Date of Publication:
Spring 1923 – Mar./Apr. 1940 (suspended June 1930 – Oct. 1936)
Place of Publication:
Frequency of Publication:
Six issues per year
John M. Weathermax
Approximately 30 pages per issue. Issues were cut to 5×8, later enlarged to 6×9. Magazine title on cover page, often accompanied by circular wave and palm emblem.
Idella Purnell (Spring 1923 – May 1930)
Elmer Nicholas (Nov 1936? – Mar./Apr. 1940)
Eda Lou Walton
Hildegarde Flanner (Contributing Editor)
Rachel Lindsay (Contributing Editor)
Libraries with Original Issues:
University of Colorado, Boulder; University of Miami; Purdue University; West Virginia University; Louisiana State University; Harvard University; State University of New York, Binghampton; State University of New York, Buffalo; Marquette University; University of Texas at Austin; Ohio State University.
Purnell, Idella. Palms. Nendeln, Liechtenstein, Kraus Reprint, 1900. Print.
In the Spring of 1923, when she was only 21 years old, Idella Purnell founded the poetry magazine Palms in Guadalajara, Mexico. An alumna of the University of California, Berkeley, Purnell was one of the youngest editors to create and oversee a literary magazine (Potter). In its 17 year run Palms garnered a respectable roster of mostly American authors. Notable contributors include Purnell’s teacher Witter Bynner, D.H. Lawrence, Langston Hughes, and Hildegarde Flanner (Potter). Palms is especially remarkable for its October 1926 issue, guest edited by Countee Cullen and dedicated to the work of African American poets. The special “Negro Issue” sold out soon after its publication and remains a collector’s item today (Johnson et al).
The fifth volume introduced a highly stylized cover bearing an enlarged palm and wave emblem, and the issues themselves were slightly enlarged to 6×9 inches from 5×8 (Lehman). In August 1927 Purnell moved to Aberdeen, Washington, where the fifth and sixth volumes were published, followed by the first issue of the seventh volume (Lehman). The remaining issues of the seventh volume were published from Purnell’s new home of New York City. Publication ceased in May 1930, then resumed in November 1936, still under the direction of Purnell but this time from the new home base of Grant, Michigan (Lehman). With the thickness and contributor quality of the publication dramatically reduced, Purnell handed editorship to Elmer Nicholas in March 1937. Nicholas failed to breathe much life into the magazine, and its last issue was published in April 1940.
No manifesto appears in the reprint edition of Palms used for this project, though Vilma Potter explains,
“The first issue of PALMS declared [Idella Purnell’s] editorial policy was ‘to have no policy of fixed rules, to patronize no school or form, to publish nothing on the strength of the reputation of the writer. If we find only one page of poetry, but that page is authentic, we shall publish one page. If we find sixty pages, our magazine will contain sixty pages.’”
The only other comparable content to a manifesto occasionally appeared on Palms’ index pages above the list of authors: a short line that reads “THE POEM’S THE THING.”
Idella Purnell (Apr. 1, 1901 – Dec. 1, 1982)
Editor: Spring 1923 – May 1930; Nov. 1936 – Mar. 1937
Idella Purnell was born in Guadalajara, Mexico, where she served as a primary school teacher before attending the University of California, Berkeley, as an undergraduate (Lehman). At Berkeley Purnell studied under the poet Witter Bynner, and may have been inspired by his unusual and experimental teaching methods to found Palms during the Spring of 1923 in her hometown. Purnell married John M. Weathermax on August 21, 1927 and later moved to his hometown of Aberdeen, Washington, where Palms saw a redesigned format with Weathermax as publisher (Lehman). Following a divorce two years later, Purnell lived in New York City; Grant, Michigan; and Los Angeles, among other places. From 1935 to 1937 Purnell opened and operated a gold mine in Ameca, Mexico, which she left for a career as an aviation riveter during World War II. Purnell became a practitioner and director of the Dianetic Center for Dianetics and Scientology in the 1950s and 60s, and published children’s literature, science fiction anthologies, and cook books throughout her life (Contemporary Authors Online).
“Two Sonnets on Felicity”
“O Do Not Fear Your Life”
“The Singing Stars”
“Morning Walk in Santa Fe”
“Bough of Manna”
“The Poet’s Dilemna”
“Songs to a Dark Virgin”
“A House in Taos”
W.E.B. Du Bois
“The Song of America”
“Wisdom Cometh With the Years”
“A Song of Sour Grapes”
Hoffman, Frederick J., Charles Allen, and Carolyn F. Ulrich. The Little Magazine: A History and a Bibliography. Princeton, NJ: Princeton UP, 1947.
Johnson, Abby Arthur, and Ronald Maberry Johnson. Propaganda And Aesthetics : The Literary Politics Of African-American Magazines In The Twentieth Century. n.p.: University of Massachusetts Press, 1991.
Lehman, Anthony L. D.H. Lawrence, Idella Purnell, and Palms. Los Angeles: George Houle, 1986. Print.
Potter, Vilma. “Idella Purnell’s PALMS And Godfather Witter Bynner.” American Periodicals: A Journal Of History, Criticism, And Bibliography 4. (1994): 47-64.
Purnell, Idella. Contemporary Authors Online. Detroit: Gale, 2007. Word Count: 754. From Literature Resource Center.
Sigler, Danielle. “Countée Cullen and ‘The Negro Number’ of Palms.” Harry Ransom Center. 22 Feb 2016. Web. 17 Jun 2016.
Stone, Idella P, and Elmer Nicholas. Palms. Guadalajara, Jalisco, Mexico: Palms, 1923. Print.
“Palms” compiled by Robert Abare (Class of ’13, Davidson College)