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Griffin (S.A.) collection of underground poetry, Scott Wannberg, and The Carma Bums
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Collection Details
Table of contents What's This?
  • Conditions Governing Access
  • Physical Characteristics and Technical Requirements
  • Conditions Governing Use
  • Preferred Citation
  • Provenance/Source of Acquisition
  • Processing Information
  • UCLA Catalog Record ID
  • Biography/History
  • Scope and Content
  • Organization and Arrangement
  • Related Material
  • Accruals

  • Contributing Institution: UCLA Library Special Collections
    Title: S.A. Griffin collection of underground poetry, Scott Wannberg, and The Carma Bums
    Creator: Griffin , S. A.
    Identifier/Call Number: LSC.2248
    Physical Description: 189.2 Linear Feet (276 document boxes, 5 half document boxes, 6 record storage cartons, 12 flat boxes, 19 oversize flat boxes, 9 scrapbook boxes, 5 tubes, and 15 other disparate oversize items)
    Date (inclusive): circa 1950-2015
    Abstract: S.A. Griffin is a poet, performance artist, publisher, and actor with deep roots in the Los Angeles poetry and punk scenes beginning in the 1980s. The collection contains monographs, serials, manuscripts, correspondence, ephemera, audiovisual material, artwork, and memorabilia reflective of Griffin's extensive connections to Los Angeles poets and performance, including the Venice West Beat scene. The collection also includes the papers of fellow poet Scott Wannberg.
    Physical Location: Boxes 1-264 and 280-346 are stored off-site at SRLF. Boxes 265-277 are stored on the B level of Library Special Collections. The artwork contained in boxes 278 and 279 is currently on exhibition within Library Special Collections office space. Advance notice is required for access to the collection. Please contact the UCLA Library Special Collections Reference Desk for paging information.
    Language of Material: Materials are in English.

    Conditions Governing Access

    Open for research. All requests to access special collections materials must be made in advance using the request button located on this page.

    Physical Characteristics and Technical Requirements

    CONTAINS DIGITAL AND AUDIOVISUAL MATERIALS: This collection contains both processed and unprocessed digital and audiovisual materials. For information about the access status of the material that you are looking for, refer to the Physical Characteristics and Technical Requirements note at the series and file levels. All requests to access processed digital and audiovisual materials must be made in advance using the request button located on this page.

    Conditions Governing Use

    Property rights to the physical objects belong to UCLA Library Special Collections. All other rights, including copyright, are retained by the creators and their heirs. It is the responsibility of the researcher to determine who holds the copyright and pursue the copyright owner or his or her heir for permission to publish where The UC Regents do not hold the copyright.

    Preferred Citation

    [Identification of item], S.A. Griffin Collection of Underground Poetry, Scott Wannberg, and The Carma Bums (Collection 2248). UCLA Library Special Collections, Charles E. Young Research Library, University of California, Los Angeles.

    Provenance/Source of Acquisition

    Partial purchase and gift of S.A. Griffin and Lorraine Perrotta, 2014. Additions from Griffin and Perrotta, 2016.

    Processing Information

    Collections are processed to a variety of levels depending on the work necessary to make them usable, their perceived user interest and research value, availability of staff and resources, and competing priorities. Library Special Collections provides a standard level of preservation and access for all collections and, when time and resources permit, conducts more intensive processing. These materials have been arranged and described according to national and local standards and best practices.
    Processed by Kelly Besser with assistance from Rebecca Bucher, in consultation with Genie Guerard, and with supervision from Megan Hahn Fraser, 2016. Additions processed by Rebecca Bucher, with supervision by Kelly Besser, 2017. Monographs cataloged by Josh Fiala. Rehousing of artwork by Octavio Olvera. Digitization of audiovisual materials by Allison Whalen under supervision from Yasmin Dessem, with a grant from the Institute of Museum and Library Services. Biography, Biography/History notes, and artwork descriptions written by S.A. Griffin and edited by Kelly Besser and Rebecca Bucher.

