Kerouac's Copies of Floating Bear

Jack Kerouac does not appear in a ton of mimeos. Unlike Burroughs and Ginsberg, Kerouac did not flood the little mag circuit with material. He liked to get paid. Kerouac appears most often in Beatitude. He also appears in Issue 34 of Floating Bear ("How to Meditate").

That does nto mean he was not tuned into the goings-on of the Mimeo Revolution. I was blown away at a New York Bookfair to see Kerouac's copy of, I think, Semina 2, inscribed by Berman to Kerouac. Michael McClure thought Kerouac would be interested in what Berman was doing and suggested Berman send Keroauc a copy.

The upcoming June 22 sale at Christie's shows that Kerouac was also on the Floating Bear mailing list. Here is the lot description:

[KEROUAC, Jack.] Eight issues of The Floating Bear. Together 84 pages, 4to, mimeographed sheets, each issue stapled at top left, a few with small closed tears at edges. Provenance: Jack Kerouac (mailing labels on wrappers).

KEROUAC'S COPIES OF A RARE ALTERNATIVE POETRY MAGAZINE, published by Leroi Jones (now Amiri Baraka) and Diane Di Prima, between 1961 and 1969. Thirty-seven issues appeared, we have eight that were mailed to Jack Kerouac over the course of 1961 and 1962 (numbers 2-4, 6, 8, 19 and 21, and one unnumbered issue). Floating Bear brought together New York Beats and members of the Black Mountain school. Contributions in these numbers include, "Beer for Breakfast," by Frank O'Hara, "Oblivion Calling," by Philip Guston, "Siege Poem," by Stan Persky, and "Edward Dorn in the News," by Robert Creeley. Other contributors include Charles Olson, Joel Oppenheimer, Peter Orlovsky and Allen Ginsberg. There were also reviews of recent books and New York cultural events.

The magazine was never sold, merely distributed to subscribers who asked to be on the mailing list (Kerouac's move from Northport, Long Island, to Orlando, Florida is reflected in the changing address labels and Post Office forwarding notations). Its production costs were subsidized by Jones and Di Prima, and by reader contributions. One issue includes thanks "to all the people who helped the Bear buy its own mimeograph machine... Having bought the machine, we now have no money for paper & stamps..." (8)

The estimate is $5000-$7000. It will be interesting to see what this lot will bring. Currently, mimeos with mailing labels are generally not being aggressively priced as association copies. This auction may mark a new trend.



Any word as to what these copies ended up going for?


Jed said...

The items were pulled and never made it to auction.

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