1. THE SUICIDE RATES. Eugene, OR: Toad Press, 1967. 5½x8½" 20 pages. (P)
Offset, saddle-stapled chapbook. Cover etching by Martha Rockwell; black ink printed on olive paper. Biographical note states: “Lewis Warsh was born in New York City in 1944. He is co-editor, with Anne Waldman, of the magazine ANGEL HAIR. In 1966 he completed a novel called NO TIME LIMIT and is presently at work on a second novel titled ON AND ON.” Publisher’s address and price (75¢) appear on rear cover.
“I wrote this poem in fall 1963 when I was taking Kenneth Koch’s poetry workshop at The New School. I had just spent the summer in San Francisco where I’d met Jack Spicer, Larry Fagin, Liam O’Gallagher, among many others. I was mostly interested in the poets associated with The San Francisco Renaissance (Spicer, Duncan, Blaser)—these were the poets I was reading—and here I was in Kenneth’s class. I was interested in all the things that Kenneth was proposing, but I was also resisting. I had learned something that summer (I was only 18) and now I was learning something else and the two things weren’t necessarily compatible. It was up to me to make it all come together and maybe some of the tension in the poem comes from trying to do that. The poem has ten sections. I wrote it all in one night in my parents’ apartment, 355 8th Avenue, apartment 17F, between 27th and 28th Streets, in a room with a large window facing east. I could see the top fifty stories of the Empire State Building and the planes passing in the night sky. Years later, Gerard Malanga (who had been in Kenneth’s class the night he read the poem aloud) sent it to Bill Thomas in Oregon, who produced it as a book for Toad Press. The cover is by Martha Rockwell, who I had met at Bennington College when I was visiting Anne Waldman, fall 1965.”