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Sun & Moon Press Archive
MSS 0224  
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Collection Details
 
Table of contents What's This?
  • Descriptive Summary
  • Access
  • Acquisition Information
  • Preferred Citation
  • Publication Rights
  • Historical Background
  • Scope and Content of Collection
  • Indexing Terms

  • Descriptive Summary

    Creator: Sun & Moon Press
    Title: Sun & Moon Press Archive,
    Date (inclusive): 1976-2002
    Extent: 108.20 linear feet (165 archives boxes, 42 records cartons boxes, and 2 oversize folders)
    Abstract: Archives of the Sun & Moon Press, Douglas Messerli's "alternative" publishing venture, dedicated to experimental poetry, fiction and drama, begun in 1976 in College Park, Maryland, and later located in Los Angeles. The collection documents the publishing history of the press throughout most of its 28 years of operation and maps the literary careers and, in some cases, the personal lives of numerous American and international literary figures and artists. The bulk of the materials documents Sun & Moon's publishing activities from 1991-2002. The collection is a compilation of literary correspondence, both to and from Messerli, of Press production materials (manuscripts, typescripts, publishing proofs), and of various documents related to Sun & Moon's business activities (financial records, trade catalogues, and advertising materials). Biographical materials for various writers and artists, interviews, designs, collages, broadsides and postcards are scattered throughout the collection as well. Materials feature, for instance: proofs of work by David Antin, Susan and Fanny Howe, and Gertrude Stein; Sara Garden Armstrong's battery-driven art book designs and collages done by Lou Horvath and Nick Piombino; interviews with Michael Palmer, Allan Kaprow and Linda Montano (interviewed by Moira Roth); materials from the artist Claudia Delmonte, architect Allan Greenberg, sculptor Lawrence McCabe, country western songwriter Chuck Rosenberg, who studied with the well known writer John Ashbery, to mention just a few. Also included are production materials for the anthology FROM THE OTHER SIDE OF THE CENTURY: A NEW AMERICAN POETRY 1960-1990 and THE GERTRUDE STEIN AWARDS IN INNOVATIVE NORTH AMERICAN POETRY: 1993. Throughout the 1990s the press published several titles whose authors were selected as annual winners by the National Poetry Series and published the collection: 50: A CELEBRATION OF SUN & MOON CLASSICS (1995). Messerli's Green Integer succeeds Sun & Moon Press (after its closure in 2004) as the current venue for both celebrated and emerging poets and writers.
    Repository: University of California, San Diego. Geisel Library. Mandeville Special Collections Library.
    La Jolla, California 92093-0175
    Collection number: MSS 0224
    Language of Material: Collection materials in English

    Access

    Collection is open for research

    Acquisition Information

    Not Available

    Preferred Citation

    Sun & Moon Press Archive, MSS 0224. Mandeville Special Collections Library, UCSD.

    Publication Rights

    Publication rights are held by the creator of the collection.

    Historical Background

    In the winter of 1976 in an apartment in College Park, Maryland, Douglas Messerli founded the Sun & Moon Press (supported by the Contemporary Arts Education Project, Inc.) and began the publication of the internationally recognized magazine SUN & MOON, co-edited by his longtime partner, Howard Fox. In the magazine, Messerli and Fox published conceptual and language poetry, mixed-media art, and the work of the New York Poets. During this time, as well, Messerli began publishing Là-bas, a mimeographed, stapled "newsletter" of experimental poetry and poetics. Together, the magazines exhibited the work of writers such as Bruce Andrews, Charles Bernstein, Russell Banks, Susan Howe, Ray diPalma, Ted Greenwald, Bernadette Mayer, Barrett Watten, Hannah Weiner, Tina Darragh, P. Inman, and others. Là-bas ceased publication in 1978; Sun & Moon ran until 1981.
    In the late 1970s, Sun & Moon published chapbooks by Bernstein, diPalma, and David Antin. By 1982 the small publishing house had come into its own with the publication of Djuna Barnes' Smoke and Other Early Stories, Russell Banks' The Relation of My Imprisonment, and an important anthology of contemporary American fiction with selections written by Walter Abish, Steve Katz, Leslie Scalapino, and Gilbert Sorrentino, to mention just a few.
    Messerli, a writer in his own right, resigned his post as assistant professor of English at Temple University in 1983 to devote himself fulltime to the press, which moved during the mid-1980s to its present Los Angeles location on Wilshire Boulevard in the Gertrude Stein Plaza. To date, Sun & Moon has published more than 125 major works of drama, fiction and poetry and has distributed another 400. Sun and Moon Press was awarded the prestigious Carey-Thomas Award for Creative Publishing in 1987 and has been awarded a number of National Endowment for the Arts Fellowships.
    In 1986, Messerli also initiated the Sun & Moon Classics series dedicated to the production of major texts in English and in translation. The Classics series has published the work of Gertrude Stein, Djuna Barnes, David Antin, Fanny Howe, the Flemish modernist Stijn Streuvels, Norweigan novelist Tarjei Vesaas, Austrian writers Arthur Schnitzler and Heimito von Doderer, and has another fifty books projected for publication in the years ahead.
    Throughout the 1990s, Sun & Moon Press continued to publish individual innovative writers, such as Tarjei Vessaas and Lyn Hejinian, as well as comprehensive anthologies of poetry and drama such as FROM THE OTHER SIDE OF THE CENTURY, VOLUMES I and II, in 1994 and 1998, respectively. Green Integer Press, begun in 1997 and also founded and edited by Messerli succeeded Sun & Moon Press in 2004, ending a nearly three decade long publishing project. However, Green Integer, in many ways, picks up where Sun & Moon left off, publishing a number of the same authors and with a similar investment in innovative, international poets and writers. Both presses reflect Messerli's commitment to recognizing significant, yet often overlooked writers and works.

