Charley Plymell, 2017
April 26, 1935
Holcomb, Kansas, United States
|Occupation||poet, publisher, author|
|Literary movement||Postmodernism, Underground Comix|
Charles Plymell (born April 26, 1935, in Holcomb, Kansas) is a poet, novelist, and small press publisher. Plymell has been published widely, collaborated with, and published many poets, writers, and artists, including principals of the Beat Generation.
He has published, printed, and designed many underground magazines and books with his wife Pamela Beach, a namesake in avant-garde publishing. He published former prisoner Ray Bremser and Herbert Huncke, whom he identified with from the hipster 1950s. He was influential in the underground comix scene, first printing Zap Comix artists such as Robert Crumb and S. Clay Wilson, whom he first published in Lawrence, Kansas.
Charley Douglass Plymell was born in Finney County, Kansas during the worst dust storms of that time. He was born in a converted chicken coop near Holcomb. His grandfather, Charley Plymell, was deeded a homestead in Apache Palo lands by President Grover Cleveland. The stage line began in Plymell, a few miles south of Garden City where now stands the Plymell Union Church and Pierceville-Plymell Elementary school. Like many, his face was covered by wet rags as his mother went out to shoot jackrabbits and gather cactus for meals.
His father and mother were later divorced and his father bought a home for Charles and his sisters so they could attend school in Wichita while his father traveled. In Wichita in the 50's Plymell dropped out of his first year at North High School, lied about his age, traveled the western states in a new car his father bought him, working on pipelines, dams, factories and riding bareback broncs and Brahma bulls in rodeos.
Returning to Wichita he became a hipster, taking peyote, marijuana and benzedrine, the drugs of the day. He listened to jazz, R&B and “Race music,” across the tracks in Wichita. He worked at factories and took courses at Wichita State University. Allen Ginsberg credited him with creating the Wichita Vortex. Plymell’s Vortex in his own words does not relate to Ginsberg’s Wichita Vortex Sutra but took place west of Wichita near the center of the US at Space Needle Crossing in the Chalk Pyramids. His Vortex is spiritual/mythical and based on when he heard the Voice of the Game Lord which he later authenticated through his mentor and influence, Loren Eiseley. His other influences are Hart Crane, Ezra Pound, and Coleridge. He did not meet the Beats until 1963. His Vortex is written about in his Tent Shaker Vortex Voice. Before that he considered himself a hipster and outsider.
Plymell moved to a quiet Russian neighborhood in 1962 at the corner of Haight and Ashbury. After the neighborhood filled with hippies and was taken over, Plymell moved to a famous flat 1403 Gough St. It was there at Plymell’s LSD party that the Beats met the Hippies. Promptly Allen Ginsberg and Neal Cassidy moved in with him where Plymell played Bob Dylan to Ginsberg for the first time. It was during that time Plymell made two films  that were in Ann Arbor Film festival and his collages which opened at the Batman Gallery where fellow Wichitans Bob Branaman and Bruce Conner had shown. Plymell’s show sold out except for a few pieces that ended up in Australia. Billy "Batman" Jahrmarkt gave Plymell his classic 1951 MGTD.
He published, printed, and designed many underground magazines and books with his wife Pamela Beach, a namesake in avant-garde publishing. He published Ray Bremser and Herbert Huncke, whom he identified with from the hipster 1950s. He was influential in the underground comix scene, first printing and designing with Zap Comix artists such as Robert Crumb and S. Clay Wilson, whom he first published in Lawrence, Kansas.
Recently Plymell’s book Benzedrine Highway was published by Norton Records/Kicks Books. He has been writing poems used as songs by Andrea Schroeder (Berlin); Mike Watt & Sam Dook (U.K.) They recently featured one of his songs on their CUZ tour. He has also written songs for Clubberlanggang, and is working on a book with his poems for Neal Cassady and Bob Branaman put to Rockabilly by Bloodshot Bill of Norton Records. Plymell holds an M.A. Degree in Arts and Sciences from The Johns Hopkins University, 1970.
- Apocalypse Rose, Auerhahn Press, 1967
- Neon Poems, Atom Mind Publications, 1970
- The Last of the Moccasins, City Lights Books, 1971; Mother Road Publications, 1996
- The Trashing of America Phase 1, Tuvoti, 1973
- Over the Stage of Kansas, Telephone Books, 1973
- The Trashing of America, Kulchur Foundation, 1975
- Blue Orchid Numero Uno, Telephone Books, 1977
- Are you a Kid?, Cherry Valley Editions, 1977
- Moccasins Ein Be*Cut Here, at-Kaleidoskop, Europaverlag, 1980
- Panik in Dodge City, Expanded Media Editions, 1983
- The Harder They Come, Am Here Books 1985
- Forever Wider, 1954–1984, Scarecrow Press, 1985
- Was Poe Afraid?, Bogg Publications, 1990.
- journals of Lysidia, Synesthesia Press, 1999
- Reefer Madness in the Age of Apostasy, Butcher Shop Press 2000.
