C.E. Harper and "A note on Karl Sandburg" (1 Viewer)

cirerita

Founding member
re-reading the Write thread, I noticed that in the unpublished letter to C.E. Harper, B mentions something -a poem, probably- called "A note on Karl Sandburg". I don't have that poem and it's NOT listed in Dorbin, I think, meaning it's probably unpublished or uncollected (published by Harper but with very few copies floating around).

Thing is, who was this Harper guy? Which mag did he run?
 

cirerita

Founding member
Hey, Zoom!

in my previous post I gathered the info from both Finch's catalog and the excerpts from a letter to C.E. Harper that nymark shared with us in the Write thread.
 

mjp

Founding member
I looked for info and came up blank. Someone will see this eventually and have something to add.
 

cirerita

Founding member
don't think so. in the letter to Harper, B says Write had already folded.
I am 36 years old (8-16-20) and was first published (a short story) in Whit Burnett's STORY mag back in 1944. Then a few stories and poems in 3 or 4 issues of MATRIX around about that same time, and a story in Portfolio. As you know, these mags are now deceased. And, oh yes, a story and a couple of poems in something called WRITE that came out once or twice and then gave it up.


nymark, does the rest of letter reveal any important info?
 
Last edited by a moderator:

chronic

old and in the way
More and more I get the feeling that "Write" was something that Bukowski invented to pad his early resumé. The way he mentions it here as an afterthought adds to that impression.
 
Last edited by a moderator:

cirerita

Founding member
I don't think so, Chronic. I think it existed and B was probably right when saying it came out once or twice only. We know the existence of one issue only, that's all. Maybe he appeared in the other issue and that was that.

I bet that if Buk were here and you asked him: "Hey, man, someone told me you once wrote a poem called "A note to Karl Sandburg", is that true?", he would say: "Oh, yes, I wrote that in the 50's and sent it to C.E. Harper, who published it in XXX mag, etc". Bukowski could give you VERY ACCURATE details of something which took place 30-40 years earlier.

I don't think he made up the whole Write thing.
 

hank solo

Just practicin' steps and keepin' outta the fights
Moderator
Founding member
I just read this in "Reach for the Sun", page 155.

Glad you found the two poems. About the one poem, well, Sandburg got off some nice-sounding lines but he was also somehow somewhat underhanded. What I mean is, I never quite trusted what he said more than how he said it. "The People, Yes" never went down well for me because it never coincided with what I had experienced in my half hundred jobs and the people involved thereof. And now and then, every ten or twenty years or so I'd write a poem about how, I thought this particular Sandburg poem to be a con. But it was always passed over by the editors. And so here I wrote another poem about the matter and you have taken it. Now I can rest on that one.

But this is in 1991, and here he is referring to a poem called "The People, No" which was accepted by World Letter and is now collected in "The People Look Like Flowers At Last".

As to who Harper is/was, well as Bukowski is writing to thank him for accepting the Sandburg poem, lets assume that s/he was a small press editor. If his or her 1956 address is featured in that letter, perhaps we can tie it up to a particular 1950s mag? For instance, if its Taos, New Mexico then it could be connected with The Naked Ear? Here of course I am assuming that they actually published Bukowski and therefore the mag is known to us, and perhaps listed in Dorbin?
 

hank solo

Just practicin' steps and keepin' outta the fights
Moderator
Founding member
Carol Ely Harper: she was connected with the Experimental Press of Seattle. I'm sure this is who it is. She was no doubt hoping Bukowski would contribute to "Experiment Theatre Anthology No. 1" Seattle: Experimental Press, 1959. This is surely the same press who published Experiment, which featured a Bukowski poem "Program On The Sand" in 1961.

"The petit drame or One-Minute Play" [...] "We have taught young poets, unfamiliar with playwriting, to make the One-Minute Play from one's own poem, preferably an unsuccessful one . . ."

From the preface to "Experiment Theatre Anthology No. 1", as quoted in "Ways of Looking" taken from 'The Collected Essays of Robert Creeley', page 249. You can read this here


Now thats some mad late night googling for you.

;)
 

cirerita

Founding member
Hanks, thanks for that.

I don't think it's the same poem, though. I read the one from 1991 and the style is definitely "late style". It doesn't sound like any of his early poems. I bet "A note on Karl Sandburg" remains unpublished or uncollected.

the bad thing about Dorbin bib -and he said as much- is that he omitted the name of the editors. However, when I was researching into Buk's poetry at UCSB's Special Collections Department I did write down the names of all the editors who published Buk work and couldn't find a single Harper in my files. I might be wrong, but I don't think that Harper is the same one who edited Experiment.
This is taken from my files:
Cole, E. R., ed., Experiment. Experiment Press: Seattle, Washington, v. 8, n° 1-2, Summer 1961.

well, since these editor's initials C.E.R are suspiciously similar to C.E.H., it might be possible that I didn't write them down properly or something. who knows?
 
Last edited by a moderator:

cirerita

Founding member
this is from the letter nymark posted in the Write thread:
I am taking a course in Commercial Art for the next couple of years, if I last (this is the night school deal), and besides this, I have just started my first novel, A PLACE TO SLEEP THE NIGHT. I am being very profuse in telling you all this, so if I don't send you a couple of one-minute plays, you'll know why. However, if I know myself, you will get some attempts from me. I don't think, though, that the play-form stirs me as it should. We'll see.

and this is from the webpage Hank Solo found out:
But to say with the complacency of Carol Ely Harper, "We have taught young poets, unfamiliar with playwriting, to make the One-Minute Play from one's own poem, preferably an unsuccessful one . . ." makes cosy what is not cosy, and turns such art as her Shakespeare's into a harmless pastime.

the mention of the one-minute plays in both places and the similarity of the names makes me think that C.E. Harper is indeed Carol Ely Harper and probably -though I'm not completely sure- the editor of Experiment.
 
Last edited by a moderator:

cirerita

Founding member
to confuse things a bit more, there was a mag called Experiment; a quarterly of new poetry, edited by John Gross in Salt Lake City... with contributions by C.E. Harper!
 

hank solo

Just practicin' steps and keepin' outta the fights
Moderator
Founding member
If you look up Experiment on Abe, you'll see that the editor and its place of publication changes quite a lot over the years. So its quite likely that Harper accepted his work but this particular poem, the Sandburg one, never made it and the editor changed before 1961.

I'd still bank that the C.E. Harper of Bukowski's letter is Carol Ely Harper and she was encouraging Bukowski to turn some poems into one-minute-plays for that anthology mentioned above.

I don't think it's the same poem, though. I read the one from 1991 and the style is definitely "late style". It doesn't sound like any of his early poems. I bet "A note on Karl Sandburg" remains unpublished or uncollected.

No I didn't mean it was the same poem, just interesting what he say about writing a poem about Sandburg every 10-20 years...
 

cirerita

Founding member
Hank,

that's exactly right, I think. Carol Ely Harper corresponded with Bukowski during that time, accepted that Sandburg poem for her Experiment mag but didn't publish it -that we know of, that is. Later on, Experiment changed hands and when Bukowski was finally featured in 1961 it was then run by that other guy, Cole, E.R.
 

Users who are viewing this thread

Top