TALLMAN, Warren (1921-1994)




Author Tags: Essentials 2010, Literary Criticism

"I think he should be remembered as a mentor and an impresario of poetry." -- Ellen Tallman.

QUICK REFERENCE ENTRY:

Writing about writing, sometimes called literary criticism, as opposed to literary appreciation, is not exactly a popular field, and yet writing about the alcoholic genius of Malcolm Lowry has emerged as a mini-industry unto itself. Meanwhile, biographers of other B.C. writers include Sandra Djwa (Roy Daniells), Elspeth Cameron (Earle Birney), George Fetherling (George Woodcock), David Stouck (Ethel Wilson), Alan Twigg (Hubert Evans), Ben Metcalfe (Roderick Haig-Brown), James Hoffman (George Ryga), Anthony Robertson (Roderick Haig-Brown) and Betty Keller (Bertrand Sinclair).

Few English professors have been more influential in B.C., in terms of fostering writers and books, than mentor and impresario Warren Tallman. He and his wife Ellen Tallman were chiefly responsible for inviting an influx of American poets to Vancouver, giving rise to the TISH poetry newsletter which was published from 1961 to 1969. “The journal started by George Bowering, Frank Davey, David Dawson, Jamie Reid and Fred Wah,” wrote George Fetherling in 2001, “is probably the most influential literary magazine ever produced in Canada, of greater significance than even Preview or First Statement, the two that brought poetic modernism to the country in the 1940s.”

Born in Seattle in 1921, Warren Tallman was raised in Tumwater, Washington. He went to college on the G.I. Bill, writing dissertations on Henry James and Joseph Conrad. At Berkeley he met Ellen King, whom he married in 1951. They came to teach at the UBC English department in 1956.

The Tallmans’ house became a literary community centre, hosting friends such as Charles Olson, Robert Duncan, Gary Snyder, Robert Creeley and Allen Ginsberg, all of whom came to Vancouver for literary events and parties. Most importantly, Tallman organized a poetry conference in Vancouver in 1963 that featured Denise Levertov, Charles Olson, Allen Ginsberg, Robert Duncan, Margaret Avison and Philip Whalen. A similar conference was held in Berkeley in 1965.

The poetic links with southern California for many years made Vancouver appear to serve as a branch plant for a distinctly American approach to writing.

Tallman was also a strong defender of bill bissett, and an influence on writerly publishers such as Stan Persky, Howard White and Richard Olafson—to name a few. He was co-editor with Donald Allen of New American Poetics, a widely-used textbook. His main books were Godawful Streets of Man (1978) and In the Midst (1992). He once rented the Vancouver East Cultural Centre to deliver a diatribe against Canadian nationalist Robin Matthews who has consistently viewed Tallman as a negative influence on Canadian culture. Warren Tallman smoked incessantly, drank Black Label beer chronically and died in 1994.


FULL ENTRY:

Warren Tallman smoked incessently and he drank Black Label beer. He also gave rise to a writing movement known as TISH, an anagram for shit, that produced, among many others, the first Poet Laureate of Canada, George Bowering. As the years spin into decades, Tallman will likely be remembered primarily for his role as a catalyst for TISH. In 2001, writing in The Georgia Straight, George Fetherling succinctly summarizes, "When it stopped publishing in 1969, TISH had a circulation of 400 copies. That was a 25-percent increase over 1961, when the premiere issue was cranked out on a mimeograph machine. To say that the reach of this 'poetry newsletter' was out of all sane proportion to the size of its readership is an absurd exaggeration. The journal started by George Bowering, Frank Davey, David Dawson, Jamie Reid and Fred Wah is probably the most influential literary magazine ever produced in Canada, of greater significance than even Preview or First Statement, the two that brought poetic modernism to the country in the 1940s."

Born in Seattle, Washington on November 17, 1921, Tallman was raised in Tumwater, Washington. He went to college on the G.I. Bill, writing dissertations on Henry James and Joseph Conrad. At Berkeley he met Ellen King, whom he married in 1951. They came to teach at the UBC English department in 1956. "A rumour began..." recalled George Bowering, "There was this strange skinny anarcho-muse on the wrong side of the UBC English department. You could sleep on his floor and read his peculiar little poetry books, borrow his car, stay up all night reading your lyrics to him." The Tallmans' house became a literary community centre. Their close literary friends included Charles Olson, Robert Duncan, Gary Snyder, Robert Creeley and Allen Ginsberg, all of whom came to Vancouver for literary events and parties. Most importantly, Tallman organized a poetry conference in Vancouver in 1963 that featured Denise Levertov, Charles Olson, Allen Ginsberg, Robert Duncan, Margaret Avison and Philip Whalen. A similar conference was held in Berkeley in 1965. The poetic links between southern California for many years made Vancouver appear to serve as a branch plant for a distinctly American approach to writing. Tallman endorsed a vocal form of poetry in association with the Black Mountain school, but on a broader basis he was linked to the Beats, the New American Poets and the Language Poets. He was exceedingly influential at UBC during the rise of the so-called TISH movement that featured the likes of George Bowering, Frank Davey, Daphne Marlatt, Fred Wah, Jamie Reid and Georgia Sraight publisher-to-be Dan McLeod, who served as an interim editor of TISH in 1964.

As well, Tallman was a strong defender of bill bissett, and an influence on writer/publishers such as Stan Persky, Howard White and Richard Olafson. He was co-editor with Donald Allen of New American Poetics (Grove), a widely-used textbook, and his main essay collection was Godawful Streets of Man (Coach House Press, 1978). In addition, he produced In the Midst (Talonbooks, 1992) and various articles. Mostly he talked a good game and coordinated a series of well-attended poetry readings in Vancouver. He once rented the Vancouver East Cultural Centre to deliver a diatribe against Canadian nationalist Robin Matthews who consistently viewed Tallman as an overly American influence in Canadian literature. Matthews was not alone. In 1969, when Tallman was appointed to serve on a three-member jury for of the Governor-General's Award for Poetry, protestors began picketing the Canada Council office in Ottawa because Tallman was an American citizens. Additional RCMP officers were hired to ensure that year's award ceremonies were not disrupted. The poetry prize that year went to George Bowering, a TISH mainstay, who proceeded to become the Poet Laureate of Canada.

