Friday, August 20, 2021

Small Press History 6: A.D. Winans:/ SECOND COMING Magazine and Press/1972-1989

A.D. Winans and Diane di Prima

BE: What was the impetus to start Second Coming?
I was hanging out with poets like Kell Robertson who published Desperado Magazine, Ben Hiatt who published Grande Rhone Press, and Paul Foreman of Hyperion Press.  I helped Kell and Paul collate issues of their magazine and in the process gravitated toward the world of small press publishing.

A.D. with Jack Micheline

BE: Jack Micheline wrote in a foreword for A Bastard Child With No Place To Go: “A. D. Winans is a man in search of his soul. His compassion and love for his native city San Francisco shows in his poems. A. D. takes us on a journey of lost souls in the cruelty of a large city. He writes of the people he loves: poets, musicians, and the ordinary souls who have moved him. He knows the wars, the lost hookers, the crazies, the victims, and the ones gone mad. The system and the tragedy of America.” Jack Micheline seems like a kind, compassionate soul. Would you tell us a favorite story about him?
A.D.: Jack possessed the heart and soul of what being Beat is all about.  He unabashedly spoke the truth and in the process made many enemies.  He was a great oral poet who was loved by the downtrodden and the down and out. We immediately hit it off as we both had the same political viewpoints and empathy for the poor.  I have many tales I could tell but here is one of my favorites.  We were drinking in North Beach and as nightfall set in, he said, "Let's go to Chinatown.  They are having an AA meeting tonight." I asked him why would I want to go to an AA meeting and he said "Because it's a great place to score with women."  When we arrived there was a large table with coffee and sugar cookies and rows of pull-out chairs.  We took front row seats and as is the custom at AA meetings the night kicked off with people getting up and introducing themselves by saying  "Hi, my name is  (X) and I'm an alcoholic."  When it came my turn I stood up and said "My name is A.D. Winans and I don't know if I am an alcoholic or not."  Then Jack stood up and said, "My name is Jack Micheline. I'm a poet and if you people were serious you'd be out bombing distilleries instead of napalming women and children."  It was at the height of the Vietnam War and his remarks were met with stone silence.  Needless to say, the only thing we scored that evening was sugar cookies. It was the first and last AA meeting I have attended.

BE: You published Bukowski quite a bit. What did you like most about his writing?
A.D.: I liked his easy down to earth use of the English Language and the subject matter of what he wrote about.  It was easy for me to identify with him.  William Carlos Williams who was an early influence on me said "Write as you speak."  I took this to heart and evidently Bukowski did as well.

BE: Were you and Bukowski good friends? How did you meet? Could you share a favorite story about Bukowski that few people know?
A.D.: I considered him a good "distant" friend.  We only saw each other four times in person but corresponded for l7 years.  During this period we exchanged 83 letters that are housed at my Second Coming archives at Brown University. There are many stories I could share.  One incident that stands out to me was my second meeting with him at a reading he was giving at the War Memorial Building in San Francisco.
I met up with him at a bar about a block away from the reading.  After some conversation, he mentioned he had the keys to Ferlinghetti's van and had a pint of vodka stored under the back seat and suggested it was cheaper than drinking at the bar.  We made our way to the van with Bukowski (Hank) taking the back seat and me in the front.  He immediately went for the vodka and drank nearly half the bottle in a few quick gulps.  I asked him for a sip and was surprised when he turned me down. He told me he needed every drop to see him through readings.  He said if it wasn't for the money he would not give them.  He said, if I recall right, "I'm like a beggar singing for his supper."
About ten minutes before the reading he finished the last of the vodka, tossing the bottle on the van floor.  "It's time to pay the piper," he said but we didn't get a few feet away before he turned and barfed on the side of Ferlinghetti's van.  He steadied himself and looked perfectly sober as we walked into the Memorial Building, not without notice by the packed audience.  He, of course, gave his usual dynamite reading and left to loud applause, and much hooting and hollering.
We made our way back to the bar and resumed our earlier drinking. At some point in time, Ferlinghetti came storming into the bar.  I watched him angrily approach our table and thought maybe he had discovered Hank had puked on his van.  However, when I looked up I saw he was clutching a poetry magazine in his hands that had a poem I had written for him.

