Along with a nearly complete set of grOnk magazine, Nelson Ball also generously sent me other bpNichol ephemera including this second issue of Nichol’s “Greaseball Comics, featuring Milt the Morph as Lonely Fred” from June 1972. You can download the pdf here.
You can also download the eighth issue from bpnichol.ca
This sixth series of grOnk magazine – at this time, edited by bNichol with Steve McCaffery, bill bissett, dave uu “with an assist from rah smith and david aylward” – is devoted to the work of McCaffery. All but two issues (2-3 was published in 1970) in the series are undated but I’m guessing they were all published in the early 1970s. Every issue was published as single sheets of 8.5 x 11 paper stapled twice.
Issue one (download the pdf here) features five abstract concrete poems by McCaffery using typewriter, dry transfer lettering (I believe), stamp, and copier machine.
Issue two-three (download the pdf here) features McCaffery’s “TRANSITIONS TO THE BEAST” which he calls “post-semiotic poems.” On the final page of the collection, McCaffery writes:
to the beast are for me transitional pieces moving towards a hand drawn set of visual conventions that have their roots both in semiotic poetry & in the comic strip. the semiotic or code poem (invented about 1964 by the brazilians pagnatari & pinto) uses a language of visual signs designed & constructed to suit the individual desires of the poet & the needs that he as linguistic designer assumes for the poem on that particular occasion of construction.
Issue four (download the pdf here) is titled, I believe “MELON LEMON” and continues McCaffery’s investigations into the visual, hand-drawn, typewritten poem that moves to the far edge of semantic meaning.
Issue five (download the pdf here) is “COLLBORATIONS” by both bpNichol and Steve McCaffery which does manage to appear as a perfect meshing of Nichol’s own comic-strip, hand-drawn aesthetic and McCaffery’s more abstract and geometrically precise concrete poems.
Finally, issue eight (download the pdf here) features McCaffery’s “MAPS: a different landscape” in which he experiments with the page as a space for linguistic-cartographic experimentation, taking a cleaner and more legible approach to the notion of cartography in poetry than he did with “Carnival.”
In honour of the exhibit “Letters: Michael Morris and Concrete Poetry” and the accompanying symposium on concrete poetry hosted by the University of British Columbia’s Belkin Gallery, I’ve digitized the fifth series of grOnk magazine (issues 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, and 8).
I’m afraid most of these pieces are undated, including the newsletter (“END OF AUGUST GIANT grOnk MAILOUT”) which accompanied the package of grOnks bpNichol mailed out along with the first four issues of this fifth series as well as the fourth issue of the fourth series, David Aylward’s “WAR AGAINST THE ASPS.” Most fascinating to me about the newsletter is the brief editorial by bp that appears on the second page which makes the argument, once again, for how most of the wonderful oddities and ephemera published by Ganglia Press as part of grOnk magazine were intensely invested in the materiality of writing, publication, as well as a kind of distribution that acted much like a social network does today: it attempted to connect an international community of like-minded readers/practitioners as quickly and immediately as Canada Post could deliver the mail-outs.
The first issue of the fifth series (pdf here) – also the second issue of the other journal project, synapsis, bp was involved in – is titled the “runcible spoon special CANADIAN international number.” It includes small, typewritten poems and prose by Paul Dutton, Hart Broudy, Nicholas Zurbrugg, Scott Lawrence, Andrew Suknaski, bpNichol, Barry McKinnon, Gary Fogarty, Belgian writer Ivo Vroom, Dezso Huba, and Dave Phillips.
The second issue (pdf here) features “a reduced & somewhat modified version of an early section” from Steve McCaffery’s tour de force typestract, Carnival. This is the only place I’ve seen McCaffery describe Carnival as a “random purpose construct at present of an unspecified size” whose total idea is “for a phonetic semantic allegory.”
The third issue (pdf here) is a small, stapled booklet of minimalist typewriter poems, Wourneys by David Aylward:
The fourth issue (pdf here) is Something in by Martina Clinton, who Nichol describes on the back-cover as “one of the foremost radicals in the early stages of the Vancouver poetry Renaissance.”
The fifth issue (pdf here) is, as Nichol puts it, “an attempt at integration and keeping in touch…..consisting of this special one shot issue devoted entirely to new notes and featuring excerpts from books mentioned plus a peek at coming attractions.”
The sixth issue (pdf here) is a tiny, funny booklet (that progresses from back to front) simply titled “CAT” with cartoon-like sketches of “cat from behind” (appearing on the back-side of the first page, it is as if the booklet is the cat, moving from position to position), “cat from side,” etc.
