The Ward M. Canaday Center

for Special Collections

The University of Toledo

Finding Aid

David Ossman Tapes, 1960-1970

MSS-032

Size: 4 Linear Feet

Provenance:  The University of Toledo Libraries purchased this collection in 1977. Certain letters to Ossman from poets involved in "The Sullen Art" were removed by him prior to the sale of the collection. Literary rights to the items in this collection may be assumed to rest with the creators of those items. Mr. Ossman waived any copyright he possessed in favor of the University of Toledo, should the University decide to publish the unpublished, "The Sullen Art" interviews. The researcher desiring to quote extensively from the materials in this collection should consult the staff of The Ward M. Canaday Center regarding copyright Issues.

Access: open

Copyright: The literary rights to this collection are assumed to rest with the person(s) responsible for the production of the particular items within the collection, or with their heirs or assigns.  Researchers bear full legal responsibility for the acquisition to publish from any part of said collection per Title 17, United States Code.  The Ward M. Canaday Center for Special Collections may reserve the right to intervene as intermediary at its own discretion.

Completed by:   Paul M. Gifford and Nancy Burnard December 1986

Reformatted by:  Brad Sommer, February 2010

Introduction 

David Ossman, a California poet and Radio literature critic, recorded and produced several radio programs on poetry in the early 1900s. This collection consists largely of interviews that Ossman conducted in 1900 and 1961 with contemporary, "new" poets, for a program entitled; 'The Sullen Art," broadcast on WBAI-FM, New York, N. Y. It also includes tapes of poetry read by the poets in this interview series. The second major component of the collection consists of lectures and readings by participants in the Berkeley Poetry Conference (1965). In addition to the tapes, the collection contains letters from the poets involved in Ossman's project and from listeners to the series.

This collection, narrow in its time frame, yet comprehensive in the selection of its speakers, constitutes a valuable resource for the study of American poetry of the 1950s and early 19608. Many of the poets interviewed have since become well known and their views as young individuals are certain to hold the interest of researchers.

There are no restrictions on access to this collection. Cassette copies are available as a convenience, and verbatim, unedited transcripts of most of the interviews can be found in this volume. 

 Biographical Sketch

1936, Dec. 6    Born in Santa Monica, Cal.

1954-1955       Student, Pomona College.

1958                B.F.A. (cum laude), Columbia University.

1959                Announcer, WBAI, New York City.

1960-1961       Production director, literary consultant, WBAI, New York City.

1961                Producer-director, actor, literary consultant, KPFK, Los Angeles.

Author of:

An Offering: Without Incense. [s.l.: n.p.], 1954.

The Sullen Art: Interviews with Modem American Poets. New York: Corinth, 1963.

The Crescent Journals, 1965-1966, with Compass Points and Two Mexican Charms. [s.l.: n.p.], 1966.

Set in a Landscape: Poems and Sequences, 1960-1965. Mexico City: El Como Emplumedo, 1966.

The Rainbow Cafe, Hollywood, 1967. Isla Vista, Cal.: Turkey Press, 1982.

The Day-book of the City. Isla Vista, Cal.: Turkey Press, 1982.

The Moon-sign Book: Los Angeles/San Juan. Isla Vista, Cal.: Turkey Press, 1984. 

Scope and Content Note

This collection has two main components: a series of interviews conducted for the radio program "The Sullen Art" and the proceedings of the Berkeley Poetry Conference held in July 1965. From the interviews, Ossman edited another program, "American Poetry, 1961." He also recorded some of the poets he interviewed reading their poems and assembled those readings for a series entitled, "The Poet in New York." The content of the Berkeley Poetry Conference also contains both criticism of contemporary poetry, in the form of lectures by major poets, and readings by those poets. David Ossman's collection, then, has a dual value in its discussions of contemporary American poetry and in the readings of poems by contemporary American poets. Of the material in the collection, that in "The Sullen Art" will probably draw the attention of most researchers.

While at WBAI-Pacifica Radio in New York City, Ossman developed three types of programs devoted to poetry: readings by poets of note; a series of readings by David Allen of poetry both old and new; and a series of interviews with younger poets, illustrated with readings of their works. It was early in 1960 that the idea of “The Sullen Art” was born. Ossman envisioned it as a continuing series of radio programs “inquiring into the sources and future of contemporary poetry.” He took the title for the program from Dylan Thomas’s poem, “In My Craft or Sullen Art,” since Ossman felt that poets, no matter how involved with the affairs of the world, ultimately created their work alone. He also deliberately chose to interview those younger, non-academic poets categorized as “new” or “beat,” sometimes quite erroneously. Ossman set out to show that the new poets were “not a bunch of illiterate, barbaric, slightly-criminal types,” as they had often been characterized in the popular press. In doing so, he interviewed over forty poets—some of whom have since achieved considerable fame. Ossman later published fourteen of the interviews in The Sullen An: Interviews by David Ossman with Modem American Poets.

Besides the original typescript interviews published in The Sullen An, including two not included due to the wishes of the poets involved (Robert Duncan and Cid Corman), the collection includes correspondence, both from poets Ossman interviewed and from listeners to the series, release forms, and some general correspondence.