Tallman died at age 73 on July 1, 1994. Warren Tallman's papers are kept at SFU Special Collections. [PHOTO: 1969]

[For other authors pertaining to literary criticism, see abcbookworld entries for Abbey, Lloyd; Asals, Frederick; Bowering, George; Breton, Rob; Brook, Susan; Budra, Paul; Buitenhuis, Peter; Burnham, Clint; Candelaria, Fred; Clews, Hetty; Comeau, Paul; Cook, Meira; Cooperman, Stanley; Crawford, Julie; Daniells, Roy; Danielson, Dennis; Davey, Frank; Davis, Leith; Delany, Paul; Delany, Sheila; Derksen, Jeff; Doyle, Charles; Dunham, Robert; Gerson, Carole; Gillies, Mary Ann; Goldfarb, Sheldon; Gomez-Moriana, Antonio; Good, Graham; Grieve, Tom; Guy-Bray, Stephen; Hardwick, Joan; Hatch, Ronald; Hekkanen, Ernest; Howard, Lloyd; Hulcoope, John; Kroller, Eva-Marie; Lane, Richard J.; Macey, Samuel; Markson, David; Matthews, Robin; Maud, Ralph; Merivale, Patricia; Messenger, William; Morra, Linda; Moss , Laura; Murphy, P.J.; Nadel, Ira; New, William; Novik, Mary; Petro, Peter; Potter, Tiffany; Quartermain, Peter; Ricou, Laurie; Saltman, Judith; Schellenberg, Betty; Schmidt, Jerry; Schraner, Margrith; Scobie, Stephen; Serafin, Bruce; Stephens, Don; Stevenson, Warren; Stewart, Jack F.; Struthers, J.R.; Summerfield, Henry; Thompson, Dawn; Warland, Betsy; Warner, Janet; Wisenthal, Jonathan; Woodcock, George.] AS OF 2010.

[BCBW 2010]

Warren Tallman interviewed by Alan Twigg (1978)
Interview



Veering Off Down Goof Lane

[Georgia Straight, Vol. 12 No. 535, 1978]

Warren Tallman was on the committee that established UBC’s Creative Writing Department under Earle Birney and Roy Daniells in the late '50s. He played a large supportive role in the formation of TISH magazine (which some people now view in almost mythical terms as the start of a vitalized Vancouver poetry scene), his home has been a melting pot for young poets, and occasionally, he has even been called upon to bail poets out of jail.

Well and good. The spirit of sweet delight can never be defiled. Hats off to Warren Tallman. But it was not until I went to the Vancouver Public Library and read what Tallman has written over the past thirty years that I truly appreciated the guy. It was difficult to equate the spontaneous, expansionary orator with the insightful essayist. But they are one and the same man.

Tallman is not afraid to be ‘proprioceptive’ in print because he believes that with modern poetry, “Intellect no longer stands like an Apollo under whose overseeing purposes and powers the lesser divinities make their lesser motions.” The following digression on Allen Ginsberg aptly illustrates how Tallman uses his ‘openness’ to contribute to our understanding of what modern poets are doing:

“By placing absurdity in the driver’s seat of his measure vehicle Ginsberg is able to veer off down goof lane or up paradise valley at will and thus recreate those personal and institutional misadventures which have become the commonplace of open road advertising in the grotesque our-gang comedies of Madtown.”

All of which leads me to mention the publication by Coachhouse Press in its Open Letter series of a collection of Warren Tallman’s essays titled Godawful Streets of Man. The book is 20 years in the life of a self-described ‘North American perceptualist’. The excerpt printed in this issue of The Straight has been lifted from an essay called Wonder Merchants. The piece is a thumbnail sketch of ‘who was who’ during the upsurge of modernist poetry of the 1960s.

To do this interview I dutifully trudged out to UBC to one of Warren Tallman’s poetry classes. At first I was taken aback. It seemed all Tallman did was chain smoke, gesticulate, smile the smile of a burned-out guru from outer poetic space, and chat about his poetry buddies. The guy’s lecture was 100% expansionary; he changed topics with each cigarette. I looked around me. Could it be the only rationale for taking this class was that students knew Tallman could care less about marks and assignments? In fact, Tallman was so far gone he couldn’t even care less about not caring. Yet somehow it was stimulating. All his rambling was like a serial poem, coherent in its willful eclecticism. Suddenly Charles Olson’s obscure definition of ‘proprioception’ began to make sense to me. Here was a man who had pure ‘sensibility within the organism by movement of its own tissues’. Warren Tallman reminded me of a close friend of mine. This friend quit school and went travelling in Africa for four years. He went to Timbuktu, had his appendix removed in a jungle clinic in Upper Volta—all sorts of awful/bizarre/wonderful things. By the time this friend returned, I could hardly hold a ‘normal’ conversation with him. His openness to new things so totally dominated his personality that when you talked to him, all he did was nod his head and say, “Yah, yah,” to everything.

Unlike most academics (Tallman once commented in an essay that it was interesting that the word academic has come to be used as a synonym for pointlessness) Tallman's capacity for appreciating what is of value in a person’s writing is not necessarily hindered by his ability also to perceive what is not of value. A somewhat loosey-goosey perspective, to be sure. Hence you get poet Gladys Hindmarch remarking in a 1970 issue of the Georgia Straight: “Because of his aesthetic and open intelligence, he has never been in favour with the teachers of the UBC writing department; and because he has constantly insisted that poetry is to be heard, is not to be read on the page as a symbol-puzzle, that the work of the critic is to be receptive and not make tidy arguments, he has been snuffled at by the academics.” And poet Brad Robinson on Warren Tallman: “He has the rare ability to encourage one to develop his or her own voice, he has consistently stressed to be local, write about what it is you know… he has worked incessantly for laying the groundwork for a healthy and germane literary environment in Vancouver.”

TWIGG: Where’s the West Coast poetry scene heading these days?

TALLMAN: I think it’s coming down to tribal, personal, communal activity. To me, the large publishing houses are losing force—and I mean New York and Toronto, which for Vancouver purposes, are the two largest publishing centres. I think we’re getting poets now who are interested in having what they write being read by some friends of theirs. In fact, I often think of it as tribal. Like William Carlos Williams had the feeling that maybe the tribal was the true nature of this continent. A lot of poets I know are no longer interested in the great book, the huge audience.

TWIGG: So as you said recently in one of your lectures, The Great Poet is dead.

TALLMAN: Yah, Robert Duncan, the San Francisco poet, said, “It’s an end to the age of masterpiece, a beginning to the age of testimony.” I think he meant simply that any one poet does what he can do, then he turns it over to his friends.

TWIGG: Fame and fortune and vanity just don’t enter into it as much then?

TALLMAN: Well, any person could be tempted to think, “I could be the new Rod McKuen.” (laughter) But he’s not a poet at all, he’s an entertainer. I remember Yevtushenko came to town from Australia and McKuen had been in Australia at the same time as Yevtushenko. Yevtushenko was mad out of his mind. McKuen was getting audiences of 12,000 people and poor Yevtushenko was getting only 800 people.

TWIGG: But don’t you think Yevtushenko has been turning into somewhat of a Rod McKuen figure himself?

TALLMAN: That goes into the whole range of Russian poetry. The Russians have such a different conception of poetry than we have. Poetry’s a stage art in Russia. That’s what I got from Yevtushenko.

