So, Martin hands over, or sells, or whatever, Black Sparrow Press to some guy called David R. Godine, about 6 years ago, who renames it Black Sparrow Books. I looked at the web-page and it seems to be defunct. What's that all about?
I thought that the deal was that he was supposed to continue publishing writers under the imprint as part of the deal, but other than a book by Lyn Lifshin, I have not seen any. I could have missed them, but I don't think so...
No offense to the other authors on Black Sparrow, but buying the Black Sparrow name and not being able to publish Bukowski and Fante is like buying Starbucks and being told that all you can sell is biscotti.
from what i gathered, martin all but gave godine the rights. keep in mind that i read this in a pro-martin article, but supposedly martin was concerned about what would happen to the other authors, so he just wanted to find someone who would keep them in print once he was out of the picture. godine got all the trade inventory plus the rights for next to nothing. and i guess i would "accept" starbucks if all i could sell was biscotti.
I thought that too at first, then I thought how fucking boring it would be to get up at 4 AM every day and make biscotti and then have 7 or 8 people come through the door to buy it for $0.49.
Listen, I know the other Black Sparrow poets were probably great. Maybe the best poetic minds of the 20th century. But financially, it is a burden to support the greatest poetic minds of the 20th century.
Bukowski was one in a billion (not million, billion), and Fante - and I think Fante was a genius - is only known because of Bukowski.
So really, the Black Sparrow archive is more of an albatross than a gift, and I think this guy realized that and now wonders what the hell to do.
I always liked Diane Wakoski. Not that I kept current on her, but I though she was good. Much of what Martin published seemed like ho-hum academic crap to me. But what do I know? He's the millionaire, I'm working 8 to 5. I defer to his better judgment. I'd take that business name and 60,000 copies of backstock for $1. Hell, I'd pay $1,000 for that. Godine should sign up Father Luke. 15 copies left on his first book! Sheesh! I bet Bill still has 15 copies of the first book of mine he published.
From Godine his self in an e-mail retrieved mere moments ago:
"...The original Black Sparrow Press went out of business. We at David R Godine Publisher received most of their inventory and the rights to publish future books as Black Sparrow Press in August of 2002. Black Sparrow Press was disbursed by author with Godine Publishing obtaining the rights to all but four authors. We are continually getting purchase orders from various customers for titles of authors whose titles were sent to other Publishers. Charles Bukowski, John Fante & Paul Bowles titles are with HarperCollins Publishers in their Ecco Press Division. Wyndham Lewis titles are available from Gingko Press..."