Saturday, November 19, 2016

Going Cold Turkey (in Cyberspace), by Jan Herman

The computer screen has become a substitute for reality, dominating us not just by way of social media but — old news — by making artifacts like books on paper seem obsolete. I plead seriously guilty, witness this blogpost with its images and descriptions. A package that came in the mail with several new items from Cold Turkey Press got me to thinking more than usually about this. Issued in minuscule editions, Cold Turkey chapbooks, folios, and cards compose a rare yet necessary archive that subverts the ordinary in literary content and artistic quality. Their scarcity notwithstanding, they are essential cultural documents — scholarly without being academic, exotic but not obscure, their intelligence distinctive. To be truly appreciated, however, these hand-made manifestations of the publisher’s mind must be experienced in the material world and not as digital simulacrums in cyberspace...More here 

Sacred Fix at the Librarie Shakespeare and Company, Paris

Thank you to Yannis Livadas for sending me this photo: Allen Ginsberg, Gregory Corso and George Whitman at the Librarie Shakespeare and Company, Paris. Photo by Francois Lagarde. However, Yannis's eagle eye picked up what the unidentified man on the right is reading ... Sacred Fix by Sinclair Beiles. Date unknown. Sacred Fix was published published by Cold Turkey Press in 1976, and I think Ginsberg still had his beard till the mid-'70s. So maybe late '70s or early '80s?

Wednesday, April 27, 2016

An email from Mike Hardaker regarding 'The White-hearted Nigger'

As stated in Who was Sinclair Beiles?, when I met Sinclair he told me that his first publication was a novel called The White-hearted Nigger, which I have never been able to trace.

However, I have just received the following communication from Mike Hardaker:

Just a little Sinclair Beiles note that may be of interest. Volume 4/2 of Nimbus (a British “little magazine” of the 1950s) includes a piece called “The Commercial Traveller” by Sinclair Beiles, which is billed as "Being the first chapter of a novel entitled The Life and Times of a White-hearted Nigger”. Then, The Painter and Sculptor for 1958 has an advert for The Memoirs of a White-hearted Nigger being published by "Halcyon Press Limited, 24 Charlotte Street, London W1, (Mayfair 7153)”.

I have no idea whether the book was ever actually published, and these are just stompies picked up from Google Books snippets, but it does give some context to Beiles’s claim regarding his first book. As for his claim that it was published by The English Literary Review, that might be a misremembering of Nimbus’s secondary title of New English Review. As far as I can tell, Nimbus was also published by (or via) Halcyon Press, and certainly from the same Charlotte Street address.

Tuesday, January 26, 2016

Review of Who was Sinclair Beiles? by Dawn Swope

This little book grows and grows. It is a revised and expanded edition, the third edition in all. The book
first surfaced in 2009.

Little was known about Sinclair Beiles outside of his home country, South Africa. He got a name largely by being around Burroughs, Gysin, Ginsberg and Corso at the ‘Beat Hotel’ in Paris in the 1950s. There were photos of them all together. Beiles collaborated on the cult book Minutes To Go in 1960. There were conversations about books in the pipeline. Beiles worked at the Olympia Press, famous of course for Maurice Girodias and Junkie and other things.

Beiles never quite established his name in Europe and he struggled in his homeland also. His Ashes of
Experience won prizes but caused few ripples anywhere.

But he had a gift and a band of people did believe in him over the years. Gary Cummiskey for one, Fred de Vries, Carl Weissner, Heathcote Williams. They all befriended Beiles through Europe, Amsterdam, London, Greece, South Africa.

Beiles was hampered by his drug consumption, his personal issues. He was always on the cusp of something. He was a casualty of the literary world, a sometime Syd Barrett figure. A nearly man.

Gary Cummiskey and Eva Kowalska have researched and then some more to strip away the layers of time and fog around Beiles. More understanding, photos, bibliographies, letters. Well done to them.

Published in Beat Scene no 80, December 2015

Sunday, January 17, 2016

The worm in my thumb, by Sinclair Beiles

I was born
with a fat green worm in my thumb
whenever I ate he appeared
drooping down into my plate
to share my meal.
He was also good at singing
and many a maid did he entertain.
He was killed in my twentieth year
by getting caught in the door of
an elevator.

(Published in The Idiot's Voice, Cold Turkey Press, France, 2012)