(Chapter 11 of
Dreaming As One
Poetry, Poets and Community in Bolinas, California
1967 - 1980

by Kevin Opstedal


As to be expected several little literary magazines came out of the Bolinas scene. The first of these was a one-shot mimeo magazine edited by Lewis Warsh and Tom Clark in August of 1970 titled Sugar Mountain. Named after the Neil Young song and featuring a photograph by Jayne Nodland on the front and back cover of poet Alice Notley, nude, sitting on a couch looking directly into the camera, Sugar Mountain was printed on legal size paper and looked very much like a mimeo mag out of New York's lower east side. The magazine printed works by Bill Berkson, Ted Berrigan, Tom Clark, Scott Cohen, Clark Coolidge, Joanne Kyger, Lewis MacAdams, Alice Notley, Ron Padgett, Harris Schiff, John Thorpe, Charlie Vermont, Anne Waldman and Lewis Warsh.

Warsh and Waldman had published Angel Hair in New York, but the magazine came to an abrupt end when they separated. However, they continued to publish Angel Hair books; Waldman from New York, and Warsh from Bolinas. Some of the Angel Hair books that Warsh published during his brief stay in Bolinas include Chicago, a collaboration by Warsh and Tom Clark, In London by Robert Creeley, Joanne by Joanne Kyger, and Neil Young by Tom Clark.

Similarly, Duncan McNaughton brought his magazine Fathar, which he started in June 1970 in Buffalo, New York, along with him to Bolinas, where he published the final two issues in September 1974 and March 1975.

In 1971 Bill Berkson began publishing his magazine Big Sky. Carrying a healthy sampling of works by Bolinas writers, Big Sky also included poems from a number of important poets living outside of Bolinas. The first issue had a cover drawn by Greg Irons (and inside printed Irons' cartoon ''The Creature from Bolinas Lagoon'', which was reprinted in The Paper), and featured work by Alice Notley, Ted Berrigan, Robert Creeley, Harris Schiff, Tom Veitch, Lewis Warsh, Diane di Prima, Tom Clark, Anne Waldman, Lewis MacAdams, Joanne Kyger, John Thorpe, Bobbie Creeley (Bobbie Louise Hawkins), Joe Brainard, Philip Whalen, Allen Ginsberg, and others. Subsequent issues had covers by Joe Brainard, Philip Guston, Gordon Baldwin, Geroge Schneeman, Norman Bluhm, Red Grooms and Alex Katz.

The magazine's name was suggested by Tom Veitch who, as Berkson remembers ''reminded me of the line from a Kinks song, 'Big Sky looks down on all the people.''' Berkson's original editorial stance was to accept ''whatever arrived from those invited to contribute.'' After the first two issues he found this method too ''chaotic'' and devoted the third issue entirely to work by Clark Coolidge. Thereafter he became a more selective editor.

Big Sky had a run of 12 issues from 1971 to 1978 and was one of the most consistently sharp and loaded literary magazines to come out of Bolinas.

In addition to the magazine, Berkson also published a series of 20 Big Sky Books. Among these were Bolinas Journal by Joe Brainard, All This Every Day by Joanne Kyger, The Cargo Cult by John Thorpe, Death Collage and Other Poems by Tom Veitch, and Berkson's own Enigma Variations.

While most of the Big Sky publications were printed at The West Coast Print Center in Berkeley, the first issues of the magazine were produced at a Bolinas community printing press, called The Mesa Press, which was run by Mickey Cummings. A number of little publishing ventures ranging from community newsletters, (such as The Paper), ecological tracts, local concert and event flyers and posters, as well as poetry chapbooks, found their way into print because of The Mesa Press and Mickey Cummings.

It was via The Mesa Press that Aram Saroyan and Russ Riviere put out two issues of an untitled magazine featuring works by locals only. Their editorial policy, in keeping with the town's anarcho-pacifist participatory democracy, was ''print whatever you're given.'' The first issue was published in March and the second in April of 1973. The first page of the March issue carried the following statements by the two editors:

If we are a Community
we must consider objectives

If we are the Buddha
we must consider Objectives

Big Vision
Little Steps


Russ Riviere and I started talking together
at Scowley's one morning and just sort of hatched
this one. Gathering the material was a way of
greeting people again after the long rains. Spring
is in the air, neighborliness in blossom…


With the community in mind, Riviere and Saroyan gathered writings from the town poets, those who were well known as poets, as well as work by anyone else who gave them something. The cover drawing for the March issue was by Arthur Okamura, with poems by the usual suspects, Kyger, MacAdams, Berkson, Clark, Creeley, Ebbe Borregaard, David Meltzer, and John Thorpe. But the issue also included writings by other residents such as Greg Hewlett, Captain Spatula, Patrick Holland, Bill Beckman (a short marketing plug titled ''Why Support 'Beaulines'''), and an indignant letter by Orville Schell to a California Living Magazine journalist who trashed Bolinas in an article entitled ''Can Bolinas Get it Together?''.

The second issue featured many of the same contributors as the first, including artwork and a poem by Magda Cregg (also known as the mother of rocker Huey Lewis), a rant on education by Ponderosa Pine (Keith Lampe), and an announcement by Ellen Sander and Susanna Acevedo that a ''directory of community services'' was being compiled and that citizens were encouraged to contribute to it. Inside the back cover was a reproduction of a Jack Boyce painting, with this attribution: ''Back page by the ever present Jack Boyce''.

This magazine may have been the prototype for one of the town's most remarkable and enduring publications. Town butcher and sometime school bus driver, Michael Rafferty, had the genius to recognize that the editorial policy of the Saroyan/Riviere magazine—''print whatever you're given''— made more sense for a newspaper than for a literary magazine. In 1974 Rafferty founded the Bolinas Hearsay News.


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