Hofstra Special Collections: Avant-Garde



Avant-garde is defined as new and unusual or experimental ideas, especially in the arts.  Indeed, Hofstra Special Collection's Avant-Garde archive houses art and literary works that were (and in some cases, still are) considered experimental during the time periods in which they were composed.  For our class exhibit, we focused on literary and poetry journals from the 1960's and 1970's thought to be unconventional and somewhat radical during the later part of the 20th century.  These journals contain images, fiction, and poetry that reflect the turbulent time period of the 1960's and 1970's.  During this time, artists gave a voice to the growing dissatisfaction of the American public with politics, discrimination, and world events.  Radicalism aside, some of these literary magazines feature poems that also demonstrate one of the main themes of our class: form mirroring content in poetry.

Hofstra Special Collections: Avant-Garde Hofstra Special Collections: Avant-Garde




One of the journals in the Avant-Garde collection that we examined is Chelsea.  Chelsea was a small American, biannual literary magazine based in New York City. The influential journal published poetry, prose, and book reviews  from 1958 to 2007.  Chelsea featured famous (and not so famous) poets and writers such as Raymond Carver, Sylvia Plath, Umberto Eco, and Grace Paley.  


The photos featured here are of various Chelsea covers from the 1960's and 1970's that reflect a time of great social unrest in the United States, as well as the reluctant acceptance by the public of emerging technology.

Hofstra Special Collections: Avant-Garde Hofstra Special Collections: Avant-Garde




This issue of The Great Society is rare (it is one of only 600 copies made).  Like The Lampeter Muse, The Great Society no longer appears to be in publication.  This particular issue features a poem by Allen Ginsberg, as well as the one below by Judie Perez.










Judie Perez is a poet that appears to have disappeared from public consciousness.  Nonetheless her poem, "For Jeanie" is a touching example of form mirroring content as she uses indentation of words, onomatopoeia, and syntax to convey the physical tenderness exchanged between a young child and her mother.