Footnoting Howl and Other Acts of Responsible Scholarship

When considering if a book about little magazines and the Mimeo Revolution is worth your precious time and money (scholarly works are disgustingly expensive), ignore the cover art, the blurbs (they are all by friends and colleagues anyway), even the text itself.  They do not matter.  Go straight to the back of the book.  If the book does not have an index, it is a piece of shit and irresponsible.  If there are no endnotes, or if they are skeletal at best, then likewise.  Place the book back on the shelf and move on.  It is not worth your attention.

Daniel Kane gives a great endnote.  Very stimulating and invigorating.  A happy ending if you will.  Kane is almost too responsible.  He actually cares about the flow of his writing so he will not throw a bunch of crap in the main body of his stuff just because it is interesting.  He'll put it in a footnote or endnote.  Read this shit because it is great and full of incredible information and better yet it leads you on to other equally valuable and interesting shit.  Kane is skilled at finding this shit because he loves it, he is good at it, and that is his job.  The back of the book is the mother lode in All Poets Welcome:  The Lower East Side Poetry Scene in the 1960s.  Besides his wonderful notations, that is where the CD of readings is located (many if not all of which, Kane treats in his book), which is worth buying the book for.

Reva Wolf, of course, can give footnote with the best of them.  Pages and pages of incredible stuff in there.  Oliver Harris:  again a great footnoter, but he is even meticulous about how his footnotes read so he tends to trim his footnotes into topiaries of just the finest thoughts that sprout out of his head.  Really frustrating if you ask me, because some of those trimmings are Harris's best stuff just because they are wild and gnarly and overgrown (and maybe even overblown).  But that's responsible scholarship for you, you have to clean up to stand before the academy.  The tree of knowledge must be cultivated and manicured.(1)

I, on the other hand, do not footnote at all.  Any single thought I have ever had on the Mimeo Revolution I have posted.  I do not footnote because, most of the time, I blatantly stole whatever I am writing, heard it in conversation at a book fair, or more likely, over the phone when both parties were drunk.  If all else fails, quite simply, I make it up.  You cannot footnote that shit.  That is why Kane and Wolf and Harris are professionals, and I am a crank.

1.  The Kane edited Don't Ever Get Famous collection has less footnotes but it still worth reading anyway.  Kane's essay on Angel Hair is a classic in the little magazine genre and the essay on Umbra was much needed and great.  0-9 gets covered a few years before the Ugly Duckling Presse edition came out and thrust that pivotal mag into the spotlight.  It is a solid essay that will prove even better, I suspect, now that you can actually read the magazine.  The essay on C:  A Journal of Poetry was a disappointment when I read it, but I should go back and give it another try.  Such let-downs are usually a "me" problem.  Here is a write up on Kane's book:  I think most of what I wrote there I came up with myself, but I am probably wrong about that too.



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