To mark the occasion of the digital reissue of Big Allis, editors Neilson and Grim have written the following introductory notes alongside commissioned reflections on the magazine by designer Jean Foos and a few of the magazine’s many contributors.
The idea of bringing Big Allis to a new readership occurred to me one summer afternoon last year while combing the Jacket2 Reissues archive. I am grateful to Danny Snelson for deeming Big Allis worthwhile to “go big” and be added to the J2 bill. Danny and Amelia Bentley have been artful and meticulous with getting Big Allis safely stored in a user-friendly repository.
From Robinson’s introduction to a reading by Pierre Joris at Glasgow's Centre for Contemporary Arts on 22 May 2013: a consideration of Poems for the Millennium, volume 4, The University of California Press Book of North African Literature.
I want to talk about a poem published in a widely read book from 2003, a poem that was read by Garrison Keillor during his Writer’s Almanac segment on National Public Radio on January 11, 2008, one of what Keillor likes to term “pretty good poems,” a poem whose persona speaks of a tennis player he is watching as “one of my kind, my tribe” (“Writer’s Almanac”). This might strike a reader as something right out of the Black Arts era, a time when many African American poets wrote directly to a black audience and expressed open disinterest in what any white reader might have to say about their poems.