Stations Magazine, 1 -4


One 1972, 80 pp.; Two, 1973, 84 pp.; 3-4 1976, 136 pp.;
each perfect bound, 5" x 8"
Click on covers for enlarged images. Scroll down for essay.

The First Incarnations of STATIONS Magazine
Edited and Published by Karl Young


As I worked on Freek I thought of other magazine strategies. Some of my models, from earlier entities such as Little Review and Rongwrong to more or less current productions from Trobar to Grist to Buddhist Third Class Junk Mail Oracle to Fuck You: A Magazine of the Arts to Catterpillar, gave me ideas of things NOT to do as well as suggesting new possibilities. Freek had also taught negative lessons.

By the time I began Stations, I had all sorts of ideas to pursue with a new magazine. I articulated this in a long-winded introduction to the first issue, and more succinctly in the editorial to the second. The first issue has the following lines as a preface, before my editorial:

Whatever you have to say, leave
the roots on
let them dangle. . .
and the dirt
                     just to make clear
                     where they came from

                             - Charles Olson

That was its essence. The editorial for the second issue stated what that meant to me in less poetic terms, and more succinctly than I had done in the first editorial, or would be likely to do now:
Writing comes from the writer's development, changes, new starts, false starts; it comes from his or her changing awareness of self and environment and not least from testing new ideas. Sometimes it comes as a sudden burst; more often from years of meticulous attention and slow growth. It usually does not come out full blown and finality is often beyond the point. . .

So far I've tried to present new writing as clearly as possible in magazine format by A, concentrating on half a dozen contributors per issue; B, including a good, healthy amount of work from each; C, paying special attention to sequential selections, works in progress, selections that indicate a writer's development or recent attempts at change; D, asking contributors to comment on their work. Select bibliographies are also included; if you like what you find here, you'll be able to find more.

The works in this issue of STATIONS are offered as stations on the way, stages on a journey, not summations or final resting places. The magazine itself is in transit; hopefully, new editorial approaches will suggest themselves as things change, and the magazine will change with them.

I had come to see the ideal magazine as more than the expedient which earlier periodicals had been. The book was the proper place for work that had come to a more stable resting place. I use the word "resting" here in the sense of taking a break before going on to other stages. Given the economics of production and the rapid growth of the national poetry scene, a magazine could be more a progress report on the way to the book stage. If, as Pound had put it, poetry was news that stayed news, the kind of magazine I wanted to edit was news about the mechanics of how poetry came to stay news.

This was essentially another means of triangulation. I intended to publish a fair number of the writers who appeared in Stations in book form, and to give readers another vantage point to view the work of authors I published in book form if they came to the books first. The contributors to each issue should not belong to a single group or movement, but emphasize each other's uniqueness by contrast, and, with luck, suggest forms of hybrid vigor that could result from intersections of method and matter. As with earlier magazines, this one gave the reader work by a number of people, and presumably they'd find something interesting, even if they didn't find all the entries of great value. Thus they would not feel cheated; and perhaps they'd want to check out the books of some of the contributors, as well as get progress reports and rough drafts of some of them while they were still in the works.

I wanted to do whatever I could to build up a body of criticism and interpretation by the authors themselves, freeing them from an excessive dependence on critics who wrote nothing but crit, moving criticism away from the strange ivory-tower disconnection it sometimes seemed to lose itself in, and perhaps encouraging greater self-analysis among the writers. This was a time of declarations of independence, and I hoped to find some in the contributors' notes sections. Of course, some contributors went through all sorts of contortions not to sound like critics. The diversity of their responses, even when the comments were simply more poems or belles-letteres vagueries, seemed to present a healthy pluralism. This effort at encouraging poets to act as their own explicators and critics proved more important a year or so after I began it in Stations, when Tom Montag began publishing Margins

Producing Stations One

The first two issues more or less edited themselves in conjunction with my other publishing efforts and in relation to my discussions and correspondences with the writers whose work went into the magazine. Although the editorial process took care of itself, producing the first and third volumes was anything but that. I began setting type on #1 at a time when Ed Wolkenheim's shop was in perhaps its most halcyon stage. We had committed ourselves to the use of recycled and salvaged paper, and had managed to scrounge equipment at minuscule prices, selling some of it to other printers. We were at times so busy with commercial jobs that I was able to hire a friend (a professional stenographer) to set some of the type that would present the most proof reading problems. The business brought in money, but it also got in the way of work.

