September 2013 | Rebecca Rego Barry

Collegiate Book Collectors: Mande Zecca

In August, the Antiquarian Booksellers' Association of America announced the 2013 National Collegiate Book Collecting Contest winners. First prize went to Elias Serna of the University of California-Riverside, Ashley Young of Duke University won second prize, and Amanda (Mande) Zecca of Johns Hopkins University took third. 

Because this contest was launched by FB&C back in 2005, we continue to take an active interest in it. To that end, I asked each of this year's three winners to complete a shortened form of our 'How I Got Started' interview (which usually runs on the magazine's back page) to tell us more about them and their book collection(s).

First up is Mande Zecca.

Age: 28

Residence: Baltimore, Maryland

Main area(s) you collect: Poetry (of all periods), but, more specifically, Modernist, 20th-century, American avant-garde, small press publications/chapbooks. My NCBCC collection focused on some of the "new" American poets of Donald Allen's 1960 anthology and is titled "From Berkeley to Black Mountain: American Avant-Garde Poetry, 1945-1965."

Number of volumes in your collection:  I had forty-four at the time I submitted my application, but I've since purchased several of the items on my wishlist, along with some other related books, so around fifty at this point. 

Most recent acquisition: Steve Clay and Rodney Phillips's compendium A Secret Location on the Lower East Side: Adventures in Writing 1960-1980.

When did you start collecting: This collection started with Black Sparrow Press's The Collected Books of Jack Spicer which, though out-of-print and still somewhat difficult to come by, was the only complete edition of Spicer's work available at the time (2007). Based on a 1998 exhibition at the New York Public Library, this book documents the "underground" publishing scenes in downtown Manhattan and San Francisco from 1960 to 1980, and includes selections from Jack Spicer and Fran Herndon's J Magazine, Wallace Berman's Semina, and White Rabbit Press.

Holy Grail: I dream of someday owning a first or second printing, by White Rabbit Press, of any of Spicer's individual books (After Lorca, Language, and the aptly titled The Holy Grail being three of my favorites).

Jack Spicer also edited, published, and distributed a little mimeo magazine called J with the assistance of occasional guest editors (George Stanley nos. 6-7; Harold Dull no. 8) and the magazine's art editor, painter and collage artist Fran Herndon.  It was known for its eclectic editorial selections (Donald Allen, who helped distribute the magazine in New York, wondered "what [Spicer's] editorial policy may be. Seduction by print?"), its often intricate typographic design, and its original artwork.  While I will most likely never own a copy of J (I can dream, though!), I'm looking forward to my dissertation research take me to Berkeley's Bancroft Library, and back to The Poetry Collection at SUNY Buffalo to peruse the issues that they own.

Favorite bookseller: Jeff Maser and Hermitage Bookstore (now closed, sadly), an extremely well-curated little shop in Beacon, New York, run by artist and letterpress printer Jon Beacham. Beacham, like Maser, had a phenomenal selection of post-WWII American poetry. On the Road Bookshop in Canton, CT, and Normals Books and Records in Baltimore are two shops I visit frequently. Iowa city, where I lived from 2006-2008, was a tiny mecca of fantastic bookstores: Prairie Lights, Murphy-Brookfield Books, The Haunted Bookshop, etc. I recently visited Marfa Book Co. (an independent (new) bookstore and gallery), which was beautiful and very well curated. I'm going down the rabbit hole here, so I'll stop. I've been to too many fantastic used and independent bookstores across the U.S. to name here!

Future plans: I'm looking forward to exploring the Jack Spicer Papers at UC Berkeley and the Jargon Society Collection at SUNY Buffalo in the coming months. I'm also planning to visit the Berg Collection at the New York Public Library, which houses many small press publications and little magazines from the 1950s and 1960s.

Stay tuned to the blog this week for more Collegiate Book Collectors.

For those in and around Washington, D.C., an awards ceremony to celebrate these young collectors will take place on October 18, 2013 at 5:30pm at the Library of Congress and includes a lecture by noted collector and scholar Mark Samuels Lasner. The lecture is free and open to the public.