accepted for publication in the spring issue of the New Review Zukofsky’s “‘A’, Third and Fourth Movements,” and “Imagism,” Zukofsky’s review of René Taupin’s L’Influence du Symbolisme Français sur le Poésie American (de 1910 à 1920). This issue also included a poem by Donal McKenzie, criticism by Pound, and a long editorial by Putnam, “Black Arrow.”]

Front and Morada: Norman MacLeod’s Magazines

Norman MacLeod, born in Salem, Oregon in 1906, founded a little magazine called The Morada in 1929 while living in Albuquerque, New Mexico. Though MacLeod, like Charles Henri Ford, was isolated geographically from American centers of literary activity, he nonetheless managed to engage in a vigorous literary correspondence with a number of significant writers, and published writing by a range of modernist writers then living in both the United States and Europe, including [ ].

MacLeod published The Morada through the end of 1930, issuing a total of five issues, suspending publication when he both moved to New York City in January 1931 to take a position working as an editorial assistant for Walt Carmon, then the managing editor of New Masses, the best known Marxist journal of its era and began serving as the American editor of Front, an ambitious trilingual literary review published from The Hague, Netherlands.

Front was published as a bi-monthly magazine beginning with its first issue, printed in December 1930 and running through a fourth number, published in June 1931. Despite a very short run, it printed work by a number of significant international contributors, including …

Contempo

In January 1931, Milton Abernethy, a 20 year old recent transfer student from North Carolina State College, met Anthony Buttitta, a 23 year old graduate student, in English course at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill taught by the playwright Paul Eliot Green. Within a few months, the two literary-minded young men had recruited three of their classmates, Shirley Carter, Phil Liskin, and Vincent Garoffolo, in founding a little magazine called Contempo: A Review of Books of Personalities, and a bookstore, The Intimate Bookshop, which they briefly operated out of Abernethy’s dorm room before moving to a separate commercial space in Chapel Hill.142In an early issue of Contempo, Abernethy wrote an advertisement for the store: Not many people know of the existence of such an agency as The Intimate Bookshop. [It is] a place where one can read without cost and buy with regular discount any book from The Death of the Gods to Lady Chatterley’s Lover, a place one goes for a quiet hour or so to browse about books that seem to stick his imagination, feel the intimate and personal touch of writers that lived to live, literature move before him as a vital and dynamic force rather than as a support for the dust of the ages. The Intimate Bookshop long outlasted Contempo, and was operated by Milton and Minna Abernethy in the building which used to house H.H. Patteron’s store at 205-207 Franklin Street in Chapel Hill from 1933 until 1950, when anti-communist sentiment community induced the Abernethys to sell the store to Paul and Isabel Smith and move to New York City, where Milton eventually became a successful stockbroker (oh the irony!). In 1955, the Smith’s moved the bookshop to a building which had previously housed the Berman Department Store at 119 Franklin Street, and sold the business in 1964 or 1965 to Walter and Brenda Kuralt, who opened an additional eight franchises throughout North Carolina. The last surviving Intimate Bookshop, the one on Franklin Street in Chapel Hill, closed in the late 1990s. See https://www.facebook.com/chapelhillhistoricalsociety/photos/pb.977057475709905.-2207520000.1463618918./982196798529306/. None of the three co-editors remained with the magazine for long, with all departing by August 1931, leaving Abernethy and Buttitta as the magazine’s chief editors and primary movers.

Abernethy, then a member of the Communist Party, was at UNC largely because he had been too radical and outspoken for his peers at North Carolina State143While at NCSC, Abernethy contributed several articles to Wautagan, a student journal, which were critical of school practices and policies. In the last of these, “The Game of Cheating at North Carolina State College is Not Equal to Any Other Sport,” Abernethy accused his fellow students of endemic academic dishonesty, which led to the student council voting to expel him for “disservice to the school.” While Abernethy appealed his expulsion and won the case, he transferred shortly thereafter to UNC-Chapel Hill. See Jim Vickers’ “A Week or Three Days in Chapel Hill: Faulkner, Contempo, and Their Contemporaries,” in The North Carolina Literary Review 1:1 (Summer 1992), pp. 17-29. Buttitta, born in Monroe, Louisiana to Sicilian immigrant parents, was seeking a master’s degree in English literature and had previously published plays and stories while an undergraduate at Louisiana State Normal College and the University of Texas.

The first issue of Contempo was published in May 1931 and featured an editorial describing the publication as a review of “ideas and personalities of some significance that demand immediate comment.” [Combining literature and a progressive political slant (while avoiding the championship of “any particular group or definite order” Contempo featured poetry, fiction, and literary and social criticism by a variety of writers, including Kay Boyle, Erskine Caldwell, William Faulkner, Langston Hughes, Ezra Pound, and William Carlos Williams.] Contempo was issued 18 times a year (roughly every three weeks) and cost ten cents per issue, with annual subscriptions available for $1. As a publication, Contempo had the appearance of a newspaper, with issues typically consisting of four pages and some mixture of poetry, editorial comment, reviews, and other prose. The editors frequently published special-topic issues with guest editors and quickly gained a reputation for its willingness to publish avant garde poetry as well as engage with progressive political issues. It devoted two issues, for example, to the Scottsboro Boys case, famously publishing Langston Hughes’ “Christ in Alabama” on the cover of their December 1, 1931 issue, in between editorials by Hughes and Lincoln Steffens, the well-known socialist muckraking journalist.

[In mid 1933, Buttitta and Abernethy, Contempo‘s remaining editors, quarreled and parted ways. Abernethy and his wife Mina continued to edit Contempo until February, 1934, when it ceased publication, apparently for lack of funds.]

Connection to the “Objectivists”

Contempo published poetry or criticism by Pound, Rakosi, Reznikoff, Williams, Zukofsky, Bunting, and McAlmon. The Oppens admired the magazine, and George described it to Ezra Pound as “a magazine concerned with liberal or radical political theses” and noted that a recent issue had been devoted to the Scottsboro case and had featured poetry by Countee Cullen and “other negro writers.” 144In “Publications in English,” Undated letter to Ezra Pound. Ezra Pound Papers, 1868-1976 (Box 38, Folder 1613). Beinecke Rare Book and Manuscript Library, Yale University Library, New Haven, CT.

James G. Leippert’s Magazines 

James G. Leippert, whose was also known as J. Ronald Lane Latimer and a host of other pseudonyms during his brief but significant publishing career, was an eccentric character145Eccentric is perhaps too charitable. Allen Tate recalled him as a “fly-by-night opportunist” and one of his closest friends and longtime collaborator Willard Maas described him privately as a “psychopathic worm” (qtd. in Al Filreis’ Modernism from Right to Left, 115). For a brief biographic account of Leippert’s life, see Ruth Graham’s “Mystery Man” article for the Poetry Foundation, which draws heavily on Al Filreis’ research. who published a series of very-short lived little magazines before founding The Alcestis Press, which published handsome editions of important works by Wallace Stevens, Williams Carlos Williams, Allen Tate, Robert Penn Warren, and others during the mid to late 1940s.

Leippert’s first attempt at publishing poetry came with his founding of the magazine the new broom, which he launched in January 1932 while still an undergraduate at Columbia University. Leippert described the magazine to potential contributors as a successor to Broom, an international quarterly magazine which had been published from Italy and edited by Harold Loeb and a rotating cast of associate editors. Lieppert was an enormous enthusiast of T. S. Eliot’s and wrote to him soliciting work for publication in the new broom, though Eliot politely declined his overtures. the new broom was quickly followed by Morningside, which failed following its April 1932 issue, and was succeeded by The Lion and Crown, Leippert’s third attempt at publishing magazine within the year.