    Lawrence Ferlinghetti and A.D. Winans / Photo by Scott Harrison

After exchanging greetings with Hank, Ferlinghetti lit into me, complaining about my poem (written in response to his poem, "Where is North Beach I can't find it"). His beef with the poem was his contention that it was not true.  I believed then and now that it was a fair and factual poem. I was not prepared for his attack and was uneasy over the attention he was drawing from the curious bar patrons.
I felt sure Hank would remain neutral or perhaps side with Ferlinghetti given the fact City Lights had recently published a book of his.  He had far more to gain by siding with Ferlinghetti than me. I'll always remember the way Hank looked up at Ferlinghetti with a sly smile and said, "Lawrence, that's one of the best poems I've ever read."  Ferlinghetti stood there with a stunned expression before storming out of the bar.
I knew my poem was an honest poem, a good poem, a poem that would be published and republished in several literary magazines but I also knew it was not a great poem and certainly not the best poem Hank had ever read.
Hank left for the airport shortly afterward leaving me with a deep respect for him.

BE: Is it true that Bob Kaufman helped you get over your fear of reading in public? How did that happen? In what other ways did Kaufman have a lasting effect on you?
A.D.: My early fear of reading in public goes back to my childhood days all the way through college when I never once got up in class and read.  It was Wayne Miller who headed the old Coffee House readings who helped me with my fear. The Coffee Gallery audience could be brutal.  I remember one poet who was booed off the stage.  I had been drinking quite heavily to work up the courage when my turn to read was approaching. Wayne came over to where I was sitting and told me I didn't have to read but I shook him off and proceeded to give a reading that ended with rousing applause. Afterward Wayne told me "you will never again have to worry about reading." And he was right.

A.D. Winans & Bob Kaufman at Cafe Trieste in 1976. Photo © Richard Morris, 1976

Kaufman had a lasting effect on me, not only because of his work but because of his persona and dedication to poetry.  He never sought fame and never kept copies of his poems.  If not for his wife, Eileen, very little of his work would have survived.  He was a true genius.  He is the only poet I know who spontaneously changed a poem while reading on stage as he did the evening of the Night of Street Poetry reading featuring Kaufman, Micheline, and I.
Bob  loved jazz and wrote some of the best jazz poems of the Beat era and read on stage with local jazz musicians.  He and Micheline defined the word Beat. The so-called Major Beats got all the attention but Bob and Jack were their equals. I am very proud of being in the documentary film on his life that premiered at the San Francisco International Film Festival.
BE: From “I have never worn the label of a poet well. It’s not a word I’m comfortable with. It carries a connotation that somehow the poet walks on a higher ground than the average individual. Too many of today’s poets are more concerned with publication credits than the human condition they write about.” Is this why you have no Table of Contents or Bio notes in Second Coming Anthology: Ten Years in Retrospect, to invite folks to read the poems, not just look up their own work or friends then put it down? But if one has to search around, one just might read some good work, in spite of one’s vanity? ( I remember that we exchanged a few letters in the mid-80s. You were neither a flirt nor a braggart, but down to earth and straightforward.)

A.D.: I generally did not include a table of contents except for the anthologies because I have always believed that poems should speak for themselves.  A lot of readers go to a table of contents to find particular poets they like and never read the other poets in the book.  I am sure this played a role in my decision not to include a table of contents in this particular anthology.
And yes, I remember we had exchanges of letters back then.  No, I was never what you call a flirt. There were small press publishers I knew who used their so-called power to lure a woman into their bed. One who I won't name tried to score with a woman friend of mine and boasted of other women he had made love to.  He was a tax accountant and only went into small press publishing to get laid.  A poet I published in the S.C. California Poets Anthology came up to me after a reading I gave in Sacramento, and said, "Thanks.  My poem in your anthology got me laid." I find that reprehensible.    And no, I don't brag about any accomplishments I may have made in the literary world.  Straight forward is the only way I know. It has gotten me enemies as well as admirers.  As I said in my Gale Research Autobiography piece.  The only thing a poet has is his or her integrity.  You sell that and you have sold your soul to the devil.  I am always amazed at how many poets have sold out for so little.
BE: I’m intrigued by your photo with Robert Kennedy. Did this meeting relate to your poetry in some way?

