Judson Crews, poet, editor, publisher, and book dealer, was born June 30, 1917, in Waco, Texas, to Noah George Crews and Tommie Farmer Crews. In 1947 he married Mildred Tolbert, a photographer and writer who also contributed to her husband's early publications and works. They had two children, Anna Bush and Carole Judith, before divorcing in 1980. Crews received both the B.A. (1941) and M.A. (1944) in Sociology from Baylor University, and during 1946-1947 studied fine arts at Baylor. In addition, Crews did graduate study at the University of Texas, El Paso in 1967. He has worked as an educator at Wharton County Junior College, New Mexico (1967-1970), the University of New Mexico, Gallup Branch (1971-1972), and at the University of Zambia (1974-1978). He has also been involved in social work. After two years in the U. S. Army Medical Corps during World War II, Crews moved his family and business, Motive Press, from Waco, Texas, to Taos, New Mexico, where he began his writing and publishing career in earnest.
Judson Crews was a prominent figure in the Southwest poetry scene as a poet, editor, and publisher of contemporary poetry and art magazines. Crews is known as an original and innovative poet applying the 20th-century poetic techniques of poets like Pound, Williams, and Wallace Stevens in an idiosyncratic way. Since 1935 he has contributed to a large number of little magazines, journals, and anthologies. These include Beloit Poetry Journal, Evergreen Review, Poetry Now, Wormwood Review, City Lights Anthology (1974), Poems Southwest (1968), and An Uninhibited Treasury of Erotic Poetry (1963). His published chapbooks include A Poet's Breath (1950), Come Curse the Moon (1952), The Wrath Wrenched Splendor of Love (1956), The Ogres Who Were His Henchmen (1958), and The Stones of Konarak (1966). Crews' more recent works include the chapbook, Nolo Contendere (1966), edited by Joanie Whitebird and a 1982 collection of poems, The Clock of Moss, edited by Carol Bergé.
Crews admittedly wrote under numerous pseudonyms. Of these pseudonyms, Willard Emory Betis, Trumbull Drachler, Cerise Farallon (Mrs. Trumbull Drachler, maiden name Lena Johnston), and Tobi Macadams have been clearly identified. In the instance of these, and possibly many other pseudonymous names, Crews created a fantasy world of writers to encompass, perhaps, the breadth of his literary ambitions.
Crews' fiction and non-fiction writing includes two unpublished novels and numerous essays. Crews was a crusader in various causes related to his writing and publishing activities. These causes include such topics as obscenity and censorship, freedom of sexual expression, and women's reproductive issues including abortion, contraception, and forced sterilization. Other essays include literary criticism, such as book reviews, as well as regional topics as found in The Southern Temper (1946), and Patocinio Barela: Taos Wood Carver (1955). In 1976 Crews began an extensive memoir which remains unpublished.
Crews' publishing activities began in earnest after his move from Texas to the Taos area. He started the Este Es Press in 1946, which remained in operation until 1966. The little magazines with which he was involved from 1940 to 1966 include The Deer and Dachshund, The Flying Fish, Motive, The Naked Ear, Poetry Taos, Suck-Egg Mule: A Recalcitrant Beast, Taos: A Deluxe Magazine of the Arts, and Vers Libre. Together with Scott Greer, he was co-editor of Crescendo: A Laboratory for Young America, and worked with Jay Waite on Gale. Crews published not only his own chapbooks and magazines but also those of his friends and colleagues, including the Zambian poet Mason Jordan Mason, among others. In conjunction with this printing activity, Crews operated the Motive Book Shop which became a focal point for the dissemination and advocacy of avant-garde poetry, important little magazines and literary reviews, as well as so-called pornographic materials. The material that Crews sold ranged from literary classics such as the works of D. H. Lawrence and Henry Miller, to hard-to-obtain domestic and foreign avant-garde journals, and nudist magazines. Crews was also a friend as well as an advocate of Henry Miller and continued to sell Miller's works after they were banned in the United States.
From the guide to the Judson Crews Papers TXRC94-A16., 1935-1981, (bulk 1940-1966), (Harry Ransom Center, University of Texas at Austin)