Leslie Scalapino (1944 – 2010) founded O Books in 1986, and for 25 years published innovative works of contemporary poetry as well as essays and plays by poets.
Leslie was a close friend of the late Philip Whalen and of Michael McClure (and the editor of his Collected Poems, which the University of California Press is publishing). She had close ties to writers of the Beat movement, especially with those whose serious study of Buddhism influenced their writing and their vision of an ethical world. She also had numerous ties to the Language writers. But these were largely ties of community and friendship. In her writing, Leslie Scalapino’s voice and vision were unprecedented, a product of her unique and rigorous intelligence and compassion. She belonged to no school; her engagement with continual conceptual rebellion would have prohibited that.
But her devotion to community was fervent. It was manifest in her dedication to the students she taught over the years … It inspired the founding of O Books, which published over 100 books by young and emerging poets, as well as prominent, innovative writers. Scalapino also edited four O anthologies, as well as the periodicals Enough (with Rick London) and War and Peace (with Judith Goldman).
Scalapino makes everything take place in real time, in the light and air
and night where all of us live, everything happening at once.
— Philip Whalen