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Lecture / Discussion  |  Art Efron and Paunch

Thursday, June 2, 2016, 7 pm

Peter and Elizabeth C. Tower Auditorium  

Art Efron, after 37 years as editor and publisher of the cutting-edge journal Paunch, will share behind the scenes stories and offer for sale and signature select back issues of Paunch on June 2 at 7pm in the Burchfield Penney Art Center’s Tower Auditorium.  Efron is one of the legendary men of letters in Buffalo whose journal Paunch explored as its central theme the human body and its importance in literature during a time when these issues were first ripening. 

 Art Efron earned his Ph.D. in English from the University of Washington in Seattle, and he taught in the University at Buffalo English Department from 1963 to 2005.  Before leaving Seattle, Efron started Paunch, his journal of literary criticism.  Paunch earned its name from Efron’s admiration of Don Quixote’s truth-telling companion Sancho Panza (whose name roughly translates to “sacred belly”).  While Efron started his journal before arriving at UB, it was in Buffalo that the journal fully took form. 

Using flexible formats, the journal became a home of radical thought and varying genres.  Lyle Glazier’s novel, Stills from a Moving Picture, came out first as a Paunch issue.  There was also early fiction by Max Wickert and Bill Keep.  Poetry was often included, notably a series by the late, Buffalo English Department legend Mac Hammond called “The Horse Opera.”  Some issues were guest-edited and others served as tributes to radical thinkers, such as experimental filmmaker Stan Brakhage and philosopher and aesthetician Stephen C. Pepper. 

Publications of Paunch continued through 1999, made possible by subscriptions – libraries were especially helpful.  Efron succeeded in his enterprise without, as he puts it, “ever making a cent and losing only a few dollars.” The journal’s final issue, The Live Creature edited by his wife, Ruth Kirstein, and Tom Morris, was a surprise presented to Efron at a grand retirement party at UB’s Anderson Gallery.  Efron pretended he knew nothing about it.

Efron also published outside of the magazine, notably his self-stated “completely out-of-sync” 1971 book on Cervantes, Don Quixote and the Dulcineated World.  His work also developed the theories of Wayne Burns (his mentor at the U of Washington), particularly related to anarchist theory, theory of the novel, and the World Hypotheses of Stephen Pepper, Wilhelm Reich, and John Dewey. 

This event is free with gallery admission.