Early in 1932, as he was planning the launch of The Lion and Crown, Leippert wrote to William Carlos Williams, inviting him to serve as associate editor, but Williams quickly declined, no doubt thinking of his recent experiences with Pagany and Contact. He did, however, recommend that Leippert contact Louis Zukofsky, who assisted Leippert greatly with assembling the first issue, warranting his being the subject of the the following special acknowledgement, printed inside the magazine: “The editors of The Lion & Crown wish to thank Mr. Louis Zukofsky for his interest, and to dedicate to him whatever of the publication is theirs to dedicate.”146Quoted in Pound/Zukofsky, 135. The inaugural issue of The Lion & Crown, published in Fall 1932, shows the editorial influence of Zukofsky throughout, as it featured work by Reznikoff, Rakosi, and Bunting, as well as contributions from peripheral “Objectivists” Frances Fletcher, Forrest Anderson, and Jesse Loewenthal. The first issue also included a list of contributors to future issues, promising to bring out work by a number of “Objectivists” including Williams, Reznikoff, Rakosi, Oppen, Norman MacLeod and Frances Fletcher. Leippert only managed to publish one additional issue of the magazine (printed in early 1933), though it did include two poems each by Oppen and MacLeod.147Other notable contributors to the issue include Gertrude Stein (“Basket”), Erskine Caldwell (“Crown-Fire”), and Jose Garcia Villa. Leippert also appears to have been planning an entire special issue devoted solely to William Carlos Williams and possibly another issue dedicated to Zukofsky, but neither issue ever materialized.148See vague references to a special critical number of Leippert’s magazine in Pound/Zukofsky pp. 145, 147 and Basil Bunting to Leippert, September 26, 1932 in the Ronald Lane Latimer papers at the University of Chicago Library. Pound and Zukofsky discussed Leippert’s seeming interest in publishing work by Zukofsky and other “Objectivists” in a series of letters exchanged between August 1932 and early 1933,149See Pound/Zukofsky, pp. 134-135, 145, 147. but by May 1933, Zukofsky seems to have lost any confidence he may have had in Leippert, telling Pound: “Will write Leippert again, & if he doesn’t answer to hell with him. I don’t think he has an asset. Think, in fact, he’s a quack & quacks are quickly uncovered these days … He’s off on a magazine proposition now—wants to get the [James Branch] Cabells, [Robert] Nathans, etc. to join him. They won’t if we’re goin’ to be anywhere near ’em. They won’t anyway”150The Selected Letters of Louis Zukofsky, 102.

The magazine proposition Leippert was “off on” was a poetry quarterly for which Leippert first began soliciting contributions in November 1933. Initially planned to appear under the name Flambeau, and later, Tendency: A Magazine of Integral Form, the first issue of Leippert’s fourth magazine was eventually published in October 1934 as AlcestisAlcestis survived a bit longer than Leippert’s previous efforts, and published work by William Carlos Williams, Wallace Stevens, e. e. cummings, and a host of other then-prominent poets, but it too suspended operations within a year of its founding, with the fourth and final issue, a “revolutionary number” edited by the poet Willard Maas appearing in July 1935.151See Al Filreis’ Modernism from Left to Right, pp. 118-128. The failure of Leippert’s fourth magazine with four calendar years was quickly followed by Leippert’s establishment of a publishing press, also called Alcestic. Between 1935 and 1937, Leippert’s Alcestis Press issued nine very attractive volumes of modern poetry, fine printed on rag paper, including Wallace Stevens’ Ideas of Order and Owl’s Clover, and William Carlos Williams’ An Early Martyr and Adam & Eve & the City, and it is conceivable that Leippert may have become Williams’ regular publisher had not James Laughlin emerged when he did.152The full list of books published under The Alcestis Press imprimatur also included Allen Tate’s The Mediterranean and Other Poems, Robert Penn Warren’s first volume of poetry, Thirty-Six Poems, John Peale Bishop’s Minute Particulars, Willard Maas’ Fire Testament and Ruch Lechlitner’s Tomorrow’s Phoenix. According to Al Filreis, Leippert had also sought to publish what would have been Elizabeth Bishop’s first book of poems, made a serious offer to publish new cantos and a collected poems by Ezra Pound which Pound ultimately refused, and nearly published a book by H.D. See Modernism from Right to Left, 121.

References   [ + ]

