Friday, November 12, 2010

Big Scream the poetry 'zine

Positive  response to "November 11" poem on Facebook.  Poet Dave Cope got dibs on it for his Big Scream 'zine, which is where the poem likely would've been published 20 years ago. Big Scream is probably the longest running regularly published poetry 'zine in America. My poems first appeared in B/S about 30 years ago, when it was mimeographed, & it had been in existence for awhile at that time. Early on, I tried to get published in "prestige" literary mags, neat, often expensively printed periodicals.  I did get some poems in New York Quarterly & a number of lesser known mags.  I was trying build a "resume." But I became concerned with the company I was keeping in those publications, the  conservative range of poems they accepted. I wanted outlets for all the kinds of poems I was making, & I needed editors & readers who would try to understand & maybe even like them. I would do the same for their poems. So more & more I turned to alternative 'zines. Many of the poets I've known for decades published 'zines, & I considered them heroic & a little bit nuts; Dave Cope, Jim Cohn with Napalm Health Spa (now online) Dave Roskos & his large, messy, lovable Big Hammer,  Mike Selender's Lactuca,  Joe Weil's Black Swan among them. I even bought a working mimeo for $30 at a church rummage sale, but I searched in vain for an electronic stencil cutter so I could publish a 'zine with drawings like the stuff  coming out of St. Marks Poetry Project in the Seventies.  When cleanly made, mimeo had a true print quality unlike the copy machines that gradually replaced them.

Sometimes I held back my more conventional poems from Cope,  knowing he would patiently follow my lines all over the page. Sympathy for 'zine editors eventually pulled me over to the left margin. I figured  they would print more of my poems if the poems required less effort to type, & I'd send  eight or ten poems if I had them, bound to be two or three they'd  accept without reservation.

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