Black Sparrow Press

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In 1966, John Martin began the Black Sparrow Press in California. Initially Black Sparrow published avant garde poetry, fiction, and literary nonfiction, primarily by West coast authors, many of whom had been rejected by the East Coast publishing houses. Publishing 12-15 books a year, Black Sparrow Press has printed more than 500 titles to date. In 1986, Martin moved the press from Santa Barbara to Santa Rosa, Calif.

From the description of Records, 1967-1976. (University of New Mexico-Main Campus). WorldCat record id: 43368813

In 1966, John Martin founded Black Sparrow Press in Los Angeles, California, to promote "literary outsiders" through publication in books and serial magazines. Martin became the patron and publisher of Charles Bukowksi, and his author list also included Robert Creeley, Kenneth Koch, Charles Olson, Joyce Carol Oates, and Diane Wakowski. Volumes often were produced in limited numbers, and the press also published a serial magazine, broadsides and chapbooks. Barbara Martin designed the covers and texts for the Press. Martin retired in 2002, and Black Sparrow Press was sold to David R. Godine, publisher.

From the description of Black Sparrow Press collection, 1966-2002. (Unknown). WorldCat record id: 212858022

In 1966, John Martin began the Black Sparrow Press in California. Initially Black Sparrow published avant garde poetry, fiction, and literary nonfiction, primarily by West coast authors, many of whom had been rejected by the East Coast publishing houses. Publishing 12-15 books a year, Black Sparrow Press has printed more than 500 titles to date. In 1986, Martin moved the press from Santa Barbara to Santa Rosa, California.

From the guide to the Black Sparrow Press Photograph Collection, 1920-1930, (Center for Southwest Research, University of New Mexico.)

In 1966, John Martin, manager of an office supply company in California, came across the poetry of Charles Bukowski. Overwhelmed by the caliber of Bukowski's writing, Martin went to visit him at his home in Los Angeles. He looked through a closet full of Bukowski's manuscripts, and decided to start the small literary publishing company he'd been thinking about for some time. Martin offered Bukowski $100 a month, which was 20% of his own salary, to quit his post office job and write full time. Bukowski took Martin up on the offer. Martin sold his personal collection of approximately 2,000 modern first edition books for $50,000, and began Black Sparrow Press with the profits. Bukowski would be the first author that Black Sparrow published. Black Sparrow began as a side line business, but within 1 1/2 years, it became a full time endeavor for Martin.

At least initially, Black Sparrow published avant garde poetry, fiction, and literary nonfiction, primarily by West coast authors, many of whom had been rejected by the East Coast publishing houses. Martin turned a profit for the first time in 1971, and has continued to do so ever since. Profits from more than 40 Bukowski titles published by Black Sparrow have helped subsidize their publishing of many lesser known literary figures, including Robert Creeley, Denise Levertov, and Diane Wakowski. Black Sparrow has also published authors such as Joyce Carol Oates and Paul Bowles.

Publishing 12-15 books a year, Black Sparrow Press has printed more than 500 titles to date. In 1986, Martin moved the press from an office at his home in Santa Barbara to it's own building in Santa Rosa, California. He and his small staff operate out of a "spartan office with linoleum floors and a couple of struggling plants."

Black Sparrow remains one of the truly independent literary presses in the country. It is completely self supporting, and has never subsisted on grants or endowments. Martin publishes the books he likes and does not succomb to the laws of popular success and marketability. He does not expend extensive resources attending book conventions and literary lunches. John Martin is touted as "a purist who refuses to go commercial."

From the guide to the Black Sparrow Press Records, 1967-1976, (University of New Mexico. Center for Southwest Research.)