A.D. with Robert Kennedy

A.D.: No, it did not.  I was working as a civilian for the Navy and knew this Navy Officer who had worked as an aide for John Kennedy.  He asked me if I would like to meet RFK and set up a meeting at his Senate office.  We had a general conversation that lasted several minutes and as it was winding down I asked him if I could take his photo and he responded by saying "Why don't you sit down and have one taken with me."  An interesting sidelight to this, if if you look closely at the photo you will see me looking dead serious and might mistake me for a politician.  As we were both looking into the camera, it flashed into my mind that this would look cool on my mantle and impress any woman I might bring to my apartment.  As if he read my mind, he turned toward me, slapped me on the knee, and we both broke out into laughter.  A moment I will never forget.

BE: These days everyone and their brother has books because they can be printed instantly and on-demand one at a time. In the old days, we had to print 1000 books or at least several hundred to keep the price of each copy low enough, then we were stuck with a lot of books to distribute, trade, or give away. How do you think this will affect literature in the long run or will it?
A.D.: Yes, I was part of that.  I published print runs of 500 copies and like you and everyone else had no real distribution to speak of.  I had maybe at any one time fifty library and personal subscriptions. I would put copies into doctor and dentists' offices, leave them in public places, send them into prisons, and hand them out at readings, and still had copies in my basement.  Distribution is the curse of small press literature.  Today it makes economic sense to print on demand.
BE: Any advice to new poets/publishers or further musings on the state of poetry today?
A.D.: To poets, I would just say be yourself.  Don't be afraid to take risks.  I am too out of the loop to give advice to publishers except don't delude yourself into thinking you will make money.  If you break even you will have been wildly successful.
A.D. reading, 1977

Books published by Second Coming Press

  • Aguila, Pancho. Dark smoke (1977)
  • Andersdatter, Karla Margaret. I don't know whether to laugh or cry, 'cause I lost the map to where I was going: poems (1978)
  • Bennett, John. Crime of the Century (1987)
  • Castaño, Wilfredo Q. Small stones cast upon the tender earth (1981)
  • Fericano, Paul. Loading The Revolver With Real Bullets (1977)
  • Fowler, Gene. Felon's Journal (Poems) (1975)
  • Fowler, Gene. Return of the Shaman (1981)
  • Hiatt, Ben L. Data For a Windy Day (Broadside) (1977)
  • Menebroker, Ann. Three Drums For the Lady (1972)
  • Micheline, Jack. Last House in America (1974)
  • Micheline, Jack. Skinny Dynamite (1980)
  • Nimnicht, Noma. In the museum naked (1978)
  • Richmond, Steve.  Wild Seed (1977)
  • Reith, Kimi. Poems for my mother and the women I have loved (1978)
  • Savitt, Lynne. Lust in 28 flavors: poems (1979)
  • Schneider, Roy. Suburban Graffiti (1977)
  • Tsongas, George. Love letters (1975)
  • Wantling, William. 7 on Style (1975)
  • Whitebird, Joanie. Birthmark (1977)
  • Whitebird, Joanie. 24 (1978)
  • Winans, A.D. North Beach Poems (1977)
  • Winans, A.D. Tales of Crazy John: or, Beating Brautigan at His Own Game (1975)

Anthologies published by Second Coming Press

  • Winans, A.D. (ed.). 19+?1: An Anthology of San Francisco Poetry (1978)
  • Winans, A.D. (ed.). California Bicentennial Poets Anthology (1976)
  • Winans, A.D. (ed.). Second Coming Anthology: Ten Years in Retrospect (1984)



  1. A wonderful addition to an important series. I felt severely isolated until the world of small press opened up to me. The Dustbooks Directory of Poetry Publishers was my bible and when Blank Gun Silencer made it in my life changed forever. A. D. was a frequent contributor along with Bukowski and many other of the fine poets and writers mentioned. Thanks to all of you for making me feel welcomed. And the community remains intact and active thanks to GAS and likeminded FB groups.

    1. Thank you so much! I am so much enjoying remembering those times. I've seen you work for decades too. I hope younger, newer poets will also enjoy this look-back.

  2. As a new poet starting in mid life, alot of this is coming to me from a place of romantic legends. The Bukowski stories are just amazing, and I think how Kool
    it must have been to have experienced life in that time and ong those peers. I absolutely appreciate your values towards poetry, people, society, and the world we share.... Thank you for a wonder interview, and forever a thank you to Belinda Subraman, for all that she has done and continues to do.

  3. Replies

    1. Many thanks to A.D. Winans. Your name rings a bell too. Weren't you also an editor/publisher back then?

  4. He was and a good friend of mine. a.d.winans