1. Joyce Hopkins, listed as the author of the one-line poem “University: Old-Time,” was an invented name used for Zukofsky’s poetic refashioning of a letter from his friend Roger Kaigh
2. Zukofsky wrote to Pound on October 15, 1931: “Geo. Oppen is planning a publishing firm—To, Publishers, and I’m the edtr.” (Qtd. in Pound/Zukofsky, 104).
3. Pound had suggested in a letter the previous month that Bunting might translate the Italian poet Federigo Tozzi’s novel Tre croci (written in 1918 and published in just before his death of influenza and pneumonia in 1920). Bunting never produced this translation.
4. This McAlmon book was never finished and remained unpublished at his death in 1956. A undated draft of the manuscript with a 1952 letter explaining the project of the novel can be found among his papers in Yale’s Beinecke Library.
5. Pound/Zukofsky, 117
6. Ezra Pound Papers, Beinecke (Yale), YCAL MSS 43, Box 38, Folder 1613
7. Rakosi, and Rexroth as well?
8. The Selected Letters of Louis Zukofsky, 102.
9. Zukofsky wrote to Pound on August 8, 1932: “Latest news from O[ppen]:—”Can’t continue To.” Which means my salary goes as well when the year is up—& will probably be reduced to $50 (if George can spare that much) a month, while it lasts. “The year is up”—may be this Setp. 1932—I’m not sure when my year started, since Buddy [George’s nickname] and I made no formal legal arrangements.” (Pound/Zukofsky, 132). Zukofsky’s salary was in fact reduced to $50, with October 1932 being the last month he received payment (Zukofsky, Letters to Pound, 8 October 1932, Yale).
10. The 14: Louis Zukofsky, Basil Bunting, Mary Butts, Frances Fletcher, Robert McAlmon, George Oppen, Ezra Pound, Carl Rakosi, Kenneth Rexroth, Charles Reznikoff, William Carlos Williams, Forrest Anderson, T.S. Eliot, and R.B.N. Warriston. The number swells to 15 if you count Jerry Raisman’s contribution to a collaboration with Zukofsky.
11. The eight authors included in both publications were: Bunting, Rakosi, Reznikoff, Oppen, Williams, Zukofsky, Robert McAlmon, and Kenneth Rexroth. Of those who appeared here but not in Poetry, Pound and Eliot should be well-known enough not to need an introduction here. Zukofsky had attempted to include work by both men in his issue of Poetry, but had not been able to persuade either to give him work for that issue. Mary Butts (1890-1937) was a English modernist writer who was well-known to Ezra Pound and had previously been married to the poet and publisher John Rodker. Many of her papers are now held by Yale’s Beinecke Library. Frances Fletcher was a teacher and graduate of Vassar College who had published a slim volume of poetry A Boat of Glass in Philadelphia 1926 and was a friend of Marianne Moore’s. In 1935, she married and changed her name to Frances Hourlland. Many of her papers are now held by Bowdoin College. Forrest Clayton Anderson (1903-1977) published his first poem, “S2,” in the Fall 1929 issue of Charles Henri Ford’s magazine Blues and had poems included in each of the magazine’s final three issues, where they appeared along with work from Rexroth, Williams, and Zukofsky. He also published work in Eugene Jolas’ magazine transition and Richard Johns’ Pagany. Between 1929 and 1931, Anderson and Johns wrote each other quite often (65 pages of correspondence between Johns and Anderson from this period are preserved in the Pagany archive at the University of Delaware–a higher volume of correspondence with Johns than exists in the archive for all but a handful of other writers). Johns published Anderson’s “Sonnet” in the inaugural issue of Pagany alongside work by Mary Butts, McAlmon, Rexroth, Williams, and Zukofsky, included his “Hotel for Sailors” in the third issue alongside work by Zukofsky, Reznikoff, McAlmon, and Emanuel Carnevali, and printed poems by Anderson in the Autumn 1931 issue along with work by Butts, Carnevali, McAlmon, Raoksi, Williams, and Zukofsky. Anderson would publish several collections of poetry, including Sea Pieces and Other Poems (1935), Further Sea Pieces (1945), Circumnavigation of the halo of a world (1951), In the Forests of Hell and of Heaven (a long prose poem in nine sequences published in 1958), Toward Other Shores (1961), and Portlights (1972). Anderson’s poetry was included in Stephen Coote’s Penguin Book of Homosexual Verse (1983) and a collection of his papers are now held at the University of Idaho. About W.B.N. Warriston I have been able to discover very little biographical detail apart from the fact that he lived in the early 1930s in White Plains, New York. Besides his inclusion in An “Objectivists” Anthology, it appears that his poem “Sea Gulls” appeared in the Summer 1931 issue of Pagany along with work by Rakosi, Reznikoff, McAlmon, Zukofsky, Williams, and Howard Weeks, and his “Herald-Tribune Acme” in the Winter 1932 issue next to work by McAlmon, Rakosi, and Frances Fletcher. Warriston also published a poem, “Sanctuary,” in the July 1933 issue of Poetry magazine.
12. Qtd. in Sharp’s dissertation: http://sharpgiving.com/Objectivists/sections/22.history.html?visited=1#22history-51, Zukofsky, Letter to Pound, 17 April 1933, Yale and referenced in Pound/Zukofsky, 141-142.
13. In his May 6, 1933 letter to Zukofsky, Williams urged that any revision be kept to no more than “2 pages in all” and indicated that “a few paragraphs may be added: Reznikoff can take care of a proper arrangement of the items.” He also directed Zukofsky to show his revised version of the prospectus to Tibor Serly. See The Correspondence of William Carlos Williams and Louis Zukofsky, 156-157.
14. The Selected Letters of Louis Zukofsky, 98-100.
15. On October 23, 1933, Zukofsky had written to Pound asking him to join himself, Williams, and Reznikoff as a partner in The Objectivists Press (a spelling he also included in a follow-up query to Pound dated October 29), but by November they had dropped the plural and reverted to The Objectivist Press, which is the name under which all their subsequent books were published.
16. 10 West 36th Street, located two blocks northeast of the Empire State Building in midtown Manhattan
17. Zukofsky to Pound in a letter dated February 17, 1935: “You can, if it won’t hurt your own name, try and get me published with Faber & Faber. Serly off to Europe with my final arrangement and additions to 55 Poems–a most commendable typescript for you to look at. Time fucks it, and if I keep my MSS. in my drawer or my drawers, I might as well shut up altogether. … If you consent, think it opportune etc, to try my 55 on Faber & Faber, you need not worry about an introduction–I don’t want it–you can write a blurb for the dust-proof jacket if it jets out of you. Noo Yok at a standstill. Haven’t heart from Bill Willyums in moneths.” (Pound/Zukofsky, 160-161).
18. See The Correspondence of Williams Carlos Williams and Louis Zukofsky, 212.
19. The Selected Letters of Louis Zukofsky, 120
20. The anthology included work by Williams, Zukofsky, Bunting, Oppen, Louis Aragon (translated by e.e. cummings), e.e. cummings, Ernest Hemingway, Marianne Moore, D.G. Bridson, T.S Eliot, and Pound himself.
21. He told Zukofsky that “The Reznikoff will appear to the Brit. reader a mere immitation [sic] of me, and they will howl that I am merely printin my followers.

It is I think just as good as parts of Lustra (1915, 1916) neither better nor worse. Very cleanly done but no advance in methodology. ((in most of it.))

Possibly by pickin’ out the Hebe element we can get something that will arouse interest. Remember an anth. like this has got to AROUSE interest without AT ANY POINT terminating ANY of the interest it arouses.

Its the sample of next weeks film, not the giving away of the end of the story.

The title of the Anth. is “The Active Element”. If I omit H.D. how am I to put in most of the Reznikoff you have sent.

my thesis bein that the ART of writing is (is still now continuously developing” (Pound/Zukofsky, 144). Pound similarly rejected rejected material Zukofsky had sent by Rakosi and Rexroth, telling Zukofsky in the same letter previously cited: “So far        Rakosi weak. Rexroth and the rest unsatisfactory.”

