(Johannesburg): Gryphon Poets, (1972). Single volume, measuring 10.75 x 8.75 inches: 46. Original color pictorial card wrappers with unclipped French flaps, front board lettered in black with brown and black woodcut design, spine lettered in black, photographic portrait of Beiles on rear wrapper. Six full-page color woodcuts. Light shelfwear and soiling to wrappers.
First edition of the first book by South African Beat poet Sinclair Beiles to be published in his home country, featuring vibrant original woodcuts by Cecil Skotnes. Beiles played a key role in a number of important Beat publications. In the 1950s, he befriended Brion Gysin and William S. Burroughs in Tangier, taking walks with Gysin to assuage the artist’s paranoia, and helping Burroughs edit Naked Lunch, which Beiles would later publish as senior editor at the Olympia Press. While staying at the notorious Beat Hotel in Paris, Beiles, Gysin, Burroughs, and Gregory Corso created Minutes To Go (1960), the first book to use the “cut-up” poetic technique which Gysin and Burroughs would make famous. After many years abroad, Beiles returned to Johannesburg in the early 1970s. The exuberant poems collected in Tales reflect his skewed, apocalyptic take on both sex and technology, as in “The Cuckholding Computer:” “Nothing could be more astuter / than that damned computer / that mass of wires and fuses / crept in bed next queen of muses / and while i snored / his calculator bored / into her fission / made ‘lectrical emission.” Beiles remains less well known than many of his Beat collaborators, in part because his South African publications had smaller print runs and were less widely distributed than the works of his American peers. Illustrator Cecil Skotnes was known for his innovative use of woodcuts to explore the geography and iconography of South Africa. His daughter Pippa Skotnes recalls: “Woodcutting offered Cecil the possibility of finding a new form for the symbolism he increasingly began to attach to a particularly local vision, without having to reject the rich European traditions which initially appealed to him” (“At the cutting edge: Cecil Skotnes as printmaker”). A very good copy of an important collaboration between two South African artists.