A growing archive of little magazines and first editions, digitized by CEP researchers.
Caterpillar (1967-1973) and Sulfur (1983-2000)
Our archive sets out from Caterpillar and Sulfur, two of the most innovative and important poetry magazines of the twentieth century. Under the discerning editorial guidance of Clayton Eshleman, Caterpillar carried forward the energy of Cid Corman’s Origin (initiated in 1951), combining discrepant vectors in American poetry with work in translation along with visual art, essays, letters, and reviews. The magazine included work by Charles Olson, Nora Jaffe, Dianne Wakowski, Jackson Mac Low, Robert Duncan, Nancy Spero, Kenneth Irby, Carolee Schneeman, Robert Kelly, Lorine Niedecker, César Vallejo, Paul Blackburn, Yashuhiro Yoshioka, Rae Armantrout, Jack Spicer, and Robin Blaser, among many others.
Eshleman’s editorial commitment to “the whole art” was then revived by Sulfur, published in 46 issues from 1983-2000. Abjuring a narrative of successive movements whose claims displaced those which came before, Sulfur fused traditions stemming from surrealism, ethnopoetics, black arts, and open field poetics with writers associated with Language poetry, the New York School, and deconstructive theory, among many less identifiable currents. The capacious range of the magazine drew together, for example, translations of Blanchot, Jabès, Celan, Césaire, and Labé; essays by archetypal psychologist James Hillman and anthropologist James Clifford, poetry by Susan Howe, Will Alexander, Karen Lessing, Arkadii Dragomoshchenko, Ron Silliman, Nathaniel Mackey, Jorie Graham, Kusano Shimpei, Gustaf Sobin, Amiri Baraka, and Myung Mi Kim; visual art by Ana Mendieta, Linda Connor, Cecilia Vicuna, and Unica Zurn — to mention only a tiny fraction of its contents. Contributing editors and correspondents included Marjorie Perloff, Rachel Blau DuPlessis, Keith Tuma, Allen Weiss, Jed Rasula, Charles Bernstein, Michael Palmer, Clark Coolidge, Jayne Cortez, John Yau, Marjorie Welish, Jerome Rothenberg, Eliot Weinberger, and managing editor Caryl Eshleman. Sulfur included a regular commentary section in which positions could be articulated, works assessed, and polemics pursued — ensuring that the magazine’s heterogeneity was not merely eclectic but sustained through subtle distinctions, forthright argument, and a critical distance from the stultifying effects of creative writing culture. An anthology of selections from Sulfur was published by Wesleyan University Press in 2016, and can be purchased here. Print copies of individuals issues are available for purchase here.
Together, the sixty-six issues of Caterpillar and Sulfur testify to the breadth of poetic attention and the depth of poiesis in the late twentieth century, and they constitute an incitement to take the whole art in new directions in the twenty-first century. Rather than facilitating navigation by providing excerpted tables of contents, we invite readers to explore these issues as one would by pulling them off a shelf or receiving them in the mail: one by one, with an appetite for contingency and discovery.
Of the Leaf
A Digital Edition of
Caterpillar Magazine, Edited by Clayton Eshleman, 1967-1973
Of the Fire
A Digital Edition of
Sulfur Magazine, Edited by Clayton Eshleman, 1983-2000
[This archival project was conducted under the supervision of CEP Director Nathan Brown and funded by the Canada Research Chair program. Digitization and formatting were expertly carried out by Alan Reed, while assistance was provided by Robert Regier, Robin Graham, and Nora Collen Fulton. We extend our thanks to Clayton Eshleman for making available complete editions of Caterpillar and Sulfur and for permission to produce this digital edition.]