The Berkeley Poetry Conference, held on the campus of the University of California in July, 1965, came at a time when certain poets were receiving a wider, political audience. The free speech movement there set the tone for much of the political unrest on campuses across the nation later in the decade. Donald Wesling, in an article in The Nation, noted the “seemingly programmatic congruence” of free speech with free verse---both proponents came to the issues from a polemical stance. Indeed the content of the lectures by Charles Olson, Allen Ginsberg, and Edward Dorn was, in no small sense, political. Researchers will find the tape recordings of this conference useful, then, for the study of issues not purely literary.

Note: Gosser’s official UAW correspondence files and related items are housed in the Walter P. Reuther Library, Wayne State University.  Detroit, Michigan. 

Box-Folder List

Box

Folder

Description

1

Incoming Letters

I

From Interviewees, 1960-1962

2

Re: Radio Programs, 1960-1965

3

General,1960-1970

4

Poems by Others, 1963-1964

The Sullen Art -Draft of Book

5

Original Copy, n.d. (1 of2)

6

Original Copy, n.d. (2 of 2)

7

Photocopy, n.d. (1 of2)

8

Photocopy, n.d. (2 of 2)

9

Contract With Publisher, 1962

10

Interviews with Cid Corman and Robert Duncan, n.d.

11

Standard Release Forms (Radio), 1961-1962

Reel-to-Reel Tapes

The Sullen Art

2

Paul Carroll, 4114/60

3

Jack Hirschman, 1960

4

Jerome Rothenberg, 1960

5

Robert Bly, 1960

6

John Logan, 1960

7a

Gilbert Sorrentino, 1960

7b

Gilbert Sorrentino, 1960

8

Robert Duncan, 1960

9

LeRoi Jones, 1960

10

Tambimuttu, 1960

11

Daisy Alden, 1960

2

12

Charles Tomlinson, 1960

13

Kenneth Rexroth, 1960

14

Jean Fanchette, 1960

15

Paul Blackburn, 1960

16

Judson Jerome, 1960

17

Anthony Linick, 1960

18

Jeanne Bagby, 11/1/60

19

Robert Kelly, 10/14/60

20

Cid Corman, 10/29/60

21

Clayton Eschelman, 11/29/60

22

C. V. J. Anderson, 12/5/60

23

Tuli Kupferberg, 1960

24

W. S. Merwin, 1161

25a

Allen Ginsberg: A Conversation With Ann Guidice, 12/20160

25b

Allen Ginsberg: A Conversation, 1960

25c

Allen Ginsberg: A Conversation, 1960

26

Durward Collins, 1/61

27

Ursule Molinaro, 1/61

28

Edward Dom, 2/61

29a

Wagner College Poets, 3/61

29b

Wagner College Poets, 3/61

30

Rochelle Owens, 4/61

3

31

Jackson McLow, 4/61

32

Carl Larsen, 3/61

33

Robert Creeley, 5/30/61

34

Jack Micheline, 5/31161

35

Michael Benedikt, 6/61

36

Margaret Randall, n.d.

37

Armand Schwemer, n.d.

38

George Economou, n.d.

39

Lewis Turco, n.d.

40

Michael McClure, n.d.

41

Raymond Federman, 12/19/61

42

Gene Frumkin, 12/21/61

43

Gael Turnbull, 12/30/61

44

James Boyer May, 12/16/61

45

Barbara Moraff, n.d.

American Poetry, 1961

46

Tape 1

47

Tape 2

The Poet in New York

1

Gilbert Sorrentino, 7/18/61

2

Paul Blackburn, n.d.

3

LeRoi Jones, n.d.

4

Jerome Rothenberg, 6/19/61

5

Robert Kelly, 6/16/61

4

6

Jack Hirschman and Tambimuttu, 6/12/61

7

Clayton Eschelman, n.d

8

Denise Levertov, 10/21/61

Berkeley Poetry Conference, July 13-23,1965

1

Charles Olson: Poetry Reading

2

Ed Dorn/Allen Ginsberg: Poetry Readings;

3

Charles Olson: Lecture and Poetry Reading

4

Ed Dorn: Poetry Reading

5

Charles Olson/John Weiners: Poetry

Readings

6

John Weiners/Gary Snyder: Poetry

Readings; Lecture: Gary Snyder

7

Robert Creeley; Poetry Reading and Lecture

8

Allen Ginsberg: Poetry Reading

9

Robert Creeley: Poetry Reading;

Lecture: Ed Dom

10

Gary Snyder: Poetry Reading;

Lecture: Robert Creeley

Miscellaneous Radio Programs

1

Watts Happening in L.A., Written and Read by Rev. Paul Sawyer (10/13/65)

2

New Departures, (Extemporaneous Poetry by Mike Horovitz and Pete Brown (10/64)

3

Richard Grossinger: Poetry Reading (1/68)

NOTE: The material contained in the original reel-to-reel tapes, in the above boxes, has been transferred to cassette tapes. These cassettes are located in drawer one of the "tape cabinet." Duplicate tapes of "The Sullen Art," "American Poetry," and "Poet in New York" can be found in drawer two. The cassette numbering system corresponds with that of the reel-to-reel tapes described in this finding aid.

Last Updated: 1/3/12