Item #4117 Leave the Word Alone. Edward Marshall.
Leave the Word Alone

Leave the Word Alone

Marshall, Edward

New York: Pequod Press, 1979.

First printing. 15) pp., 5.75 x 8.5 inches. Stapled into printed card covers. Introduction by Allen Ginsberg, and illustration by James Kearns. “Handset in Lydian Medium 10 point by R’lene Howell Dahlberg at the Pequod Press, November 1979.” Covers toned at the edges from age, but otherwise as new. Item #4117

“Leave the Word Alone” was Edward Marshall’s sole contribution to Donald Allen’s landmark 1960 anthology The New American Poetry, and was the longest poem in the book. A few years before, Marshall had sent the poem — his first significant effort in poetry — to Charles Olson at Black Mountain, at the urging of John Wieners; Olson was excited by the work, writing to Marshall with high praise, and according to Robert Duncan it was the poem that everyone at Black Mountain was reading that summer. Through Olson’s agency the poem was added to the contents of Black Mountain Review 7 (the last issue), and then picked by Donald Allen from there. Allen Ginsberg had encountered the poem at some point in the late 1950s, and credited it with directly influencing his own poem “Kaddish.”

Marshall published two slender books in the 1960s, but a planned larger collection never materialized, despite the efforts of first Irving Rosenthal, and then R’lene Dahlberg — though the latter did bring out this first separate edition of his best-known poem, years later. She asked Allen Ginsberg to write an introduction, ultimately using for that purpose about a third of the long essay that he wrote (“Marshall’s Service”).

Right around the time that this pamphlet appeared, Marshall gave a reading with Michael Rumaker at the Poetry Project at St. Mark’s Church in New York, one of the last traces of his literary life. At some point in the next decade he left the City, moving to North Carolina (very close to Black Mountain), where he died in 2005.

This uncirculated copy of Leave the Word Alone was among the remaining inventory of the press after Dahlberg’s death. The edition size is unknown; there were also 100 numbered copies signed by Marshall and Kearns, with an original signed print of the illustration as frontispiece.

Price: $50.00

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