Commentaries - July 2013

Introduction and commentary on the digital reissue of 'Big Allis'

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 magazines many contributors.

Melanie Neilson


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.

Jerome Rothenberg: From 'A Further Witness,' a poem in progress



fixed in place

or running

half a man

& half

a crazed



he feels himself


what he ran from

No sentence

No comment necessary

Jeffrey C. Robinson: 'Poems for the Millennium, Volume Four,' as 'Subversive Orientalism'

Pierre Joris & Habib Tengour, co-editors of 'Poems for the Millennium, volume 4'
Pierre Joris & Habib Tengour, co-editors of 'Poems for the Millennium, volume 4'

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.

White mischief III

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.