    Scope and Content of Collection

    Accession Processed in 1993
    The Sun & Moon Press Archives documents the publishing history of the press and incidentally informs the literary careers and, in some cases, the personal lives of numerous American and international literary figures and artists. Because original office files contained a variety of materials, including letters to and from Douglas Messerli, letters regarding the texts of individuals named on folder tabs (see, for example, "Zola, Emile"), occasional artwork and photographs, and a wide array of production materials, related but originally separate manuscripts, typescripts and proofs have been interfiled with these office files by author's name, resulting in the collection's organization in a single alphabetical series: ADMINISTRATIVE AND PRODUCTION FILES.
    The bulk of the Sun & Moon Press Archives is a compilation of literary correspondence, both to and from Douglas Messerli (and occasionally to and from Howard Fox), of Sun & Moon Press production materials, such as manuscripts, typescripts and publishing proofs, and of various documents related to Sun & Moon's business activities (financial records, trade catalogues, advertising materials).
    In addition, the collection is scattered with a wide array of materials associated with Messerli's life and work, and with the lives and work of writers and artists, both the relatively unfamiliar and the celebrated, from the last 25 years: for example, letters and drawings from Messerli's foster children in Thailand, Somsong and Ko Chinnaphorn; numerous broadsides and art postcards; Sara Garden Armstrong's battery-driven art book (see: "Silverberg, Ira"); designs and collages, such as those done by Lou Horvath and Nick Piombino; biographical material for many writers and artists; interviews with the likes of Michael Palmer, Allan Kaprow and Linda Montano (interviewed by Moira Roth); letters and cards from an infinitely eclectic population beyond the writer's world, including, for example, materials from the artist Claudia Delmonte, architect Allan Greenberg, sculptor Lawrence McCabe, country western songwriter Chuck Rosenberg, who studied with the well known writer John Ashbery, to mention just a few.
    As a whole, the Sun & Moon Press Archives is an important collection not only because it details the history of Douglas Messerli's "alternative" publishing venture, bringing experimental poetry, fiction and drama to the American marketplace, but it also situates a community of writers and artists in relation to that marketplace and beyond over the last 25 years.
    Accession Processed in 1996
    The accession contains production materials for the Sun & Moon Press publication of FROM THE OTHER SIDE OF THE CENTURY: A NEW AMERICAN POETRY, 1960-1990, an anthology edited by Douglas Messerli and THE GERTRUDE STEIN AWARDS IN INNOVATIVE NORTH AMERICAN POETRY: 1993. The accession is arranged in two series: 1) FROM THE OTHER SIDE OF THE CENTURY and 2) GERTRUDE STEIN AWARDS.
    SERIES 1: FROM THE OTHER SIDE OF THE CENTURY
    This series is arranged in two subseries: A) Correspondence and B) Book Production Materials. The Correspondence subseries contains correspondence and submissions from contributors to the anthology. The Book Production Materials subseries comprises drafts, galleys and page proofs of the anthology.
    SERIES 2: GERTRUDE STEIN AWARDS
    The GERTRUDE STEIN AWARDS series contains letters of permission for poems published in the book.
    Accession Processed in 2004
    This accession contains literary correspondence and administrative and production files for Sun & Moon Press publications from 1991-2002. The accession is arranged alphabetically in a single series entitled ADIMISTRATIVE AND PRODUCTION FILES.

    Indexing Terms

    The following terms have been used to index the description of this collection in the library's online public access catalog.

    Subjects

    Messerli, Douglas, 1947- -- Archives
    Sun & Moon Press -- Archives
    American poetry -- 20th century
    Publishers and publishing -- United States

    Contributors

    Abish, Walter, -- correspondent
    Acker, Kathy, 1948- , -- correspondent
    Andrews, Bruce, 1948- , -- correspondent
    Antin, David, -- correspondent
    Armantrout, Rae, 1947- , -- correspondent
    Auster, Paul, 1947- , -- correspondent
    Barnes, Djuna, -- correspondent
    Bernstein, Charles, 1950- , -- correspondent
    Boyle, Kay, 1902- , -- correspondent
    Brownstein, Michael, 1943- , -- correspondent
    Davidson, Michael, 1944- , -- correspondent
    DiPalma, Ray, -- correspondent
    Greenwald, Ted, -- correspondent
    Guest, Barbara, -- correspondent
    Hejinian, Lyn, -- correspondent
    Howe, Fanny, -- correspondent
    Howe, Susan, 1937- -- correspondent
    Major, Clarence, -- correspondent
    Sherry, James, -- correspondent
    Silliman, Ronald, 1946- , -- correspondent
    Taggart, John, 1942- , -- correspondent
    Waldrop, Rosmarie, -- correspondent
    Messerli, Douglas, 1947-