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Charles Henri Ford letters to Ted Joans

Identifier: MSS 0292

Scope and Contents

This small collection of letters from American poet and collagist Charles Henri Ford to fellow artist Ted Joans illuminate Ford's extensive world travels as well as his artistic and writing projects.

Ford discussed his works-in-progress, including his collections of poetry, Spare Parts (Horizon Press, 1966), Om Krishna II (Cherry Valley Editions, 1981), and Om Krishna III (Red Ozier Press, 1982). He also mentioned exhibitions of his work at the Cordier Edstrom Gallery (New York, 1965), the Robert Samuel Gallery (New York, 1980), and The October Gallery (New York, 1984). Occasionally Ford referred to other projects, such as filming Johnny Minotaur , compiling Blues 10 , editing a new edition of his only novel, The Young and the Evil , and composing a book titled Double Exposures .

Ford also apprised Joans of his travels and their mutual friends, such as fellow poets Allen Ginsberg and Harold Norse, and conveyed information and greetings from his collaborator, Nepalese collagist and photographer Indra Tamang.

The versos of some of the letters bear photocopies of such items as collages (including images of Ford), an invitation to a party celebrating the publication of Om Krishna II , a review of Ford's film Johnny Minotaur , an article which described a New York party hosted by Ford, haikus written by Ford, a page from a play, and articles about Ford. Envelopes occasionally bear block prints or pasted on cutouts and cartoons which form mini collages.

In addition to Ford's letters, this collection includes two notes written by Ted Joans to Ford, one of which includes a poem written by Joans and dedicated to Ford. There are also several notes written by Indra Tamang (enclosed in Ford's letters), a photocopied collage by Nepalese artist Reepak Shakya, two notes from Ruth Ford (Charles Henri Ford's sister) to Joans, as well as a brochure for Ford's film, Johnny Minotaur , and a brochure for a Paris museum. The collection also includes a poster for Ford's exhibition, "Layouts and Camouflages," at the Robert Samuel Gallery (New York, 1980).


  • Creation: 1964-1987


Language of Materials

Materials entirely in English.

Access Information

The collection is open for research.

Conditions Governing Use

Use of materials from this collection beyond the exceptions provided for in the Fair Use and Educational Use clauses of the U.S. Copyright Law may violate federal law. Permission to publish or reproduce is required from the copyright holder. Please contact Special Collections Department, University of Delaware Library,

Charles Henri Ford

Poet, artist, filmmaker, and editor, Charles Henri Ford was regarded as America's first surrealist poet.

Charles Henri Ford was born on February 10, 1908, in Hazelhurst, Mississippi. In 1929, having dropped out of high school, Ford began his literary career as co-editor, with Parker Tyler, of Blues: a magazine of new rhythms (1929-1930). The magazine showcased the new schools of modern art and literature, publishing such contemporary writers as Gertrude Stein, William Carlos Williams, Erskine Caldwell, Ezra Pound, and e. e. cummings.

By 1931 Charles Henri Ford had left the United States for France and began his world travels. During his first few years abroad, Ford wrote his only novel, The Young and the Evil (Obelisk, 1933). Later Ford lived in Morocco, Italy, France, Crete, and New York City; and his poetry, films, and artwork reflected his international travels and multicultural experiences.

From 1940 until 1947, Ford was editor and publisher of both the little magazine View and of View editions. Published in New York, View featured the works of avant-garde American and European artists and writers, especially the surrealist artists.

View , recognized as one of the most important little magazines of the 1940s, bore covers designed by such artists are Man Ray, René Magritte, Marcel Duchamp, and Alexander Calder, and contained the prose, fiction, critical essays, stories, and art of Wallace Stevens, Edouard Roditi, Max Ernst, Lincoln Kirstein, William Carlos Williams, Paul Bowles, James T. Farrell, Marc Chagall, Jean-Paul Sartre, and Albert Camus.

In addition to his editorial achievements, Charles Henri Ford was a recognized poet and an accomplished artist. Since his first book of poetry, A Pamphlet of Sonnets (Caravel Press, 1936), more than fifteen collections of his poems have been published.

Charles Henri Ford was also a graphic artist, filmmaker and photographer. His photography, paintings, and drawings were exhibited in London, Paris, and New York; and frequently included collaborations with international craftsmen. For example, The Kathmandu Experience (New York Cultural Center, 1975) included sculptures in wood, embroideries in silk and appliques, all executed by Nepalese craftsmen from Ford's original designs; and his An Operation Minotaur Manifestation (The October Gallery, 1976) included the collages of Nepalese artists, Reepak Shakya and Indra Tamang.

Ford's motion pictures included Poem Posters (1966), which received the Fourth International Avant-Garde Film Festival Award in 1966, and Johnny Minotaur (1972).

Charles Henri Ford died September 27, 2002, in New York City.

May, Hal and Deborah A. Straub (eds.)Contemporary Authors. New Revision Series, Volume 25. Detroit: Gale Research Inc., 1989, pp. 237-238."Charles Henri Ford," The Telegraph. April 11, 2008. (accessed May 2011).Metzger, Linda (ed.)Contemporary Authors. New Revision Series, Volume 13. Detroit: Gale Research Co., 1984. pp. 191-192.

Ted Joans

African-American poet, jazz musician, and surrealist painter Ted Joans was a self-described "jazz poet" of the Beat generation.

Joans, who was also considered by many to be part of the French surrealist movement, was the only African-American painter to be viewed as part of that group. He was born July 4, 1938, in Cairo, Illinois.

Through his associations with Jack Kerouac and Allen Ginsberg, in Greenwich Village during the 1950s, Ted Joans has been identified as part of the Beat generation. In 1957, his first book of poetry, Beat Poems , was published by Deretchin, which also published his Funky Jazz Poems in 1959.

In the 1960s Joans became an expatriate, traveling the world, and later settling in Tangier, Morocco. As he painted and wrote poetry, Joans supported himself primarily through the sale of African artwork, which he collected during his travels in Africa. Some of his African experiences are reflected in the poems in his Afrodisia: new poems (1971).

Joans edited Dies und Das (1984), the first surrealist magazine published in Germany, and contributed to Black World , Coda Jazz Magazine , Jazz , and Presence Africaine .

Ted Joans died May 07, 2003, in Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada.

Page, James A. and Jae Min Roh.Selected Black American, African and Caribbean Authors. Littleton, Colorado: Libraries Unlimited, Inc., 1985. p. 146."Ted Joans." Contemporary Authors Online. Detroit: Gale, 2004. Gale Biography In Context. (accessed May 5, 2011).


55 item


This small collection of letters from American poet and collagist Charles Henri Ford to fellow artist Ted Joans illuminate Ford's extensive world travels as well as his artistic and writing projects.


The collection is arranged in chronological order.

Immediate Source of Acquisition

Purchase, 1993

Related Materials in this Repository

MSS 0294, Charles Henri Ford papers relating to Om Krishna II

Shelving Summary

  1. Box 1: Shelved in SPEC MSS manuscript boxes (1 inch)
  2. F3 (removal): Shelved in SPEC MSS oversize boxes (32 inches)

Processing Information

Processed and encoded by Anita Wellner, May 2011.

Finding aid for Charles Henri Ford letters to Ted Joans
University of Delaware Library, Special Collections
2011 May 20
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Repository Details

Part of the University of Delaware Library Special Collections Repository

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