Avant-Garde Journalism: Hannah Weiner's Early and Clairvoyant Journals
A Note on the Text
The idea of publishing a comprehensive edition of the Early and Clairvoyant Journals of Hannah Weiner arose as I was working on my dissertation under Professor Charles Bernstein at SUNY-Buffalo's Poetics Program. Bernstein is the executor of Weiner's literary estate and was a close friend of the author in her latter years. When Roof Books decided to publish Weiner's PAGE, Bernstein suggested I typeset and copy-edit the book, along with help from the artist Susan Bee. In the process of working on PAGE, I discovered that the "event" of placing the words on the page was, although sometimes excruciating, a crucial channel into the work. At least, I hoped to replicate the visual impact of the manuscript page, qua page. Matthew Peters built the web edition of the Early and Clairvoyant Journals with just this hope in mind, and his efforts were well worth it to those who have and will study and enjoy Weiner's most important works. The idea was realized through the generous work and encouragement of Bernstein, Peters, Lynda Classen and Rob Melton at UCSD's Archive for New Poetry, and by a research grant from the Friends of the Library at UCSD's Mandeville Special Collections. My research owes a great deal to my conversations with Bernstein, Barrett Watten (who typeset the Angel Hair edition of Clairvoyant Journal), Bernadette Mayer, Barbara Rosenthal, Jerome and Diane Rothenberg, and Andrew Levy. Ming Qian Ma read an earlier version of the above introduction and his comments were gracious and helpful. Jen Hofer accompanied me on my trip to San Diego to edit this edition, and her conversation and encouragement were vital.
The Fast remains in print from United Artists, and so it was excluded from the online edition, although it is a crucial piece of the sequence of early journals. It was edited down from Weiner's handwritten notebooks, typed and titled "Hell Book 1" etc., and may trigger a similar editorial project since the Hell Books are extensive and intriguing texts, full of fairy tale characters and provocative formal connections to the more mature work of "BIG WORDS." However, at over 250 pages in length, and being in general disarray, this could not be undertaken here.
A limited-edition of Country Girl was published by Kenning Editions in 2004 and, at press time, is still available from Small Press Distribution. The decision was made to make Country Girl accessible in the online edition due to its more limited availability relative to The Fast.
and Early Words and BIG
WORDS have never been published in any form. Although it is, at times,
seemingly indistinguishable in form and content from the Clairvoyant Journal
proper (and manuscript inventories demonstrate this), I chose to let "BIG
WORDS" stand as the June 1973 "Retreat" section through until 1974, when
Weiner's first extant title page indicating the work as the Clairvoyant
Journal appears. The project may have continued through 1978, given
original inventories, but there are no extant typescripts past those published