El Corno Emplumado/The Plumed Horn

Bruce Wilkinson, John Rylands Research Institute researcher, writes his second blog post on the Dave Cunliffe Archive:

Now that my Dave Cunliffe archive research is fully underway I am unearthing fascinating material which I will share with you through this blog. The first of these is a press release written in 1969 by the editors of poetry magazine El Corno Emplumado/The Plumed Horn confirming that they have fled Mexico in fear for their lives. It goes on to say that their support for Central American student protests has led to constant harassment by the authorities escalating to death threats.


As BB Books editors, Dave Cunliffe and Tina Morris developed literary contacts across the world in a period when international communication was far more difficult than it is now and many British homes didn’t even have a telephone or TV. They wrote to poets, publishers and fellow-editors across the globe building contacts in North, Central and South America, Africa and Australasia. Open to many different forms of verse, they explored a range of themes when most ‘little poetry magazines’ tended towards insularity, generally focusing upon particular styles of verse.


2772_1Although I can’t be certain how the connection was made, it seems reasonable to surmise that Morris and Cunliffe reached the editors of the bi-lingual Mexican magazine via their friend David Tipton who moved to Peru in the early 1960s. Margaret Randall and Sergio Mondragon used the substantial journal (between 100-300 pages) to publish exciting new poetry mainly from Latin and North America. Early editions included work by Philip Lamantia, Peru’s Raquel Jodorowsky, Mexico’s Juan Bañuelos, Robert Creeley, Thelma Nava and Allen Ginsberg, alongside artwork from Lancashire’s own surrealist Leonora Carrington (then a Mexico City resident), Franz Kline and Elaine de Kooning. It quickly gained a growing reputation receiving complementary letters from Herman Hesse and Jackson Mac Low.

Left to right El Corno Emplumado editors Margaret Randall and Sergio Mondragon with Regina Katz and Ecuadorian poet Ulises Estrella in Mexico City.

In the Summer 1965 double edition 9/10 of Poetmeat, Randall and Mondragon co-edited and translated a selection of poetry from Central and South America which included work from the Nobel Literature prize winner Octavio Paz, Nicaraguan poet and activist Ernesto Cardenal, the Colombian writer Gonzalo Arango (who helped develop the literary movement ‘Nadaismo’/’Nothingism’) and Jan Arb. The typeface of the press release is similar to that used by BB Books so it is possible that Randall wrote directly to Cunliffe and Morris asking them to publicise their plight but unfortunately neither can recall the exact circumstances.

There are some very good internet resources about the magazine including Margaret Randall’s own website which has detailed information about each edition here:

A film: El Corno Emplumado: A Story of the Sixties (with Spanish and English language versions) is available to watch here:

1 comment on “El Corno Emplumado/The Plumed Horn

  1. Now that the contents of the Dave Cunliffe Papers have been listed I can confirm that it holds 18 issues of El Corno Emplumado and 16 poetry publications issued through the press of the same name. These date between July 1964 (issue 11) through to the final publication issue 31 released in 1968 on the eve of the editors’ exile. There are multiple copies of some editions in the collection because Tina Morris and Dave Cunliffe acted as de facto distributors for several US small presses and, in this case, Mexico.

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