TWIGG: We’re sort of getting away from the West Coast here. Let’s take a plane back to Canada and talk a little more about this tribal thing. I’ve heard it said that Canada may just have more poets per capita that any other nation. That fits into your theory that poetry is moving into smaller and smaller circles.

TALLMAN: Right. Canada’s kind of a special country. The huge space and the relatively small population. And we’ve got this very active government support for poets. You can find very few nations on earth that have that exist for them. Anytime that Michael Ondaatje wants to come out to Vancouver, the government will pay his plane fare.

TWIGG: And yet you hear people bad-mouthing the Canada Council all the time.

TALLMAN: You can always bad-mouth a government agency. I think the Canada Council has been run more intelligently than almost any governmental support program for the arts. I have some reservations about it, but Naim Kattan has been doing a terrific job of letting the poets exist. As far as I know there’s no censorship of poets in Canada. The only censorship I can see is just the censorship of choice: Do you give a grant to A or do you give a grant to B? You can say that’s a form of censorship.

TWIGG: This brings to mind that incident in Parliament recently where some MP stood up—and I can’t remember his name—and he said look what we’re financing. He held up some work of bill bissett’s and complained who is this person? Is our money going into this? It seems to me that the Canadian public would prefer their poets to go off into a corner and make their poetry. That’s fine. Just don’t have any influence in our daily lives. You agree with that, don’t you? You don’t think poetry should necessarily have a mass appeal, say as it does in Russia.

TALLMAN: That’s right. I don’t believe in a mass appeal for poetry. I only believe in such mass appeal as might occur. That is, I don’t think a poet should ever write for mass appeal. I’ve noticed that for anything I write—and I don’t write poetry—I always have a few people in mind. I feel well, there are six or eight people who will probably read this. So I become very interested to write for them. Just as in a conversation, you become interested to talk to someone. It’s the same proposition. I’m heavily against mass appeal. I think that’s the death of poetry.

TWIGG: What about a poet who has strong political views and wants to use his poetry as a vehicle for his views?

TALLMAN: I follow Olson on that. Olson said art comes first, the political views will follow. I have quarreled with a number of poets who have put politics first and used their art to propagandize.

TWIGG: Give me some examples.

TALLMAN: Well, in Vancouver, Jamie Read is an example of a poet who began to preach Maoism. Then he began to say that my language must conform to Mao’s idea of a simplified vocabulary so that the peasants would understand what he was talking about. And I thought, ‘Well, Jamie ain’t a poet no more. Maybe he’s a politician.’ I still like Jamie, but boy…

TWIGG: But when you look back through time, you find there have always been politically committed poets. Is there something in our North American way of life that—

TALLMAN: (interrupting) Jamie Read, Stan Persky, Tom Wayman, Pat Lane, partly, Brian Fawcett partly, are all beginning to despair about poetry and take up politics. What I find is that a person who has a gift for poetry tends to be a damned amateur politician. He may think he knows whether Marxism is best, democracy is best, or Trudeau is best or what. But when he converts his whole gift for language into a gift for politics, I find a diminishment in the poetry. Olson was against wisdom as such. He said poetry is an art. You practice it and your politics, your religion, your wisdom will or will not come in. It’ll be there if you are. If you’re a poet, you’re a poet.

TWIGG: Okay, what’s the poet’s value to society?

TALLMAN: His first value is to himself. Then there’s his value to the small group of people who might read him. Or her.

TWIGG: Are you talking about value in terms of expanding the language, bringing us in touch with our own private cosmologies?

TALLMAN: My sense there is that most poets come down to ‘What is reality?’ They’re testifying to their own version of reality, as Creeley does every time he writes a poem. His honesty is such that he’s giving you the real word. Like Jack Kerouac said, “I’ve got to watch out for my own bullshit lies.” Kerouac wanted to tell the truth. Testimony is the major word for it. They want to give testimony for their own lives.

TWIGG: Are you saying then that a man like Robert Creeley shouldn’t give a damn whether the outside world understands him or not? Just as long as he’s telling the truth?

TALLMAN: He cares intensely whether other people will listen to him but the edge on the intensity is that I damn well am going to speak my own mind. Creeley has this marvelous image of himself trying to please everybody in the room. He’s got this piece of cake in his hand and it’s crumbling and he desperately wants to give a piece of it to everybody.

TWIGG: If the value of modern poetry is testifying to what is real, would you say through the ages that poetry has always served that function?

TALLMAN: Oh no. If you go back and look anywhere, say to Ben Jonson or Samuel Johnson, they’re saying poetry is to tell you the truth in a pleasing form. That is, to tell you known truths. That’s very different from personal testimony. John Milton tells universal truths whereas Robert Creeley is trying to tell the truth of Robert Creeley. As Creeley once said in one of his introductions, “In a different time, I probably would have been a moralist.” What he was saying was, who can be a moralist in our time? Who’s going to tell anybody what to do? That is we’ve been driven into individual values—and boy, That’s where Charles Olson is—and they’re the substitute for universal values.

TWIGG: Are you saying then that modern poetry is a reaction against modern society?

TALLMAN: Yah. As Pound said, “Poets are the antennae of the race.” I think what he meant was that if you want to know what’s going down today, don’t check the newspapers, don’t check a politician, don’t check a radio commentator, check the poets.

TWIGG: Do you really believe that’s true?

TALLMAN: Oh, absolutely. Absolutely. I think George Bowering or Daphne Marlatt know more about what’s happening in Vancouver than Jack Webster or Doug Collins. Absolutely.

"Interview"

[1978]

Excerpt from an essay called Wonder Merchants that accompanied the Georgia Straight interview. “The spores of Vancouver poetry”. By Warren Tallman.

The environment itself, the manifest reaches of humanly untouched space, creates in Western children an aching spirit as of an emptiness, wanting to be filled. When some such children grow up and turn to poetry they are likely to set up shop as wonder-merchants. Poetry for them is less a ‘literary’ activity than, as Duncan had demonstrated when he arrived in town with his enchanted mind, a marvel.

