Monday, November 26, 2012

Aimless Reading: The W's, Part 21 (Jonathan Williams)

Portrait Photographs
Williams, Jonathan
Portrait Photographs

Purchased at Talking Leaves...Books after a visit to Buffalo by the publishers, Simon Cutts and Erica Van Horn. Simon and Erica are close friends with Susan Howe and they visited Buffalo fairly frequently while I was there.

The first time I met them I nearly killed them.

I was driving us around in a car, talking my head off, when I ran a red light while crossing Delaware Ave. I scared the hell out of everyone, including myself. It was several years later when they visited again, during which time I had been published in a little anthology they had put out of authors published by Phylum press. Enough time had elapsed between visits that I assumed they had forgotten me, so I was a little embarrassed when I re-introduced myself and they said, Of course we know you!

Anyhow, you may have seen some of their other work in some of the earlier photos on this blog. When I was still at Norwood Ave., three years and four domiciles ago, there sat behind me on a shelf a little postcard with the words, "Prolonged Reading Not Appreciated" written on it. I always have this on the shelves in my library, though not always directly behind me. Nancy Kuhl, co-publisher of Phylum and now my colleague at the Beinecke, keeps this card posted on her office door.

Anyhow, this is one of my most prized books. As you may have surmised from the title, it contains photos of many of the mid-century's most important writers: Olson, Williams, Levertov, Creeley, Pound, et al. All are tipped-in full color photos, with accompanying text on the facing page. It's just a beautiful book.

I met Jonathan Williams once. It was during my first year in Buffalo. I was helping out with an exhibition by artists who'd collaborated with Creeley, all of whom came to Buffalo for a few days. There was a little reception at the Creeleys one evening or afternoon -- there may even have been a a reading or something at their house. I can't remember.

I only just barely knew who Williams was at the time -- having just started to do my homework on the Black Mountain poets. At some point Creeley introduced me to a rather tall, slightly dour looking man. He shook my hand indifferently and continued chatting with Creeley. I wish now that I'd pursued a conversation, but alas.

You can see some of the photos here (note: the color portraits are mostly from this book, the b&w are not):

1 comment:

rdeming said...

Or there's this link: