Rare Book & Manuscript Library

Angus MacLise papers, 1956-2010

Summary Information


Papers, artwork, and sound recordings created by or related to poet, musician and counter-culture figure Angus MacLise.

At a Glance

Call No.: MS#1656
Bib ID 10260984 View CLIO record
Creator(s) MacLise, Angus
Title Angus MacLise papers, 1956-2010
Physical Description 22.5 linear feet (11 record cartons, 5 document boxes, 10 flat boxes)
Language(s) English .

The following boxes are located off-site: 1-11. You will need to request this material from the Rare Book and Manuscript Library at least three business days in advance to use the collection in the Rare Book and Manuscript Library reading room.

This collection has no restrictions.



Material is arranged into 10 series.


Scope and Content

This collection contains papers, documents, ephemera, sound and video recordings, photographs, and artwork created by, given to, or related to Angus MacLise.

The material in this collection was given by Hetty MacLise to LaMonte Young in 1980, and remained in a suitcase in Young's possession until it was acquired by Manhattan's Boo Hooray Gallery which used the material as the core of an exhibition on MacLise.

The majority of the materials in this collection came from composer LaMonte Young who held the materials for safekeeping after MacLise's death. Other important materials in the archive came from photographer and multimedia artist Don Snyder, who also played a significant role in the preservation of MacLise's archival material. Further materials came from filmmaker Jonas Mekas, bookseller John McWhinnie, and poet and photographer Ira Cohen.

  • Series I: Manuscripts and Written Material, 1959-1979

    Series I contains poetry, notes, prose pieces, lists, theatrical pieces, stage designs, text fragments, and other manuscript material primarily created by MacLise, though also with material written by Hetty MacLise and other members of MacLise's circle. Many of these manuscript items include illustrations or other artwork. Many of the items in this series are in fragmentary form or represent notes and ideas that were never developed into published poems or documents. While the majority of the items are originals, some photocopies are also included in the series; these are clearly noted.

  • Series II: Correspondence, 1973-1999

    Series II is comprised of correspondence between Angus MacLise and his friends and family members, as well as Hetty MacLise's correspondence and correspondence addressed to Ira Cohen from various individuals. The letters are wide-ranging in their content, touching on family, artistic, and political concerns as well as business interactions and routine personal updates.

  • Series III: Ephemera, 1965-2006

    The Ephemera subseries is comprised of advertisements, fliers, postcards, clippings, and other printed ephemera, as well as a small amount of original artwork and some publications. Much of the material in this series is related to the various artistic and creative endeavors undertaken by MacLise and his friends. This series documents the variety of activities that MacLise and his circle were involved in, and includes numerous fliers, invitations, and programs for gallery openings, film screenings, poetry readings, performance pieces, and other creative projects emerging from the downtown arts scene in the 1960s. There are also newspaper clippings and pamphlets related to Tibetan Buddhism and Hindu mythology, indicating MacLise's developing interest in Eastern spirituality.

    Also included are press releases and other material related to the posthumous releases of some of Angus MacLise's recorded albums.

  • Series IV: Publications, 1967-2008

    The publications series includes monographs, broadsides, and periodicals. The majority of the monographs are poetry books, pamphlets, and broadsides, while the periodicals cover a range of arts and music related topics. Many of the periodicals include contributions by friends and associates of MacLise's. Of particular note is Aspen no. 9 Dreamweapon: The Psychedelic Issue, which was curated by Angus and Hetty MacLise.

    The series also includes biographical material about MacLise, including the catalog for an exhibition on MacLise mounted at the Boo Hooray Gallery in New York which included many of the items in this collection.

  • Series V: Audio-Visual Materials, 1963-2003

    The audiovisual materials include copies of the commercially released CDs of MacLise's music released on the Quakebasket label in 1999 and 2000 and a copy of the flexidisc included in Aspen no. 9 featuring Angus and Hetty MacLise's band Joyous Lake.

    The bulk of the series, though, is comprised of reel to reel tapes featuring recordings of MacLise and his associates. The tapes, compiled and created by Sheldon Rochlin in 1981 are from the collections of Don Snyder, Tony Conrad, and Rochlin. The recordings are of musical performances, poetry readings, and other performances, as well as informal recordings of MacLise and others.

  • Series VI: Artwork, 1965-2003

    The artwork series consists primarily of illustrations, drawings, calligraphy and other works on paper. While many of the works are by MacLise, there are also a significant number of works by Hetty and Ossian Maclise, and a number of MacLise's friends. There are also a number of unsigned or otherwise unidentified artists represented in this series.

  • Series VII: Bardo Matrix Material, 1974-1979

    This series includes publications and prints released by Bardo Matrix, the publishing company that Angus MacLise and Ira Cohen stated in 1974 in Kathmandu, Nepal. While the majority of items in this series are final, published items, there are also proofs and alternate editions represented in the series as well. This series also includes material related to Ting Pa, the literary and arts journal MacLise edited and published while living in Nepal.

  • Series VIII: Photographs, 1967-2010

    The photographs series is comprised of photographs, most of them taken by Ira Cohen. The photographs include images not only of MacLise and his family, but also well represented are images of beat poets such as William S. Burroughs and Allen Ginsberg. The photographs, art prints and personal snapshots, document MacLise's life and work, as well as art and music performances.

  • Series IX: Dreamweapon Exhibit, 2010

    The Personal Items series includes an assortment of MacLise's personal effects.

  • Series X: Personal Items

  • Additions to the Papers, 2017

    Accession number 2016.2017.M134

Using the Collection

Rare Book and Manuscript Library

Restrictions on Access

The following boxes are located off-site: 1-11. You will need to request this material from the Rare Book and Manuscript Library at least three business days in advance to use the collection in the Rare Book and Manuscript Library reading room.

This collection has no restrictions.

Terms Governing Use and Reproduction

Single photocopies may be made for research purposes. The RBML maintains ownership of the physical material only. Copyright remains with the creator and his/her heirs. The responsibility to secure copyright permission rests with the patron.

Preferred Citation

Identification of specific item; Date (if known); Angus MacLise Papers; Box and Folder; Rare Book and Manuscript Library, Columbia University Library.

About the Finding Aid / Processing Information

Columbia University Libraries, Rare Book and Manuscript Library

Processing Information

Papers processed staff of Boo-Hooray Gallery 2010.

Revision Description

2013-06-28 File created.

2019-05-20 EAD was imported spring 2019 as part of the ArchivesSpace Phase II migration.

2021-03-29 Source information for Condon, Jim. ”Filmographies: NICO and ANGUS MacLISE” updated by CCR based upon correspondence from the magazine's publisher.

Subject Headings

The subject headings listed below are found in this collection. Links below allow searches at Columbia University through the Archival Collections Portal and through CLIO, the catalog for Columbia University Libraries, as well as ArchiveGRID, a catalog that allows users to search the holdings of multiple research libraries and archives.

All links open new windows.


Heading "CUL Archives:"
"CUL Collections:"
"Nat'l / Int'l Archives:"
Calligraphy (visual works) Portal CLIO ArchiveGRID
Correspondence Portal CLIO ArchiveGRID
Photographs Portal CLIO ArchiveGRID
Sound recordings Portal CLIO ArchiveGRID


Heading "CUL Archives:"
"CUL Collections:"
"Nat'l / Int'l Archives:"
Bardo Matrix (Firm) Portal CLIO ArchiveGRID
Cohen, Ira Portal CLIO ArchiveGRID
MacLise, Angus Portal CLIO ArchiveGRID
Malanga, Gerard Portal CLIO ArchiveGRID
Occupation Portal CLIO ArchiveGRID

History / Biographical Note

Biographical Note

Angus MacLise was a musician, poet, artist, and counterculture figure who was a mainstay of the downtown New York arts scene in the 1960s.

Angus MacLise was born in Bridgeport Connecticut in 1938. He studied music and dance before moving to Paris in the late 1950s. In Paris he and his high school friend, avant-garde filmmaker Piero Heliczer, started the Dead Language Press in 1958. The press specialized in poetry and published early works by poets such as Gregory Corso. MacLise also published several of his own poems and manuscripts through the press, including the pamphlet "Year" that renames all of the days of the year-- a convention that MacLise and many of his friends used in dating correspondence or artworks.

MacLise and Heliczer moved back to the United States in the early 1960s, settling in New York and bringing the press with them. In New York, MacLise continued his publishing efforts, while also pursuing music and becoming involved in avant-garde theatrics and performance art pieces. He was a member of the Theater of Eternal Music, started and organized by composer and musician LaMonte Young. He was a regular participant in Fluxus events in New York City and appeared in many experimental films being made by his friends in the downtown arts scene at the time, notably Piero Heliczer and Ira Cohen.

MacLise was a founding member of the Velvet Underground—he was introduced to the band through his roommate John Cale and became the band's first drummer. Though he helped to found the band, and may have even given it its name, his time with the Velvet Underground was short due to MacLise's disinterest in creating art for profit or on a schedule dictated by anything other than his own inspiration. He does not appear on any of the band's recordings.

In 1967 MacLise moved briefly to Berkeley, where he joined the Floating Lotus Magic Opera Company, a street performance troupe that included the painter and illustrator Hetty McGee. McGee and MacLise were married in Golden Gate Park in a ceremony officiated by Timothy Leary. The two would later have a son, Ossian, who began living in a Tibetan monastery at the age of 4 and was recognized at 7 as a tulku—a reincarnation of a lama.

The couple moved back to New York where MacLise again collaborated with Ira Cohen, scoring and appearing in Cohen's film The Invasion of the Thunderbolt Pagoda.

In 1970 Angus and Hetty began a tour of Asia that ended with their settling in Kathmandu, Nepal. In Nepal, MacLise opened the Spiritcatcher bookstore in Kathmandu which became a gathering place for the growing community of artist and poet expatriates living and working in the area. He founded a literary and poetry journal, Ting Pa, and in 1974 he and Ira Cohen started the Bardo Matrix publishing venture publishing poetry on handmade rice paper. They published work by MacLise, Paul Bowles, Charles Henri Ford among others.

During this time he was particularly interested in calligraphic art and works on paper. Much of his own work from his time in Nepal includes calligraphic illustrations in a made-up script. He was working on establishing a handmade paper company, Himalayan Paper, Inc. at the time of his death.

MacLise died in 1979 in Kathmandu, Nepal at the age of 41.