Exquisite Corpse Anthologies

Three anthologies from the Corpse edited by Andrei Codrescu and Laura Rosenthal were published: the first, THE STIFFEST OF THE CORPSE: an Exquisite Corpse Reader (City Lights, San Francisco 1989) edited by Andrei Codrescu contained both the famous and the infamous: Paul Bowles, Lydia Davis, William Levy, Jayne Lyn Stahl, Diane di Prima, John Cage, Anselm Hollo, Faye Kicknosway, Alice Notley, E.M. Cioran, Anne Waldman, Hariette Surovell, Philip Lamantia, Robert Creeley, Deborah Salazar, Tom Clark, Denyse du Roi, Aimèe Cesaire, and many others. Our foreign bureaus were manned through the idiosyncratic personal lenses of poets from Berlin, Tel Aviv, Tokyo, San Francisco, Moose Groin, Paris, Copenhagen, Amsterdam, and New York.

The Nation had this to say about The Stiffest of the Corpse: "Wit, intelligence and taste. Also pizazz... it's nasty and it bites."

The next Exquisite Corpse anthology was published by Black Sparrow Press in two volumes: "Thus Spake the Corpse: an Exquisite Corpse Reader 1988-1998" volume one, Poetry and Essays (Santa Rosa: 1999) and "Thus Spake the Corpse: an Exquisite Corpse Reader 1988-1998," volume two, Fictions, Travels & Translations Santa Rosa 2000) were edited by Andrei Codrescu and Laura Rosenthal. Volume One, Poetry and Essays, selected from ten years and hundreds of contributors, including Danuta Borchardt, Pete Seeger on Charles Olson, Tom Clark on O'Hara, Schuyler and Ginsberg, Jan Kerouac, Allen Ginsberg, Ed Sanders, Sparrow, Anselm HolloEri Ktaft, Philip Heter, Max Cafard, Barry Gifford, Jacques Servin, Willie Smith, Maxine Chernoff, Marianne Steele, Howard McCord, Maria Goodwon, Edouard Roditi, Gherasim Luca, Ricaro Nirenberg, Tomaz Salamun, DEnisa Comanescu, Nina Zivancevic, Nanos Valaoritis, Elinor Nauen, D.W. Wright, Robert Perchan, Hakim Bey, Carl Watson, Alan Kaufman, and many others, The Corpse was faithful to its contributors: we published them often, reviewed their books and aired their grievances, so many names appear with different work in both volumes. One particular column, Laura Rosenthal's (subsequently Laura Codrescu) BODY BAG, responded directly to all submissions, sometimes positively, sometimes ironically, sometimes furiously. Her column, intended to discourage the deluge of submissions, had the opposite effect: submissions doubled so that writers could see their names in print in rubrics titled MAS, MAYBE, and NO MAS.

In 1996 Exquisite Corpse: a Journal of Life & Letters went online with its subtitle changed to A Journal of Letters & Life, one of the first zines online. We even invented a (nonprofit) Facebook when we opened The Corpse Cafe where readers could respond in real time to posted work. We were instantly flooded with hundreds of responses, a few of them having to do with our content, most of them rants, raves, confessions and opinions. This was such a hit that we had to close the Cafe after our overwhelmed webmistress, Andrea Garland, threatened suicide. We were so hug up on "content, we didn't realize that we had hit on a platform that minus content was Facebook. Like many other Corpse innovations we were five seconds from making billions, The fate of the avantgarde: it arrives too early so it gets paid nothing. 

In 2009 Andrei Codrescu edited two more issues The Exquisite Corpse: a Journal of Letters, under the care of Mark Spitzer at the Letters and Life, under the management of Mark Spitzer, one of our former assistants, appeared for two issues in 1909 and 1910.

The Corpse isn't dead yet. Sometimes, not too often, Andrei Codrescu will sneak into the online Corpse (corpse.org) an essay, a poem or a bon mot. The Corpse flickers, like the world, the great mimeo mag of the late 60s where Codrescu made his third debut (after Caterpillar and El Corno Emplumado)