from typewriters to telematics, media noise in Robert Zend

I’ve recently started working on my next book project, at the moment titled “OTHER NETWORKS,” which will be a history of pre-Internet networks through artists’/writers’ experiments and interventions. My last book, Reading Writing Interfaces, begins and ends with a critique of Google and magic, or sleights-of-hand that disguise how closed our devices are by cleverly diverting our attention to seemingly breathtaking technological feats. And so the roots of “OTHER NETWORKS” come partly from my desire to continue thinking through the political consequences and the historical beginnings of “the Internet” as the technological feat of the late 20th and early 21st centuries which also, as another instance of the user-friendly, disguises the way in which it is a singular, homogenous space of distributed control.

Still, despite the continuity between Reading Writing Interfaces and “OTHER NETWORKS,” I am continually surprised by the way in which thoroughly print-based, analog writers also participated in telematic art/writing experiments (here I’m using ‘telematics’ for the process of long-distance transmission of computer-based information via telecommunications networks). For example, I’ve decided to begin my project by writing on early Canadian art/writing networks for Social Media: History and Poetics, an edited volume by Judy Malloy. Judy kindly directed me to Norman White’s “hearsay” from November 1985, which was a tribute to Canadian poet Robert Zend who had died a few months earlier. The project builds on the following text Zend wrote in 1975:

THE MESSAGE (FOR MARSHALL MCLUHAN)

THE MESSENGER ARRIVED OUT OF BREATH. THE DANCERS STOPPED THEIR  PIROUETTES, THE TORCHES LIGHTING UP THE PALACE WALLS FLICKERED FOR A MOMENT, THE HUBBUB AT THE BANQUET TABLE DIED DOWN, A ROASTED PIG’S NUCKLE FROZE IN MID-AIR IN A NOBLEMAN’S FINGERS, A GENERAL BEHIND THE PILLAR STOPPED FINGERING THE BOSOM OF THE MAID OF HONOUR. “WELL, WHAT IS IT, MAN?” ASKED THE KING, RISING REGALLY FROM HIS CHAIR. “WHERE DID YOU COME FROM? WHO SENT YOU? WHAT IS THE NEWS?” THEN AFTER A MOMENT, “ARE YOU WAITING FOR A REPLY? SPEAK UP MAN!” STILL SHORT OF BREATH, THE MESSENGER PULLED HIMSELF TOGETHER. HE LOOKED THE KING IN THE EYE AND GASPED: “YOUR MAJESTY, I AM NOT WAITING FOR A REPLY BECAUSE THERE IS NO MESSAGE BECAUSE NO ONE SENT ME. I JUST LIKE RUNNING.”

“hearsay” was an event based on the children’s game of “telephone” whereby a message – in this case, the text by Zend – is whispered from person to person and arrives back at its originator, usually hilariously garbled.  Zend’s text was “sent around the world in 24 hours, roughly following the sun, via a global computer network (I. P. Sharp Associates). Each of the eight participating centres was charged with translating the message into a different language before sending it on. The whole process was monitored at Toronto’s A-Space.” The final version, translated into English, arrived in Toronto as the following:

TO   HEAR

MESSENGER: PANTING.

THE DANCERS HAVE BEEN ORDERED TO DANCE, AND BURNING TORCHES WERE PLACED ON THE WALLS.

THE NOISY PARTY BECAME QUIET.

A ROASTING PIG TURNED OVER ON AN OPEN FLAME.

THE KING SAT CALMLY ON HIS FESTIVE CHAIR, HIS HAND ON A WOMAN’S BREAST.

IT APPEARED THAT HE WAS SITTING THROUGH A MARRIAGE CEREMONY.

THE KING ROSE FROM HIS SEAT AND ASKED THE MESSENGER WHAT IS TAKING PLACE AND WHY IS HE THERE? AND HE WANTED AN ANSWER.

THE MESSENGER, STILL PANTING, LOOKED AT THE KING AND REPLIED:
YOUR MAJESTY, THERE IS NO NEED FOR AN ANSWER. AFTER ALL,
NOTHING HAS HAPPENED. NO ONE SENT ME. I RISE ABOVE EVERYTHING.

