The Wormwood Review, edited by Marvin Malone, was one of the key little magazines to emerge from the so-called literary revolution of the 1960s. The Wormwood Review was an excellent example of a little magazine that did not become big despite publishing almost a hundred and fifty issues over a forty year span (1959-1999), featuring renowned writers such as e. e. cummings, James Wright, Stephen Stepanchev, and Edward Field, as well as Poet Laureates Billy Collins, Donald Hall, Kay Ryan, James Dickey, and George Bowering, and well-known “outsiders” such as Charles Bukowski, William Burroughs, Gregory Corso, Anne Waldman, Paul Blackburn, Ed Sanders, and Walter Lowenfels, among many others. The Wormwood Review was often seen as a vehicle for the best new literature available.
Malone was an opinionated editor who did not publish friends or other editors, and one of his main goals was to attain an unmistakable identity for his little magazine–a goal fully accomplished by Malone, as the 146 Wormwood Review issues attest to. As Malone put it, the Wormwood Review “is non-beat, non-academic, non-sewing-circle and non-profit. Wormwood is interested in quality poems and prose-poems (proems) of all types and schools — the form may be traditional or avant-garde-up-through-and-including-dada — the tone serious to flip, the content conservative to utter taboo. A good poem should be able to compete with the presence of other poems. Wormwood is not afraid of either intelligence or wit — both are rare qualities…”
Furthermore, the Wormwood Review was a one-man operation as Malone took on all capacities: reading submissions, editing, typing camera-ready copy, designing/preparing cover art, maintaining correspondence and subscription lists, addressing mailing envelopes, as well as functioning as a clerk and accountant. Malone himself wrote a compelling essay about the Wormwood Review, “The Why and Wherefore of Wormwood,” where he highlighted the significance of his little magazine in contemporary literature.
Following the “Cover to Cover” initiative that I helped to develop while I was at Brown University as a Fulbright scholar, the Wormwood Review will be digitized in its entirety, along with a wealth of previously unpublished material, including interviews, essays, biographies and other archival-related material, which will be duly credited. This is a ground-breaking undertaking since most projects in the Digital Humanities do not offer archival resources; however, most end users find this archival material as important and helpful as the digitized material because it allows them to use factual data to improve and enhance their ongoing research and it also contributes to strengthening their teaching methodologies with practical examples.
The analysis, digitization, and preservation of the Wormwood Review and archival-related material will provide access to the history of a field of literary activity with inestimable research interest by furnishing scholars, professors and students with critical and bibliographic information on one of the key postwar literary magazines.
The Wormwood Review Project has been made possible by a two-year fellowship awarded by the Agència de Gestió d’Ajuts Universitaris i de Recerca (AGAUR) and the 7th Framework Programme (now superseded by the Horizon 2020 Programme).
Last but not least, this project came to fruition thanks to the Wormwood Review state. Special thanks to Christa Malone for supporting this project from day one.