Martin Glaberman – The Grievance: Poems from the Shop Floor (a Singlejack Little Book). 1980.

Martin Glaberman is a towering figure in the tradition of autonomist Marxism. Glaberman (he went by Marty) was a member of the Workers Party, the Johnson-Forest tendency, Facing Reality, and perhaps the person most responsible for ensuring that many of CLR James’ lesser known essays stayed in print. Born 1918 in New York, Glaberman passed away in Michigan in 2001 (Neil Fettes of Red & Black Notes wrote a powerful obituary that has since been re-published here). Not long after his death, Staughton Lynd wrote, “I consider Marty Glaberman the most important writer on labor matters in the United States during the second half of the twentieth century” (2002, v).

Regrettably, Glaberman’s poetry has not been the subject of much writing or analysis. Even in the bibliography he drafted in the preparation for his collected works, Punching Out & Other Writings (2002), he did not include a sub-heading to breakout his poetry by publication source (pp. xiv & 223).

The Grievance was the first published collection of Glaberman’s poetry and the only chapbook of Stan Weir’s Singlejack Little Book series. In scanning the Weir archives deposited at Tamiment Library we were, unfortunately, unable to locate specifics of how Weir came to publish the collection on his Singlejack Press; the folders did not contain correspondence between Weir and Glaberman. However, with the generous help of one of Tamiment’s archivists, we were able to locate the original paste-up of the publication. (Location is TAM 279, Box 7).

As we were preparing to say something about The Grievance we were humbled that Alice and Staughton Lynd generously gave of their time for us to inquire about Singlejack, and also to share some of their memories of Marty Glaberman. Similar to others who have recalled him, the Lynd’s recounted participating in a small reading group of Capital that he led. Glaberman would drive hours from Detroit to Youngstown, OH to teach a half dozen people.* Staughton also mentioned that he, unfortunately, was never was able to get Stan Weir and Glaberman together to meet.

The Grievance: Poems from the Shop Floor is a witty, funny and poignant contribution to workers’ poetry and, from our perspective, well worth studying. This booklet, one of the half-dozen ‘Singlejack Little Book[s]’, is common in the trade and found in many libraries (per OCLC). Yet the pamphlet still isn’t easily accessible online. We have scanned and posted a copy to Libcom for those who are interested (here).

Update, December 21, 2022: A previous version of this posting stated that Glaberman taught a class on Capital, which future members of DRUM participated in. According to Glaberman, that is actually incorrect. The class was on “socialism” not Capital. Per an oral history interview with Glaberman done in the 1992 by folks who were part of New Tendency in Canada:

We are thankful to Dylan Davis for sharing the interview with us. It can be found in the Martin and Jessie Glaberman Papers at Wayne State in Detroit.

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