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The Ultimate Actualist Convention

A Detailed View of Iowa City Actualism in the 1970s & 1980s and Its Migration to the San Francisco Bay Area

Morty Sklar, Cinda Kornblum, and Dave Morice

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  • Paperback
  • ISBN: 9780930370589
  • Publication Date: 2017-12-14
  • The Spirit That Moves Us Press

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The Ultimate Actualist Convention

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Actualism may be regarded as less a movement than an attitude, characterized primarily by generosity of spirit. Open-minded, rebellious, joyful, dedicated, deranged, searching, and self-satirizing. This volume is a montage: memoir, history, celebration, homage, elegy, portrait gallery, and timescape.

Actualism sprang out of a variegated and flourishing community of writers and artists who converged in Iowa City over a period of ten-to-fifteen years. Most were drawn by the Iowa Writers’ Workshop, some by the International Writing Program, and some to the Introduction to Typography course in the Department of Journalism, and some who just wandered into town.

The first section begins with a piece by Dave Morice and one by Allan Kornblum which include their recollections of the day Darrell Gray created the Actualist Manifesto, followed by pieces that give somewhat of an overview of Actualism in Iowa City and the San Francisco Bay Area.

The second section includes the individual biographies, poems and  publications of the Actualists and the community that inspired them. Some began in Iowa City and migrated to the Bay Area and elsewhere. It was a magical mix of poets and writers, artists, actors and playwrights, teachers, musicians, publishers, translators and booksellers.

The third section covers the Actualist events and antics in Iowa City and the Bay Area.

The fourth focuses on the stories of two of the publishers closely associated with this group of writers: The Toothpaste / Coffee House Presses, and The Spirit That Moves Us Press.


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Morty Sklar

Morty Sklar (also Publisher). Born 1935 in Sunnyside, Queens, N.Y.C. Transplanted in 1971 to Iowa City, Iowa, where I met Allan Kornblum, publisher of The Toothpaste Press and later of Coffee House Press, and was welcomed by Allan and others into a community of poets and independent literary publishers outside the purview of the Iowa Writers’ Workshop, who came to be known as the Actualists. I published the first issue of my The Spirit That Moves Us magazine there in 1975.

In 1977, I co-edited with Darrell Gray, and published from my The Spirit That Moves Us Press,

The Actualist Anthology, which Booklist (A.L.A.) called “A volume of interest as a record of and introduction to a purely American poetic movement.”

It is the grandparent of The Ultimate Actualist Convention.

In 1989, after living in, and publishing my press in Iowa City for eighteen years, I moved self and press back to Jackson Heights, Queens. N.Y.C., which turned out to be the most ethnically diverse area in the world, and where I met my Peruvian wife of twenty-five years.

Cinda Kornblum

Cinda Kornblum, Co-Editor

Dave Morice

Dave Morice, Co-Editor