Saturday, October 16, 2010

Asa Benveniste

As recently as a few days ago I had no idea who Asa Benveniste was, nor Ray DiPalma, nor had I ever heard of Doones Press. Then I saw a listing on ebay for a chapbook entitled "Listen" and there was a photo and I looked at the photo of this chapbook and decided to investigate a little.

Asa Benveniste was born 1925 in New York, which he left in 1948 'after being pursued by a doppelganger in the same furnished coven in Irving Place which Madame Blavatsky inhabited several decades earlier.' Between 1948 and 1950 he lived in France and Tangier co-editing the literary magazine ZERO. From 1950 he has lived in England 'learning English, straightening ice cream bricks on a conveyor belt, character acting in the provinces, market gardening, rearing chickens and pedigree dogs, editing books and publishing poetry.'

The following list was lifted from Cuneiform Press Blog (list was assembled by Kyle Schlesinger)

Arranged by year, this checklist includes books and a few ephemeral items by poet and publisher of Trigram Press, Asa Benveniste. It includes collaborations and co-publications with other authors, but does not include appearances in periodicals. Corrections and additions welcome at any time. Items followed by ‘ns’ are those that I have ‘not seen’ in person. – K.S. (12.20.09)

Poems of the Mouth (London: Trigram Press) 1966. [book]

A Word in Your Season: a Portfolio of Six Serigraphs w/Jack Hirschman (London: Trigram Press) 1967. [book]

Count Three (San Francisco: Cranium Press) 1969. [book]

The Atoz Formula (London: Trigram Press) 1969. [book]

Umbrella (London: Larry and Ruby Wallrich) 1972. [ephemera]

Time Being w/ Tom Raworth, Ray DiPalma; printed and illustrated by Elisabeth Brandfast (London: Trigram Press) 1972. [book]

Blockmaker’s Black illustrated by Ralph Steadman (London: Steam Press) 1974. [ephemera] ns

Certainly Metaphysics (Bowling Green, OH: Blue Chair Press) 1974. [broadside]

Edge (London: Joe Dimaggio) 1975. [book]

Dense Lens w/ Brian Marley (London: Trigram Press) 1975. [book]

Listen (Bowling Green, OH: Doones Press) 1975. [book] ns

A Part Apart (Osterley, UK: The White Dog Press) 1976. [book] ns

Loose Use (Newcastle upon Tyne, UK: Pig Press) 1977. [book] ns

Colour Theory image by Marc Vaux (London: Trigram Press) 1977. [ephemera]

Language: Enemy, Pursuit w/ note by David Meltzer (Berkeley: Poltroon Press) 1980. [book]

Throw Out the Life Line Lay Out the Corse: Poems 1965-1985 (London: Anvil Press Poetry Ltd) 1983. [book]

Pommes Poems cover by Agneta Falk (Lancashire: Arc Publications) 1988. [book]

Textural (London: Turret Books) 1989. [ephemera] ns

Invisible Ink (Philadelphia: Singing Horse Press/Branch Redd Books) 1989. [book]

Hadrian's Dream images by Ken Campbell (London: Circle Press) 1990. [book] ns

Besides being a poet, Asa also worked as a printer, a typographer, and as a book designer. In London during 1965, he co-founded and managed the Trigram Press, which published work by Tom Raworth, Jack Hirschman, J. H. Prynne, David Meltzer, B S Johnson, Gavin Ewart and Lee Harwood amongst others.

In the 1980s Benveniste and his partner Agnetha Falk moved to Hebden Bridge in West Yorkshire where they operated a secondhand bookshop. When he died in 1990, Benveniste was buried in the graveyard of Heptonstall church.

Doones Press began as a small literary magazine, Doones, published by Raymond DiPalma, at Bowling Green State University in 1969. DiPalma began editing and publishing works of poetry as Doones Press in 1970. Doones seemed to run from 1969-1976. DiPalma's wikipedia page deals with his accomplishments as a published poet and his several books; No mention currently is there of his work as a publisher. Interestingly enough.

DiPalma is associated with the LANGUAGE poets. He now lives in NYC.

In the process, I discovered this wonderful recording by Roy Fisher of his poem, At the Grave of Asa Benveniste

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