Wednesday, January 11, 2012

Underground Australian poetry magazines of the late 1960s and early 1970s...

A list (thus far)...

Mok started: March 1968. editor: Robert Tillett, Richard Tipping. location: Adelaide. issues: No. 1 (Mar. 1968)-no. 5 (Spring 1969)
Crosscurrents started: May 1968. editor: Michael Dugan. location: Melbourne. issues: Vol 1.1 no.1 – 1.1 no. 4, vol. 2.1 – 2.2 October 1969
Our Glass started: May 1968. editor: Kris Hemensley. location: Melbourne. issues: seven issues
Transit started: September 1968. editor: John Tranter. location: Sydney. issues: two issues
Cat started: July 1969. editor: Andrew Jach. Location: Beaconsfield Vic. Issues: one issue
Mindscape started August 1969. editor: Norman Thompson. location: South Oakleigh Vic. issues: one issue
Flagstones started: August 1969. editor: Ian Robertson. location: Heidelberg Vic. issues: five issues
The Great Auk started: September 1969. editor: Charles Buckmaster. location: Parkville/ Gruyere. issues: twelve issues. Holocaust 2 is also The Great Auk 7.
Free Poetry started: October 1969. editor: Nigel Roberts, Terry Gillmore, John Goodall. location: Sydney. issues: eight issues
Free Grass started: October 1969. editor: anonymous (John Tranter) location: Sydney. issues: one issue
Poem started: 1969 editor: Ross Thompson, John Tozer, location: Hawthorn, Boronia. issues: two, issue one no date. issue two November 1969.
Aardvark started: 1970. editor: John Jenkins. location: Box Hill South Vic. issues: one issue
Manic magazine started: March 1970. editor: R.J Deeble. location: Richmond Vic. issues: one issue
Earthship started: October 1970. editor: Kris Hemensley location: Southampton, Hamshire. issues: No. 1 (Oct. 1970)-no. 13 (Oct. 1972) Second series, called The Ear in a wheatfield, began in 1973
Contempa started: 1972. editors: Phillip Edmonds, Robert Kenny. location: Armadale Vic. issues: 1-10, Series 2, no.1-6
Leatherjacket started: February 1972. editor: (issues 3) Cheryl Adamson and tom thompson. location: Sydney. issues: four issues
The Ear in the Wheatfield started: May 1973. editor: Kris Hemensley. location: Hawthorn Vic. issues: 1(May 1973)-19 (Dec. 1976) No. 20 published in "Rigmarole of the hours" series issue entitled "3 blind mice".

Also Your Freindly Fascist, Timestream, Mere Anarchy, Ploughman's Lunch (just Ploughman after second issue), Fitzrot, Fields, Dark Areas, Makar, Dharma, Etymspheres... I am still researching them.

The "mini-mags" or underground poetry magazines of the late 1960s and early 1970s offered a space for poetry which was outside established poetry magazines and journals. These early magazines were often gestetnered off by hand and sold cheaply (30 to 45 cents). Many survived for only one issue, but new ones seem to have been surfacing regularly, and others like Contempa ran for six years before financial strain caused it to cease. New printing technology gave this generation of poets the opportunity to bypass the "gatekeepers" of poetry in Australia by making their own publications. Even though many of these poets were being published in newspapers and mainstream magazines, the mini-mags offered a creative freedom that doesn't seem to available elsewhere at that time.

For me one of the most startling early handmade poetry magazines is The Great Auk by Charles Buckmaster. When he printed volume one in September 1968 he was seventeen years old and publishing La Mama poets like Michael Dugan, Bill Beard and Kris Hemensley. By the third issue in 1968 the cover carries Buckmaster's urging "TO ALL SECONDARY SCHOOL STUDENTS.. GET OFF YR ARSE & DO SOMETHING!!!... start YR OWN undergrounds.." and included work by Ken Taylor and John Jenkins, as well as Hemensley, Dugan, Ian Robertson and Andrew Jach. The Great Auk becomes a who's who of the underground poetry publishing scene until mid 1970.

For more information on Australian poetry magazines from this time there is a great early article on poetry magazines by Dennis Douglas in Overland no.41 Winter 1969 (p 46-7) titled "Mini-Mags and the Poetry Explosion" and what amounts to a follow up article (in many ways) by Phillip Edmonds in Contempa Series 2/1 1975 (n.p) called "'Little Magazines' (1971- 75)".


  1. I wish, I wish I could get my hands on copies of all of these... what a rich time it was!

  2. Dear Comrade

    You could add:

    The Drunken Tram, Melb, 1972-4. Lost Rimbaudites in suburbia: copy in Sydney's Mitchell library.

    FallOut. 3 editions. Adolescent formalism. Melbourne, Camberwell 1966-67. Copies in Vic State Library.

    All the best

    Alastair Spate

    1. Thanks Alastair,

      The Drunken Tram is avaliable at the Fryer. Will have to track down FallOut.

      I really appreciate your suggestions!

  3. Are you also looking at The Nation Review?


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