So back to the Sunday afternoon in August 1961, last day of Robert Duncan’s visitation, and George Bowering, Frank Davey, David Dawson, Lionel Kearns, James Read, and Fred Wah decided to start Tish magazine. Kearns declined to be an editor but, as it turned out, for all practical purposes was. Tish 1 appeared in September 1961, and the next 18 numbers appeared on schedule, a phenomenal 19 consecutive months through April 1963 when Bowering, Davey and Kearns finished their MA exams at UBC and began to do what young men so situated do: get married, think about travel, jobs, get out of town. In the seventh number the subtitle changed from ‘a magazine of Vancouver poetry’ to ‘a newspaper of Vancouver poetry.’ But in a deeper sense it was neither magazine nor newsletter but a meeting place for their lives. When the proprioceptive poet subjects himself to his environment in order to become the subject of his sentence, he is likely to move into contact with his and the environment’s vital energies. Inside yourself you may stumble onto well-heads. And phenomenal shared energy was the most obvious fact of the Tish Place they had created. Poems written one week went the rounds the next, were argued and selected or rejected the next, and printed, folded, addressed, stamped and mailed the next. Not waiting for subscribers the editors compiled their own mailing list, paid postage from their own always almost empty pockets, and distribution was free. Poems and letters received were responded to within the day, the week. Everything that was feeding into their lives was being fed directly into a flood of poems: the city, their day-to-day activities, their love affairs, their quarrels over poetics, their differences with Layton, Purdy, Acorn, Gwen MacEwen—one another.

A seventh, unnamed ‘editor’, Gladys Hindmarch, was near the centre of their energy vortex. At the same time she was writing nursery rhyme variations in prose rhythms derived from Jack Kerouac and from high school age experiences playing tenor sax in a Vancouver Island dance combo. Because the magazine was devoted to poetry, her ‘fiction’ didn’t appear. She was evidently born proprioceptive, so sensitized to her environment, so quick to internalize it, making it her own, that she lived in a state in which she had almost no public identity other than that created by the person or persons she was with. On still spring evenings, not a whisper of wind, when she walked through the door the leaves on nearby trees would flutter into a welcoming dance. Possessing such marked extra-sensory powers, working entirely by untuition, she provided endless hours of direct personal response to the lives and poems of the other editors. Because her being was so volatile at that time, she became for all of the others whatever image of the feminine they happened to need: mother, sister, muse, lover, consolation, inspiration, sounding-board, scold, conscience. Unable to categorize, classify, or indeed even to speak until speech was given, when she said ‘no’ to a poem, or went silent, the other editors tended to pout that poem aside. She was a living metaphor for the numinousness around, the most distinct single human form of the wonder of the place.

Two related groups were drawn into the vortex of energy swirling in the Tish place, one willingly, the other with a certain interested reluctance. The willing ones were a number of fractionally younger writers, Robert Hogg, Daphne Buckle (Marlatt), Dan McLeod, David Cull. The more reluctant but interested ones lived ‘downtown’, Gerry Gilbert, Judy Copithorne, Maxine Gadd, bill bissett, Roy Kiyooka, John Newlove. Already oriented toward modern art, music and film, and interested in the American poets Tish was emphazing, they distrusted what seemed a heavily academic orientation that all the Tish editors were students at UBC. But the energy and a sense of the wonderful is a difficult combination to resist, so the downtown poets became, if not fully convinced, definitely interested and sympathetic. There were exchanges, an uneasy alliance, wry eyes watching wry eyes, the kind of friendships that are active and warm but have blank spaces. What Tish did no have for the downtowners didn’t come clear in decisive ways until the original energy began to wobble in Spring, 1963. Tish continued that summer and then, intermittently through to 1968. But almost as if energy were being transferred from one centre to another, in October, 1963 bill bissett stepped in with Blew Ointment Press and a poetics that had no been in the Tish vortex began to come alive. Bissett, himself an energy vortex and wonder-merchant, became the new centre for the energy that Tish had generated. As Tish continued on a still important but wobbling pivot, Blew Ointment Press, a house for the houseless bissett, began to push the Modernism into new dimensions.

Within close distance of the Tish place and bissett’s Blew Ointment house, like various balconies and porches, or right next door, or just across the street, are more magazines and presses than I can discuss, Talonbooks, Intermedia, Circular Causation, Very Stone House, And Vancouver Community Press, the cluster of which brings into presence the work of Maxine Gadd, Judy Copithorne, Gerry Gilbert, Roy Kiyooka, Jim Brown, Ken Belford, John Newlove, Scott Lawrence, jorj Jeyman, Pierre Coupey, Seymour Mayne, Pat and Red Lane, Stan Persky, Barry McKinnon and Brad Robinson. The most consistent and dedicated of these presses, Talonbooks, produced by David Robinson and Gordon Fidler, is significant for all

[Georgia Straight, Vol. 12 No. 535, 1978]



Ellen Tallman
Obituary



Ellen Tallman: November 9, 1927 - July 19, 2008

Ellen Tallman passed away peacefully at 1 AM in the morning of July 19 from respiratory and circulatory complications following surgery at the Vancouver General Hospital. She was surrounded by her family including her partner, Sarah Kennedy, who was present with her in her final moments.

Ellen is remembered within Vancouver and in the literary community throughout North America for the central, in fact, decisive role she played as the nurturer and supporter of the Vancouver poetry movement of the 1960s, along with her former partner Warren Tallman.

This was only one side of her indelible contribution to the social and cultural life of our city. Ellen's rare human warmth, her supremely giving spirit, and her warm intelligence were only a few of the great qualities that this superbly hip, wise, tolerant and womanly human being brought to a life which she lived in all fullness and vitality, with all of her great love for people and for life itself.

