The Lummox Journal Begins Its Sojourn Online

It is with a great sadness that I announce the passing of the Lummox Journal in print format.  It was a helluva run...eleven years, but it was time to move on (what with escalating printing and postage costs).                      

Over the years, the Lummox Journal became known for its straight-no-chaser approach to the creative process.  It provided a haven for serious poets and theorists of what makes for a good poem/poet.  Through interviews and essays, many of the icons of the small press (certainly the Alternative Small Press) speculated about the "state of the Art" of poetry, specifically, as well as the visual and 'sound' arts.  If you are curious about some of the articles, essays, interviews previously published in the Journal (in it's print incarnation) there are plenty of examples located in the Archives.

Exploration of the creative urge is encouraged and we invite you to contribute your thoughts on this subject and become a part of this on-going conversation which began in the pages of the Lummox Journal nearly twelve years ago. Please read our Submission Guidelines before contacting us.

This inaugural issue features two interviews that are like night and day... Billy Jones of Caboolture, Australia  represents an approach to poetry that is both naturistic and sensual, as well as being a sort of journeyman, self-taught poet.  Hugh Fox hails from Madison, Wisconsin and has, like Jonah, been living in the belly of academia most of his life.  Together they present a sort of Yin and Yang view of modern poetry.  Also of interest: an essay by Todd Moore on the poetics of American poetry, an article by Charles Ries on a poetry reading in Santa Cruz, CA, several reviews and some great poetry.  So, explore!

Raindog - Managing Editor

In the following essay by Todd Moore, he lauds the now defunct print edition of the Lummox Journal.  It is my hope that I will be able to continue this tradition of quality into Cyberspace.

by Todd Moore

There are poetry magazines and there are poetry magazines.  Some have the life span of one or two issues and then go belly up.  Some may last as long as a year or two and then free fall into excuses and oblivion.  A few, a very few will somehow survive.  Lummox Journal has been one of the survivors.  And, to take this one step further, among the survivors there are those zines which publish good and great poetry over long periods of time.  This, is extraordinary all by itself; then there are zines which not only publish noteworthy poetry, but also somehow are capable of plugging into the poetry conversation going on in the culture.  And, this is the place that Lummox occupies.

I canít think of many small press poetry zines that have been able to do this.  Most zines that you see on bookstore shelves are sleek, perfect bound, squeaky clean safe, create no problems, and rarely motivate me to read them.  I like zines where the ideas explode like depth charges and the poems lay in wait like muggers.  Lummox was there to promote the good stuff.  Lummox was part of that subversive movement which is trying to make poetry dangerous again. 

Iím not exactly sure just when I heard about Lummox.  It had to be sometime around '98 or early '99.  It couldíve been earlier.  Anyway, many of the small press publishers and zines I was familiar with were either in the process of folding or had already gone under.  Then I heard of Lummox and Raindog and this was a kind of revelation all by itself.  Here was a zine that actually was open to essays about the writing of poetry.  I hadnít heard of anything like that in the small press since the Paris Review back in the early sixties and Paris Review was hardly small press even then.

Somehow, I had always wanted to write essays about the way I write but I didnít want it to be boring.  I didnít want to put people into coma over craft or technique or any of that other writing school bullshit.   I wanted it to be personal, something that came out of the dream self.  I will have to admit, before Lummox I had written some essays, but they were mostly just a way I of talking to myself about writing.  Most poets talk to themselves about writing even though they donít admit it.  And, even though much of that talk never gets down on paper.  Itís just part of that moment when the demons come out.  Itís like when you give a reading and youíre not really reading to the audience, but to death who is sitting in the back of the room waiting for you to fuck it all up.

At any rate, with Lummox, here was an opportunity to open a door that had mostly remained shut to me.  I could talk about life in that old hotel, I could talk about my alcoholic father, I could talk about Dillinger and what it was like to write about him.  Lummox gave me that opportunity.  Raindog was there to say yes, go ahead, give it a shot.  And, not just for me but for a whole generation of small press poets and writers who were given the privilege to explore how and why they wrote either through the medium of the essay or the interview.

While I sit here writing, I have at my feet several piles of Lummox issues featuring interviews with Tony Moffeit, Kell Robertson, Linda Lerner, Harry Northrup, Neeli Cherkovski, and the list goes on.  It is indeed too numerous to include but it is impressive.  Consider this, Bukowski is well remembered in these pages and in the anthology that Raindog brought out entitled LAST CALL.  And, think of all the various poets who have been featured in issue after issue after issue.  Poets like Scott Wannberg,  A. D. Winans, John Thomas, Holly Prado.

Part of being a good poetry editor is discovering what a poetry generation has to offer and then creating a kind of ensemble much like those early ensemble casts Orson Welles put together for CITIZEN KANE or THE MAGNIFICENT AMBERSONS.  Good poetry zines are not that much different from good films.  The trick is to discover those voices that both bounce off and resonate against and with each other and Raindog instinctively found a whole decade of voices that echo wonderfully through all of Lummox.

And, I think the reason for this is that not long after Charles Bukowski died in 1994, a vacuum occurred in small press poetry.   Up until that time, most poets who knew and respected him more or less expected that he would be around for a very long time.  Unfortunately, that wasnít the case.  And, I know from talking to Raindog, Bukowskiís example had inspired him to start Lummox.  Iím not sure whether Raindog realized it or not, what he actually did was offer a space, a canvas, a place for the Post Bukowski generation to reinvent itself.

Lummox, since 1995, has continued to be a place where new ideas could be tried out.  And in some ways, it has also been much more.  Lummox itself has been its own conversation.  No matter where or when you plugged into this zine, it was a vital source of ideas and energy.  The interviews alone were worth the price of the issue.  Where else could you read about Kell Robertson who was a marginal Beat poet in the early sixties, a New Mexican poet rubbing elbows with Creeley in the seventies, a migrant worker, a cowboy, and now part of the Outlaw Poetry generation.  Or, if your tastes include experimental music, there is the interview with J. A. Deane one of the countryís foremost avant-garde composers.  Or, Kevin Killianís long tribute review on Black Mountain Poet John Weiners who passed away unexpectedly in 2002?  Lummox has literally been open to a spectrum of poets which includes the old Beats, the Baby Beats, the Carma Bums, west coast poets in general, and poets from the east coast, the midwest, and the southwest as well.  In short, Lummox was one of THE places to be seen in.  In an age when the craft interviews in the Paris Review and the long winded pieces in the AMERICAN POETRY REVIEW are enough to put you to sleep, Lummox has been there stir it all up into a good psychic boil.

I will miss receiving Lummox because it is one of the few zines that I liked to read cover to cover and I canít say that about most poetry mags.  I will miss Lummox because it generated so much personal and public energy.  I will miss Lummox because I will miss the conversation that it kept going.  When the time comes for somebody to write the history of the last ten years in poetry, Lummox needs to be viewed as one of the major players of the scene.