- Hand on the Doorknob, Water Row Books, 2000
- in Memory of My Father, Cherry Valley Editions, 2003
- Cut Here, 12 Gauge Press, 2002
- Song for Neal Cassady, 12 Gauge Press, 2002
- Bennies From Heaven, 12 Gauge Press, 2002
- Rabid Ronnie Rap Back Jive Kansas, 1955, 12 Gauge Press, 2002
- Some Mothers' Sons, Cherry Valley Editions, 2004
- Neal and Anne on Gough Street, The Beat Scene Press, 2007
- News, Glass Eye Books, 2007
- Beginning Millenium: No More Vinyl Bush War, Glass Eye Books, 2008
- The Lost Poems of Charley Plymell, M Press, 2010
- Eat Not Thy Mind, Eye Books Ecstatic Peace Library, 2010
- Curricula Me Vita, Glass Eye Books/Ecstatic Peace/Cherry Valley Editions 2011
- Animal Light, Verlag Peter Engstler, 2012
- Tent Shaker Vortex Voice, Bottle of Smoke Press, 2012
- Benzedrine Highway, Kicks Books, 2013
- Planet Chernobyl, Verlag Peter Engstler, 2015
- Apocalypse Rose, Lenka Lente, 2015
- Incognito, Ergo Sum, Ragged Lion Press, 2016
- Rod McKuen Reads in Memory of My Father, Cherry Valley Editions, Vinyl, 1978.
- Man Overboard, Charles Plymell (Voice), The Clubber Lang Gang, CD, 2012.
- Andrea Schroeder, Blackbird, Bebop Blues (poem), vinyl and CD, Glitterhouse Records, Berlin, 2012
- Andrea Schroeder, Where The Wild Oceans End, The Rattlesnake (poem), Glitterhouse Records, Berlin, 2014
- CUZ, tamatebako, Mike Watt & Sam Dook, sand and bones Charles Plymell vox CD, bleeding heart recordings, UK, 2014.
- Cuz, Mike Watt & Sam Dook, Bad Veronica, Charles Plymell (Voice), UK, 2015.
- Animal Light, Charles Plymell (Voice), Verlag Peter Engstler, CD, 2015
- Planet Chernobyl, Charles Plymell (Voice), Verlag Peter Engstler, Germany, CD, 2015
- Andrea Schroeder, Void, Was Poe Afraid? (poem), vinyl and CD, Glitterhouse Records, Berlin, 2016
- Apocalypse Rose, poem bilingual text; music CD by Bill Nace, Lenka Lente, Nantes, France, 2016.
- Bloodshot Bill Sings Charles Plymell, Feeding Tube Records and Bottle of Smoke Press, 2017.
- Apocalypse Rose, Charles Plymell (Voice), Bill Nace (music), openmouthrecords, 2017
- Mark in Time, New Glide Publications, San Francisco, CA, 1971.
- And The Roses Race Around Her Name, Stonehill, NYC, 1975.
- Turpentin on the Rocks, Maro Verlag, Augsburg, W. Germany, 1978.
- A Quois Bon, Le Soleil Noir, Paris, France, 1978.
- Planet Detroit, Anthology of Urban Poetry, Detroit, MI, 1983.
- Second Coming Anthology, Second Coming Press, San Francisco, CA, 1984.
- The World, Crown Publishers, 1991.
- Editors' Choice III, The Spirit That Moves Us, New York, 1992.
- The Age of Koestler, The Spirit of the Wind Press, Kalamazoo, MI, 1990.
- Found & Lost Magascene, Vol. 1 / No. 0 & 1 [Contributor], Back Room/Temple of Man, 2010
- Allen Ginsberg, Introduction to Apocalypse Rose by Charles Plymell, Published by Auerhahn Press in 1966. "Plymell and his friends inventing the Wichita Vortex contribute to a tradition stretching back ....”
- Allen Ginsberg quote from the Martin Scorsese film No Direction Home: Bob Dylan Documentary);
- (NY film co-op)
- Plymell, Charley. Kansa, Land of the Wind People.
- Cherry Valley Edition Website
- Charles Plymell, from Kansa, Land of the Wind People, Autobiographical sketch, 12/02
- Charley Plymell, from Last of the Moccasins, Vortex excerpt
- Charles Plymell Collection, Wichita State University Libraries
- Two Charles Plymell collections (MS 137 in Special Collections and RH MS P760 in the Kansas Collection) are housed at the Kenneth Spencer Research Library, University of Kansas
- Charley Plymell portrait by Gerard Malanga, May 2010
- Wichita Vortex, KTPS, Documentary, 26 February 2016
- Beat Generation Poets & Artists, City Lights bookstore, August 1963, San Francisco; Photograph by Charley Plymell includes Pat Cassidy, Philip Whalen, Robert Branaman, Alan Russo, Ann Buchanan, Bob Kaufman, Allen Ginsberg, and Lawrence Ferlinghetti
- by Jon Randall
- by Catfish McDaris
- Charles Plymell : The Benzedrine Highway by Paul Hawkins
- Benzedrine Highway revised especially for RealityStudio, the interview now contains additional material about Plymell and William S. Burroughs by Paul Hawkins
- Works by or about Charles Plymell in libraries (WorldCat catalog)