Rare Books & Manuscripts Library

Avant Writing Collections

The Avant Writing Collection focuses on a group of primarily North American writers, most of whom became active starting in the 1970’s. They are primarily interested in poetry and visual poetry, but are also writing prose, and in numerous transgeneric forms not easily classified. Many of them are also involved with visual arts, photography, sound art, music, performance, conceptual art, mail art, and/or artists’ books. These writers are all quite unique, but almost none of them are associated with any of the prevailing literary or institutional establishments of the day.

Although it is difficult to identify anything like a “school” or “movement” among this group of individualists, most of them know and communicate with each other, publish in the same venues, and are involved in numerous collaborative writing projects. In fact, collaborative writing – often involving numerous and proliferating pseudonyms – is one of the hallmarks of this group of writers.

It is also important to note the significant international character of the collection. It includes writers and artists from all over the world, most of whom interact and collaborate on a daily basis. Some of this is due to the ease of communications created by the internet, but internationalism has been a characteristic of avant garde movements throughout modern history.

It is important to collect these writers because, as has been the case over and over in the history of literature, the best and most innovative writing, the writing that advances the art and that in the future becomes the classic and defining work of a period, is almost always the work of outsiders. As has been the case in numerous pasts, it is the case today that the best writing, especially the best poetry, is not to be found in the bookstores, in the mainstream publications, in classrooms, nor in many of the libraries. The Avant Writing Collection seeks to remedy this situation as much as possible, by collecting, archiving, and making available a largely hidden, but extremely important, body of literature, so that in the future, scholars and readers will have a place to find it, to do research on how the work was created, on the writers and artists who created it, and on its bibliographic history.

It is significant that the Avant Writing Collection be housed in BBML, because the same library also houses the world’s largest collection of materials by and relating to William S. Burroughs. Many of the writers of the Avant Writing Collection have been great admirers of Burroughs, and have in various ways been encouraged and/or influenced by his work. Burroughs’ papers here, in fact, contain publications, manuscripts, and correspondence from many of the writers in this collection.

The collection includes major archives of papers, manuscripts, and publications from Sheila E. Murphy, F. A. Nettelbeck, Jim Leftwich, Scott MacLeod, Scott Helmes, Lee Ballentine, Marilyn R. Rosenberg, K. S. Ernst, Jon Cone, John M. Bennett, Thomas L. Taylor, Allen Bramhall, Alan Sondheim, John Perlman, and others, and is constantly growing, making a list like this almost instantly out-of-date. It also includes thousands of individual books, serials, and other materials which can be accessed through the Library’s central catalog.

Dr. John M. Bennett, former curator


Searching the Library Catalog

To see a list of many of those materials, go to http://library.osu.edu/ and do a “Keyword” search for “Avant Writing Collection”.

Work by some of the artists and writers in the Avant Writing Collection may also be found in the Libraries' GRANARY BOOKS COLLECTION. To find these, do a keyword search for "Granary Books" and "Granary Books Collection" in the Libraries' catalog.


Finding Aids

Please note that the list below represents finding aids/guides that have been converted to a digital format.

This conversion project is ongoing, so do check back later for additions. 

Altemus (SPEC.RARE.CMS.0355)
The Reed Altemus Collection 

Bennett (SPEC.RARE.CMS.0171)
John M. Bennett Correspondence Collection

Bennett (SPEC.RARE.CMS.0107)
John M. Bennett Publications Collection, 1940-1995

Beveren (SPEC.RARE.CMS.0304)
Peter van Beveren Mail Art Collection (CMS.0304)

Bole (SPEC.RARE.CMS.0381)
Mary Jo Bole Collection

Bramhall (SPEC.RARE.CMS.0162)
Allen Bramhall Collection

Cone (SPEC.RARE.CMS.0125)
Jon Cone Collection

Ernst (SPEC.RARE.CMS.0121)
The K. S. Ernst Collection

Ernst (SPEC.RARE.CMS.0155)
The K. S. Ernst Collection, cont.

Fantome (SPEC.RARE.CMS.0315)
C.M. James Fantome Press Collection

Ficus strangulensis (SPEC.RARE.CMS.0314)
Ficus strangulensis Collection

Flanagan (SPEC.RARE.CMS.0329)
The Bob Flanagan Collection

Helmes (SPEC.RARE.CMS.0130)
The Scott Helmes Collection

HousePress (SPEC.RARE.CMS.0199)
The HousePress Collection

Huttinger (SPEC.RARE.CMS.0126)
The Peter Huttinger Collection

Impossibilists (SPEC.RARE.CMS.0320)
The Impossibilists Collection

Kolm (SPEC.RARE.CMS.0305)
The Ron Kolm Collection

 Leftwich (SPEC.RARE.CMS.0163)
Jim Leftwich Collection

 Leftwich (SPEC.RARE.CMS.0086)
Jim Leftwich Papers

Leftwich (SPEC.RARE.CMS.0124)
Jim Leftwich Papers, 2003

MacLeod (SPEC.RARE.CMS.0102)
Scott MacLeod Collection

MacLeod (SPEC.RARE.CMS.0131)
Scott MacLeod Collection

Murphy (SPEC.RARE.0160)
Sheila E. Murphy Collection

Nettelbeck (SPEC.RARE.CMS.0123)
The F.A. Nettelbeck Collection

Nettelbeck (SPEC.RARE.CMS.0362)
The F.A. Nettelbeck Collection (web version in progress)

