I got into poetry as a teenager (in 1986) by way of the Beats, who were mentioned in my U.S. History textbook; a sympathetic English teacher, and a girlfriend who lent me her copy of “The Young American Poets” edited by Paul Carroll, in which I discovered the likes of Clark Coolidge and Ted Berrigan. I was also heavily into Bob Dylan and Crass. At 17 I wrote Allen Ginsberg a letter. I had no idea he was so famous. He kindly hand-wrote a letter (on a Naropa flyer) in reply mentioning he was too busy to correspond, but wrote that the Beats were just a bunch of friends and the whole “movement” overly romanticized. He gave me a list of writers to read. Alas, the letter was stolen along with all of my possessions in 1993.
I moved to Santa Cruz, CA from Tulare, CA in 1989. Being “out in the tules” was not a place for a poet. I was in a band whose guitarist Andrew Maxwell, later of The Germ and now The Poetic Research Bureau studied poetry at UCSC. It was then I came into contact with the New York School and the Black Mountain poets, but most significant to me was Nathaniel Mackey‘s journal, Hambone. I was intrigued by what I read, having no idea how to approach this kind of writing, which was various and intriguing, but nonetheless foreign to me. I tried starting a poetry magazine, but never could get it off the ground.
ii. The Bay
In 1993 I relocated to San Francisco, CA where I worked as a library assistant at the Mechanics Institute Library for a few years. I met the poet Richard Tagett while working at the Mechanics. An old friend and ANGLE associate who also worked there, mentioned that Rich knew Robert Duncan and Jack Spicer, and that he coedited a magazine called Manroot in the 1970s. I was impressed. Of course he was surprised I knew who Spicer was. I had a million questions. He’s still answering them to this day.
iii. First Astonishments and Getting Started
I found out about Small Press Traffic, then a storefront on the corner of 24th St. and Guerrero (and later on Sanchez St., I think), which was a major resource for local poets. I spied a copy of Avery Burns’s magazine lyric& which I thought was very cool. It was xeroxed, something I was used to seeing in the ’80s punk/underground ‘zine culture. Steve Carll’s ANTENYM was also inspiring. I found mimeographed books by United Artists and copies of Yugen and Floating Bear at Green Apple Books. Auerhahn Press/David Haselwood books came my way. I only heard about Open Space and J. I started getting interested in publishing a small magazine again, mostly thanks to seeing the fruits of the early San Francisco small presses and the mimeograph revolution of the ’60s and ’70s.
I settled on ANGLE as a title fairly quickly and chose to keep the format very simple. To drum up interest I posted a call for submissions on the Buffalo poetry listserv (is it still online?), as well as sending notices to every poet I liked whose address I could find in a poets directory the SF Public Library had. I asked older, established poets to recommend other, unknown (to me) poets I could get in touch with. I wanted younger, “innovative” poets to form the majority of those I was willing to publish. I hadn’t gone to SF State or New College, so it was difficult meeting younger poets in the area: I didn’t know any my age except for one or two friends. Not a good start for a would-be editor. I ended up conducting most of my relationships with poets through the mail. Mostly poets on the East Coast, and in the South and Midwest responded to my requests for poems, while many West Coast (in particular S.F.) poets ignored them, although one did send me 30 pages of poetry and demanded I print all or none of them. It didn’t help that I was all over the place in terms of my vision for the magazine– but what I didn’t want was to reflect any type of “group think” or allegiance to one school of poetry, hence its random nature.
Up until this point I typed everything on my trusty Corona Silent. I wanted to have a more “contemporary” look, so asked Rich Tagett if I could use his computer to produce the first issue of ANGLE, and ended up doing the first three issues at his place. I gave the magazine away for free at readings; they cost $3 per copy through the mail and at Green AppleBooks (courtesy of George Albon).
I started getting some subscribers after issue one, as well as donations from other poets. It cost me about $200 to produce one issue (100 copies).
v. ANGLE PRESS
ANGLE branched out to doing chapbooks and a few broadsides sometime in 1996. First up was my booklet, Ganzfeld followed closely by Patrick Monnin’s Flybottle.
vi. Another Opening
It was through corresponding with John Yau in mid-1997 that I was able to meet Garrett Caples, fresh-faced, sick of Berkeley, and with an interest in Weldon Keys, which was so bizarre to me I thought it was cool. I sent him ANGLE #1 not long before we met. That was a big turning point: a poet roughly my age, with no affiliations to a poetry group or an institution. We bonded over a shared interest in altered consciousness, surrealism, Sun Ra, and being outside the academic experimental poetry scene.
Garrett had his first poetry reading at my apartment. Not long after this I met Andrew Joron and Jeff Clark when John Yau came to do a reading. We had drinks. Jeff asked me if I was “pure.” He was also editing his own magazine, Faucheuse (last issue here). A few months later Garrett’s first chapbook, “The Dream of Curtains” was released by ANGLE PRESS.
vi. East Coast
In June of 1998 I moved to Brooklyn, NY where I eventually got back into doing ANGLE again. Just before I left San Francisco ANGLE PRESS, in collaboration with Black Square Editions, published The Garrett Caples Reader in 1999.
I returned to San Francisco a year or so later, leaving ANGLE to the heap of history for reasons I can’t recall, although I’m sure finances and a lack of interest had something to do with it.
vii. On the Mag
ANGLE #1: I was in touch with UK poets for some reason. I was pleased to have published John Godfrey whose books I found at Green Apple. I thought he was an unsung genius. He really had a comeback a couple years later, most likely because of ANGLE… right? (download)
ANGLE #2 with Maya Deren on the cover. I loved (and still do) her films. It’s a really varied issue, from porn to minimalism. (download)
ANGLE #3 contains a Barbara Guest poem not in any collection (as far as I know). Some early Graham Foust. The mysterious Peter Valente. (download)
ANGLE #4 was done at Jeff Clark’s house in early 1998. I was able to use Quark for the first and last time. It’s a really nice looking issue with a collage by Caples on the cover. I was pleased to include Jenna Harmon, Geoffrey O’Brien, and Charles Borkhuis. Frank Sherlock makes his second appearance. Brian Strang has his ANGLE debut. (download)
ANGLE #5, published in New York, was a tribute to the poet Ronald Johnson who had recently died. Through Jonathan Williams I was able to correspond with a few of Johnson’s friends and associates. I was put in contact with Peter O’Leary, whose connection to Johnson made the centerpiece of the issue possible, namely a copy of the last poem Ronald Johnson wrote. As far as I know, ANGLE was the first to publish this poem… not only that, but the first publication to offer a tribute to him, although it was never acknowledged as such. The print run was only 100 copies! (download)
Thanks to Garrett for suggesting that I write something on ANGLE.
Original post from here.