Isshiki, Japan: Autumn Press, 1974. First Edition Softcover Original. Softcover. In 1976, during the height of the Second San Francisco Renaissance, mentor-participant Jack Hirschman alerted the group of friends & protégés he called “the Beatitude cadre” to a viscerally-relevant anticensorship human rights concern which struck at the heart of Beat literary ethics. This was the story of South Korean poet Kim Chi Ha, who was on trial for (yes, you guessed it) “obscenity,” that episodic reaffirmation in the still-ongoing war for Free Speech the world over so inextricable from myriad chapters in The Beat Story. Ha’s work as an activist and reformer was inaugurated at age 19 (in 1960), when Ha took part in the “April Revolution” that ousted President Syngman Rhee. He took the pen name “Jiha” because it is the South Korean word for “underground.” He was first arrested under the anti-Communist law in 1970, but it was in 1974 when Ha was sentenced to death after false confessions were extracted from Ha under strain of torture. His sentence was commuted and he was released, but once he began to publicize the torture which led to the false confessions, he was re-sentenced to prison and his life sentence seemingly renewed. Kim spent the next five years in prison and was released in 1980–but it was not until 2013 that Ha was fully cleared of all charges. Our research indicates that as of this writing (August 2020), Ha is still alive today.
Hirschman’s “Beatitude cadre” was also described by celebrated Beat-&-Beyond historian John Tytell as “...the circle of aspiring poets around poet and publisher Thomas Rain Crowe and the resurrected Beatitude Magazine, who used a small-press explosion to move beyond what their predecessors had inspired.” (Back Cover [TMB Item #....]). Like Kim Chi Ha, Thomas & Co. were firmly pro-democracy, pro-freedom of speech. In “Starting from San Francisco,” one can see photographs from the Protest Rally-&-Reading at the South Korean Embassy staged by Crowe, Hirschman, Cherkovksi & friends—the San Francisco-based “Baby Beats” inseparable from and integral to The Second San Francisco Renaissance’s seismic local reach and impact. (example photos from that event, not included in this package but which appear in “Starting from San Francisco” are included here, for Reader’s Edification). This copy is made special for its direct relation to The Second San Francisco Renaissance/Baby Beat Generation's interaction with Kim Chi Ha's very Beat-like story: it was the personal copy of Thomas Rain Crowe, interview subject of our book "Starting from San Francisco" and the very vessel through which Crowe became familiar with Ha's poetry, directly inciting his activism on Ha's behalf. Book in fine condition with moderate rubbing to front, back covers; shelf-wear to fine-edges; small bump to top right, bottom right-hand corners of front cover; tiny bump at bottom right-hand corner of same. Fine. [Item #3720]