The eighth issue (pdf here), “REGARDEZ LA REVOLUTION en MARCHE: a collection of documents from France” consists of two double-sided sheets of poster-sized paper, folded in half and stapled. It is, I assume, a record of some of the street-based poetry work that was being done throughout 1968 and it includes a fascinating announcement by Juliene Blaine that the “Night and Day Awakeners” have decided “1) to give up the book and its family: record, tape, photograph, film, etc 2) to give up the object and its family: painting, sculpture, machinery, environment, etc 3) to give up the show and its family: theatre, circus, event, happening, etc…and to apply to reality the new methods of transformation formerly situated at the language level.”
I am nearly halfway finished digitizing the issues of grOnk magazine that Nelson Ball gave me. In this installment: the fourth series which includes work (from 1968 through 1971) by David UU, Hart Broudy, David Aylward, Joseph di Donato, Andrew Suknaski, and Earle Birney. Once again, given the unique materiality of all these pieces of varying sizes, shapes, colours and textures, I urge you to look at the originals wherever possible.
The first issue of the fourth series, David UU‘s (or David W. Harris) MOTION/PICTURES, was published in March 1969 in an edition of 300 copies. At this point, UU was a co-editor of grOnk along with Nichol and bill bissett. MOTION/PICTURES, sheets of 8.5 x 11 paper stapled together, is wrapped in a red card-stock cover featuring collage work by UU. Most curious for me is the copyright page which lists other books by UU, including poems published by Ganglia Press in 1966 which were “destroyed at authors request” and a collection AMERICANCROSS which was “suppressed by american authorities” in 1966.
The second issue features four gorgeous typewriter concrete poems – titled “C POEMS” – on cream coloured card stock by Hart Broudy. It’s not clear what year this was published. All poems (with the exception of the cover-art on the outside of the envelope which seems to have been made with letraset) have been constructed with the letter ‘c’, occasionally ‘l’ and a few punctuation marks.
The third issue is Earle Birney’s PNOMES JUKOLLAGES & OTHER STUNZAS which was published in November 1969 in an edition of 400 copies. As Nichol writes in the introduction to this collection of work by Birney, “this is an introduction to a section of earle’s work which has been termed ‘experimental’ by every review & critical article i’ve read.” Below is an image of “PNOME,” just one of twelve items in the envelope for this third issue:
The materials included in this envelope of work by Birney are so various that I decided to digitize them all separately. They are listed below in the order in which they are listed in the list of contents – take particular note of “SPACE CONQUEST: COMPUTER POEM” which Birney created in February 1968; “lines chosen from 1066 5-syllable lines supplied by a computer programmed to a random order of the words composing Meredith’s ‘Lucifer in Starlight’ and Macleish’s ‘End of the World.’ Printed on an IBM/360 Computer.”
- cover art on envelope holding all materials for third issue
- list of contents (8.5 x 11 sheet of paper)
- mobile version of “like an eddy” (designed & executed by andrew suknaski) (8.5 x 11 sheet of paper)
- FOR MAISTER GEFFREY (8.5 x 11 sheet folded in half; double-sided)
- introduction (by bpNichol) (8.5 x 11 sheet folded in half; double-sided)
- SPACE CONQUEST: COMPUTER POEM (15 x 11 computer print-out)
- collection of visual & sound oriented poems in purple folder (8.5 x 11 sheets of paper stapled three times; double-sided)
- handwritten version of “like an eddy” (8.5 x 11 card stock)
- CAMPUS THEATRE STEPS (8.5 x 11 card stock)
- PNOME (1970 calendar) (8.5 x 11 card stock)
- COUNCIL/CONSEIL (8.5 x 11 card stock)
- ALASKA PASSAGE (8.5 x 3.5 sheets of paper stapled twice; double-sided)
- ARCHITECTURE (two sheets of 14 x 8.5 sheets of paper folded twice and stapled along middle crease; double-sided)
The fourth issue is David Aylward’s concrete poem(s) THE WAR AGAINST THE ASPS, published in 1968 on sheets of 8.5 x 11 paper folded lengthwise.
The sixth issue features visual work (on single sheets of 8.5 x 11 card stock stapled together three times) by Joseph di Donato – work that is simply titled on the cover “gronkreadingwritingseriesnumber6.” I am speculating the work was created with a combination of drawing and letraset.
Finally, the seventh issue features Andrew Suknaski’s ROSE WAY IN THE EAST – hand-drawn, ideogram-inspired poems that were published in 1971 as single sheets of 8.5 x 11 paper in an envelope.
