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  • Nora Koch

I met Allen Ginsberg

As Production Manager, I was in a Coffee House Press production meeting regarding a typeset, handmade book for an Allen Ginsberg. A young homosexual artist was there and kept asking the Publisher if he could do whatever he wanted with the images for the book. The publisher ignored his questions. A month later his explicit drawings were rejected for banal, and benign drawings by another artist.

At a design meeting I picked out beautiful, though florid paper: purple with gold and black Jackson Pollackesque streaks all over it, and a red Japanese paper for the label. The publisher later chose these papers, but as he often did, gave me no credit. At first, I was baffled when this happened; it hadn’t occurred to me, but I came to accept professional jealousy.

I met Allen Ginsberg at the Publisher’s dinner, but bowed out of the book reading ceremony attended by many enthusiastic people. Because I’d worked printing the book, I was entitled to a copy of it; a valuable book, I knew. But I didn’t want one, so I printed a label with my name on it and asked Jill Jevney the very talented book binder, to bind me a blank one in the same materials. The book, with Its purple clamshell box, is beautiful.

I have been going through old journals and winced when I found this one. I plan to destroy them all once I have gone through them, and I really did not want to destroy this beautiful book. I prayed before opening it that I might find a way to keep it. I was astonished! I hadn’t remembered that I had singled it out as a spiritual journal, and I found nothing in it that I would hate for someone else to read.


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