Archival Resources
Role Title Holding Repository
creatorOf Bukowski, Charles. The last night of the earth poems : advance typescript, 1992 / Charles Bukowski. Kent State University
creatorOf Black Sparrow Press. Black Sparrow Press collection, 1966-2002. Emory University Library, Special Collect Department
referencedIn Finlay, Ian Hamilton. Correspondence, 1969-1975. Temple University Libraries, Paley Library
referencedIn Martin, John, 1930-. Papers, 1966-1981. University of California, Los Angeles
creatorOf Kelly, Robert, 1935-. Robert Kelly reading poems from Finding the Measure. [sound recording]. Southern Methodist University, DeGolyer Library
referencedIn McClure, Michael. Michael McClure papers, 1964-1975 (bulk 1964-1971). University of Connecticut, Homer Babbidge Library
creatorOf Black Sparrow Press. Black Sparrow Press records : Santa Rosa, California, circa 1965-[ongoing]. UC Berkeley Libraries
creatorOf Black Sparrow Press. Black Sparrow Press. School of The Art Institute of Chicago, John M Flaxman Library
referencedIn Oyez Press Records., 1963-1987. Archives & Special Collections at the Thomas J. Dodd Research Center.
referencedIn New Directions Publishing Corp. records, ca. 1933-1997. Houghton Library.
referencedIn John Martin Papers, 1966-1981 University of California, Los Angeles. Library. Dept. of Special Collections.
referencedIn Paul Bowles collection, 1929-2011 University of Delaware Library - Special Collections
referencedIn Reznikoff, Charles, 1894-1976. Papers, 1916-1979. University of Arizona Libraries
creatorOf Black Sparrow Press. Records, 1967-1976. University of New Mexico-Main Campus
creatorOf Martin, John. Letter : to Gordon Boyd, 1968 Dec. 24. Harry Ransom Humanities Research Center
creatorOf Ginsberg, Allen, 1926-1997. Letter and photograph, n.d. Southern Methodist University, DeGolyer Library
referencedIn "The Common Shore" : uncorrected proofs and letter, 1969 June 19 University of Delaware Library - Special Collections
referencedIn Edward Dorn Papers., undated, 1956-1993. Archives & Special Collections at the Thomas J. Dodd Research Center.
referencedIn McClure, Michael. Michael McClure collection. [1955-1971]. University of Victoria Libraries, UVic
creatorOf Black Sparrow Press. Black Sparrow Press archives, 1967-1974. Pennsylvania State University Libraries
referencedIn Bukowski, Charles. Papers, 1944-1977 (bulk 1960-1977) University of Arizona Libraries
referencedIn Wakoski, Diane. Diane Wakoski letters to John Martin, 1970-2007. Yale University, Beinecke Rare Book and Manuscript Library
creatorOf Black Sparrow Press Photograph Collection, 1920-1930 University of New Mexico. Center for Southwest Research
creatorOf Black Sparrow Press. [Miscellaneous uncataloged materials], 1970-1979. Indiana University
referencedIn Wakoski, Diane. Papers, 1959-[ongoing] (bulk 1959-1978) University of Arizona Libraries
referencedIn Bradford Morrow papers, Morrow (Bradford) papers, (bulk 1973-2001), 1912-2001 John Hay Library, Special Collections
referencedIn Vincent Ferrini Papers., n.d., 1949-1977. Archives & Special Collections at the Thomas J. Dodd Center.
referencedIn Gore Vidal papers, 1875-2004 (inclusive), 1936-2000 (bulk). Houghton Library.
creatorOf Black Sparrow Press Records, 1967-1976 University of New Mexico. Center for Southwest Research
referencedIn Wakoski, Diane. Diane Wakoski letters to John Martin, 1970-1998. Yale University, Beinecke Rare Book and Manuscript Library
referencedIn Kenneth Patchen Collection TXRC92-A43., 1929-1978 Harry Ransom Humanities Research Center
referencedIn Martin, John, 1930-. John K. Martin collection, ca. 1952-1966. University of California, Santa Barbara, UCSB Library
Role Title Holding Repository
Relation Name
associatedWith Bellen, Martine person
associatedWith Blackburn, Paul. person
associatedWith Bowles, Paul, 1910-1999 person
associatedWith Bukowski, Charles person
associatedWith Bukowski, Charles. person
associatedWith Cassavetes, John, 1929-1989. person
associatedWith Clark, Tom, 1941- person
associatedWith Creeley, Robert, 1926-2005. person
associatedWith DeLillo, Don person
correspondedWith Dorn, Edward. person
associatedWith Dowell, Coleman person
associatedWith Duncan, Robert, 1919-1988. person
correspondedWith Ferrini, Vincent. person
associatedWith Finlay, Ian Hamilton. person
associatedWith Ginsberg, Allen, 1926-1997. person
associatedWith Kelley, Robert, 1935- person
associatedWith Kelly, Robert, 1935- person
associatedWith Lawrence, D. H. 1885-1930. person
associatedWith Lawrence, D. H. (David Herbert), 1885 1930 person
associatedWith Lawrence, D. H. (David Herbert), 1885-1930 person
associatedWith Martin, John. person
associatedWith Martin, John, 1930- person
associatedWith McClure, Michael. person
associatedWith McGrath, Patrick, 1950- person
associatedWith Meltzer, David. person
associatedWith Morrow, Bradford, 1951- person
correspondedWith New Directions Publishing Corp. corporateBody
associatedWith Oates, Joyce Carol, 1938- person
associatedWith O'Brien, Geoffrey, 1948- person
correspondedWith Oyez Press corporateBody
associatedWith Patchen, Kenneth, 1911-1972 person
associatedWith Reznikoff, Charles, 1894-1976. person
associatedWith Seltzer, Thomas person
associatedWith Shepard, Sam, 1943- person
associatedWith Stein, Gertrude, 1874-1946. person
correspondedWith Vidal, Gore, 1925- person
associatedWith Wakoski, Diane. person
Place Name Admin Code Country
Taos (N.M.)
United States
United States
Subject
Women poets, American
Authors and publishers
Beat generation
American literature--20th century--Bibliography
Authors
Authors and publishers--United States
Women authors, American
Literary agents
American literature--20th century
Authors, American--20th century
American poetry--20th century
Small presses
Publishers and Publishing
United States--Imprints
Small presses--United States
Literature publishing
Poets, American
Occupation
Function
Publishers

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