In a period of two seasons, the golden age of the shop collapsed. In one way, "collapse" was literally true: the ceiling of the first floor fell, pulling most of the electric wiring with it. We drilled holes through the floor to bring electric wires up from the basement, and cleared work areas around the light table, the arc, the press, and a few other essential areas, leaving the rest in cluttered and jagged shadows that seemed reminiscent of photos of bombed cities. Ed's wife, Barbara, became utterly disgusted with the business and wanted to get as far away from it as possible. I talked Ed into continuing with the shop, though his drinking accelerated to the point of becoming constant, even when he got a part time job with another printer. Although Ed had profoundly wanted to continue the business, he came to resent me for keeping it going, and he, Barbara, and I each became antagonistic with the other two. Pat Wagner continued working part time at the shop, and, just as important, mediated between the three of us. Perhaps ironically, this came almost immediately after Pat and I had made the first moves toward getting what would become The Water Street Arts Center in the works, and we continued our practice of scheming over lunch, figuring out ways of acquiring salvageable scrap paper for close to nothing, and setting up booths from whence to sell books at rallies, meetings, and other functions. This kept Pat's spirits and mine up at a time when they could easily have faltered.

One of the diamonds-in-the-rough Ed and I had picked up was a process camera. Its housing was a wreck, but its lens was in perfect condition. As the personal situation deteriorated in the building, I hurriedly finished setting the type so I could make the negs before everything came undone. At this point, the basement, where we had installed the camera, flooded. We had to figure out ways of keeping the wiring in the basement elevated out of the water, but accessible through the ground floor. This meant that the basement was without illumination or other power except for the safe light and other gadgets in the developing room and a set of wires hung from the ceiling to the camera. Ed and Barbara hadn't changed the litter boxes for their cats in months, and cat shit glided around the basement in flotillas. I had a nasty case of the flu by the time I had finished setting the type. However good the lens on the camera was, the housing was a complete mess. The only thing I could do was to work out shims and other devices to get decent negatives. This meant I had to spend several weeks in the near total darkness of the flooded basement, inside the camera frame, making one exasperating adjustment after another with a flashlight tucked under my arm. This and other shop business took as much as 14 hours a day. By the time I had the negs for Stations One completed, the antagonism between Ed and me had reached such a point that he wouldn't let me use the press. I initially went through the odd process of hiring another printer to run part of the magazine in the shop where I could no longer work myself. This situation proved nonviable, and the printed parts of the magazine sat for several months. Finally, Pat printed the last signatures with neither Ed nor I present - initially without Barbara's approval, but finally with her blessing and Ed's curse.

I had managed to move some of the equipment I had purchased out of this shop and into the new shop I was setting up in my basement. The huge Chandler and Price paper cutter we had bought for a song was nearly untransportable, and certainly something I couldn't have fitted in my own home even if I'd been able to move it. I thus had to wait several more months before I could bind it. As a consolation, the paper cutter I bought was a Triumph (same company that makes the cars and motorcycles), and the only major piece of printing equipment I bought new. Although I began the first issue of Stations in 1971, and set the type on the copyright date in 1972, I didn't have bound copies ready for sale until 1973.

Producing Stations Two

By the time I printed the second installment, things had evened out in my own shop, and producing it was gratifying, with none of the nightmare quality of the inaugural issue.

The cover design for number One included a photo of the remains of one of the houses of a Viking colony in Greenland on the front, and an Inuit tent on the back. I'd meant to suggest by this an attempt at meeting by cultures from Europe and North America over the top of the world, and outside the historically sanctioned meeting of hemispheres, with a grim, though oblique, allusion to the continuing Vietnam war.

I used a photo of a boat in a salt marsh at low tide in Gloucester for the front cover of Two. The back was more important personally. Without attempting to keep the business going, Ed and I had reconciled our squabbles. I used a photo he had taken of the Red Star Yeast factory as seen from the freeway above what we then called "the Industrial Valley," since it provided a cradle and base for many of Milwaukee's heavy industries. Ed converted the photo into a mezzotint, and we both thought enough of it to put prints of it up on our walls. I originally suggested using it on the front, but talking over sketches of the cover with Ed, he decided he'd rather see it on the back, in effect giving him the last word. If the cover of One suggested meetings of peoples over an icy part of the world, the cover of Two should suggest two dimensions of urban and coastal ecology, a subject important to Ed and to me, and one which we had spent endless hours discussing in the Speed Press days. As a kind of celebration that only Ed and I could appreciate, I was able to use Riverside Polysolve stock for Two. This was a recycled paper whose manufacture addressed several environmental problems Ed and I had spent a lot of time arguing about and speculating upon.

