Charles Plymell was born on the high plains in Finney County, Kansas in 1935 in a converted chicken coop during one of the blackest dust storms of that period. His father was a cowboy born in the Oklahoma Territory, his mother of Plains Indian descent. He completed his freshman year in high school and dropped out. After working in most all the western states at many types of laboring jobs, he drifted between Los Angeles and Kansas City during his hipster years, steeped in jazz, race music, and country. He later attended Wichita State for a few years, not obtaining a degree.

While working on the docks in San Francisco, he was recruited by students and the founder of The Johns Hopkins Writing Seminars to earn an Masters in Writing. He then settled in Upstate New York with his wife and children teaching and tutoring courses in institutions where he could apply his knowledge and experiences. Many of them were courses in prisons until their population, increasingly victimized, due to the unconstitutional mandatory sentencing and the terrorizing political war on drugs made the experience too overwhelmingly emotive.

His master's thesis at Hopkins was quickly published by City Lights titled Last of the Moccasins and then by Europa Verlag in Austria. After it went out of print, it was reissued with the Los Angeles' artist Robert Williams' painting on the cover (now available as an ebook). Williams went against his own policy of never doing covers only because Plymell was the first printer of Robert Crumb's Zap Comix. A few copies remain in print and are available from Water Row Books in Sudbury, MA, which has published a Plymell Reader titled Hand on the Doorknob. Many books, among them the Scarecrow Press book, Forever Wider, edited and introduced by Robert Peters; and other items including a collage book by 12 Gauge Press are listed in collectors' catalogues such as Water Row, Ken Lopez, or on Bibliofind or e bay.

Plymell was cited by Governor Finney of Kansas for his contribution to the people as well as the World Book for being the most promising poet of 1976. He opposes the National Endowment for the Arts and has criticized it in print. He claims it became a politicized unjust system feeding on its own mediocrity and self-contradiction. He views were mentioned in the New York Times in " Notes on People" and again in "Washington Talk". He was subsequently blacklisted and has never received any funding from any federal, state, or academic agency to pursue his creativity.

Books:

  • Apocalypse Rose, Dave Haselwood Books, San Francisco, CA, 1967.
  • Neon Poems, Atom Mind Publications, Syracuse, NY, 1970.
  • The Last of the Moccasins, City Lights Books, San Francisco, CA, 1971; Mother Road Publications, 1996.
  • Moccasins Ein Beat-Kaleidoskop, Europaverlag, Vienna, Austria, 1980.
  • Over the Stage of Kansas, Telephone Books, NYC, 1973.
  • The Trashing of America, Kulchur Foundation, NYC, 1975.
  • Blue Orchid Numero Uno, Telephone Books, 1977.
  • Panik in Dodge City, Expanded Media Editions, Bonn, W. Germany, 1981.
  • Forever Wider, 1954-1984, Scarecrow Press, Metuchen, NJ, 1985.
  • Was Poe Afraid?, Bogg Publications, Arlington, VA, 1990.
  • Hand on the Doorknob, Water Row Books, Sudbury, MA, 2000
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    Anthologies:

  • 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, 1995.
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    Interview With Beat Poet Charles Plymell
    By Jon Randall

     

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