Black Sparrow Press


Sparrow 1 (October 1972)

“Perhaps the most familiar of all the literary small presses, Black Sparrow began life with the money John Martin got from selling (for $50,000) his collection of modern literature, which he had purchased over a period of fifteen years (primarily through trading the collection of more classical books he had inherited from his father). The first six publications of the press were broadsides (five of them by Charles Bukowski, who was published by the press until its closure in 2002). The first book was Ron Loewinsohn’s L’Autre. In an essay included in Brad Morrow and Seamus Cooney’s Bibliography of the Publications of the Black Sparrow Press (1981), poet Robert Kelly assesses the press that printed so much of his own work: ‘How much of these past two decades is represented in the Black Sparrow checklist? How much of it is still in print? What are the high points? Antin’s Meditations, Palmer’s first book, Dorn’s first Gunslinger, The Collected Spicer, Blackburn’s Journals, Grossinger’s Solar Journal, these stand out for me. The dynamic plurality of our poetry, so aptly and widely reflected by Black Sparrow (publisher of those uncousins Bukowski and Ashbery, Wakoski and Creeley), may go under any day—control freaks are afoot in the land…. What has been truest of our time is the variety of means, the variety of textures, the variety of texts leading all the Sacred Ways. These may retract. The liberty of the spirit, always polemic but never doctrinaire, lives a life ever in jeopardy—as it must. The press takes risks, surely; but the biggest risk is the sheer accumulation of alternatives it has struggled to keep before the audience. There are Black Sparrow poets—but they are not a stable, not a uniform cadre of uniform product, often they share no other contact but that press.’ …”
from a secret location
W – Black Sparrow Press
Interview // Serious Books: A Conversation with John Martin
Godine: Black Sparrow Press

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