Perlman (SPEC.RARE.CMS.0135)
The John Perlman Collection

Porter (SPEC.RARE.CMS.0361)
The Bern Porter Collection

Richey (SPEC.RARE.CMS.0314)
Forrest A. Richey - Ficus strangulensis

Rosenberg (SPEC.RARE.CMS.0117)
Marilyn R. Rosenberg Collection

Rosenberg (SPEC.RARE.CMS.0156)
Marilyn R. Rosenberg Collection

Taylor (SPEC.RARE.CMS.0097)
Thomas L. Taylor Papers

Taylor (SPEC.RARE.CMS.0176)
Thomas L. Taylor Paper, 2001- 

Van Beveren (SPEC.RARE.CMS.0304)
Peter van Beveren Mail Art Collection


Avant Writing Links

http://johnmbennett.net/ -  John M. Bennett’s website, including Luna Bisonte Prods 

http://www.nakedsunfish.com/ - Naked Sunfish, an on-line journal which includes a monthly section of John M. Bennett’s poetry, “Blank Sight”

http://9thstlab.blogspot.com/ - Jake Berry’s blog 

http://fhole.blogspot.com/ - Daniel F. Bradley’s blog 

http://www.cafepress.com/bluelionbooks66 -  Cafe Press, Publisher of extensive and highly experimental texts 

http://www.thegatesofparadise.com/ -  David Daniels’ web site 

http://www.lulu.com/eightpagepress - eIghT-pAGE pREss, Publisher of experimental texts 

http://eratiopostmodernpoetry.com/eratioeditions.html - E-ratio; PDF books available for download 

http://eratiopostmodernpoetry.com/ - E-ratio postmodern poetry; an electronic journal of innovative writing 

http://www.hybriden-verlag.de/ - Hybriden-verlag, publisher of  experimental and avant artists’ books and materials 

http://www.lulu.com/xpressed - Lulu.com, publisher of highly  experimental texts 

http://www.ubu.com/ - Major website documenting all kinds of experimental and visual literatures 

http://www.warnell.com/syntac/ - S Y N T A C T I C A L E R R O R, website of experimental texts 

http://ficusstrangulensis.blogspot.com/ -  Ficus strangulensis’ blog 

http://fivemilcopiesproj.blogspot.com/ - The Five Million Copies Project, a project based on a poem by John M. Bennett 

http://fluxlist.blogspot.com - Website based on the  Fluxlist listserve 

http://peterganicklongpoemtext.blogspot.com/ - Blog of  Peter Ganick’s work 

http://www.greatworks.org.uk/ - Great Works, site for innovative writing in the UK: modernist, postmodernist, archaic. See especially the links page at: 

http://www.greatworks.org.uk/quicklinks.html

http://comprepoetica.com/newblog/blog00699.html -  Bob Grumman’s blog; poetry, avant texts, criticism, and much else 

http://www.muse-apprentice-guild.com/ - On-line journal edited by  August Highland 

http://scoresimprovisationstexts.blogspot.com/ -  Crag Hill’s blog 

http://www.dbqp.blogspot.com/ -  Geof Huth’s blog 

http://www.hybriden-verlag.de/ -  Hybriden- Verlag, publisher of experimental and avant artists’ books and materials

http://richardkostelanetz.com/index.html -  Richard Kostelanetz’ website 

http://jimleftwichtextimagepoem.blogspot.com/ - One of  Jim Leftwich’s blogs   (archive available) 

http://thomaslowetaylor.blogspot.com/ - Blog created by Thomas Lowe Taylor and Jim Leftwich 

http://www.lulu.com/xpressed -  Lulu.com, publisher of highly experimental texts 

http://seriousprojects.blogspot.com/ -  Scott MacLeod’s blog 

http://www.naplesyellow.com/ - J. Michael Mollohan's website of visual poetry and much more 

http://www.nakedsunfish.com/ -  Naked Sunfish, an on-line journal which includes a monthly section of John M. Bennett’s poetry, “Blank Sight” 

http://www.andes.missouri.edu/andes/Ciberayllu.shtml - Website focusing on Peruvian writing 

http://tomphillips.co.uk/ -  Tom Phillips’ website 

http://www.rediscov.com/sacknerarchives/ - The Sackner Archive of Visual and Concrete Poetry, website and catalog of the world’s largest collection of visual and experimental poetry 

http://www.eratiopostmodernpoetry.com/ - eratio postmodern poetry, journal edited by Gregory Vincent St. Thomasino 

http://www.spidertangle.net/home.html - A book and other material from the Spidertangle visual poetry listserve 

http://thomaslowetaylor.blogspot.com/ - Blog created by  Thomas Lowe Taylor and Jim Leftwich 

http://www.umbrellaeditions.com/index.php - Website for Judith Hoffbergh’s Umbrella magazine, which focuses on artists’ books and related themes 

http://www.ben-vautier.com/ -  Ben Vautier’s website 

http://www.wordforword.info/vol7/index2.htm - word for/word, a Journal of New Writing