Saturday, August 4, 2007

History Project part 1




History Project part 1

This material was written about five or six years ago for the History Project at the DC Poetry homepage. The questions in italics were given to various poets who had been involved in the DC scene.

1) what brought you to d.c. and when, or if you already lived in the area, what were you doing?
I arrived at Dulles from London in the mid-afternoon of April 4, 1973, one week before my 32nd birthday. I was married to Andrea Wyatt, an American poet, born in Brooklyn, and raised there, and in DC. I came here for the waters. I was misinformed.

2) what were your initial contacts with the poetry community at that time? who were your first acquaintances, how did you first meet and/or continue to meet?
The first poet I got to know in Washington was Peter Inman. We both worked at the Savile Bookshop on “P” Street in Georgetown. We became very close friends, and remain so. I spent a lot of time with Pete socially in 1973 and early 1974, and with Michael Sappol, who was also a writer, and who published the fabulous Personal Injury magazine in NYC a few years later. At the end of 1973, Pete and I put together the first issue of the fabulous poetry magazine everybody’s ex-lover, the name later amended to EEL under P.’s solo editorship.

3) what were the primary venues for the gathering of the community at the time? reading serieses, performances, bookstores, publishing ventures,etc.
The Community Bookstore on “P” Street near Dupont Circle had a small selection of small press poetry books. Discount Books and Records on Connecticut Avenue, on the other side of the circle (where Terry Winch was the poetry buyer) had a small selection, too – a pretty good one. Savile also had some small press publications, including the whole run of SOUP chapbooks. When I first came to DC I was shocked to discover that American poetry of all varieties was much more difficult to locate in Washington than it had been in London. Compendium Books (in London) had an entire room full of American poetry, thousands of volumes, as opposed to maybe a couple of hundred a piece at the Community Bookstore and Discount Books.

The Mass Transit open readings were the center of the scene then, and the more formal readings at the Pyramid Gallery were crucial, also. The usual format of the Pyramid series featured a visiting poet (usually from NYC) with a DC poet, and became the model for the Folio reading series of 1976-78.

Five issues of Mass Transit magazine were published.

#1 Summer 1973, edited by Terence Winch, featured work by:
Claudia Jay Lane
Ellen Carter
P. Inman
Ed Zahniser
Ron Morgan
Laura Goldberg
Michael Lally & Terence Winch
Michael Lally
Terence Winch
Laurie Summers
Lee Gamson
Tim Dlugos
Dominick Cannon
Terence Hegerty
(Ed) Sullivan
Beth Baruch (Joselow)
Deirdra Baldwin
Jesse Winch
David Hilton

#2 Fall/Winter 1974, edited by Michael Lally, featured work by:
Danny Frankel
Terence Winch
Liz Higginbotham
Terry McClymonds
Ed Zahniser
Bernard Welt
Ron Morgan
Lynne Dreyer
Ed Cox
Anne Sue Hirshorn
Michael Lally
Ahmos Zu-Bolton II

#3 January 1974, edited by Ed Cox & Tina Darragh, featured work by:
Tim Corbett
Phyllis Rosenzweig
Michael Lally
Bernard Welt
Sheila Zubrod
Tina Darragh
Ron (Liam) Rector
Ed Zahniser
Ron Morgan
Terry McClymonds
Claudia Lane
Beth Joselow
Terence Winch
Ed Sullivan
Ahmos Zu-Bolton II
Tim Dlugos
Ed Cox
Lynne Dreyer

#4 Spring/Summer 1974, edited by Michael Lally, featured work by:
Michael Lally
Jim Everhard
Terence Winch
P. Inman
J. Hagarty
Michael Sappol
Karen Allen
Tim Dlugos
Terry McClymonds
Martina Darragh
Sheila Zubrod
Terence Winch & Michael Lally
Beth Joselow
“Lee”
Bernard Welt
Ed Cox

#5 Fall 1974, edited by Beth Joselow and Peter Inman, featured work by:
Ron (Liam) Rector
Tim Dlugos
Bob Nechin
Sheila Zubrod
Terence Winch
Jim Everhard
Marta Tabor
Karen Allen
Bernard Welt
Ron Weber
Karlis Freivalds
Michael Lally
Martina Darragh
Ed Zahniser
Casper Shaw
Michael Sappol
E. Waverly Land
Beth Joselow

Some Of Us Press (SOUP), the Community Bookstore/Mass Transit publishing collective, published seventeen chapbooks:

