Sunday, July 25, 2004

I've been meaning to write a little review of this book, Douglas Blazek: A Bibliography of the Published Work 1961-2001, edited, with an Introduction, by James Den Boer (Glass Eye Books/Blue Thunder Books, 2003) for it is one fat work detailing the publishing history of Mimeo Revolution legend Blazek. 

Blazek lives and writes in my hometown, Sacramento, which turned out to be home base for many Mimeo poets.  I've been told, perhaps by Blazek, that d. a. levy was persuaded and intended to move here before that fateful night in Cleveland.  the mind reels at what we have lost when levy died.  however, we do have Blazek, and now this indespensible book as a map and guide to those wild times of the 1960s and 70s when a group of writers led by Blazek and his press, Open Skull, and his magazine, Ole, broke open the stifled canned academic literatuers by doing it by themselves. 

these poets, who published and dessiminated their own work via mimeo presses, were thriving in a vital era of change, for there were other writers, Beat and Black Mountain, doing their own busting open of academe.  at any rate, change was happening and it was the Mimeo poets who have moved outside the mainstream, and to date, have not received the critical recognition long due to them. 

Den Boer does a fine job in his Introduction illuminating the historical resonance during the era of the Mimeo Revolution:

The Beats were of course the first to be contentious, but I think that for Blazek, d. a. levy, D. r. Wagner and many of the other energy-givers, there was a more reckless, tendentious, even more courageous urge than the Beats often showed (and certainly less of the quasi-religio/ mystical and "literary" attitude).  These poets of the Mimeo Revolution had "turned on" the imaginations of their readers with talents ignited by a powerful and optimistic belief in the imperative of change -- a belief in revolution that engaged both the political and the personal.
yet far more than an historical book that documents the work of these poets Den Boer has done an outstanding job of gathering most of the published works of Douglas Blazek, a poet whose energies eschew any sort of "ism" or label.  Blazek is still alive, writing and publishing and his work has, like all writers in it for the long haul, changed.  and why should it not change?  Den Boer again:

He is not now associated with any particular group of poets; he lives a somewhat hermetic life dedicated to poetry and personal transformation, studying the writings of a wide range of poets and thinkers of diverse disciplines.  He is now more serious than playful; concerned with the way art anchors its verities and sets up its revelations; with nuance, overtone and implication of meaning, and the precision of language that elicits power and pleasure.  His poetry today is more intricate and complex, yet more clear and streamlined, than before. 
Den Boer has achieved a work of love and honor to the life and writings of a brother poet.  it is breathtaking to consider how much Blazek has written and published, over these past 40 years.  a careful reading of the published poems reveals Blazek the craftsman poet for he often published and revised versions of the same poems, and that through the years a single poem printed in mimeo form, say in 1968, had metamorphed into a different creature entirely, by say 1975 in Ploughshares.  another poet may take issue with Blazek's need to rewrite previous poems but one cannot claim Blazek an undisciplined, unambitious poet.  an ambition for the poetry, and the life of poetry. 

for ordering info you can email James Den Boer through Paperwork.


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