Monks Pond, Thomas Merton’s Visionary Underground Magazine Meant “To Go Out of Business”

At Little Brown Mushroom, photographer Alex Soth’s ever illuminating instagram, he posted excerpts of his treasured edition of Monks Pond, a little known magazine hermetic American mystic Thomas Merton published in the late 60’s, in admiration for the underground press of the time.  Over four issues, Merton published contributions from well-known people like Wendell Berry,  Eugene Meatyard and Ad Reinhardt as well as unknown students and people he corresponded with. Many photographs were by Merton himself. His vision was radical:

The purpose of this magazine is to publish a few issues devoted to poetry and to some unusual prose and then go out of business. At present no more than four issues are planned…As long as there are copies they will be given away free to contributors and to those who ask for them.

Merton intended to publish what he wanted in a fleeting, artful moment and “then go out of business”.  Without business plan or team, his mission was simple to put poetry and prose that were meaningful, unusual and unexpected in the world.

A compilation of the 4 issues from 1989 is long out-of-print and costs a fortune.

Alex Soth #littlebrownmushroom

 

Roaming the internet, we were able to find some examples of its content…

 

Alex Soth #littlebrownmushroom

…The most remarkable was reprinted by Soth: a poem from Meatyard’s 13-year-old son, Christopher:

Alex Soth #littlebrownmushroom

 

It goes perfectly with Soth’s photograph of Merton’s shed retreat. “Feeling he wasn’t getting enough solitude at Gethsemani Monastery in Kentucky, Merton used this old tool shed (which he called “St. Ann’s”) for some extra time alone.” ⁣

Alex Soth #littlebrownmushroom

 

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