Talking with Pamela Beach-Plymell, a publisher and designer underground magazines and books

"The avant-garde and the underground are ahead of the curve."

Pamela Beach-Plymell:

Peace, Freedom...and Walking

Pamela Beach-Plymell has published, printed, and designed many underground magazines and books with her husband, poet, novelist, and press publisher Charles Plymell, a namesake in avant-garde publishing.


                                      Pamela and Charley Plymell, Photo by Laki Vazakas

Pamela – daughter of the late artist Mary Beach - and Charles started Coldspring Journal and later traveled to Cherry Valley, New York, to visit Allen Ginsberg's farm, and moved into the village. There they founded with Josh Norton the Cherry Valley Editions in 1974, to print a series of books by William S. Burroughs, Herbert Huncke, Robert Peters, Dick McBride, Janine Pommy-Vega, Robert Peters, Allen Ginsberg, Claude Pelieu, Mary Beach and others, including Plymell's own work, that are now out of print and rare.


Interview by Michael Limnios


What characterize Pamela Beach Plymell’s way of life?



Which is the most interesting period in your life and why?

There have been several, but I think being in San Francisco in the mid-60s.


Do you know why the avant-garde publishing’s are connected to the underground culture & what characterize the philosophy of avant-garde?

Ezra Pound’s: Make It New! The avant-garde and the underground are ahead of the curve.


Are there any memories from Coldspring Journal and Cherry Valley Editions, which you’d like to share with us?

Publishing important and different works. Joshua Norton’s excitement. He was our partner early on.

                               Pam, Charley Plymell and Mary Beach at Chelsea Hotel

From whom have you have learned the most secrets about the art and life?

Mary Beach and Charley Plymell


How do you describe Mary Beach’s philosophy of life?

Continue learning.


Which is the most interesting period in her life and why?

Paris late 50s and 60s. Probably also WWII which physically and mentally challenged her. She was put in a detention camp in France. A great shock for a well to do American woman.  She went hungry during the war.


Which memory from your mother Mary Beach makes you smile?

When she had cataracts removed, she called me and said, very excitedly, “I can see colors again.”


If you go back to the past what things you would do better and what things you would avoid to do again?

Learn to accept and patience. Too many to list.


Why did you think that the BEATS continued to generate such a devoted following?

Sometimes no clue.  Because they are the most interesting artists.


                                                              Charley, Pam & William S. Burroughs

Of all the people you’ve met with, who do you admire the most?

Janine Pommy-Vega and William Burroughs


Which was the best moment of your life and which was the worst?

Best: birth of my kids.

Worst: father’s death.


What is the “feel” you miss most nowadays from the past years?

A sense of freedom.


You have meet with many GREAT people, which meeting have been the biggest experiences for you and why?

Being on the periphery and listening.


If Mary Beach, Ginsberg, Burroughs, Kaufman, Huncke were between us nowadays, what do you think they would tell us? 



What mistakes of your generation would you want to correct? Do you feel betrayed or satisfied of your generation?

Lost peace.


Claude Pelieu, S. Clay Wilson, Pam, and Mary Beach, Photo by Charley Plymell

What is your DREAM and what is your nightmare?

O man! Take heed!

What say deep midnight's voice indeed?

"I sleep my sleep---,

"From deepest dreams I've woke. and plead:--

"The world is deep,

"And deeper than the day could read.

"Deep is its woe---,

"Joy---deeper still than grief can be;

"Woe saith: Hence ! Go!

"But joys all want eternity---,

"---Want deep, profound eternity!"                 Thus Spake Zarathustra


Which of historical personalities would you like to meet?

Emma Goldman


How you would spend a day with Buddha? What would you say to the next generation?



What would you like to ask Bebop?

What are you playing with?


Cherry Valley Edition - Official website


Pamela , Grant Hart, Thurston Moore, Photo by Yony Leyser

at John McWhinnie's show of Claude Pelieu and Mary Beach Sept. 2007



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