22. Page references for anthology needed.
23. Pound/Zukofsky, 143.
24. Pound/Zukofsky, 144
25. Pagany letters from Rakosi, U Delaware, and Poetry papers U Chicago.
26. See A Life of Kenneth Rexroth, pp. 65, 75-76 for more background on RMR.
27. In The Autobiography of William Carlos Williams, 266.
28. In in “Small Magazines,”The English Journal 19.9 (November 1930), pp. 689-704.
29. Modernism from Left to Right, 114.
30. Circulation estimates for many of the era’s little magazines can be found in […]
31. Harriet Monroe founded Poetry in 1912 with Ezra Pound as foreign editor, to cite just one very well-known example, with the magazine playing an very important role beginning the next year in promoting what later came to be known as imagism.
32. In a chapter entitled “Pound, Founder of Periodical Studies” from their book Modernism in the Magazines, Robert Scholes and Clifford Wulfman offer a thorough account of Pound’s shifting but frequently intense involvement with various literary magazines through the first several decades of his career. They point out that for the 9 year period from 1912-1920 (his prime years in London), Pound averaged around one magazine publication per week, and in the four year stretch from 1917-1920 he averaged more than 91 magazine publications a year. Furthermore, from 1909-1923, Pound was involved in various capacities with ten separate magazines in England and the United States (pp. 4-7, especially). While their close attention to Pound’s involvement with literary magazines wanes after 1923, Pound continued to be deeply interested in the quality of literature available to readers in both England and the United States, and continued to make suggestions, interventions, and attempts at editorial colonization well into the 1930s. Scholes and Wulfman observe that while his anti-semitism and support for fascism “have not endeared him to many people,” they also argue that “the Pound of the first three decades of the twentieth century was a different figure: a brilliant and indefatigable supporter of other writers and artists, a talented and learned poet, and a literary and cultural critic of enormous energy and biting wit. … Quite simply he had more to do with our present understanding of modernism than any other individual. He was a pioneer of comparative literary studies, of cultural studies, and of periodical studies … However one may rank his creative achievement as a poet, one much put him at the very top as an impresario and propagandist for the view of modernism that prevailed in the English-speaking world” (viii). Leonard Greenbaum provides a more balanced and less laudatory view of Pound’s combustible and often predatory relationship to little magazines in his The Hound & Horn: The History of a Literary Quarterly, though he does note that Pound served as an editor or foreign correspondent for at least 9 separate little magazines between 1912 and 1935: namely, Poetry (from 1912-1917), The New Freewoman (1913), The Egoist (1914), Blast (1914), The Little Review (from 1917-1921), Two Worlds (from 1925-1927), his own magazine The Exile (published between 1927- 1928), The New Review (from 1931-1932), and Westminster Magazine (1935). See pages 96-124 especially.
33. While Williams was certainly the best-known writer included in the “Objectivists” issue of Poetry, the list of books he had published in the United States was limited to his self-published 1909 collection Poems (which he later regarded as embarrassing juvenilia), his 1917 collection Al Que Quiere!, his 1920 hybrid work Kora in Hell: Improvisations, and his 1921 collection Sour Grapes (all published by Four Seas in Boston), and his prose works In the American Grain (published by Albert and Charles Boni in 1925) and Voyage to Pagany (published by the Macaulay Company in 1928). Robert McAlmon had published several of his books by this time (mostly through Contact Editions, a publishing company which he owned and operated), but all had been printed in Europe. McAlmon’s Contact Editions had also published Carnevali’s A Hurried Man from Paris in 1925. Basil Bunting had published a private edition of his collection Redimiculum Matellarum from Milan in 1930, but this collection would have been obscure even to the most assiduous collector of poetry in the United States.
34. His hybrid work Spring and All (published by McAlmon’s Paris-based Contact Editions) and his chapbook Go Go (published by Monroe Wheeler’s Manikin Press in New York City) were both issued in 1923.
35. A prose work by Reznikoff, By the Waters of Manhattan, had been published by Charles Boni in 1930.
36. Apart from the three titles previously described, Reznikoff had self-published three volumes of poetry, three collections of drama, and a prose work prior to 1931, each of which had been typeset and printed by hand on a small printing press which Reznikoff owned and operated from the basement of his apartment building.
37. This document, held at Yale’s Beinecke Library can now be accessed online: https://brbl-dl.library.yale.edu/vufind/Record/4300755
38.
39. Pound/Zukofsky, 91
40. Available online at the Poetry Foundation’s website: https://www.poetryfoundation.org/poetrymagazine/browse?contentId=16224
41. Named after Margaret Fuller and Ralph Waldo Emerson’s famous transcendentalist magazine of the mid-19th century
42. Not long previously Pound had left The Little Review, where he had served for more than two years as their “London editor.”
43. Pound’s first “Paris Letter” appeared in the October 1920 issue.
44. Eglington’s first “Dublin Letter” appeared in the March 1921 issue.
45. Eliot’s first “London Letter” appeared in the April 1921 issue.
46. Hofmannsthal’s first “Vienna Letter” appeared in the August 1922 issue.
47. Mann’s his first “German Letter” appeared in the December 1922 issue.
48. In February 1926, while living in Germany, Thayer suffered a severe breakdown, and was institutionalized for several months following his return to the United States. No known extant correspondence to any of his previous literary or artistic contacts from Thayer exists after February 1926, and Thayer spend much of the rest of his life in and out of sanatoria and accompanied by caretakers and guardians. This thumbnail sketch relies heavily on both Nicolas Joost’s Schofield Thayer and the Dial: An Illustrated History, especially pp. 3-20, 30, 74-113 and the overview to Schofield Thayer’s papers, held by Yale’s Beinecke Rare Book and Manuscript Library.
49. Joost estimates that the magazine had a circulation of roughly 10,000 in 1920, and that while it cost roughly $750 per issue to print, the magazine’s running deficit was $4,000-5,000 per month. Thayer wrote to Ezra Pound in September 1920 that their current deficit was about “$84,000 annually” and that they would need to increase circulation tenfold to ever clear expenses. The magazine’s business manager would later estimate the cash deficit for 1920 at around $100,000, offset by cash receipts of just $24,000. By 1922, they had nearly doubled cash receipts (to $45,000) but cash deficits had only been cut to $65,000, with some 85% of this total going to editorial and manufacturing costs. Sales from newsstands averaged about 3,500 per issue in 1920, climbing to just over 4,500 by November 1922 and reaching a high-water mark of 6,261 with the December 1922 issue (which contained Eliot’s The Waste Land). Typical monthly sales figures ranged between 4,000-5,000, and revenues from these sales can be estimated using the published sales price: 35 cents a copy for first several four months of 1920, 40 cents per copy from May-December of 1920, and then 50 cents per copy from January 1921 until its final issue in July 1929. Subscriptions, which had numbered just under 3,000 in 1920, had risen to 7,440 by February 1923. The print run appears to have peaked with the January 1923 issue, of which 18,000 copies were printed. While The Waste Land had been an enormous success, nothing else the magazine was to print would have quite an impact on sales, or the international literary world. For more details on the finances and circulation of the magazine, see Schofield Thayer and the Dial, 20, 30, 40-42, and Alan Golding’s “The Dial, The Little Review, and the Dialogics of Modernism” in Little Magazines and Modernism: New Approaches, especially n. 10 on p. 70).
50. Schofield Thayer and the Dial: An Illustrated History (52, 59-61).
51. The poems were “tam cari capitis”; “Song Theme”; “Someone said, ‘earth’”; and “The silence of the good,”
52. Pound’s affiliation with the magazine was announced in the April 1917 issue and he published an editorial explaining his decision to join The Little Review in the following month. Pound remained the magazine’s “London editor” until until 1919. His name was absent from the editorial page of the May 1919 issue and the June 1919 issue contained only the cryptic note “Ezra Pound has abdicated and gone to Persia. John Rodker is now the London Editor of the Little Review.” Pound returned to the editorial staff of the magazine in 1921 at the invitation of Margaret Anderson (by which time he was living in Paris and serving as the foreign correspondent for Scofield Thayer’s The Dial). His name is featured in the “Administration” section of the magazine’s front matter along with Anderson, Francis Picabia and jh [Jane Heap] beginning with the Autumn 1921 issue, and remained there until he left the magazine for good in the spring of 1923. For more on Pound and Anderson’s relationship, see Pound/The Little Review: The Letters of Ezra Pound to Margaret Anderson: The Little Review Correspondence, published in 1989 by New Directions.
