Object Permanence
magazine, 1994-1997

A brief history:

Object Permanence described itself as a magazine of experimental / modernist poetry, was edited by Robin Purves and Peter Manson, and was published in Glasgow, Scotland between January 1994 and February 1997. The magazine arose out of the extreme difficulty we had encountered, in Scotland, in trying to obtain information about contemporary British and North American experimental writing. In the absence of either a living/sustained connection between the Scottish poets we then knew and any such wider scene, or of any local academic interest in such writing, we were left to glean fragments where we could. A Various Art was in Hillhead Library. The Paladin anthologies came as a revelation, when finally we found them. The L=A=N=G=U=A=G=E Lines supplement to a volume of essays called The Line in Postmodern Poetry (reference?) was for a long time our only source of work by writers of that tendency (the Scottish magazine Verse had already published a substantial selection of L=A=N=G=U=A=G=E writing which, characteristically, we didn’t hear about until after OP1 was published). It began to seem that things might move faster if we were to start a magazine. A grapeshot-scatter soliciting campaign of – we knew it even then – breathtaking naiveté (based on out-of-date leads and various writers’ directories) led very quickly to a first issue whose contents we never bettered. Ignorance was bliss – the mutual irritations among London/Cambridge and UK/North America (inverted commas around each term, please) dawned upon us only slowly. The original plan – to bring experimental work into print in Scotland so that a Scottish audience could see it – came to almost nothing (distribution here was very poor and we printed so little Scottish work as to risk getting ourselves disliked) but we can’t help but feel more influential six years down the line than we felt at the time. Where we did succeed was in keeping the lines of communication open between writers who wanted to be in touch with each other: our London Diaspora seemed genuinely switched-on to the North American work we printed, and some of the North American poets read the UK contributions too. We kept the editorial profile deliberately low (most of our formal Editorials were visual jokes) and the volume of small-press information was as large and open as we could make it – always keeping in view the potential reader for whom OP was their only contact with experimental poetry. Money was tight (as was Peter, frequently), but the magazine’s demise after OP8 (how did we miss the ‘opiate’ gag?) stemmed from more complex factors: too few risks taken (as if to print such a magazine in Scotland were risk enough); too few younger/less established poets (and our transparent failure to put much of our hearts into the more eclectic issues like OP6); too many of the same names too often (but no apologies for overdosing on Bob Cobbing and Clark Coolidge); magazines too big and too infrequent to stay resilient; a certain crystallisation (or sclerosis?) in our sense of what we actually liked — ending in a hysteresis effect whereby we found ourselves printing work which we couldn’t, by the time of publication, have reviewed favourably. Still, the magazine made us more friends than enemies, and stands as an example of how much can be achieved with neither wisdom nor cash.

Here’s an (early) advertising poster for Object Permanence magazine:



ISSUE ONE (January 1994): Charles Bernstein, Fanny Howe, Ralph J. Mills, Jr., Barry MacSweeney, Allen Fisher, David Kinloch, Edwin Morgan, Douglas Messerli, Tom Phillips, Bob Cobbing, Tom Raworth, Richard Price, Peter Finch, John Welch, Clark Coolidge, Hayden Murphy, Bob Perelman, Ron Silliman, Rosmarie Waldrop, David Bromige.

ISSUE TWO (May 1994): Thomas A. Clark, Rae Armantrout, Carl Rakosi, Richard Caddel, Clark Coolidge, Bill Griffiths, Tom Clark, Frank Kuppner, Denise Riley, Joe Ross, Robert Hampson, Gerry Loose, Theodore Enslin, Johan de Wit, Larry Eigner, Tony Baker, Bruce Andrews, Geraldine Monk, Keith Waldrop, Johanna Drucker.

ISSUE THREE (September 1994): Mark Payne, Adrian Clarke, Bob Cobbing, Ron Padgett, Peter Finch, Miles Champion, Peter Riley, Cid Corman, Norma Cole, Andrew Schelling, Robert Sheppard, Leslie Scalapino, Charles Bernstein, Anne Waldman, Leona Esther Medlin, Richard Price, James Laughlin, Tony Lopez, W.N. Herbert, Spencer Selby, Gael Turnbull.

ISSUE FOUR (February 1995): Ralph J. Mills, Jr., Dom Sylvester Houédard, Larry Eigner, Fiona Templeton, Kevin Killian, Guy Birchard, Drew Milne, Sheila E. Murphy, Charles Cantalupo, Ken Edwards, John Wilkinson, Ramona Fotiade.

ISSUE FIVE (September 1995): John Byrum, Clark Coolidge, Brian D. Lucas, David Miller, Hayden Murphy, Maggie O’Sullivan, Gavin Selerie, Warren Chalmers, Kate Sweeney McGee, Gerry Loose: ‘Holy Loch Soap’.

ISSUE SIX (January 1996): Rosmarie Waldrop, Peter Gizzi, Nicholas Johnson, Caroline Bergvall, Bill Griffiths, Roberto Obregon (tr. Alexander Linklater), Aaron Williamson, Ron Silliman, Bob Cobbing, Ted Greenwald, Spencer Selby, P.R. Armstrong, Chris Ozzard, Kelvin Corcoran, Richard Kostelanetz, Elizabeth James, Dan Lane.

ISSUE SEVEN (June 1996): Ian Hamilton Finlay, Saint Columba (tr. Edwin Morgan), Harry Gilonis, Drew Milne, Abigail Child, Tony Lopez, Bruce Andrews, Michael Basinski, Charles Cantalupo, Robert Fitterman, Carla Harryman, A.W. Kindness, Gael Turnbull, Steve McCaffery.

ISSUE EIGHT (February 1997): Bruce Andrews, John M. Bennett, Andrea Brady, Adrian Clarke, Clark Coolidge, Peter Finch, Pierre Joris, Peter Middleton, Carlyle Reedy, Robert Sheppard, Fiona Templeton, Lawrence Upton/Bob Cobbing, Johan de Wit.

All back issues have now sold out.

In October 2001, Object Permanence was relaunched as a pamphlet series, and published five booklets before re-entering hibernation in 2006.

2 thoughts on “OP

  1. Fiona Wilson

    Hi Peter–I’ve been trying–without success–to find or buy a copy of Fiona Templeton’s Mum in Airdrie. Do you know if it’s still possible to buy one? The email contact listed on the OP site seems to be defunct. Fiona

    1. Peter Manson Post author

      Hi Fiona — my apologies, I’ll update the email address (which lapsed when the OP domain name did a while ago). If you email me on undigest [@] hotmail [dot] com , I’ll get a copy of Fiona’s booklet to you.


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