I am back from the Midwest and getting into the swing of things again. Let's ease into it with a series of posts dedicated to a Midwest mimeo classic: Douglas Blazek's Ole. Ole as in hole (although Blazek seems to play with the Spanish when ever the mood suits him) ran for eight wonderful issues, along with an Ole Anthology.
My favorite issue without a doubt is Issue 7: The Godzilla Review Issue of Small Press Publications, which provides a survey of roughly five years of small press production. Blazek assigns his stable of writers - Buk, Marcus J. Grapes, Steve Richmond, William Wantling, Al Purdy, Brown Miller etc. as well as Blaz himself - to groups of titles. Blazek selects plenty of presses listed in the Secret Locations, such as Jargon Society, Auerhahn, Oyez, Coyote, El Corno Emplumado, Poets Press, and Something Else Press, but there are also many publications by presses that missed the cut so to speak, ie presses between the two coasts and the more underground presses of New York and California: the entire Cleveland Scene is well covered, Toad Press in Oregon, Windfall Press, GRR Press, Vagrom Chapbooks, Swallow Press, Hors Commerce Press, Interim Press and Crank Press, Dustbooks, Quixote and on and on. There are several presses and authors I have never heard of and seem to have flashed and burned soon after their review in Ole.
The Godzilla Issue is an incredible snapshot of the Small Press scene that is not as severely cropped as usual, the margins are given their due (even if they are often panned by Blazek and crew). In addition, this selection of titles is viewed from a different perspective from that which most students of the scene have become accustomed. Ole does not provide the New American Poetry POV. The Meat School - Blazek, Buk, Grapes, Richmond,and Wantling - were late to the game and remained on the outside looking in and it makes for fascinating reading. For example, Bukowski on Ginsberg's Empty Mirror or Zukofsky's A Test of Poetry (which reviews have recently been collected by City Lights) is to my taste, wonderful criticism. The macho and misogyny of The Meat School are admittedly oppressive but I think this bluster also reveals an insecurity and lack of confidence that I find appealing. They talk big and tough, but they remain unsure of themselves (particularly about their intelligence) and to a certain extent submissive to the larger scene. They are not jocks, toughs or bullies really. Clearly the Ginsbergs and Creeleys are the Prom Kings and Queens. Blazek and the boys are the losers and outcasts with Buk as King of the Dorks. Buk on Ginsberg's Empty Mirror is an prime example of this dynamic. There is a reason Buk, not Steve Richmond, reviews Zukofsky and Ginsberg.
Until I get bored I will post a bunch of Ole related stuff to give a sense of this somewhat neglected mag. It is pure mimeo in every sense of the word and deserved its day at the Big Dance at the Secret Location. Cue up the music, Ole is about to take centerstage.