Black Sparrow Press

Black Sparrow Press Black Sparrow Press was founded in 1966 in Los Angeles by John and Barbara Martin. Since 2002, Black Some of these insiders are very good writers . . .

John Martin, the great collector of avant-garde books, visionary patron of Charles Bukowski, and founder, publisher, and for thirty-six years sole proprietor of Black Sparrow Press, once said:

"There have always been two streams in American literature. First, the 'insiders,' the ones who conform to accepted standards. but their work is of interest only up to a point, [because] they completely

satisfy readers' expectations of what literature should be. On the other hand, there has also been this second, parallel stream of 'outsiders'––mavericks, beginning with Walt Whitman. To my way of thinking, Leaves of Grass is the first great modern literary statement . . . and to this day, perhaps the greatest and most astounding." From 1966 through 2002, Martin sought out the great and astounding statements of America's literary outsiders, writers whose kinship is with the red blood of Whitman not the blue blood of Longfellow, with the dirty hands of Dreiser not the kid gloves of Edith Wharton. Writers who, on the whole, have looked west, toward the frontier and its promise of wildness, and away from the east, away from "civilization" and its received ideas of excellence and form. And Martin found them––in little magazines, in collectors' libraries, and among that band of bards and truth-tellers who emerged from the jazz cellars of the 1950s into the Day-Glo orange sunshine of the 1960s and '70s. The poet Robert Kelly has said that without Black Sparrow, much of the literature of the '60s would today exist only in memories––memories of the monologues of the post-Beat poets and the sweet smell of mimeographed chapbooks. The critic Neil Gordon, riffing on the same theme, said that Martin did nothing less than give permanence to the ephemeral, "providing the published texts of a generation of vital work that would otherwise have been lost"––lost to talk, lost to the browning of newsprint, lost to the crushing forces of the cultural mainstream. John Martin retired from publishing on July 1, 2002, but his outsider literary legacy will endure. Bukowski lives––indeed he and a handful of his old Black Sparrow stablemates (Paul Bowles, John Fante, and Joyce Carol Oates especially) not only live but now thrive on the "inside": times change, and tastes change, and small presses like Martin's are powerful compact agents of change. Best of all, the published books themselves still live––and are now available from Godine, Publisher.

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We are deeply saddened to share the news of Naomi Replansky’s passing. She seemed, in so many ways, immortal. And in her...
01/09/2023

We are deeply saddened to share the news of Naomi Replansky’s passing. She seemed, in so many ways, immortal. And in her poetry, she is.

“Poetry for me is a way of mastering the world.”—Naomi Replansky (May 23, 1918 – January 7, 2023)

Her verse examined social history through individual lives, including her own, in which she later found love. Yet for all the admiration she inspired, she was unheralded.

The San Francisco Standard released a list of “Ten Books Every San Franciscan Should Read” earlier this year. In additio...
11/23/2022

The San Francisco Standard released a list of “Ten Books Every San Franciscan Should Read” earlier this year. In addition to titles such as The Maltese Falcon and The Joy Luck Club, the list included Black Sparrow Press’s FERLINGHETTI: A LIFE by Neeli Cherkovski. Much-deserved! Check out the full list at https://sfstandard.com/arts-culture/ten-books-every-san-franciscan-should-read/

From a Beat biography to a take on the 1960s, put these on your summer list.

In the new Literary Hub series The Annotated Nightstand, poet and memoirist Kendra Allen spotlights Wanda Coleman’s Wick...
10/31/2022

In the new Literary Hub series The Annotated Nightstand, poet and memoirist Kendra Allen spotlights Wanda Coleman’s Wicked Enchantment. Read the article at https://lithub.com/the-annotated-nightstand-what-kendra-allen-is-reading-now-and-next/

Kendra Allen is the kind of writer who can keep plates up and spinning. She’s a poet, essayist, and now, with her book Fruit Punch just out with Ecco, a memoirist. Her books have come out rapid fir…

Book Beat is wild for the great Diane Wakoski’s DANCING ON THE GRAVE OF A SON OF A BITCH: “Here is a young woman, early ...
08/03/2022

Book Beat is wild for the great Diane Wakoski’s DANCING ON THE GRAVE OF A SON OF A BITCH: “Here is a young woman, early 30s, single and bitter. Bitter at betrayal by men, past lovers—but rather than turn all that anger inward (she turns a fair amount of it toward her face and body) she rages against being treated as disposable, unworthy of commitment. Back in the day, an impassioned plea for being treated with honesty, truth, and respect passed for “radical politics,” much as it still does today.”

I arrogantly recommend...by Tom Bowden is a monthly column of small press and books-in-translation reviews by our friend, bibliophile, and retired pavement inspector Tom Bowden, who tells us, 'This platform allows me to exponentially increase the number of people reached who have no use for such thi...

Vermont poet, teacher, and Black Sparrow Press author Kerrin McCadden (AMERICAN WAKE) is the recipient of the 2022 Herb ...
08/02/2022

Vermont poet, teacher, and Black Sparrow Press author Kerrin McCadden (AMERICAN WAKE) is the recipient of the 2022 Herb Lockwood Prize in the Arts! The prize—which carries with it a $10,000 cash award—"aims to reward the pinnacle of arts leadership in Vermont by honoring artists who produce significant work in the areas of visual arts, music, writing, drama, dance, film, and fine woodworking while also having a beneficent influence on the Vermont community.” PHOTO McCadden flanked by author Stephen P. Kiernan (who delivered a tribute to McCadden at the event) and Todd R. Lockwood, founder of the Herb Lockwood Prize. (Photo by Andy Duback.) Read more about McCadden and the prize: https://www.sevendaysvt.com/vermont/poet-kerrin-mccadden-receives-ninth-annual-herb-lockwood-prize/Content?oid=36078305

In a recent Los Angeles Times piece entitled “How Los Angeles Transformed American Literature,” the critic David L. Ulin...
05/23/2022

In a recent Los Angeles Times piece entitled “How Los Angeles Transformed American Literature,” the critic David L. Ulin writes: “Wanda Coleman remains among the most essential writers Los Angeles has produced.” We couldn’t agree more! Read the article: https://www.latimes.com/entertainment-arts/books/story/2022-04-14/how-los-angeles-transformed-american-literature. And visit godine.com to get copies of both of Coleman's latest collections, Wicked Enchantment and Heart First Into This Ruin.

CUTTINGS FROM THE TANGLE scribe Richard Buckner has been hunched over his keyboard pecking out a perfect weekly newslett...
05/20/2022

CUTTINGS FROM THE TANGLE scribe Richard Buckner has been hunched over his keyboard pecking out a perfect weekly newsletter on Substack that gives readers, he promises, “an inner peace that normally only comes after eating mac-n-cheese.” While some posts are free, we suggest signing up for a paid subscription so you don’t miss a damn thing! https://richardbuckner.substack.com/

excerpts of visions. Click to read EXTRACTIONS, by Richard Buckner, a Substack publication with hundreds of readers.

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