    UCLA Catalog Record ID

    UCLA Catalog Record ID: 7714755 


    S.A. Griffin (Steven Allan Griffin), born March 16, 1954, is a poet, performance artist, publisher, and actor. After graduating from high school in 1972, Griffin voluntarily entered the United States Air Force as an administration specialist and was honorably discharged in 1976. In 1978, Griffin relocated to Los Angeles from San Francisco with a scholarship to attend the Los Angeles Civic Light Opera Workshop. Griffin's awards for his work on stage and on camera include a Dramalogue Award and a Kari Award.
    In 1982, Griffin became involved with poetry when he began attending open poetry readings at the Water Espresso Gallery in Hollywood. During this time he became active in the punk scene as a poet and performance artist, appearing at various Southern California venues such as The Lhasa Club, Anti-Club, X=Art, Al's Bar, Safari Sam's and Club Lingerie. In the mid-1980s, Griffin became directly involved in DIY publishing as a staff member of Shattersheet, and in 1988 he established Rose of Sharon Press with the publication of Sharktalk by Doug Knott. In 1989 Griffin was named Best Performance Poet by Wanda Coleman in the LA Weekly .
    In addition to a deep level of involvement in the community through writing, publishing, performing, and hosting poetry events, Griffin extensively collected the publications, artwork, and related ephemera of Los Angeles poets. These materials relate to Venice West, the Los Angeles Beat poetry scene named after the café owned and operated by Stuart Z. Perkoff from 1958-1962, and the Denver, Colorado Beat scene to where many Venice West Beats migrated. He also collected materials related to influential poets such as d.a. levy, Kurt Schwitters, Jack Micheline, Tony Scibella, and Charles Bukowski. With Alan Kaufman, Griffin edited The Outlaw Bible of American Poetry (1999).
    In 1985, Griffin and fellow poets Michael Lane Bruner, Doug Knott, and Mike M. Mollett formed The Lost Tribe. From 1985-1988 and in 1992, the group performed poetry in choreographed routines both locally and on tour. In 1989, the group underwent a philosophical shift and transformed, joined by Scott Wannberg (and occasionally Bobbo Staron and Ellyn Maybe), into The Carma Bums, a traveling improvisational performance group. The Carma Bums performed until 2009. From 1995-1996, Griffin and punk musician-poets Iris Berry and Pleasant Gehman formed White Trash Apocalypse, in Gehman's words, "a spoken word tour…treated…like a rock'n'roll tour," which toured the United States and Canada. In 2010, Griffin went on tour with The Poetry Bomb, a decommissioned bomb purchased by Griffin and filled with poetry at readings throughout the country, intending to "foster disagreements…the cornerstone of our democratic system." Since 2007 Griffin has performed with the punk-jazz improvisational group The Lofty Canaanites, composed primarily of members of Saccharine Trust.
    Griffin studied film acting and cold reading with Jeremiah Comey and performance technique with Scot Kelman. From 2005 to 2013, Griffin taught film acting and cold reading at the American Film Institute, and since 2012, Griffin has taught film acting and cold reading for Jeremiah Comey. Since 2010, Griffin has served on the curatorial board for Beyond Baroque, and in 2011 Griffin was the first recipient of Beyond Baroque's Distinguished Service Award.
    Griffin continues to live and work in Los Angeles. He is married to Lorraine Perrotta, a librarian and veteran member of The L.A. Mudpeople. Griffin has a son, Spencer, from a previous marriage to Sharon Grish.

    Scope and Content

    The S.A. Griffin collection of underground poetry, Scott Wannberg, and The Carma Bums ranges from circa 1950 to 2015. The collection includes writings by Griffin in manuscript and published form; an extensive collection of books, largely related to the Venice West and Denver Beat poetry scene, as well as other Beat and Meat School poetry; zines and magazines, which are both poetry and punk related and largely published in the greater Los Angeles area; and manuscripts of authors Griffin published or befriended. The collection also includes clippings and ephemera Griffin collected related to Southern California's punk scenes and poetry communities. Correspondence in the collection relates to Griffin's poetry work and involvement in the mail art community. The collection also contains files related to poetry readings and performances given by Griffin's poetry groups such as The Carma Bums which include flyers, road books, and audiovisual recordings. Materials related to Griffin's acting career include materials on the Act Fast 5 strike, scripts, and audiovisual recordings. The collection includes Griffin's art collection, featuring art by Griffin, Tony Scibella, Charles Bukowski, Earl Newman, and many others. Memorabilia in the collection includes American flag remnants from d.a. levy's grave, memorial programs, and t-shirts from bookstores and bands. The collection also includes the papers of Scott Wannberg, which range from circa 1969 to 2014. Bequeathed to Griffin, Wannberg's papers include Wannberg's manuscript writings and book collection, correspondence, memorabilia, and artwork.

    Organization and Arrangement

    This collection has been arranged in the following series:
    • 1. Writings by Griffin
    • 2. Writings collected by Griffin
    • 3.Correspondence
    • 4. Performance files
    • 5. Acting career materials
    • 6. Artwork
    • 7. Memorabilia
    • 8. Scott Wannberg papers

    Related Material


    The 2016 additions include monographs and serials by Griffin and collected by Griffin. These can be found in boxes 331 to 345. The additions also include materials that were interfiled in the following series and subseries: correspondence, subject files (chiefly photographs), performance files (chiefly photographs), art (photographs and collages by Tony Scibella, Justice Howard, and Dennis Olanzo Callwood), writings about Griffin (a clipping), acting files (photographs), and memorabilia (chiefly photographs and a DVD).