-- by Jamie Reid

ELLEN MURRAY TALLMAN 1927 2008 On July 19, our beloved Ellen died of post-surgery complications at Vancouver General Hospital. She fought valiantly for another round of life, but sadly, her heart was not up to the daunting task of recovery. Otherwise irrepressible, Ellen was an inspiration to those whose lives she touched. She possessed an unparalleled gift of connection that made one feel enriched and expanded for being in her presence. She gave much and generously to the life of Vancouver as well as her family and friends. Born in Berkeley, California to Kenneth and Alice King in 1927, Ellen attended Mills College where she majored in music (flute and piano) and English. In 1949, she completed her undergraduate degree at the University of California, Berkeley. There she befriended many San Francisco and Black Mountain poets, including Robin Blaser, Robert Creeley, Robert Duncan, and Jack Spicer. Beginning in the 1960's, Ellen and her former husband, Warren Tallman, invited these and other writers to read their work in Vancouver as part of their effort to enrich and stimulate the life of poetry and writing here. The readings and gatherings they organized were legendary, and a new generation of Canadian poets and writers, including the Tish group, emerged and flourished. During this time, Ellen and Warren, who had met doing graduate work at University of Washington in Seattle, taught in the English Department at the University of British Columbia. Ever a pioneer and provocative change agent, Ellen also taught in UBC's newly evolving Arts One program in the Faculty of Arts, and later in UBC's Women's Studies Program. She was also a founding member of the New School, Vancouver's first progressive Deweyan, parents-coop alter native elementary school. In the 70's, Ellen pursued her interest in psychology and became a catalyzing force in Vancouver's Human Potential movement. She led therapy groups and workshops at the Cold Mountain Institute and taught in the Masters in Psychology program at Antioch College/Cold Mountain Institute until the late 70's. In addition to helping mentor a new generation of therapists, Ellen, in being open about her sexuality was a beacon of safety and hope in the gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgendered community. Over the next thirty years, Ellen continued her work as a psychotherapist in private practice, and served as an adjunct faculty member, supervising graduate students in the Clinical Psychology program at Simon Fraser University. Throughout her life, Ellen remained a great appreciator and supporter of music, literature and art. Ellen built and bridged worlds around her, and in so doing, made life richer and more possible. She will be remembered for her wisdom and worldliness, her generosity and inclusiveness, and her undying curiosity and sense of adventure. In a word, Ellen is irreplaceable. She will be greatly missed by students, clients, family and friends alike. Ellen is predeceased by her parents Kenneth and Alice King, her former husband Warren Tallman (with whom Ellen remained friends until his death), and her beloved grandson, Jess DeBeck. She is survived by her daughter, Karen Tallman (Brian DeBeck), her son, Ken Tallman of Toronto, her granddaughters, Kora DeBeck of Vancouver, Alice Tallman of Erin, Ontario, and Vanessa Clark of Toronto; her sister, Isabella Davidson (Fred) of Fort Bragg, California; her devoted partner, Sarah Kennedy, housemates Robin Blaser and David Farwell, cats Jazz and Mr. Blue, and a legion of exceptional friends. A tribute will be held in Ellen's honor on Saturday, October 11, 2008, 2:30 p.m. at the Vancouver Masonic Center, 4th Floor, 1495 West 8th Avenue. Charitable donations can be made to the Ellen and Warren Tallman Endowment Fund for the Writer-in residence program at Simon Fraser University. Attn: Preet Virk, Manager, Donor Relations, SFU, University Advancement, 2118 Strand Hall, 8888 University Drive, Burnaby BC, V5A 1S6; The Ellen Tallman Street Angels Scholarship to help economically disadvantaged students in the NE of Brazil realize their educational dreams. Attn: The Street Angels Society, 4th Floor, 343 Railway St., Vancouver, BC V6A 1A4. Tax-deductible receipts will be issued. [GLOBE & MAIL Saturday August 30, 2008]



Obituary Ellen Tallman
Obituary


from Globe & Mail 2008
October 8, 2008

The West Coast poetry movement in Canada owes its life to Ellen Tallman. Along with her then- husband, Warren Tallman, she was a professor of literature at the University of
British Columbia who 40 years ago helped to create an unparalleled literary scene that still thrives to this day.

The movement flourished thanks to her early years in California and the connections she had made with such
American poets as Allen Ginsberg, Robert Duncan, Robert Weaver, Denise Levertov and Gary Snyder. Years later, she influenced the writings of Canadians bill bissett, Daphne Marlatt, bpNichol and George Bowering.

"She was really the key figure in the flowering of new poetry in Vancouver at that time," said Ms. Marlatt. "She
had the curiosity of an artist, the sensibility of an artist, but really her gift was working with people. She had an extraordinarily generous spirit."

Ellen Tallman grew up in California's San Francisco Bay area, where it was music rather than English that pervaded
her early life. While her father was an engineer at Standard Oil, her mother had been a supervisor of music in the public school system.

After high school, Ms. Tallman enrolled at nearby Mills College for Women to study music. By 1945, she had put away
her flute to attend regular anarchist meetings in San Francisco. Although ostensibly about politics, the meetings
shifted into literature, likely because the audience was often attended by such writers as Jack Spicer, Kenneth Rexroth, Robin Blaser and Henry Miller, who attended a similar group down the coast in Big Sur.

Thus inspired, Ms. Tallman dropped music and switched to English literature at the University of California, Berkeley. She graduated in 1949 and headed north to the University of Washington to attend graduate school. While there she met Warren Tallman, a graduate student who had
also gone to Berkeley. It was a convergence of ideas about literature, and they fell in love. They married two years later and soon had two children, Ken and Karen, all the while staying in touch with the literary scene in San
Francisco.

In 1956, the family packed up and moved to Vancouver. The Tallmans both took jobs in the English department at UBC,
joining a strong contingent of American professors escaping the throes of McCarthyism. Also joining them in the
department was Canadian poet Earle Birney. At the time, Beat poetry was well established in the United States. Poets often converged on subversive and bohemian San Francisco, joining up with another strand of avant-garde poets known as the Black Mountain school who were known to attack the domination in verse of syntax, rhyme and metre. At Ms. Tallman's invitation, many of them soon made their way to the UBC campus, and to the Tallmans' front door.

It wasn't long before dozens of neophyte poets were flocking there to hear poets teach and recite, late into the night. "It seemed there was nearly always a poet staying with us, giving readings, and teaching: Creely, Spicer, Ginsberg ..." she wrote in a recent essay about poet Robert Duncan.

In particular, she liked to tell the story of a visit by Charles Olson, an established American modernist who was
older than the usual crowd. He was given a bedroom next to that of another guest, the up-and-coming Mr. Ginsberg. Mr. Olson, who talked in his sleep, awoke one night to discover Mr. Ginsberg crouched on the floor with a notebook in hand. "It's not enough that you steal all the attention," he
shouted. "Now you want to steal my dreams!"

The event likely occurred during the 1963 Vancouver Poetry Conference, which the Tallmans organized and which is now
considered a defining moment in the history of North American poetry. The conference was attended by the likes of
Mr. Olson and Mr. Ginsberg and Ms. Levertov. Margaret Avison (obituary Aug. 14, 2007) was the only Canadian poet. "It was extraordinary to have these people, giants, really, in their
medium, talking, discussing, and arguing with each other and giving magical readings," Ms. Marlatt said.

In the late sixties, Ms. Tallman was one of the first instructors to teach an innovative program called "Arts
One." Still offered at the university, it's an integrative approach to the humanities that allows first-year arts
students to combine philosophy, history and English. As she had done in other areas of her life, she invited writers
into the classroom so that fresh, lively poetry intermingled with older, conventional verse. Her approach, as well as her openness to students, is remembered several decades later.

"I told her that she looked like a fallen angel, not one who had fallen all the way to hell, but only halfway to hell, to the Earth itself," said Vancouver poet Jamie Reid who, while
never in one of her classrooms, knew what it meant to be one of her students. "She sat rooted with an awareness and composure that no one else possessed, which could not be
spoken but only guessed."

When Ms. Tallman sat, he said, she sat solidly. And when she stood, it was her nearly six-foot frame that everyone
noticed. "She anchors whatever place she is in, and everybody there feels anchored even though they may not
notice it. Then, too, as in all things anchored, there is something that floats, so one feels free, but securely so, like the flower on the end of a stem."

While she found success in her UBC classroom, she was less happy at home. By the early seventies, her marriage was
over, although the Tallmans would remain friends.