53. The Little Review did not pay its contributors, for example, and estimates of its circulation have generally ranged between 1,000-2,000.
54. See Margaret Anderson’s The Little Review Anthology, published in 1953, for a good cross-section of work published by the magazine during its heyday.
55. See here. The remark is unattributed, but should probably be ascribed to one or more of the listed editorial staff, which at this point consisted of Anderson, Heap, and Pound.
56. Anderson and Heap published 23 installations of Joyce’s work, beginning with their March 1918 issue and ending with their September-December 1920 issue. Three of the issues containing installments from Joyce’s work were seized by the United States Post Office and burned as obscene, but it was the instalment featuring work from Joyce’s “Nausicaa” chapter in the July-August issue which directly precipitated the obscenity suite. Anderson published “‘Ulysses’ in Court,” her own an account of the trial, almost immediately after its conclusion in the January-March 1921 issue of The Little Review and discussed the case at some length in her autobiography, My Thirty Years’ War, published in 1930. The case has subsequently been explored in great detail in a number of books and articles, both scholarly and popular alike.
57. For more on this obscenity trial, see Holly Baggett’s “The Trials of Margaret Anderson and Jane Heap.” A Living of Words: American Women in Print Culture. Ed. Susan Albertine. Knoxville: University of Tennessee Press, 1995 (169-188) and Marisa Anne Pagnattaro’s “Carving A Literary Exception: The Obscenity Standard And Ulysses”Twentieth Century Literature: A Scholarly and Critical Journal 47.2 (2001): 217-240.
58. Williams’ first appearance in the magazine came with the the October 1917 issue, which featured three of his “Improvisations.” He appeared in another eleven issues between 1917 and the May-June 1920 issue, which carried his story “Danse Pseudomacabre.” His relationship with the magazine was much reduced after Jane Heap took over primary editorial duties, Williams did publish a notable letter in the Autumn 1922 issue praising the magazine’s Spring 1922 issue, which had featured the work of the French painter Francis Picabia, who Williams admired a great deal. This letter can be read here: http://library.brown.edu/pdfs/1299783092750000.pdf#page=103.
59. The poems were “Sittingroom by Patinka,” “The January of a Gnat,” and “Flora and the Ogre.” Rakosi would later describe this success as one of the great moments of his life. See his biography on this site for more details.
60. There was a Harvard undergraduate literary magazine then extant (the Harvard Advocate), but Kirstein and Fry both felt that the current editorial staff was uninterested in admitting them to their clubbish circle. They initially appear to have sought to establish their breakaway publication on the model provided by The Harvard Monthly, which had been published at Harvard between 1885 and 1917 and which had been edited by and published contributions from several Harvard undergraduates who later went on to achieve various measures of literary success.
61. In his foreward to The Hound & Horn Letters, Kirstein wrote that “The Criterion, later the Dial, were models of what magazines might be; both seemed so elevated and comprehensive in their spectra that, at the start, The Hound & Horn aimed to have been modestly enough, a mere “Harvard Miscellany.” But we printed a trial issue and secretly hoped that somehow it would please Eliot [the issue had included a two-part critical essay on Eliot by R.P. Blackmur and a bibliography of Eliot’s published work by Varian Fry]. … Eliot seemed to me, at the time, the most important authority in the world for anything and everything that could occupy me” (xvi).
62. In the first issue, Fry published an “Announcement” which concluded by asserting that “THE HOUND & HORN takes as its point of departure what is at once a valediction and a call to action. … [I]t bids farewell to land whose long familiar contours have ceased to stir creative thought: it bids farewell — and sounds the hunting horn” Fry would further clarify his editorial intentions, writing in a 1934 letter that he wrote to “hail the new and glittering world they [Joyce, Eliot, Stein, Picasso and Stravinsky] and their influences were creating, and to bid farewell to the stodgy in the nineteenth century and its heavy hand on the twentieth” (Quoted in Leonard Greenbaum’s The Hound & Horn: The History of a Literary Quarterly, 26-27).
63. For more on Hound & Horn‘s relationship to The Dial, see Greenbaum’s The Hound and Horn, 40-44. Regarding payment for contributors, The Dial had paid $20 / page for poetry and $10 / page for prose. In a 1929 letter to Ezra Pound, R.P. Blackmur indicated that the Hound & Horn provided rates of $7.50 / page for poetry and $3.50 for prose. While much reduced from the rates offered by The Dial in its heyday, this was still considerably more than that offered by other prominent modernist little magazines. For example, Eugene Jolas’ transition had paid contributors just 50 cents / page, while Margaret Anderson’s The Little Review did not pay contributors at all (The Hound & Horn Letters, 25).
64. For a thorough history of the magazine, see Leonard Greenbaum’s The Hound & Horn: The History of a Literary Quarterly (Mouton, 1966) and Mitzi Berger Hamovitch’s The Hound & Horn Letters (University of Georgia Press, 1982).
65. Greenbaum indicates that the magazine’s financial records show that it the magazine’s circulation fluctuated between 1,500 and 4,000 and that the magazine operated at a loss of roughly $10,000 annually–a sum that would be roughly equivalent to $140,000-$180,000 in 2017 terms. See Greenbaum’s “The Hound & Horn Archive,” The Yale University Library Gazette, Vol. 39, No. 3 (January 1965), 145: https://www.jstor.org/stable/40858055.
66. In his foreward to The Hound & Horn Letters, Kirstein wrote “I abandoned the magazine after seven years, not entirely because my interests had altered and I was otherwise magnetized (by the ballet). The real reason I did not fight to continue Hound & Horn … was that I didn’t give a damn for politico-philosophical tendencies which I felt were devouring the magazine’s space, and I was neither equipped to deal nor interested in dealing with them. I felt inadequate, and still do, with those delighted by ratiocination, with energies that mentate as sport” (xi-xii).
67. Pound had served as The Dial‘s “foreign advisor” and editor from 1920-1923 and had work published in four of the magazine’s first six issues. After one his typical spats with the editor, he resumed more friendly relations when Marianne Moore assumed editorship of the magazine in 1925. Pound received the magazine’s Dial Award (which included a $2000 prize) in 1927, and published work in each of the magazine’s final three issues.
68. Quoted language appears in letters from Blackmur to Pound, dated 20 May and 2 October 1929, which appear to quote previous messages from Pound (The Hound & Horn Letters, 25-27).
69. The Hound & Horn Letters, 27.
70. This was serialized in three parts, the first of which appeared in the April–June 1930 issue. Pound was pleased with this, singling it out as worthy of note in a review of “Small Magazines” he published in the November 1930 issue of English Journal: “At the present moment there are a number of free reviews in activity. Of these The Hound and Horn appears to me the most solid. It has taken over the heritage of whatever was active in the Dial. It has got rid of nearly all the Dial‘s dead wood and rubbish. This purgation may endanger its safety. The advance in critical writing which I have mentioned seems to me apparent in Zukofsky’s essay on Henry Adams, serialized in Hound and Horn, and in Hyatt Mayor’s criticism of painting” (792).
71. Zukofsky had also submitted a review of Pound’s Cantos to Hound & Horn sometime in 1930, but Bandler rejected it for publication as being “only a partial review,” since, in his view, while Zukofsky had “elucidated Pound and interpreted him” he had “seen him completely from within” and had not “attempted to estimate him from without” (The Hound & Horn Letters, 144-145).
72.  “as to local scene / I shd/ advise you to dig out ole Bill Williams// not necessary to AGREE. I shd/ also advise you to put up with being irritated by Zuk” (The Hound & Horn Letters, 60).