Now, as it happens, I also just learned from a friend of mine about Zend’s incredible series of “typescapes,” ARBORMUNDI, published in 1982, seven years after writing “THE MESSAGE.” I wish I’d known about all of these works by Zend when I was working on Reading Writing Interfaces, as the third chapter is titled “Typewriter Concrete Poetry as Activist Media Poetics.” I delve into the era from the early 1960s to the mid-1970s in which poets, working heavily under the influence of McLuhan and before the widespread adoption of the personal computer, often deliberately court the media noise of the typewriter as a way to draw attention to the typewriter-as-interface. Similarly, like the low-level noise in “THE MESSAGE” and the high-level noise in “hearsay,” ARBORMUNDI elevates the noise of typewritten overlays, over-writing, into a delicate art. It’s appropriate, then, that the earliest (and perhaps first in the loose collection) typescape from 1978 is of the Uriburu: “mythological serpent – the symbol of the universe – which constantly renews itself by destroying itself.”

Robert Zend - Arbormundi 2

While the blurb on the back from the Sunday Star celebrates that Zend creates these typescapes with a manual typewriter, “no electronics, computers or glue involved,” he clearly had a McLuhanesque birds’ eye view of the entire, interconnected media-scape of the 70s and 80s, from typewriters to telematics.

Since ARBORMUNDI seems to be quite rare and I’ve only come across some nice images and beautiful close-readings on Camille Martin’s blog, I decided to scan the whole thing – available here and below. Enjoy!

Robert Zend’s ARBORMUNDI, Copyright © Janine Zend, 1982, all rights reserved, reproduced with permission from Janine Zend

Advertisements

Media Studies and Writing Surfaces (introduction to Selected Fiction of John Riddell)

Below is the introduction that Derek Beaulieu and I wrote for Writing Surfaces: Selected Fiction of John Riddell that Wilfred Laurier University Press is generously publishing in April 2013. Please do pre-order a copy through your local independent bookstore. The collection is, I think, a perfect instance of literary experimentation with media archaeology.

*

Introduction: Media Studies and Writing Surfaces
Writing Surfaces: The Fiction of John Riddell brings an overview of the work of John Riddell to a 21st-century audience, an audience who will see this volume as a radical, literary manifestation of media archaeology. This book is also, in the words of the promotional material of Riddell’s 1977 Criss-cross: a Text Book of Modern Composition, a “long-over-due debut by one of our most striking new fictioneers.”

Since 1963 John Riddell’s work has appeared in such foundational literary journals as grOnk, Rampike, Open Letter and Descant as part of an on-going dialogue with Canadian literary radicality. Riddell was an early contributing editor to bpNichol’s Ganglia, a micro-press dedicated to the development of community-level publishing and the distribution of experimental poetries. This relationship continued to evolve with his co-founding of Phenomenon Press and Kontakte magazine with Richard Truhlar (1976) and his involvement with Underwhich Editions (founded in 1978): a “fusion of high production standards and top-quality literary innovation” which focused on “presenting, in diverse and appealing physical formats, new works by contemporary creators, focusing on formal invention and encompassing the expanded frontiers of literary endeavour.”

Writing Surfaces: The Fiction of John Riddell reflects Riddell’s participation in these Toronto-based, Marshall McLuhan-influenced, experimental poetry communities from the 1960s until roughly the mid- to late-1980s. These communities, and the work of contemporaries bpNichol, Paul Dutton, jwcurry, Richard Truhlar and Steve McCaffery, give context to Riddell’s literary practice and his focus on ”pataphysics, philosophically-investigative prose and process-driven visual fiction. While many of his colleagues were more renowned for their poetic and sound-based investigations, Riddell clearly shared both Nichol’s fondness for the doubleness of the visual-verbal pun and Steve McCaffery’s technical virtuosity and philosophical sophistication. In his magazine publications, small press ephemera, and trade publications, Riddell created a conversation between these two sets of poetics and extended it to the realm of fiction (exploring a truly hybrid form that is poetry as much as it is fiction). Riddell’s work as fiction works to explore the development and accretion of narrative in time-based sequence, a fiction of visuality and media. Writing Surfaces is the documentation of Riddell pushing his own writing to the very limit of what conceivably counts as writing through writing.

While it’s true that the title “writing surfaces” carries with it the doubling and reversibility of noun and verb, reminding us how the page is as much a flat canvas for visual expression as it is a container for thought, the first title we proposed for this collection was “Media Studies.” The latter, while admittedly too academic-sounding to describe writing as visually and conceptually alive as Riddell’s, could still describe Riddell’s entire oeuvre; the term not only refers to the study of everyday media (such as television, radio, the digital computer and so on) but it can—in fact should—encompass the study of textual media and the ways in which writing engages with how it is shaped and defined by mediating technologies. In other words, Riddell’s work is a kind of textbook for the study of media through writing, or, the writing of writing.

