Saluting some rare and special “limited editions” today – Bill Morgan‘s publishing venture, Lospecchio Press
We asked Bill to look back on this venture and he generously provided the context:
“The whole idea of creating the Lospecchio Press came about a year or two before Allen Ginsberg’s 60th birthday in 1986. At the time I had already been working with Allen for several years as his bibliographer and archivist and it seemed to my wife Judy and me that a milestone birthday like that would be a great occasion to gather together a collection of tributes from Allen’s many friends. This type of book is traditionally known as a Festschrift, but we decided to call it Best Minds in order to sound a little less academic. We actually thought that Ginsberg might enjoy such a book more at the age of 60 than later, and I’m glad we did because he didn’t live much beyond his 70thyear.
In the course of gathering materials I asked all of Ginsberg’s friends to write something, thinking that I’d be lucky if 50% responded, but in fact nearly everyone invited was enthusiastic and some wrote at great length about Allen’s importance. The book became so large, eventually over 300 pages, that I began to wonder how I could ever afford to publish it. One solution seemed to be that we could defer the cost of the big book by issuing a smaller companion volume, which we called Kanreki, containing some of the longer pieces that friends wrote, as well as several of the letters apologizing for not writing at greater length.
In addition to that I asked Allen if we could publish his poem “Old Love Story” as a separate chapbook, and he generously agreed. I knew of the work of Larry R. Collins, a painter who had lived in New York in the early 1980s and someone that Allen had met on several occasions. I felt that his beautiful renderings of the male nude would make a nice complement to Allen’s poem about gay love. We commissioned Jordan Davies who worked at the legendary Phoenix Bookstore in New York City to set the type and my wife and I tipped in the reproductions of Collins’ paintings and stitched the books together by hand in a small edition. Its been thirty years since those publications were issued and we’ve nearly broken even on the expenses. Since then we’ve published a few other books, one by Lawrence Ferlinghetti entitled The Hopper House At Truro, and one by Eileen Myles called simply Tow. Printing limited edition poetry has proven to be fun and expensive!
Bill Morgan, April 2016