Gloucester, MA: Gerrit Lansing, 1961-63. First edition. Paperback. 4to. Photo-offset printed and saddle-stapled in wraps illustrated in in color by Harry Martin.
In the first issue of Set the editor was clear about the lofty aims of the magazine, as he laid out in the poem manifesto in the first issue;
“This magazine is about the poetic exploration of the swarming possibilities (some occult, unused) in American life, urban & local (the rural is no longer available to poetry; to life?) here & especially now.”
What is truly remarkable about Set is not just the fact that it accomplished those goals, but the generous and various way that it accomplishes them, mirroring the generosity of Lansing’s own poetry, which joins the erudite and the accessible with such a light touch that it casts doubt upon any hierarchical distinction between the two.
The best magazines are intersectional rather than exemplary. Plenty of periodicals give the flavor of a like-minded school of poets, but the particular genius of Set was the way in which it sounds a resonance between disparate writers, just as the color red aligns and raises the three letters of the title out from the jostling mass of black lettering on the Harry Martin cover for issue no. 1. Set included poets associated with the Bay Area Renaissance, the Boston Scene, the New York School, and even one Fra Perdurabo - aka Aleister Crowley. The first issue prints three excerpts from The Book of Lies.
Copies of Set, when found, are usually battered and heavily toned - we suspect it to have been one of those magazines that was actually heavily read and passed from reader to reader. While we aren’t usually ones to stress the condition of a magazine, this copies are unbelievably sharp and bright, with none of the usual toning. The finest copies we expect to see.
[Clay & Phillips, pp. 134-5]. Item #24799