The best-known example of Riddell’s writing of writing is “Pope Leo, El ELoPE: A Tragedy in Four Letters,” initially published in April 1969 with mimeograph illustrations by bpNichol through Nichol’s small but influential Canadian magazine grOnk. It was published again, with more refined, hand-drawn, illustrations, once again by Nichol, in the Governor General’s Award winning anthology Cosmic Chef: An Evening of Concrete (1970, the version included here) and in a further iteration in Criss-Cross: A Text Book of Modern Composition with illustrations by Filipino-Canadian comic book artist Franc Reyes (who would later pencil and ink Tarzan, House of Mystery and Weird War for dc comics and was involved with 1970s underground Canadian comix publisher Andromeda). “Pope Leo” relates a stripped-down comic-strip tale of the tragic murder of Pope Leo; the narrative unfolds partly by way of frames within frames, windows within windows, telling a minimalist story in which the comic-strip frame is nothing but a simple hand-drawn square with the remarkable power to bring a story into being. The anagrammatic text is an 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, always moving back and forth along the spectrum of sense/nonsense: “O POPE LEO! PEOPLE POLL PEOPLE! PEOPLE POLE PEOPLE! LO PEOPLE.”

With a/z does it (1988), Riddell’s writing of writing focuses even more on the investigation of the possibilities of story that lie well beyond the form of the sentence, paragraph, the narrative arc. Rather than playing with the visual story structure of the frame and the verbal structure of the anagram as means by which to create a narrative, with pieces like “placid/special” Riddell first creates grid-like structures of text with the mono-spaced typewriter font and then uses a photocopier to document the movement of the text in waves across the glass bed. The resultant text is the visual equivalent of his earlier fine-tuned probing of the line between sense and nonsense in “Pope Leo.” These typewriter/photocopier pieces record both signal and noise as columns of text waver in and out of legibility. Semantically, these mirage-like texts focus on the words ‘placid’ (the lines of text reminding us of the symmetrical reversibility of ‘p’ and ‘d’ which begin and end the word), ‘love’ (with just the slightest suggestion of ‘velo’ at the beginning and end of each wave), ‘first,’ ‘i met,’ ‘special,’ ‘evening’ and ‘light’ (appearing as a hazy sunset moving down the page), and conclude with ‘relax’ and ‘enjoy.’ The paratactical juxtaposition of the two pages in “placid/special” creates the barest suggestion of a narrative about lovers enjoying an evening together while at the same time each page is in itself an even more minimalist story told through experiments with the manipulation of writing media.

Riddell’s writing of writing that is simultaneously sense and nonsense, verbal and visual, self-contained and serial—that demands to be read at the same time as it ought to be viewed—nearly reaches its zenith in later work such as E clips E (1989). In particular, “surveys” is writing only in the most technical sense with its Jackson Pollock-like paint drippings and scattered individual letters, all counter-balanced by neat, hand-drawn frames.

Just as Riddell’s compositions challenge how writers and readers form meaning, the original publications of many of the selections in Writing Surfaces, and Riddell’s larger oeuvre, were also physically constructed in a way that would demand reader participation. Riddell’s original publications include small press leaflets (Pope Leo, El ELoPE: A Tragedy in Four Letters), business card-sized broadsides (“spring”), chapbooks (A Hole in the Head and Traces) and pamphlets (How to Grow Your Own Light Bulbs). His work also extends into books as non-books: posters which double as dart boards (1987’s d’Art Board), novels arranged as packages of cigarettes (1996’s Smokes: a novel mystery) and decks of cards to be shuffled, played and processually read (1981’s War (Words at Roar), Vol.1: s/word/s games and others). Inside books with otherwise traditional appearances Riddell insists that his readers reject passive reception of writing in favour of a more active role. While outside of the purview of Writing Surfaces, 1996’s How to Grow Your Own Light Bulbs includes texts that must be excised and re-assembled (“Peace Puzzle”); burnt with a match (“Burnout!”); and written by the reader (“Nightmare Hotel”). Copies of the second edition of Riddell’s chapbook TRACES (1991) include a piece of mirrored foil to read the otherwise illegible text.

