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Richard Brautigan — Four Poems


I was talking to my friend Mark at his bookstore in the Haight, St. Adrian. This was a long time ago.

We talked about books.

We talked about Kerouac or Bukowski or maybe the great things coming from X-Ray Press. I don’t recall.

Then, we talked about Richard Brautigan. I do recall this, because as we were talking, Mark brought out a copy of All Watched Over By Machines of Loving Grace. It was a first (and only) edition, and it was published by the Communications Company in 1967 — and probably within walking distance of Mark’s store.

We talked about the fact it was probably printed right around the corner, and we talked about the fact that, 30 years earlier, Brautigan had roamed this very neighborhood, handing out poems and chapbooks freely, and how that sort of thing doesn’t happen much anymore.

We even talked about R. Crumb walking this same neighborhood during the same time, pushing a baby carriage full of Zap #1, and how he sold them right out of the carriage.

Then Mark read the copyright from Brautigan’s book: “Permission is granted to reprint any of these poems in magazines, books and newspapers, if they are given away free.” The book was published in an edition of 1500 copies — none of the copies were offered for sale — they were all given away.

The entire edition was given away. 1500 copies. Free.

We both agreed this definitely doesn’t happen anymore.

I bought some books from Mark, jumped on the #7, and headed back down to the Tenderloin and the hotel I called home.

Sadly, St. Adrian’s doesn’t exist anymore, either…just like Crumb and his baby carriage and people giving stuff away for nothing.

A few years later, while working on the Vandercook, I decided to take a few of my favorite poems from All Watched Over By Machines of Loving Grace, print them, and, following his copyright, give the book away to the friends of the synaesthesia press; the people who, since its inception, have supported synaesthesia either through shared knowledge, submitting work, or buying the books.

4 Poems was the result.

Twenty-six lettered copies were printed. There were maybe 20 “overs” which were sent to Brautigan’s daughter, Ianthe.

I have no more.

My only hope here is it’s an adequate thanks for all those who have helped synaesthesia make it this far.

And maybe this little book has some of the spirit and essence that All Watched Over By Machines of Loving Grace offered.

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