Charles Plymell

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Charles Plymell was born in Holcomb, Kansas, on April 26, 1935. His family later moved to Wichita and Plymell was sent to a military academy in San Antonio, Texas. In 1955, Plymell enrolled at Wichita University where he attended classes and worked as a printer until 1960, without obtaining a degree.

During this time, Plymell began to develop a name for himself in the literary world. While a student at Wichita University, Plymell edited and published Poets’ Corner and Mikrokosmos, two popular campus literary magazines. By 1963 he was living in San Francisco and had published at least five other literary journals. He was the printer of the first issue of Zap Comix, with artwork by Robert Crumb. In 1967 Plymell published his first book, Apocalypse Rose, which was admired by Lawrence Ferlinghetti and Allen Ginsberg, stalwarts of the Beat Generation.

Johns Hopkins University awarded Plymell a fellowship to the Hopkins Writing Seminars in 1970. The Seminars were founded by Dr. Elliott Coleman in 1947, only the second such program in the country. Dr. Coleman, who published 18 volumes of poetry and essays, continued to chair the department until his retirement 30 years later. He was a mentor to many American writers who later gained prominence, including Russell Baker, A&S 1947, who won the Pulitzer Prize for Growing Up, as well as Molly Peacock and Wes Craven.

At that time, Charles began work on The Last of the Moccasins. This novel tells the story of Plymell’s interaction with Beats Allen Ginsberg and Neal Cassady and describes the Wichita counterculture scene. Lawrence Ferlinghetti’s City Lights Books published the novel in 1971. After receiving his MA from Johns Hopkins in 1970, Plymell moved to New York and started Cherry Valley Editions, publishing Allen Ginsberg, William S. Burroughs, and Janine Pommey Vega, among others.

Charles Plymell has written eleven books and appeared in numerous journals and anthologies. He is still actively writing and collaborating with European and American musicians including Andrea Schroeder (who recorded his “Wichita Bebop Blues”), Grant Hart (Husker Du), Thurston Moore (Sonic Youth) and Mike Watt (Iggy and the Stooges. 

In 1992, Charles received a Certificate of Recognition from Governor Joan Finney for "...outstanding performance and exceptional contributions to the State of Kansas."

Bibliography ( - housed in Thomas Fox Averill Kansas Studies Collection)

Books:

Poems:

  •  Cowboy of the Ancient Sea "In Memory of My Father" and "From Ancient Lands (Vernal Equinox Dream)" - folded broadside - limited edition of 100, first 20 signed by author; this one is signed (Bottle of Smoke Press, 2015)

Anthologies:

  • Found & Lost Magascene, Vol. 1 / No. 0 & 1 [Contributor], (Back Room/Temple of Man, 2010)
  • Editors' Choice III (The Spirit That Moves Us, 1992)
  • The World (Crown Publishers, 1991)
  • The Age of Koestler (The Spirit of the Wind Press, 1990)
  • Second Coming Anthology (Second Coming Press, 1984)
  • Planet Detroit (Anthology of Urban Poetry, 1983)
  • Turpentin on the Rocks (Maro Verlag, 1978)
  • A Quois Bon (Le Soleil Noir, 1978)
  • And The Roses Race Around Her Name (Stonehill, 1975)
  • Mark in Time (New Glide Publications, 1971)

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