DescriptionPaul Bowles. Two Poems ["Watervariation" and "Message"]. New York City: The Modern Editions Press, [no date, 1933]. First edition of the author's first published book. Publication information from wrappers. Octavo (9.125 x 6 inches; 232 x 152 mm.).  pages ([1, blank], [1, "Watervariation"], [1, "Message"], [1, blank] pages). One sheet printed on one side, folded together making two printed pages facing each other. Fore-edge of first leaf untrimmed. Stitched, as issued, in the original light blue paper wrappers printed in dark blue (wrapper measurements: 9.25 x 6.5 inches; 235 x 166 mm.). Small faint dampstain in the lower gutter of both wrappers and text leaves. Wrappers very slightly browned at the edges; top edge lightly rubbed; tips of upper corners faintly creased; front wrapper with tiny nick at outer edge and tiny ding at lower edge; tiny split at foot of spine. A very good copy of this extremely scarce and fragile pamphlet. Protected in a mylar wrapper. From the collection of Donald Kaufmann.
"This is Pamphlet 5 of The Poetry Series / The Modern Editions Press / 725 Greenwich Street / New York City" (rear wrapper).
"The Modern Editions Press published two series of pamphlets in 1932 and 1933. The first series consisted of six pamphlets which included short stories, poems, and a statement. The six contributors were Dudley Fitts, John Kemmerer, Kay Boyle, Kathleen Tankersley Young, Raymond Ellsworth Larsson and Albert Halper; each one illustrated with an original print by a contemporary American artist. The second and final series of eight pamphlets was published in 1933 and consisted exclusively of work by poets, including Lincoln Kirstein, Horace Gregory, Raymond Ellsworth Larsson, Kathleen Tankersley Young, Paul Bowles, Laurence Vail, Carl Rakosi, and Bob Brown. Each was published in an edition of 100 copies" (Princeton University, Firestone Library, Rare Books and Special Collections, Graphic Arts Collection, "Modern Editions Press," at https://graphicarts.princeton.edu/2014/01/30/modern-editions-press/).
Jeffrey Miller, Paul Bowles: A Descriptive Bibliography, A1 ("Circa 175 copies were published in late 1933").
More Information: "Although Paul Bowles is best known today for his fiction, his initial literary efforts and first significant publications were in poetry...While in high school, Bowles discovered the Paris-based avant-garde literary magazine transition and submitted several poems. Two of his poems, 'Spire Song' and 'Entity,' were accepted and appeared in transition numbers 12 (March 1928) and 13 (Summer 1928). Apart from his writing for The Oracle, these two poems represent his first official publications. Over the next several years Paul Bowles's poetry was published in some of the most celebrated little magazines of the period, including Tambour, Blues, The Morada, This Quarter, Poetry, and Pagany. By the early 1930s, Bowles had been to France twice, met Gertrude Stein, and heard her pronouncement that his writing was 'not poetry.' Consequently, Bowles's work as a composer and music critic took center stage and he turned his attention to poetry less frequently. Still, Bowles's poetry surfaced in fits and starts throughout his career. His first published book, Two Poems (1933), was a small chapbook issued by Modern Editions Press in New York, which also published work by Bob Brown, Kay Boyle, Carl Rakosi, Kathleen Young, and others during its brief existence. Bowles's efforts as a poet lay dormant until the late 1960s when the American poet and photographer Ira Cohen asked him to contribute a poem to Gnaoua, the legendary little magazine Cohen edited. Bowles contributed several poems originally written in Taxco, Mexico, in 1940, which Cohen also used in The Great Society, another small magazine. California publisher John Martin saw The Great Society issue and suggested that Bowles allow him to publish a collection of his poems. With the Black Sparrow Press publication of Scenes (1968), Paul Bowles's poetry was issued for the first time in a collection. Scenes was followed by several other Black Sparrow collections of Bowles's poems, including The Thicket of Spring (1972) and Next to Nothing (1981). Bowles's poetry was also published occasionally in chapbooks and appeared in periodicals throughout his career" (University of Delaware Library, Special Collections Department, "Paul Bowles, 1910-1999," at http://www.lib.udel.edu/ud/spec/exhibits/bowles/poetry.htm).
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