Michael Lally – The South Orange Sonnets
Lee Lally – These Days
Terence Winch – Boning Up
Ed Cox – Blocks
Bruce Andrews – Edge
Robert Slater - A Rumor of Inhabitants
Susan Baker – “She’s a Jim Dandy”
Len Randolph – Scar Tissue
Gabrielle Edgecomb – Moving Violation
Simon Schuchat – Blue Skies
Margaret Gibson – Lunes
Tim Dlugos – High There
Beth Joselow – Ice Fishing
P, Inman – What Happens Next
William Holland – How Us White Folk Discovered Rock & Roll
Ed Zahiser - The Ultimate Double Play
Lynne Dreyer – Lamplights Used to Feed the Deer

Michael Lally and Terry Winch were the central figures in that scene. Michael was the driving force, making things happen, celebrating himself and everyone else, and embodying the spirit of the whole enterprise. It was Michael, more than anyone else, who created that great community. And, for all its flaws and faults, it was a great community, full of the excitement of new possibilities. The scene (later) around the Folio Bookstore was Michael’s legacy, both directly and indirectly. Michael arranged the first reading at Folio, just after I had taken over as manager of the store, in January, 1976 – Michael read there with Ted Greenwald. The Folio reading series continued as a natural extension of that event, and as a continuation of all that had passed up to that point. Terry’s role during the Mass Transit/SOUP era was extremely crucial, too, but more difficult to characterize. In some ways, Michael’s more flamboyant public presence was grounded by Terry’s sardonic demeanor. Personality cannot be ignored. It has too much impact. The Winch-Lally combination was a powerful one, and a sum greater than its parts in the shaping of the DC scene. Terry contributed a great deal to those beginnings, both in a practical sense, and as a leader.

I attended the Mass Transit readings at the Community Bookstore only twice. In some ways it was all very awkward. There would be long silences in between readers, often. Then, someone would say, "I've got something," and they would read. During my second visit, there was a woman sitting on a sofa, knitting intently. At one point, she put down her knitting, said, "I've got something," and then totally blew my mind. That was my introduction to Lynne Dreyer.

Andrea and I moved to California in May 1974, and by the time we came back from Berkeley in October that year, much had changed. Mass Transit was over. Michael Lally was preparing to move to New York. Pete and Tina had hooked up. Nixon was fucked. It was great to back in DC.


4 comments:

Lally said...

Hey man, just wanted to say I really loved reading all these entries, and totally appreciate your honesty. I know I may have been as devisive a character as I was an instigator in those early days, but damn, it was such a good time wasn't it? And the best part was, we knew it. Winch and I would often talk about that, as we wrote constantly and shared the poems with each other and with the Mass Transit and Some of Us Press gang. Challenging each other, supporting each other, daring each other, and pissing each other off now and then too. As is obvious by my own writing and taste, you can't put enough autobiographical detail in these posts for me Doug. Please, don't stop.

douglang said...

Hey Michael, I do intend to continue with this project. It feels right. As for those early days, it was a great time for me, and so is this time, in a different way. I really liked Joan Retallack's depiction of the Mass Transit/Folio era and the Dupont Circle culture as a carnival. It was that.

The great thing about this blog is the amount of contact it has generated already.

By the way, I liked "Some of Us Press gang" -- image of poets hanging around Dupont Circle and pressing innocent citizens into poetry service.

Ed Baker said...

Didn't 'everyboddhi' (those book-stores get their inventory)

get thos small-press things fro Charlie & Dave's
RPM?

They, yers later opened Chuck & Dave's Bookstore (and, sorry to say: shlock....to pay
the rent!

HEY... I GOT A CPL OF RPM catalogues here...

Spring 1976 AND Fall 1976

Takoma Books published the catalogues..

you could just walk through the stacks at their warehouse in Rockville an fill a box with (small press books) to take back to your store and put on shelf...

Charlie Dukes (used to manage the "F" street Brentano's and still lives around the corner from me
these catalogues are beautifl!

from it:

"NON-RETURNABLE ITEMS: Dover publications, calendars, Black Sparrow
books, Capra Chapbooks, Mulch periodicals, Cal Kowal, signed editions (no wonder I never got mine back), and record albums."

a red-headed guy with an huge red-beard worked there a Randy or Rusty "something" I think he went out to Serendipity.. anyone remember his name? He was friends with cpl other book 'mavins' Richard Meridith
Ronnie Wilson
Eddie Gold


anyway Oh, I see you linked to my site.... now wonder I got 4 hits last month!

thanks

ken forde said...

Hey doug,
I just happened on to this blog thing.
I relieved replenished revived.
Ken Forde.