by Douglas Blazek.
Book Review by Michael Basinski
$15.95. 180 pages. Glass Eye Books (in association with Blue Thunder Books), 221 Pine Street, Number 4B1, Florence, MA 01062.
Some of you might not know the name Blazek that is Douglas Blazek. It is a name hailing form the Chicago of industrial America, working class. Way back at the dawn of small press as we know it ’ 1964 or so, Blazek published one of the most influential magazines of that mimeo era and it was titled: OLE. And he published Lyn Lifshin’s first book and Charles Bukowski’s first book of prose. No bad. Fitting that he should have this bibliography ’ I mean not because he once published Bukowski but because he remained a poet, a poet true to the force of poetry and, therefore, a force himself.
A bibliography is in imagination a form of map and monument, and yes, it is a list of book, broadsides, anthology and magazine publications and in Blazek’s case, books he published and magazines he edited. This bibliography compiled by James DenBper, friend of Blazek, book dealer, and champion of small press, is in the end a form of labor of love. Labor it is. It is pedantic and lives in detail, tiny ones, in dates and number of copies. I learned from it. Blazek published Ole magazine, a magazine I’ve read albeit it was published more than 35 years ago, and I often wondered if I was wrong when I thought that Ole no. 8 was published before Ole no. 7. This notion was confirmed fact in this bibliography. A strange little detail but this is what makes this bibliography an important document. And beyond that, Blazek, being a mimeo rebel, had a network of small press magazines that made his network a community of like minded, passionate and committed writers. Tracking his publications elucidates this network. Those who know Blazek and his work know that he shuns his early, more meat poet, poetry. DenBoer’s introduction casts needed light upon Blazek’s purposeful evolution, an evolution that is still ongoing. Blazek won’t give up his perceptions. He needs to wrap words about them, tighter and tiger tighter as he grows and those words then give shape of his imagination. The small press and the mimeo revolution forms a constellation of American poetry composed of ethical poets existing along side the more conservative and academic avant-garde poets. Shamefully, the literary powers of this nation saw fit to consolidate their literary careers in part by excluding other traditions. As time has progressed and upon reflection the mimeo movement of the 1960s and the small press networks of the 1970s form a solid historical core from which ethical authors have since developed. Historical scholarship has begun to respond to the champions of popular and populace poetry from the second half of the 20th century. This bibliography of an ever evolving, changing poet, who first found acceptance in mimeo, formed the core poetics of underground poetry, mastered, matured and evolved and who holds, still in heart-mind, the notion of dangerous poetry, a poetry that challenges cloistered perception - well, this bibliography is an achievement that marks a crucial period where acknowledgement of genuine American people poets can and will receive a much deserved due.