By that time, Ms. Tallman was also teaching and conducting workshops in the women's studies department. At one workshop she encountered Sarah Kennedy, a like-minded woman who was deeply involved in the human-potential and therapy movements, and in the Vancouver poetry scene, and they fell in love.

They decided to live together openly, which was daring at the time. "When she left Warren and came out as a lesbian,
that was a very courageous thing to do at that time," Ms. Marlatt said. "A lot of people were shocked and didn't
understand why. It was almost as a sort of betrayal of the role they wanted her to continue taking in the [literary]
community. For me, she was a wonderful feminist and lesbian role model."

It was around then that Ms. Tallman began to consider a new career. She had already been studying under dream analyst Rolf Loehrich when Richard Weaver, the founder of B.C.'s Cold Mountain Institute, suggested she work with him and become a psychotherapist.

Mentored by Dr. Weaver, she led therapy groups and workshops at Cold Mountain on Cortes Island near Campbell River. The workshops at Cold Mountain included encounter groups and body-mind-spirit groups. She also trained in hypnotherapy
and dream work.

In the late seventies, Ms. Tallman settled for good in Vancouver and opened a private practice, which she ran for 30 years. Poetry, however, remained an important element in
her life and she liked to invite poets to therapy workshops. One of them was Mr. Blaser, a poet she had known at Berkeley and then encouraged to immigrate to Canada.

"We were the wickeds!" he said, referring to their student days together. In 1966, she got in touch with him to suggest he move to Vancouver. "She said there's a nice new
university opening called Simon Fraser, and that I should get a job there."

Some years later, they decided to share a house in Vancouver's Kitsilano area. Ms. Tallman and Ms. Kennedy occupied one part of the house, and Mr. Blaser and his partner David Farwell occupied the other part.

While the arrangement lasted for 30 years, Mr. Blaser still liked to reminisce about the literary evenings in the Tallman living room back in the sixties.

"There was a lot of drinking going on," said Mr. Blaser, who is professor emeritus at SFU, and this year's winner of the Griffin Prize for poetry. "But there was also, always, great poetry."

ELLEN TALLMAN

Ellen Murray Tallman was born Nov. 9, 1927, in Berkeley, Calif. She died July 19, 2008, in Vancouver from post-surgery complications. She was 80. She is survived by partner Sarah Kennedy, daughter Karen Tallman and son Ken Tallman. She also leaves her sister, Isabella Davidson, three grandchildren and housemates Robin Blaser and David Farwell. Warren Tallman died in 1994.

by NOREEN SHANAHAN for Globe & Mail

Thurs. Oct. 9, 2008

CORRECTION
Wendy Barrett was Ellen Tallman's partner from 1971 to 1980. Incorrect information appeared yesterday in an obituary.

Unpublished Warren Tallman piece on '63
Article


from Aaron Vidaver/ Warren Tallman fonds SFU
In light of new interest in the 1963 Vancouver Poetry Conference and Robert McTavish’s forthcoming film The Line Has Shattered, I’ve reviewed my research from 1997-1999 and started to dig around again. Below is what I believe to be an unpublished essay by Warren Tallman written in the fall after the conference. It was prepared for an international audience (an editorial note in a margin of the typescript asks him to explain who Margaret Avison is: “who’s she? (This to be read by readers in several countries)”) although there is no indication of the venue. Since there are only passing descriptions of the conference in his two books—as “month-long poetry klatsch” (1976: 183) [1973], “month long Götterdämmerung poetry klatsch” (1992: 205) [1985] and “gathering of the Romantic clan” (1992: 230) [1986]—this piece provides a missing account.

Tallman leaves out mention of local skirmishes even though his pre-conference premonition, in a letter to Robert Duncan, that the event would be “the CONCLUSION of the Vancouver phase that began with your evening in the basement (was it December 12) 1959” (4 May 1963) became, in his view, substantiated. After the conference he wrote to Creeley: “The summer was entirely too successful, i.e. created amongst the many drones around here the firm if covert conviction that they mustn’t let that happen again. So Vancouver as new frontier has closed up shop ... I stay home and listen to tapes; for which, praise be” (7 December 1963). [1]

Poetry in Vancouver and elsewhere, of course, persisted, and many participants marked the conference not as an ending but a beginning: a “life-defining experience ... founding moments in the memory narrative of my life as a reader/writer/critic of contemporary writing” (Butling 2005: 145); “the beginning of my introduction to the society of poets ... into the company of poets” (Palmer 1995: 172); “the first time I ever saw a woman [Denise Levertov] hold a whole audience with the magic of her voice” (Marlatt 1991: 101); “mind-boggling to be immersed in those poets and the way they talked, incredible. ... When I left Vancouver, I was driving home and I couldn’t stop crying” (Goodell 2009); “of love’s collision with desire begat / in July ’63, and in Vancouver / where and when this book began” (Bromige 1988: 3). And Tallman himself has been credited as the one who “really brought western Canada’s poetry into the international world it now helps to define and keep possible” (Creeley 1994). [2]

“Poets in Vancouver” (Margaret Avison, Robert Creeley, Robert Duncan, Allen Ginsberg, Denise Levertov, Charles Olson and Philip Whalen, from July 24 through August 16)

By Warren Tallman

[Warren Tallman fonds Simon Fraser University Special Collections MSC 26 Box 13]

November 1963 and the poetry festival, like the song, is ended. But like the melody, the voices of the poets linger on.

The morning discussions were dominated by Robert Duncan who is the most articulate poet of all. For him articulation is like terra firma, a necessary ground to which he moves for footing as instinctively as most of us move to sidewalks, pathways or porches. When some powerful need or desire compels a man so decisively toward speech his voice is likely to take on qualities of otherness, not because it has been taken over by strangers—although that too is possible—but because years of concentrated exercise build it up into almost another person who is in, then alongside, then out beyond the poet. This strong sense of otherness becomes apparent when Duncan reads. As he warms to the reading an almost Orphic ground sense or swell enters, as though his voice is not so much in the midst of a room as in the midst of a life it knows. When he turns from that life to his own, the Orphic gives way to the more ordinary. The evening that he lectured on his origins as poet, making himself the object of his speech, his voice moved with all those pauses, stops, stammers and explosive starts that we all experience in a world where men are not songs, their bodies not birds. But when Duncan is in his most characteristic form, in full voice motion, a fabled sense that it is moving in realm of a life of its own enters in, and when this happens the words take on the value of that life.

