Jonathan Williams Essays

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THE GOLD DIGGERS Palma de Mallorca: The Divers Press, February 1954 Sewn and perfect-bound in illustrated wrappers, 144 pages, 5” x 6.75”, 500 copies, hand-set and printed by Mossén Alcover. (Novik A4) Asheville: Jonathan Williams, 1955 Perfect bound in printed and illustrated wrappers, 6″ x 8″, 44 pages, 200 copies.

IF YOU San Francisco: Porpoise Bookshop, 1956 Loose leaves measuring 9.5” x 12.5” in printed portfolio, 200 copies, printed by Henry Evans at the Peregrine Press.

The exhibition remained at the Turchin Center until early June and, at this writing, is on view at the Green Hill Center for North Carolina Art in Greensboro, North Carolina (January 23-March 22, 2009).

This essay is envisioned as the central text for a color-illustrated catalog of the exhibition projected for eventual publication by the Jargon Society.

Williams remained very much alive at the time of the essay’s completion, and the concluding paragraphs provide a snapshot of his final months among us mortals.

Accordingly, I’ve chosen to retain the original present tense, referencing Williams throughout as a still-living presence, as in many ways he will remain for those of us fortunate enough to have known him.A man of diverse interests and talents, a champion of the avant-garde, Jonathan Williams (1929-2008) once listed his occupations as “poet, publisher, designer, essayist, iconographer.” He has also been described as “a busy gadfly who happened somehow to pitch on a slope in western North Carolina.” Born in Asheville, he has spent much of his life on Skywinding Farm near Highlands. Albans School, Princeton University, and Black Mountain College, and also studied art and design at the Institute of Design in Chicago.In college Williams became interested in the rebellious and experimental poems that came to be labeled Beat poetry.– Lyle Bongé Lyle Bongé’s bodacious zinger of an esthetic credo is one of the more memorable lines in Jonathan Williams’ collection of favorite quotations, a bit of inspired nonsense reflecting a strain of southern-fried dada humor that Williams and Bongé both appreciate.Since it plays on the perennial issue of how art is defined, it seems a pretty good fit for an exercise that’s all about Williams’ eye and what attracts it.He employed unexpected puns, repeated syllables, and word extensions.Although often critical of the American middle class, Williams delighted in mountain speech and traditions, frequently quoting hill folk in his poems and essays.A serious gardener and hiker, Williams wrote often about his walks on the Appalachian Trail and in England, where he spent part of each year.He taught at several universities, and was poet-in-residence at the Aspen Institute for Humanistic Studies. THE WHIP Worchester: Migrant Books, Summer 1957 Perfect-bound in printed and illustrated wrappers, 5″ x 6.75″, 49 pages, 500 copies. Published as Jargon 26 (Novik A8) Worchester: Migrant Books, Summer 1957 Cloth-covered boards with printed spine, 5″ x 6.75″, 49 pages, 100 copies.


Comments Jonathan Williams Essays

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