Producing Stations 3 & 4

Producing Stations Two may have been an idyllic interlude. Problems with the next issue, which time turned into two issues, proved both literary and to some extent technical. The first major obstacle came from translations of poems by Octavio Paz. I had hoped to include translations regularly in Stations, and had featured a selection of contemporary Polish poets by Victor Contoski in Two. My orientation toward pluralism was not limited to single schools or single points of view, but sought to bring about greater confluences and perspectives through transformations of language and the sharing of art. My major interests were in Chinese and Spanish poetry, however - the latter particularly so since I saw the Latinization of Anglo-America as taking place more quickly than its Asianization. Roger Skrentny had spent several years translating Paz. These translations seemed an ideal place to start with translations from Latin American contemporaries. The translations had played a key role in Roger's development as a poet, and one of the major roles of translation has seemed to me to be the way it helps poets learn their art. Unlike Neruda, Vallejo, Huidobro, etc. however, he was Mexican, from the U.S.'s neighbor. Since he had spent considerable time in the U.S.,and spoke immaculate English, he seemed someone Mexicans, Chicanos, and Anglos could identify with. He had also done early work with indigenous sources and formal properties. This endeared him to me, since I had worked from some of the same sources. I began what turned out to be a long campaign to try to gain his consent to the publication of the translations, pointing out in various letters that no one would see these as definitive translations, or as renderings that would compete with Elliot Weinberger's official versions; I tried detailing what I wanted to do as far as encouraging communication between cultures and stimulating a literary and artistic syncretism that was in progress and for which I had great hopes, pointing out that consent and consecration were different things and I only wanted the former, not because I needed it in the context of alternative publications of the time, but as a basic gesture of cooperation among poetsn. At several points, I asked people who knew Paz to write on my behalf. Nothing I could do, however, brought him around. After over a year of trying, Roger became discouraged with what he perceived as a rejection by Paz, and I had to try to prop him up by assuring him that Paz must have had other motives, and that, in any case, foreign language poetry should never have to rely on just one translation. The discouragement, however, deepend for Roger, particularly in conjunction with other rejections.

During the interminable period of trying to gain consent, I became more involved with book publishing, and with Margins, particularly my symposium series, which took on more of the initial functions of Stations. Nonetheless, I was able to obtain "Face," a poem of David Meltzer's that was essential to my reading of him, and the only poems by Rochelle Owens I would be able to produce in print while I edited my symposium on her. I also added several sequences of what Richard Kostelanetz called "visual fictions" (though I saw them as correctives to the static nature imposed on visual poetry by the Williams and Solt Concrete anthologies). I also brought in selections from John Taggart and George Economou, both of whom seemed on the verge of making radical changes in their work - something I wanted to capture in progress in the magazine. Elsewhere in the work in progress department, it seemed as though the notebooks which Jerome Rothenberg worked on while compiling his anthology, A Big Jewish Book, would appear as a book published by me, and possibly as commentery in the anthology before I got the magazine out.

Although much of the editorial and production processes had gone serenely, those that held up publication seemed like a weight pressing more heavily on me. I printed part of the issue over a year before it came out. During the final stages, I worked too fast, and was not satisfied with the results of the finished book. Any number of people expressed initial dissatisfaction with it during the first months after publication. Discouraged, and profoundly engaged with other projects in the works, I decided to suspend publication indefinitely during the following year. I didn't know then that I would revive it for a very different sort of project a few years later. Nor did I anticipate that however much people complained about 3 & 4, many of them would complain more about its disappearance or that others would be adamant about the value of the three volumes that appeared.

But aside from discouragement and encouragement, it seemed I had explored all that I could manage in the type of magazine I could produce in my own shop. Margins was something different, and as much as I could contribute to it as Associate Editor, I could not have published it myself.

3 & 4 got the best cover art of the series, two extremely delicate drawings of airplanes by Jan Serr. I used an equally delicate and spindly type to go with them. The reproductions presented here don't do Jan's drawings anything like justice, though they were ideal for a small printing press.

Click here to return to Part 1 of Some Volumes of Poetry