73. The Hound & Horn Letters, 63. Pound’s relationship with Hound & Horn was probably doomed as soon as Blackmur left the magazine as an editor, since none of the subsequent editors seemed to value his editorial opinions very much. The relationship between Pound and Hound & Horn already seems to be faltering by November 1930, when Bernard Bandler wrote to Pound rejecting his essay “Terra Italica,” and continues to deteriorate over a series of letters exchanged through Pound’s final angry outburst in July 1931. For more on the collapse of Pound’s relationship with Hound & Horn, see Greenbaum’s Hound & Horn 109-124, Michael Flaherty’s “Hound & Horn (1927-1934),” in The Oxford Critical and Cultural History of Modernist Magazines and The Hound & Horn Letters, 36-37, 43, 58-59, 62-64, 80.
74. See The Hound & Horn Letters, 79, 81, 83 (Fitts on Zukofsky), 96-97 (Mayor), 180-181, as well as the correspondence section of the January–March 1933 issue of Hound & Horn, which contains a heated exchange between Bunting and Yvor Winters regarding Winters’ caustic review of An “Objectivists” Anthology. A letter from Zukofsky to Kirstein giving his side of the dispute with Winters can be found in The Selected Letters of Louis Zukofsky, 82-84.
75. See The Selected Letters of Louis Zukofsky, 78-80.
76. See The Selected Letters of Louis Zukofsky, 82-84.
77. Quoted in Greenbaum, The Hound & Horn, 104.
78. Three brief items of correspondence between Williams and Kirstein are included in The Hound & Horn Letters, pp. 138-140.
79. Tom Sharp has argued not only that The Exile was the group’s “first public meeting place,” but that the publication of work by some many writers later identified as “Objectivists” in the magazine establishes the group firmly within the Poundian poetic tradition and “expresses many of the principles, especially about the importance of group activity, that Pound continued to impress upon them” (http://sharpgiving.com/Objectivists/sections/01.history.html)
80. Zukofsky’s first major publication, “Poem Beginning ‘The'” appeared in The Exile 3, and the fourth and final issue of The Exile also featured another dozen or so pages from Zukofsky.
81. Pound published four poems by Rakosi in The Exile 2 and his poem “Extracts from A Private Life” in The Exile 4
82. Williams’ “The Descent of Winter,” which Zukofsky had been instrumental in editing, was published in The Exile 4. Williams wrote to Pound on May 17, 1928: “Your spy Zukofsky has been going over my secret notes for you. At first I resented his wanting to penetrate- now listen! – but finally I sez to him, All right, go ahead. So he took my pile of stuff into the city and he works at it with remarkably clean and steady fingers (to your long distance credit be it said) and he ups and choses a batch of writin that yous is erbout ter git perty damn quick if it hits a quick ship – when it gets ready – which it aren’t quite yit. What I have to send you will be in the form of a journal, each bit as perfect in itself as may be. I am however leaving everything just as selected by Zukofsky. It may be later that I shall use the stuff differently.” (Pound/Williams, 82) Zukofsky and Wiliams had first met in April of that year, which means that Williams had known Zukofsky for less than 2 months at the time that he sent Pound this remarkable indication his editorial trust.
83. The Exile 2 included McAlmon’s short story “Truer than Most Accounts” and an essay of his on Gertrude Stein was included in The Exile 4
84. His poem “Stunt Piece” was published in The Exile 3
85. For a balanced appraisal of Monroe’s considerable skills as an editor and publisher as against the self-serving accounts Pound and his acolytes have tended to promote, see John Timberman Newcomb’s excellent “Poetry‘s Opening Door: Harriet Monroe and American Modernism” (pp. 85-103) in Little Magazines & Modernism: New Approaches, edited by Suzanne Churchill and Adam McKible.
86. Dariantiere was well known to Pound as the printer of much of work issued by Robert McAlmon’s Contact Editions and because he had printed James Joyce’s Ulysses for Sylvia Beach when she had been unable to find a printer willing to issue it in an English-speaking country.
87. Covici would later move to New York City and form a publishing firm with Donald Friede, who had been vice-president of Boni-Liveright. Covici-Friede were best known for limited editions of literary works, but they published some commercial fiction during the Depression. Covici formed a significant and long-lasting friendship and publishing relationship with John Steinbeck, and when Covici-Friede went bankrupt in 1938, Covici moved to Viking Press, and brought Steinbeck along with him. Covici died in 1964.
88. Ezra Pound, “Note re 1st Number”, The Exile, Volume 2 (Autumn 1927), 120.
89. Breen’s story, “My Five Husbands,” was the only piece of writing by a woman included in all four issues of Pound’s journal. Even by the standards of the time, this is stunningly poor representation, and reflects poorly on Pound’s catholicity of taste. George Oppen’s judgement on gender matters as they relate to Pound seems particularly fitting; among the scraps of paper Oppen had pinned to the walls of his writing space in his last years was this “Note to Pound in Heaven”: “Only one mistake, Ezra! / You should have talked / to women.” (Selected Prose, Daybooks, and Papers, 235).
90. 108
91. John Price, a New York newspaperman that Pound had partnered with in publishing and importing the magazine. See The Ezra Pound Encyclopedia, 113-115.
92. ”Interaction,” 109
93. Covici had informed Pound by September that he was planning to form a partnership with Donald Friede and attempt to move their operations to New York City, and that Pound’s magazine had been too unprofitable for him to continue publishing it.
94. More needed here
95. 104
96. It really is a pity that Pound didn’t have access to a micro-blogging platform and a large social media marketing budget. He would have loved it.
97. ”Small Magazines” English Review, 701
98. Ezra Pound wrote in a 1928 letter to his father Homer: “C. H. Ford is starting a local show, with Spector, Bill Wms. and Vogel, and printing Zuk. Let’s see what they can do.” Quoted in Ezra Pound to His Parents, 618
99. Greenwich Village was the natural choice for Ford for several reasons. First, it was where Kathleen Tankersley Young, his associate editor had been based, and the base from which she had worked to promote the magazine. Second, Young had already established a strong relationship with Lew Ney, who became the magazine’s patron and publisher upon Ford’s move to the city. Finally, the bohemian reputation and sexual permissiveness of the village was a strong attractor for the openly gay Ford, who stifled under the provincial and inhibiting restraints of his Mississippi hometown.
100. Lew Ney, born Luther Emanuel Widen, was already publishing the little magazines Parnassus (“A Wee Poetry Magazine”) and Bohemia (“A Magazine of Good Fellowship”) and was such a prominent fixture in the community that he was known colloquially as the “Mayor of Greenwich Village.” Ney and Ford operated Blues from an address at 12 E 15th Street, on the edge of Union Square Park, and less than half a mile from the Gramercy Park address that Richard Johns would relocate Pagany to later in 1930.
101. For an intimate personal account of Ford’s years in Greenwich Village, see Charles Henri Ford and Parker Tyler’s 1933 novel The Young and Evil. For a more academic summary of this period in the history of Blues, see Alexander Howard’s “Blues: A Magazine of New Rhythms and the Belated Renovation of Modernism” in The Journal of Modern Periodical Studies, Volume 5, Number 2, 2014, especially pp. 188-190.
102. Quoted in Pagany: Toward a Native Quarterly, 3.
103. Quoted in Pagany: Toward a Native Quarterly, 11-12.
104. In the announcement which inaugurated the magazine’s first issue, Johns offered the following explanation of the title: “Pagus is a broad term, meaning any sort of collection of peoples from the smallest district or village to the country as an inclusive whole. Taking America as pagus, any one of us as the paganus, the inhabitant, and our conceptions, our agreements and disagreements, our ideas, ideals, whatever we have to articulate is pagany, our expression.” (A Return to Pagany, 50). Throughout its twelve issue run, Johns made only a handful of exceptions to its “Americans only” publication policy, printing the prominent English modernist Mary Butts and the French poet and graphic artist Georges Hugnet (through the intervention of Gertrude Stein), publishing (at Pound’s suggestion) Olga Rudge’s translation of Jean Cocteau’s “Mystère Laïc” after Hound & Horn had failed to publish it in a timely enough fashion for Pound, and printing Basil Bunting’s loose translation of a Horatian ode “A Cracked Record,” though the newlywed Bunting had submitted the poem during the six months that he was living in New York.
105. Zukofsky’s first letter to Johns, indicating that Williams “has suggested that I get in touch with you,” was dated November 7, 1929. University of Delaware Special Collections, MS 110, Box 10, Folder 260
106. Both Mangan and Johns lived in Lynn, Massachusetts and both were the sons of prominent Boston-area professionals with Harvard pedigrees. Mangan’s father, John Joseph Mangan, had earned an M.D. from Harvard Medical School and had established a children’s clinic in Lynn, and was also an accomplished historian, having written a history of Lynn and a massive biography/psychological portrait of the Dutch humanist theologian Desiderius Erasmus. The younger Mangan had printed a poem by Johns in the final issue of Larus, and the relationship between the two men was amicable enough that they arranged for Larus unfulfilled subscriptions to be absorbed by Pagany.