Duncan’s need to be grounded in articulation was matched by Allen Ginsberg’s complementary need to stay grounded in his own self, own “miraculous collage of the body”. Of all the poets, with the possible exception of Charles Olson, Ginsberg was quickest to make himself physically at home, whatever the occasion or group. He went the most places, eastside, westside and all around Vancouver. He sat, crouched cross-legged or stretched out on the most lawns, couches, chairs or floors in the most houses, apartments and pads, even in a kayak. But such was the real power of his physical presence that his shifts in place and circumstance seemed not like shifts at all. More like the Whitman of “Crossing Brooklyn Ferry”, he was so much his own place that Point Grey, East Van, West Van and North Van with all their appurtenances of persons, places and things were what went ebbing and flowing past. Given this extent of physical presence, the exceptional amount of body English—body articulation—he exerted when speaking or reading was inevitable. The Wednesday evening that he read from the Howl and Kaddish volumes he always broke off when the body presence wouldn’t enter into the voice tone. When it did enter, the audience was caught, bowled over into corresponding awareness as though stunned to be so fully reminded of all the ways in which they had emotions, a physical being, presence. And on the Friday evening that he read his more recent poems and the spell weakened he entered into a heroic, arm-swinging, head-swaying, all-out dervish attempt to reassert the physical sway. The lassitude that overtook his voice the last few minutes was the physical lassitude of a body that had momentarily lost its English. But then he walked into the next room where the overflow audience had been listening by loudspeaker, the physical tide turned, returned, and listeners were bowled over again into restored awareness of their own being.

Another physical spell was cast, by Denise Levertov the evening she read. More noticeably than any of the other poets she had two voices, one when she spoke during the morning discussions another when she read in the evening. Her morning voice was prosaic, more caught up in the tic tac toe of talk than in that inner motion of speech which carries from warmth to an expansion to an unfolding. Nor was she alone in this. The discussion sessions more often than not forced those participating into attempts to define and classify, instances in which they were using speech to take the measure of poetry rather than as the measure. Charles Olson and Philip Whalen soon withdrew from these attempts, Robert Creeley participated resistingly, and all of them felt such discussions the least satisfactory part of the festival. Even Duncan’s voice could catch fire, expand and unfold only at times, most notably during a runaway roots and branches lecture in which the landscape of 20th century poetry began to go off like packages of firecrackers and skyrockets all over the place. There were traces of Levertov’s morning voice in the evening during those intervals when she commented upon her poems. But when she read, when her voice reading became the measure of the evening, it was National Velvet for sure, an exceptionally clear and careful body tone that opened out, as the reading progressed, into a voice tree. The extent to which her reading did become the measure of the evening was revealed at a party afterwards when for several hours was it 30 was it 40 was it 50 persons were clinging and swaying together in exceptionally clear and uncomplicated ways upon a tree of summer and sympathy.

Very early in the festival Robert Creeley emphasized that the morning discussions formed a “context that I distrust with all my nature”, and throughout he was a kind of embattled Alamo in his at times embattled insistence that persons, their speech and their poems be indivisible. Thus when asked, “who are you”, he instantly replied, “I’m right here” and if asked “what is poetry”, his natural response would be to read a poem, the assumption in both cases being that if you reduce water to its component parts there will be nothing left to drink. Because of his extreme emphasis upon speech as its own “sudden mirror” or “pool of darkening water” his transitions from talking to writing to reading what he had written were negligible, different ways of doing the same thing. The night he read lightening flashed about in the sky, thunder rumbled, rain poured, the lights went out and the Alamo was in the dark. Then by candlelight he read poems and a chapter from The Island. The candles were an interesting accompaniment, each minute waver and flicker causing a corresponding waver and flicker at the edge to which the light reached. Let this process work in reverse so that the motions at the edge of things cause the flames to move in response, and you have something like the process by which Creeley writes or speaks. Speech is itself the value and once you start it up the problem is to make it move in strict correspondence to whomever or whatever occupies the areas which surround it. In this sense persons, places and things—remembered or at hand—are like oxygen and if they thin out Creeley’s voice will respond with insistences or resistances or even recessions back to those regions where still waters run. But when there is plenty of oxygen in the atmosphere his voice can flare and flow and fluctuate as freely and unpredictably as the weather was that night. Or imagine a jazz man so tuned in on his audience that he plays them back to themselves without their being particularly aware that what they are hearing is their song.

Much that applies to Creeley also applies to Philip Whalen. His need to avoid categories showed up in his strong penchant for nonsense aphorisms that tended to be droll and somewhat oriental, uttered with prayerfully clasped hands and guru beam on face. His evening reading was in a low key, partly because, having just arrived, he was unfamiliar with the audience and missed a sense that there was oxygen in the air. Consequently his voice was, although not recessive, not flowing and flaring out either. But the low key seemed also to reflect an at once contemplative and deliberate physical presence. Thus when he read, his arms hands legs and feet carried on a curiously separate and slow-motion but synchronized activity: foot tapping chair, arm extended as hand poured water and brought glass to mouth, or touched neck, cheek or ear—all without breaking the flow of the reading. The effect was to locate his speech within the larger complex of actions so that his voice became one part of everything else that was going on, as though in addition to having pitch and tone it also had arms, hands, legs, neck, ears, and a glass of water. Certain of the poems—like Stendhal’s mirror dawdling down a road—seemed capable of walking right on out the door, around the corner and away, to show up later at someone’s door, knock, enter and sit down for a visit.

By now it must seem that with these notes I am loading the dice so that most of the poets’ attempts to discuss poetry turn up snake eyes with the sevens and elevens reserved for their readings. Which is true enough. The readings as a group were entirely superior to the discussions as a group. But how could it have been otherwise since the readings were the poets’ work and the discussions more nearly like their shop-talk. On the shop-talk side, Margaret Avison was less given to whittling away, more given to the exercise of an exact critical intelligence. She tended to lay back, listen, and then come forward with summarizing insights, as though drawing the several strands of the discussion together. This sure-fingered intelligence also figured in her reading which began by jotting on the board several propositions underlying what she was trying to do. And her poems seem located primarily in sphere of this intelligence—what the quick mind can catch in its ingatherings—in contrast to say Duncan’s which are located in sphere of speech—what the quick tongue can catch in its outgoings. Thus her poems tended to be indwelling songs built up from the breath and inner spirit of thought and reflecting a contained and gleaming liveliness; and his tended to be expansive orchestrations built up from an out-riding spirit of adventure in which “we are part of the creative process, not its goal”.

