Kiss, May & Jody, and the conspiracy issue of Ploughshares

Arion’s Dolphin, a little press in Cambridge, published Kiss, a collaborative sketchbook by Hannigan, John Batki, and Stratis Haviaras in 1977. The similar style of the three poet-artists is emphasized by collaboration; to identify any one drawing as Hannigan’s for certain is difficult, in spite of my familiarity with his work. (One image, a topless lady liberty made faceless by fetish gear, is Haviaras’—the same image appears on the cover of the Arion’s Dolphin chapbook, Jay Boggis’ Old World Courtesy, and is credited.)

Batki and Hannigan collaborated throughout the seventies. I've seen some of the results, and hope to see more (Batki tantalized me with mention of “the Pelikan book”). “May & Jody,” which we posted here in February, was so like their collaborative work, we worried we’d left out Batki’s due credit. He confirmed for us, however, that it’s pure Hannigan, “Oh that drawing is unmistakably Paul's! How can there be any question about it???”

Hannigan edited an issue of Ploughshares in 1976. Included in the issue is a portfolio of drawings by one J. Gladstone. The drawings are not unlike drawings by Hannigan. The issue presents a number of mysteries, which the bio notes only serve to enhance. For instance, Gladstone’s reads, “J. Gladstone and Harry V. Murphy are blood brothers.” Murphy’s reads, “Harry J. Murphy is a friend of J. Gladstone.” (These notes are consistent with the joke Hannigan makes with/of the bio notes—that he is personal friends with nearly everyone published in the issue (he was), and that the only way to get into Ploughshares is to be pals with the editor.) So what’s with the different middle initial? A typo, or a clue? And Murphy's contribution? It's called "Harry Murphy." Anyway, I’ve wondered if Hannigan was Gladstone.

To go a little further into my conspiracy theory: the issue’s cover is a pen and ink drawing of a woman smoking. In the lower left hand corner is the date 1936. The artist is not credited anywhere in the issue. I originally assumed that meant the artist was Gladstone, but the drawing isn’t quite like those in the portfolio. Could it be by Hannigan? What does the date mean? Hannigan was born in 1936.

Then there’s the question of Moophy Sweezy’s story “Boomerang Tears.” No one has yet been able to confirm that there really is a Moophy Sweezy and her (?) bio note, “que sais-je moi?” certainly doesn’t diminish my suspicion that Sweezy is Hannigan. Certainly, the story bears a resemblance to Hannigan’s fiction.

I hope you’ve enjoyed my “Paul is dead”-esque conspiracy theory. Enjoy “May & Jody,” which is by Hannigan. If anyone has any answers, I'm listening.


  1. Good going. There's so much more, though.

  2. Dear S.H.,

    Thank you.

    I read your note two ways:

    1. There's a lot more work, which yes, there is. I've read enough unpublished prose to fill a 300 page volume (not including the notebooks, which would fill another several volumes), and enough prose that was published to fill a small complement; there's a lot more poetry, too--published and unpublished, and artwork, as well. I'd love the chance to edit it all. A selected prose would be a fantastic volume. Any publishers interested in the task?

    2. There's more story to tell in terms of Paul's life. Everyone who knew Paul and has come across my introduction to the Selected has wanted to add to the story or to emphasize another part of it; I wish they would! Bring on the anecdotes! Send them to me so I can post them here!