“A true poet of modern classic culture in mid-twentieth century U.S.A.” —Allen Ginsberg
“At their best the poems have an intensely oral, I would like to call it glossolalic, freedom, as if they captured the essence of what one might like to express in the moment of rapture.” —David Rattray
Beginning in the 1950s until his untimely death at age 49, Stephen Jonas (1921-1970) was an influential if underground figure of the New American Poetry. A gay African-American poet of self-obscured origins, heavily influenced by Ezra Pound and Charles Olson, the Boston-based Jonas was a pioneer of the serial poem and an erudite mentor to such acknowledged masters as Jack Spicer and John Wieners, even as he lived a shadowy existence among drug addicts, thieves, and hustlers. Arcana: A Stephen Jonas Reader is the first selection of his work to appear in 25 years. With an introduction by longtime Jonas scholar and editor Joseph Torra, an editorial note by Garrett Caples and Derek Fenner, and an afterword by David Rich delving into recent discoveries concerning the poet’s birthplace and background, Arcana is crucial corrective to our understanding of post-war American poetry, restoring Jonas to his rightful place among the period’s vanguard. Featuring previously uncollected and unpublished work, a section of never-before-seen facsimiles from notebooks, and a generous selection from his innovative serial poem Exercises for Ear (1968), Arcana is a much-needed retrieval of an overlooked American poet, as well as a valuable contribution to African American and Queer literature.
Beginning in the 1950s until his death at age 49, Stephen Jonas (1921-1970) was an influential if underground figure of the New American Poetry. A gay African American poet of self-obscured origins, heavily influenced by Ezra Pound and Charles Olson, the Boston-based Jonas was a pioneer of the serial poem and mentor to such acknowledged masters as Jack Spicer and John Wieners. Major publications include Love, the Poem, the Sea & Other Pieces Examined by Me (1957), Transmutations (1966), Exercises for Ear (1968), and Selected Poems (1994).
Garrett Caples is a poet and an editor for City Lights, where he curates the Spotlight Poetry Series. He has edited or co-edited books by Philip Lamantia, Frank Lima, Richard O. Moore, and Stephen Jonas.
Derek Fenner is an artist, educator, poet, and researcher. He earned his MFA in writing and poetics from the Jack Kerouac School of Disembodied Poetics at Naropa University. In 2000, with Ryan Gallagher, he co-founded Bootstrap Press, where they have published over 40 books by poets across the country.
David Rich is the editor of Charles Olson: Letters Home, 1949-1969 (Cape Ann Museum, 2010).
Joseph Torra is a poet, novelist, and editor. He edited Selected Poems by Stephen Jonas (Talisman, 1994).