Rochelle Owens and Splendid Examples

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Reports from the Bibliographic Bunker

Jed Birmingham on William S. Burroughs Collecting

The Fuck You Press Archive is one of the most popular posts on RealityStudio and in the dozens of comments there was one that jumped out at me and always made me pause for thought when I read it. Frances states: “Thank you for finding and sharing! And jesus — what a BOYS club this was!” As Diane Di Prima, Hettie Cohen, Joyce Johnson and Carolyn Cassidy have demonstrated in their invaluable memoirs on the Beat Generation, the boys-will-be-boys ethos is a simple fact of the scene and the era. Yet I have always felt that Fuck You Press, if it was a boy’s club, was a club of a different order. Surely these were not your typical frat guys or Mad Men. For example, the Printed Matter book on Queer Zines opens with the premise that Fuck You, a magazine of the arts was something of a point of origin for that genre. Are freaks, geeks and nerds any different from the meatheads and ladies’ men? Current events in cosplay and video game culture suggest not, but could it be argued that Sanders’ mag and the press were proto-feminist? A starting point for the much more active role played by women in the Mimeo Revolution of the 1970s?

The Mimeo Revolution of the 1960s is almost completely dominated by men. There are precious few examples of solo works by New American female poets or writers actually printed on a mimeograph in that decade. Here is a bibliography that I came up with. I would love any additions.

Berge, Carol. The Vancouver Report. New York: Fuck You Press (1963).  

Di Prima, Diane. Murder Cake: A Play. The American Theatre for Poets.

Dominique [Sue Smith]. Eremite: A Selection of Poems. WU Publishing Company, Cleveland, 1969.

——– Poems from the Mind Jail. Ghost Press, Cleveland, 1967.

Steve and Mara [Ferguson]. Flowers for Brian Sherman. Ayizan Press, Cleveland, 1968.

Gadd, Maxine. Practical Knowledge. Intermedia, Vancouver, 1969.

Galt, Lisa. Radar. Niagra Falls: press : today : niagra (1966).

——. In Sight. Mother/Asphodel, Detroit, 1966.

Guest, Barbara. Port: A Murder in One Act. The American Theatre for Poets, Inc, New York., 1964.

Landau, Madeline. Head Fourth. Head, Staatsburg, New York, 1965.

Mayer, Bernadette. Ceremony Latin. Self-published (1964).

Wakoski, Diane. First two chapbooks.

Suzanne Woods. Ovaries of Mother Dark. Quixote, Madison, 1969.

Women as mimeographers

di Prima, Diane. Floating Bear 1-38. New York et al: 1961-1969.

——- Poet’s Press

Hacker, Marilyn. City. Magazine.  

Mayer, Bernadette & Vito Acconci. 0 to 9.  

Waldman Anne. Angel Hair publications

The Hardware Poets Occasional.  

Carol Berge’s Vancouver Report was issued by Fuck You Press. Berge’s inside account of the boy’s club in action deserves to be reissued. Sanders also printed quite a few women poets in Fuck You, a magazine of the arts as well, including Berge, Elise Cowen, Rochelle Owens, Diane Di Prima, Lenore Kandel, Barbara Moraff, and Diane Wakoski. How do you reconcile this with Crotch Lake, twat burgers and all the other locker-room antics of the mag? Was Fuck You feminist in granting women access to the locker room? Did this really happen? Were women abused like when Reggie Jackson mistreated female sports reporters back in the day?

I do not know the answers to these questions, but Rochelle Owens would definitely be able to weigh in. Owens appeared in Fuck You magazine and was one of four poets (along with Barbara Moraff, Carol Berge, and Diane Wakoski) published in the groundbreaking Mimeo Revolution chapbook issued by Corinth-Totem Press in 1962: Four Young Lady Poets. Luckily, Owens emailed RealityStudio out of the blue asking if we were aware of her article “Splendid Examples,” which appeared in the women’s issue of The Moody Street Irregulars years ago. Though I am aware of Moody Street, I do not own a single copy. (NOTE: For anybody out there with the inclination, a nice collection could be made on Beat Zines with a scholarly bent, like Moody Street, Kerouac Connection, Dharma Beat and Beat Scene, as well all the publications of Arthur and Kit Knight, like Beat Road or Beat Vision. Such publications set the stage for a site like RealityStudio or a mag like Mimeo Mimeo. It is fitting that Beat Generation scholarship has its roots in Mimeo Revolution and zine publishing.) Owens was kind enough to mail me a photocopy of her article, which I have scanned with her permission. Like Carol Berge’s Light Years collection – which I highly recommend – Owens’ article provides a much needed woman’s perspective on a scene that has been studied largely through the experiences and recollections of men. Much work has been done on documenting the role of women in the Beat Generation; similar work needs to flourish and grow in regards to the Mimeo Revolution.


Written by Jed Birmingham and published by RealityStudio on 14 December 2014. Rochelle Owens’ Journey to Purity is available from Amazon.

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