After taking a brief hiatus from digitizing the issues of grOnk magazine that Nelson Ball so generously donated to me, I’m happy to present to you here the rest of the third series of grOnk, published by bpNichol mostly throughout 1969. While there are eight issues in this series, I only have issue 1 (available here), 3,4, 7, and 8.
Issue 3 consists of Phone Book, by Gerry Gilbert, with a found prose insert (I assume also by Gerry Gilbert but, as jwcurry points out in a comment to this post, it could just have easily have been included by bpNichol. The Gerry Carrier was a brand-name for, of course, a carrier). Phone Book is a typewritten book of poetry published in association with Nelson Balls’ Weed Flower Press in 1969. The cover design is by the painter Barbara Caruso, with whom Nichol worked collaboratively on a number of occasions (the most stunning, beautiful example is, in my opinion, The Adventures of Milt the Morph in Colour).
Issue 4 is another typewritten, concrete poetry-esque collection: Nelson Ball’s Force Movements. The digitized version I’ve made available here is actually a second edition, slightly revised, that Curvd H&z published in November 1990. It was first published by Ganglia Press as grOnk 3:4 in July 1969.
Issue 7 is a long, narrow, typewriter-concrete poem Sprouds and Vigables by D.R. Wagner. It was published in an edition of 250, also in July 1969. Note that the text of the first poem echoes a later Four Horsemen sound poem, “In the Middle of a Blue Balloon,” from their 1973 album CANADADA.
Issue 8 is a short, untitled piece by John Riddell – like the others in the third series, this too is typewritten concrete but with the difference that here Riddell also explores, or explodes?, geometrical shapes and patternings which intersect and break up the typewritten language.
Finally, for the first time I’m also making available a pdf of the “BIG MID-JULY GRONK MAILOUT” – a kind of newsletter that accompanied third series issues 3 through 7. The “mailout”, three sheets of different coloured paper stapled together, includes an announcement about the third series, details on how to order copies, as well as bits of news about forthcoming pieces not only from Ganglia/grOnk but also Coach House Press, an issue of Stereo Headphones – a small journal published by Nicholas Zurbrugg in England that was about “THE DEATH OF CONCRETE” – and a series of cassette tape recordings by David UU. These mailouts are fascinating to me because they read as a bookbound version of an equally community-driven blog or twitter feed about contemporary, non-mainstream poetry and poetics.
In April 1969 bpNichol (along with David UU, John Riddell, Bill Bissett, and John Simon) published 300 mimeographed copies of the first issue of the third series of grOnk magazine. “QUOTE” by Gerry Gilbert, written in July 1965, is the most difficult, or impossible, of the grOnk issues to digitize since it consists of 23 separate slips of paper inside a standard letter-sized envelope.
I chose not to scan these slips separately and compile them in a single pdf as the tendency will be to read the slips in the order in which I scan them – which entirely defeats the purpose of this being an open-ended reading experience (since we should be able to come up with 2323 different poems). Instead, I tried to scan as many slips at once as the scanner bed would allow.
You can download the pdf of “QUOTE” at bpnichol.ca.
In August 1967 bpNichol published the last (and eighth) issue of the first series of grOnk magazine; this issue features the almost entirely non-textual, visual, comic-book-like, frames-within-frames structure of “Scraptures: Sequence Eleven.” (This work is already available on bpnichol.ca.)
The second series of grOnk was begun in September 1968 and the issues for this series were published irregularly. The fourth issue of the second series features Barbara O’Connelly’s “THERE WERE DREAMS.” The cover is a sheet of 17 x 22″ cream card-stock folded in half; inside are seven individual sheets of cream 8.5 x 11 paper stapled together. Curiously: while the first couple issues of the series were published in 1968, this work by Connelly was printed at Ganglia Press in July 1967. “THERE WERE DREAMS” is a lovely exploration of concrete poetry as a hand-drawn, hand-written art that’s resolutely not of the machinic.
The fifth issue of grOnk features Nichol’s “The Captain Poetry Poems,” published by Bill Bissett’s Blew Ointment Press and later incorporated into grOnk magazine in 1970. (This work is already available on bpnichol.ca.)
Another publishing curiosity: the sixth issue of the second series was published in 1969, a year earlier than the fifth issue, and featured John Riddell’s “POPE LEO: EL ELOPE” with drawings by bpNichol. This is an early but fascinating work by the Toronto-based John Riddell (whom I’ve written already about here) that is a anagrammatic exploration of the language possibilities inherent in letters ‘p,’ ‘o,’ ‘l,’ and ‘e’ (hence the sub-title, “a tragedy in four letters”) – sometimes using one of the letters twice, sometimes dropping one, always rearranging. It’s a remarkable meshing together of concrete poetry and combinatorial writing practices.