107. Ford enthusiastically shared news of Pagany with his stable of contributors to Blues, and should be credited with connecting Johns to writers Kenneth Rexroth, Erskine Caldwell, Noman Macleod, Parker Tyler, Kathleen Tankersley Young, and Forrest Anderson.
108. In July 1929, Munson replied to Johns’ query about his experiences with Secession by sending the names and addresses for elevent potential contributors to the magazine, including Kenneth Burke, Jean Toomer, and Hart Crane. See Pagany: Toward a Native Quarterly, 14-15.
109. Quoted in Pagany: Toward A Native Quarterly, 50
110. Here, Williams wrote: “How in a democracy, such as the United States, can writing, which has to compete with excellence elsewhere and in other times, remain in the field and be at once objective (true to fact) intellectually searching, subtle and instinct with powerful additions to our lives? It is impossible, without invention of some sort, for the very good reason that observation about us engenders the very opposite of what we seek: triviality, crassness, and intellectual bankruptcy. And yet what we do see can in no way be excluded. Satire and flight are two possibilities but Miss Stein has chosen otherwise. But if one remain in a place and reject satire, what then? To be democratic, local (in the sense of being attached with integrity to actual experience) Stein, or any other artist, must for subtlety ascend to a plane of almost abstract design to keep alive. To writing, then, as an art in itself. Yet what actually impinges on the senses must be rendered as it appears, by use of which, only, and under which, untouched, the significance has to be disclosed. It is one of the major problems of the artist. “Melanctha” is a thrilling clinical record of the life of a colored woman in the present day United States, told with directness and truth. It is without question one of the best bits of characterization produced in America. It is universally admired. This is where Stein began. But for Stein to tell a story of that sort, even with the utmost genius, was not enough under the conditions in which we live, since by the very nature of its composition such a story does violence to the larger scene which would be portrayed. … The more carefully the drawing is made, the greater the genius involved and the greater the interest that attaches, therefore, to the character as an individual, the more exceptional that character becomes in the mind of the reader and the less typical of the scene. … Truly, the world is full of emotion — more or less — but it is caught in bewilderment to a far more important degree. And the purpose of art, so far as it has any, is not at least to copy that, but lies in the resolution of difficulties to its own comprehensive organization of materials. And by so doing, in this case, rather than by copying, it takes its place as most human. To deal with Melanctha, with characters of whomever it may be, the modern Dickens, is not therefore human. To write like that is not, in the artist, to be human at all, since nothing is resolved, nothing is done to resolve the bewilderment which makes of emotion an inanity. That, is to overlook the gross instigation and with all subtlety to examine the object minutely for “the truth” — which if there is anything more commonly practised or more stupid, I have yet to come upon it. To be most useful to humanity, or to anything else for that matter, an art, writing, must stay art, not seeking to be science, philosophy, history, the humanities, or anything else it has been made to carry in the past.” (Quoted in Pagany: Toward A Native Quarterly, 58-59.)
111. In a letter dated January 8, 1930, Zukofsky wrote: “The format seems to me excellent: quite the proper thickness, and the matter being honest – to say the least – what else is there to say.” University of Delaware Special Collections, MS 110, Box 10, Folder 260.
112. Williams, who wrote Johns with his private criticism of each issue, concluded his critique of this issue with praise for Zukofsky: “As you know I highly prize whatever Louis Zukofsky does. I think his poem the best in the issue if not the best – oh well.” In a subsequent letter written June 5, 1930 he informed Johns “Louis Zukofsky has a swell essay on the American phase of the modernists in poetry, what they have said and done. It is rather prejudiced in my favor but it is good. Why not write asking him to let you see it?” (Quoted in Pagany: Toward A Native Quarterly, 124, 127).
113. Johns never published any of Zukofsky’s prose, but Zukofsky’s “For a Thing By Bach” did appear in the magazine’s fourth issue.
114. Zukofsky wrote to Johns on July 19, 1930, telling him “I am glad you are keeping the Reznikoff poems,” sharing Reznikoff’s Bronx address and encouraging him Johns to get in touch with him directly.
115. Carnevali served as associate editor of Poetry for six months in 1919, and the Poetry Foundation has published a good thumbnail biographical sketch on their website: https://www.poetryfoundation.org/poets/emanuel-carnevali.
116. ”Flowers by the Sea” and “Sea-Trout and Butterfish”
117. Zukofsky references their meeting in a February 1931 letter to Pound, stating that Johns was “very quiet when I saw him in N.Y. this Xmas—said he wd. do at least a second year of Pagany” (Pound/Zukofsky, 92).
118. Rexroth was apparently a regular visitor to Johns’ office at Gramercy Park during the short time Rexroth was in New York City, where Rexroth frequently helped Johns arrange type and otherwise assist in production and pre-publication work (A Return to Pagany, 275-278).
119. Undated letter to Richard Johns. Archive of Pagany, 1925-1970 (Box 8, Folder 188). University of Delaware Library Special Collections, Newark, Delaware.
120. The events described in Johns’ poem took place at Good Harbor Beach during an eight day vacation the Williams family had taken with Johns and “a lady friend” to East Gloucester, Massachusetts in late summer 1930. Williams describes the trip briefly in a September 9, 1930 letter to Zukofsky included in The Correspondence of William Carlos Williams and Louis Zukofsky, 70, and Johns also described the episode in a brief prose story, “Figure,” which he published in the April-June 1931 issue of Pagany.
121. Sometime in 1931 Johns had hosted a dinner party for Basil Bunting at Lou and Bill Chapman’s in Bethel, Connecticut, which Williams and possibly Zukofsky attended.
122. ”I wish I could sit down and finish White Mule. I have never enjoyed writing anything more. But since you are willing to go on taking the bits as they come I’m not going to rush it. It is a real pleasure to me that you are pleased because I am writing it for you. The last Pagany shows the results of your experience in publication during the last two years, it is uniformly excellent reading from beginning to end. I have read the last issue particularly carefully inasmuch as I want all the help I can get in making up Contact. The only result of my cogitations so far has been an appreciation of your work. But C. will not have the general reading appeal that you have sought. In the first place I will not be able to use so much material and in the second I want to bear down more than you have cared on the significance of the word, as material. One feature of C. will be my own Comments. Perhaps this is sheer vanity. I dunno. But it is my purpose for all that and the thing that has made me want to take the trouble to go on – and to give up the time. I want to speak of Pagany (sooner or later) as the result of effective good taste in selecting material the hide bound minds of present day publishers have muffed. But Contact, rightly or wrongly, is more narrowly aimed. Perhaps that will be what’s the matter with it. Anyhow it is half printed and will be out by the end of the month – as it looks now.” (Quoted in A Return to Pagany, 378).
123. Zukofsky had discussing the possibility of publishing selections from “A” as early as October 1930, when he first mentioned the project to Johns in a letter. The final year of Pagany did also feature a handful of poems by Norman Macleod and a single poem by Harry Roskolenko, both of whom were included in Zukofsky’s issue of Poetry.
124. In part, Johns was hampered by poor timing. Black Tuesday (October 29, 1929) took place just as Johns was finalizing his first issue, and resulted in the immediate loss of all his major advertisers (more than half a dozen prominent Boston businesses had taken out paying ads in the first issue). Johns paid contributors fairly generous sums: $3 / page for prose and a minimum of $3 for a half-page poem, but the loss of advertising revenue when combined with the usual lack of subscribers and dwindling sales from bookshops meant that Johns was never able to make Pagany a profitable enterprise, no matter its literary quality.
