Charles Plymell

Charles Plymell (also known as Charlie Plymell) is a poet and writer from Kansas who is often overlooked for his involvement as a Beat writer and poet.


He was involved in the Beat scene in New York in the 1950s before moving to San Francisco in the 1960s where he shared a house with Allen Ginsberg and Neal Cassady on Gough Street in 1963. He is originally from Kansas where he performed Peyote rituals in the 1950s and K.C. Jazz Benzedrine scenes. Allen Ginsberg credited him for inventing the Wichita Vortex. Ginsberg also said Plymell was the first to play Bob Dylan for him, at a friend's house in Bolinas.

Plymell has been published widely, collaborated with, and published many poets, writers, and artists, including principals of the Beat Generation. He's a bit of a Zelig like character, soft spoken and blending into the background around more prominent Beat characters but spent a lot of time with Ginsberg and Cassady and was influential on underground comix artists such as Robert Crumb and S. Clay Wilson. He also was a contemporary of David Amram, Richard Brautigan and William S. Burroughs.

He has published, printed, designed many underground magazines and books with Pamela Beach, a namesake in avant-garde publishing, whom he married.

Moved to quiet Russian neighborhood, rented a flat on the corner of Haight & Ashbury in 1962, and watched kids (parents of the New Age) appear one by one, playing sitars, smoking reefer, ingesting Sandoz, Owsley tabs and Mescaline.

In 1963, he lived with Neal Cassady and Allen Ginsberg at 1403 Gough St., and had a party where Beats met Hippies. Met Billy (Batman) Jharmark, who gave him his classic 1952 MGTD Roadster. Plymell made collages and films which were exhibited at the Batman Gallery along with works by Bruce Conner and Plymell's friend Robert Ronnie Branaman.

He had a profound impact on underground comix by printing the first issue of Zap Comix on his printing press in San Francisco in 1968, with Don Donahue assisting who would soon after take over his Multilith 1250 and the printing of Zap Comix, and a few months ealier printing a "lifted" R. Crumb "Head Comix" page from Yarrowstalks #2 in his tabloid newspaper The Last Times Vol. 1 No.1 (Fall 1967), before he met R. Crumb.

Later he and his wife, Pam, moved to Cherry Valley, NY to live on Allen Ginsberg's commune and he founded Cherry Valley Editions with Pam to print a series of books by William S. Burroughs, Herbert Huncke, Robert Peters, and others that are now out of print and rare. Jazz pianist Paul Bley moved to Cherry Valley at his suggestion and bought an old building once owned by Samuel Morse from Plymell.


  • 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


  • 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.

Interview With Beat Poet Charles Plymell

External links

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