Which brings on Charles Olson. Remember when Wordsworth cried out:

Great God! I’d rather be

A Pagan suckled in a creed outworn;

So might I, standing on this pleasant lea,

Have glimpses that would make me less forlorn;

Have sight of Proteus rising from the sea;

There is a difficulty in these lines, the slow pacing, hardly suitable for catching up with a god reputed to be “exceedingly variable, readily assuming new shapes”. In the time it takes to maneuver the lines into place, Proteus would likely be another sea and several new shapes away. Only the quick can catch the quick. And Charles Olson is, in the dictionary and not the Hollywood sense of the word, phenomenally fast, bearing as he does the gift of a phenomenal intelligence that can match that can catch the minnows, dolphins and flying fish that are always darting about, rising from, and skimming over the swift currents that are always flowing in the always momentary seas of human life. During a number of his afternoon workshop lectures the chalk seemed to leap across blackboards that seemed to swim and shimmer in its wake. Chalk doesn’t and blackboards won’t, but speech comes closer, having depth, extent and fluidity. And it is this realm of speech as the living metaphor of man that Olson takes for domain. Wordsworth uses speech to cry out after the presence of a god he believes is elsewhere, in some dark backward of time. For Olson speech is the Protean thing, the god itself, in a form of words. When on the last evening of the festival he read the conclusion of his Maximus poems, the locale was neither Gloucester nor Vancouver but his voice, his voice reading, which was its own first-last-everlasting place, like life.

Which is the chief news that emerged from Vancouver this summer. Assuming that our poets are “the antennae of the race” it would seem that we are exiting from an era in which the human voice—whether talking, singing or writing—has been used as a bridge to carry over to some elsewhere where ideas, myths, philosophies and theologies were thought to dwell. And it would seem that we are entering an era in which the voice bridge is recognized as actual dwelling locale, something like Henry James’ “Great Good Place”. Whether it is Duncan’s “torso-reverberations of a Grecian lyre”, Creeley’s “I will go on talking forever”, or Ginsberg’s “poem of life butchered out of their own bodies good to eat a thousand years”, the reversal is the same. Wisdoms, truths, experiences, memories, moralities, realities becomes not end points but food, meat, manure, lending nurture to that living tree of breath called speech. And if you think it isn’t so only imagine what baffled and gasping ghosts in limbo we would all become if the words were taken away and what baffled and gasping ghosts in limbo words would be if the voice were taken away. And what better gathering place for the gods that mortal beauty chases than the voice tree, from which everybody can steal everybody else’s apples, peaches and plums, not to mention cherries, without loss of a single sparrow.

Notes: [1] The “here” and “that” Tallman is referring to are the University of British Columbia English Department and the hiring of Creeley, Allen Ginsberg and Charles Olson to teach the undergraduate course “Poetry Writing and Criticism” for the Summer School. The non-credit panels (which had 118 registrants and the misleading title “Creative Writing Workshop: An Introduction to Contemporary Poetry”) and public readings were offered through the Department of University Extension and were beyond the reach of English Department as was the fourth element of the conference: the informal off-campus parties, readings and discussions at the Tallman, Reid and Wah homes. Although the 48 students in English 410 (not including nine registered auditors) were required to sit in on the Extension events it is incorrect to describe the conference itself as “actually a three-week credit summer course” (Collis 2009). No registration list exists in the archives of the Extension Department but there were at least an additional 70 attendees who were involved in two of the other three components and it is worth trying to figure out who they were. Other confirmed attendees include Ellen Tallman (who should be considered a co-organizer), Bobbie Louise Hawkins, Pauline Butling, Jess Collins, Ian Docherty, Roy Kiyooka, Karen Tallman, Hilda Burton, David Burton, Red Lane, Barbara Joseph, Ida Hodes, Donald Allen, Jonathan Greene, Helen Sonthoff, bill bissett, Charles Stein, Phyllis Webb, Brian Nation and Frank Davey (who, Tallman remarks, “Of the Tish poets he was the only one who passed up the University of British Columbia poetry seminar ... although he did attend their evening readings” (27). It should be noted, also, that the Globe and Mail obituary for Robin Blaser makes an error in stating that “In 1963 the Tallmans organized a poetry conference in Vancouver that drew several members of the San Francisco Renaissance, including Blaser and [Jack] Spicer” (Martin 2009). Neither Blaser nor Spicer were present.

[2] While the conference was ignored in Canada (east of the Great Divide) the US reception has been very different: “One might say that among the most crucial ‘texts’ for contemporary poetics is a series of tapes made by Fred Wah during the Vancouver Poetry Conference in 1963” (Davidson 1981: 111). The panels and readings are seen, south of the border, as primary documents of the New American Poetry and subsequent developments. The audio recordings were digitized from Wah’s masters by Aaron Levy in 2002 and are available online from Slought Foundation. While the complete proceedings have not yet been published transcripts of individual panels, some published, have been prepared. George Butterick’s version of the first morning session of 24 July (to the phrase “try shifting the physical context”) appears in “Contexts of Poetry: With Allen Ginsberg in Vancouver” in Robert Creeley, Contexts of Poetry: Interviews 1961-1971, edited by Donald Allen (Bolinas: Four Seasons Foundation, 1973: 29-41). Shelley Wong prepared drafts of the rest of the session, the evening continuation (which I consider the second session) and the third session of 26 July, all of which are unpublished. Ralph Maud’s transcription of the fourth session on 29 July was published as “On History” in Charles Olson, Muthologos: The Collected Lectures and Interviews, volume I, edited by George F. Butterick (Bolinas: Four Seasons Foundation, 1977: 1-19). My version of the fifth session on 31 July appears as “Polis is Eyes” in my Vancouver, 1963 issue of Minutes of the Charles Olson Society 30 (April 1999): 20-32. Charles Watts prepared a transcript of the one lecture of the conference, by Robert Duncan on the evening of 5 August, as “A Life in Poetry”, published in the Kootenay School of Writing online magazine W 10 (Spring 2005): 89-116. A number of Ralph Maud’s students at Simon Fraser University worked on the eleventh session of 14 August (Katheryn Alexander, Lois Sanford, C.J. Castricano and P.J.K. Gerbrecht), all unpublished, but Maud’s final edit was published as “Duende, Muse, and Angel” in Sulfur 33 (Fall 1993): 83-98. Excerpts from four notebooks and journals appear in OLSON: The Journal of the Charles Olson Archives 4 (Fall 1975): George Bowering, “Some Notes from Vancouver” (70-75); Pauline Butling, “Notes from Olson’s classes at Vancouver” (64-69); Clark Coolidge, “Notes taken in classes conducted by Charles Olson at Vancouver, August 1963” (47-53); and Daphne Marlatt, “Excerpts from a Journal” (76-85). A fifth by A. Fredric Franklyn, “Towards print (Excerpts from a journal of the University of British Columbia Seminar)” was published in Trace 51 (Winter 1963-1964): 277-284/294 and his “Letter from Vancouver August 1963” is in El Corno Emplumado 9 (January 1964): 151-152. While many of the original journals were cut up and collaged into “a bizarre thing full of descriptions of the socks that Duncan was wearing on a certain day—a wonderful record” (McLeod 1991: 94) for TISH 21, the journals of Fred Wah and Maria Hindmarch are known to exist. Ginsberg’s journal from Vancouver, in typescript in his archives at Stanford, has not been published.