125. There was no other little magazine that had a greater overlap of contributors with Zukofsky’s issue of Poetry, as Johns published poetry by Williams, Zukofsky, Bunting, Reznikoff, Rakosi, McAlmon, Rexroth, Macleod, Howard Weeks, Harry Roskolenko, Charles Henri Ford, Parker Tyler, and Emanuel Carnevali in Pagany.
126. Barbed-Wire Entanglements: The “New American Poetry,” 1930-1932,” Modernism/Modernity 2:1 (January 1995), 148. This essay was also included in Perloff’s 2004 book, Poetry On and Off the Page, published by the University of Alabama Press.
127. The correspondence from Zukofsky to Johns contained in the Pagany archive, which Perloff concedes in a footnote that she did not herself consult, includes only a single, brief handwritten note from Zukofsky to Johns written prior to the publication of the first issue of Pagany. Johns’ letters to Zukofsky do not appear to have survived.
128. Williams admitted as much himself in a gracious letter he wrote to Johns in June 1937 just after New Directions had published the novel in full: “These are orders for you not to buy White Mule. As you may know it was released by Laughlin June 10 and has received a very good break from the reviewers, so much so that it looks like a winner. If it turns out to be a big success I want you to realize that I realize the important part you have played in the matter from the first. Without your early appreciation and most generous backing it might never have been written. Your critical acumen in suggesting that I leave out another complicating element in the story is also appreciated by me. Therefore, Mr. Richard Johns, it will give me the greatest pleasure in the world to sent to you (as soon as I get it) the first presentation copy of the book outside of my immediate family–and good luck to you. In just a few days you’ll have the book. It’s well made. I wish I could present it in person” (Quoted in A Return to Pagany, 512).
129. The initial run of Contact can be read here: (pdf).
130. Byher proposed to McAlmon on Valentine’s Day (during tea at a New York City hotel), and they married later the same day at the New York City Hall. McAlmon described their marriage in a letter to Williams as “legal only, unromantic, and strictly an agreement. Bryher could not travel and be away from home, unmarried. It was difficult being in Greece and other wilder places without a man. She thought I understood her mind, as I do somewhat and faced me with the proposition. Some other things I shan’t mention I knew without realizing.” (The Autobiography of William Carlos Williams, 219). This last sentence appears to be an allusion to Bryher’s sexual preferences: Bryher was a lesbian and had been involved for some time in a romantic relationship with H.D. for some time. Involving herself in a traditional heterosexual marriage, Bryher felt, would protect both her and H.D. from unwanted accusations of impropriety or worse.
131. For a good description of Bryher/Ellerman’s and McAlmon’s relationship, see Shari Benstock’s Women of the Left Bank: Paris 1900-1940, especially pp. 357-362.
132. See his letters to Zukofsky in The Correspondence of William Carlos Williams and Louis Zukofsky , pp. 105-111.
133. ”The Advance Guard Magazine,” Contact 2.1 (February 1932), 89-90.
134. The Correspondence of Williams Carlos Williams and Louis Zukofsky, 111.
135. The Correspondence of Williams Carlos Williams and Louis Zukofsky, 113.
136. To read the full exchange in context, see The Correspondence of Williams Carlos Williams and Louis Zukofsky, 124-126.
137. The Correspondence of Williams Carlos Williams and Louis Zukofsky, 129
138. He wrote to Zukofsky on July 4, 1932: “You’ll see that we’ve taken liberties with Reznikoff’s contribution. If you should hear from him I’d like to know what he says. And I’d appreciate your own reaction. The cuts are from a book of about the time the incidents in his collect occurred and do set off his findings rather nicely – in my opinion. If he wants to use the cuts in his book as it will later appear I’ll be glad to let him have them. I hope at least that he will not take exception to what I have done.” A few weeks later Zukofsky replied indicating that while he hadn’t seen Reznikoff, he “seemed pleased in a letter.” The Correspondence of Williams Carlos Williams and Louis Zukofsky, 131-132.
139. The Correspondence of Williams Carlos Williams and Louis Zukofsky, 133, 135
140. Williams’ wrote to Zukofsky on December 15, 1932: “Nope! I’m out, completely out – so am returning the poems herewith. The one about the sink is the best to my taste and an excelent composition, perhaps you’d care to send it to “Contact #4″ directly,” and returned Oppen’s submission courtesy of Zukofsky in February 1933, along with news that he had declined James Leippert’s offer to serve as associate editor of his magazine The Lion and Crown, telling Zukofsky: “No sir, not twice in the same trap.” See The Correspondence of Williams Carlos Williams and Louis Zukofsky, 145-146.
141. Scans of much of the second run of Contact can be viewed here: (pdf). For more on McAlmon and Williams’ involvement with Contact, see Paul Mariani’s William Carlos Williams: A New World Naked, pp. 174-186 (the first run), and pp. 319-339 (the second run).
142. In an early issue of Contempo, Abernethy wrote an advertisement for the store: Not many people know of the existence of such an agency as The Intimate Bookshop. [It is] a place where one can read without cost and buy with regular discount any book from The Death of the Gods to Lady Chatterley’s Lover, a place one goes for a quiet hour or so to browse about books that seem to stick his imagination, feel the intimate and personal touch of writers that lived to live, literature move before him as a vital and dynamic force rather than as a support for the dust of the ages. The Intimate Bookshop long outlasted Contempo, and was operated by Milton and Minna Abernethy in the building which used to house H.H. Patteron’s store at 205-207 Franklin Street in Chapel Hill from 1933 until 1950, when anti-communist sentiment community induced the Abernethys to sell the store to Paul and Isabel Smith and move to New York City, where Milton eventually became a successful stockbroker (oh the irony!). In 1955, the Smith’s moved the bookshop to a building which had previously housed the Berman Department Store at 119 Franklin Street, and sold the business in 1964 or 1965 to Walter and Brenda Kuralt, who opened an additional eight franchises throughout North Carolina. The last surviving Intimate Bookshop, the one on Franklin Street in Chapel Hill, closed in the late 1990s. See https://www.facebook.com/chapelhillhistoricalsociety/photos/pb.977057475709905.-2207520000.1463618918./982196798529306/.
143. While at NCSC, Abernethy contributed several articles to Wautagan, a student journal, which were critical of school practices and policies. In the last of these, “The Game of Cheating at North Carolina State College is Not Equal to Any Other Sport,” Abernethy accused his fellow students of endemic academic dishonesty, which led to the student council voting to expel him for “disservice to the school.” While Abernethy appealed his expulsion and won the case, he transferred shortly thereafter to UNC-Chapel Hill. See Jim Vickers’ “A Week or Three Days in Chapel Hill: Faulkner, Contempo, and Their Contemporaries,” in The North Carolina Literary Review 1:1 (Summer 1992), pp. 17-29.
144. In “Publications in English,” Undated letter to Ezra Pound. Ezra Pound Papers, 1868-1976 (Box 38, Folder 1613). Beinecke Rare Book and Manuscript Library, Yale University Library, New Haven, CT.
145. Eccentric is perhaps too charitable. Allen Tate recalled him as a “fly-by-night opportunist” and one of his closest friends and longtime collaborator Willard Maas described him privately as a “psychopathic worm” (qtd. in Al Filreis’ Modernism from Right to Left, 115). For a brief biographic account of Leippert’s life, see Ruth Graham’s “Mystery Man” article for the Poetry Foundation, which draws heavily on Al Filreis’ research.
146. Quoted in Pound/Zukofsky, 135
147. Other notable contributors to the issue include Gertrude Stein (“Basket”), Erskine Caldwell (“Crown-Fire”), and Jose Garcia Villa.
148. See vague references to a special critical number of Leippert’s magazine in Pound/Zukofsky pp. 145, 147 and Basil Bunting to Leippert, September 26, 1932 in the Ronald Lane Latimer papers at the University of Chicago Library.
149. See Pound/Zukofsky, pp. 134-135, 145, 147.
150. The Selected Letters of Louis Zukofsky, 102.
151. See Al Filreis’ Modernism from Left to Right, pp. 118-128.
152. The full list of books published under The Alcestis Press imprimatur also included Allen Tate’s The Mediterranean and Other Poems, Robert Penn Warren’s first volume of poetry, Thirty-Six Poems, John Peale Bishop’s Minute Particulars, Willard Maas’ Fire Testament and Ruch Lechlitner’s Tomorrow’s Phoenix. According to Al Filreis, Leippert had also sought to publish what would have been Elizabeth Bishop’s first book of poems, made a serious offer to publish new cantos and a collected poems by Ezra Pound which Pound ultimately refused, and nearly published a book by H.D. See Modernism from Right to Left, 121.