Editors: Ammiel Alcalay & Joanne Kyger
66 pages, softcover, saddle-stitch binding
All these letters reveal a 'cast of characters' that 'appear and disappear,' exchanging news of their lives and loves from their Black Mountain days of 1955 onward, through San Francisco, New York City, Boston, Buffalo…" - Joanne Kyger
In this project, editor and author embark upon a journey of discovery, back into a formative time, the late 1950s and early 60s, when Kyger forged deep friendships with her contemporaries, all engaged in similar struggles to come to their own forms of expression. In this juxtaposition of letters to and between Joanne Kyger and her friends novelist Michael Rumaker, and poets John Wieners and George Stanley, we are given rare insight into the formation of an artistic community. Amidst literary gossip, there is striking tenderness woven into their letters, a sense of common cause, and an unswerving allegiance to the work of writing and what it might yield in a world largely gone mad and detached from sources of its own sustenance. Along with other projects in Series III, these letters create a prism of personal, poetic, and political documentary, charting an intimate and intricate history that remains largely unwritten outside the very materials presented.
Associated with the poets of the San Francisco Renaissance, poet JOANNE KYGER studied philosophy and literature at the University of California, Santa Barbara, moving to San Francisco in 1957 just before she finished her degree. In San Francisco she attended the Sunday meetings of poets Jack Spicer and Robert Duncan, and moved into the East West House, a communal house for students of Zen Buddhism and Asian studies. She lived in Japan with Gary Snyder, her husband at the time, and traveled in India with Snyder, Allen Ginsberg, and Peter Orlovsky. She eventually returned to California, where she still lives and works. Kyger has published more than 20 collections of poetry, including The Tapestry and the Web (1965), All This Every Day (1975), The Wonderful Focus of You (1979), Going On: Selected Poems 1958-1980 (1983), Just Space, poems 1979-1989 (1991), Again: Poems 1989-2000 (2001), As Ever: Selected Poems (2002), and About Now: Collected Poems (2007). She is also the author of the prose collection Strange Big Moon: Japan and India Journals 1960-1964 (1981).
- Mandeville Special Collections Library, University of California, San Diego, CA
- Thomas J. Dodd Center, University of Connecticut, Storrs, CT
- Personal Archives (Ammiel Alcalay, Joanne Kyger, Jerome Mallmann)
Photo credit: John Wieners & Joanne Kyger: Photo by Jerome Mallmann, 1967