ON THE BANKS OF MONKS POND: THE THOMAS MERTON/ JONATHAN GREENE CORRESPONDENCE
Ron Silliman recently posted a thoughtful & adequate discussion of this book on his blog. The book, published by Broadstone Books (BroadstoneBooks.com) contains the complete correspondence between poet Jonathan Greene & Father Thomas Merton from 1967-68. During this time Merton published the magazine Monks Pond while Greene edited Gnomon. The correspondence reveals the way in which both Merton & Greene, as editors of little magazines with virtually no financial assistance and limited distribution, supported one another, propped one another up. Each played a role in sustaining the work of the other, all of this in Kentucky, a region on the periphery of the 1960s literary community. Despite limited finances and their location on the ragged edge of the literary world, their mutually supportive relationship allowed each of them to carve out a substantial place for themselves and their work. Within the correspondence we find Merton offering poetry contributed to Monks Pond to Gnomon, poetry given to Gnomon offered to Monks Pond. The letters also provide a window into the less exciting, logistical end of small press publishing: the search for financial and material resources, the desperate need for a good typewriter, the issue of balancing the editorial responsibilities of running a small magazine against other, more pressing responsibilities.
Between the two of them they managed to publish important work by, among others, Anslem Hollo, Wendell Berry, Jonathan Williams, Christopher Middleton & Lorine Niedecker. This is indeed more than anyone can ask of a little magazine and, as their correspondence indicates, Merton & Greene were able to accomplish this through their resourceful & affectionate support of one another.