Riddell’s compositions do not just question the traditional role of the author; they attempt to annihate it. With “a shredded text” (1989) Riddell fed an original poem into a shredder, which then read the text and excreted (as writing) the waste material of that consumption. The act of machinistic consumption creates a new poem—the original was simply the material for the creation and documentation of the final piece. With “a shredded text” Riddell acts as editor to restrict the amount of waste that enters the manuscript of the book. The machine-author becomes a reader and writer of excess and non-meaning-based texts while the human-author becomes the voice of restraint and reason attempting to limit the presentation of continuous waste-production as writing. If, as Barthes argues, “to read […] is a labour of language. To read is to find meanings,” then the consumption and expulsion of texts by machines such as photocopiers and shredders produces meanings where meanings are not expected by fracturing the text at the level of creation and consumption—an act which is simultaneously both readerly and writerly.

Riddell’s oeuvre is almost entirely out of print and unavailable except on the rare book market. Working within the purview of 1970s and 1980s Canadian small presses means that Riddell’s writing proves elusive to a generation of readers who have come of literary age after the demise of such once-vital publishers such as Aya Press (which was renamed The Mercury Press in 1990 and has also ceased publishing), Underwhich Editions, Ganglia, grOnk and the original Coach House Press. As obscure as his original books may be, Riddell’s work remains a captivating example of hypothetical prose; dreamt narratives that have sprouted from our abandoned machines. With no words and no semantic content, we are left to read only the process of writing made product—a textbook of compositional method using writing media from the pen/pencil, the sheet of paper, the typewriter, the shredder, photocopier, to even the paintbrush. The medium is the message.

Greaseball Comics, featuring Milt the Morph as Lonely Fred 2nd issue (part 9)

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

> See also grOnk magazine: Canadian Concrete Poetry 1967-1988 (Part 1)

> See also bpNichol’s “Singing Hands Series”: Canadian Concrete Poetry 1966 (Part 2)

> See also grOnk magazine: first and second series 1967 – 1970 (Part 3)

> See also grOnk magazine: third series, issue 1 1969 (part 4)

> See also grOnk magazine: third series, issues 3, 4, 7, 8 1969 (part 5)

> See also grOnk magazine, fourth series: issues 1, 2, 3, 4, 6, 7 1968-1971 (part 6)

> See also grOnk magazine, fifth series: issues 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 8 (part 7)

> See also grOnk magazine, sixth series: 1, 2-3, 4, 5, 8 (part 8)

grOnk magazine, sixth series: issues 1, 2-3, 4, 5, 8 (part 8)

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.”

> See also grOnk magazine: Canadian Concrete Poetry 1967-1988 (Part 1)

> See also bpNichol’s “Singing Hands Series”: Canadian Concrete Poetry 1966 (Part 2)

> See also grOnk magazine: first and second series 1967 – 1970 (Part 3)

> See also grOnk magazine: third series, issue 1 1969 (part 4)

> See also grOnk magazine: third series, issues 3, 4, 7, 8 1969 (part 5)

> See also grOnk magazine, fourth series: issues 1, 2, 3, 4, 6, 7 1968-1971 (part 6)

> See also grOnk magazine, fifth series: issues 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 8 (part 7)

grOnk magazine, fifth series: issues 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 8 (part 7)

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.”

> See also grOnk magazine: Canadian Concrete Poetry 1967-1988 (Part 1)

> See also bpNichol’s “Singing Hands Series”: Canadian Concrete Poetry 1966 (Part 2)

> See also grOnk magazine: first and second series 1967 – 1970 (Part 3)

> See also grOnk magazine: third series, issue 1 1969 (part 4)

> See also grOnk magazine: third series, issues 3, 4, 7, 8 1969 (part 5)

> See also grOnk magazine, fourth series: issues 1, 2, 3, 4, 6, 7 1968-1971 (part 6)

grOnk magazine, fourth series: issues 1, 2, 3, 4, 6, 7 1968-1971 (part 6)

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.”

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.

> See also grOnk magazine: Canadian Concrete Poetry 1967-1988 (Part 1)

> See also bpNichol’s “Singing Hands Series”: Canadian Concrete Poetry 1966 (Part 2)

> See also grOnk magazine: first and second series 1967 – 1970 (Part 3)

> See also grOnk magazine: third series, issue 1 1969 (part 4)

> See also grOnk magazine: third series, issues 3, 4, 7, 8 1969 (part 5)

grOnk magazine: third series, issues 3, 4, 7, 8 1969 (part 5)

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.

> See also grOnk magazine: Canadian Concrete Poetry 1967-1988 (Part 1)

> See also bpNichol’s “Singing Hands Series”: Canadian Concrete Poetry 1966 (Part 2)

> See also grOnk magazine: first and second series 1967 – 1970 (Part 3)

> See also grOnk magazine: third series, issue 1 1969 (part 4)