Home Up



Oik Poet in USA
News from the POD front

Oik Poet in USA

Oik contributor Peter Street is currently touring USA on a route from Kansas to Albuquerque courtesy of his host, the Lorenzo di Medici of Oik lit, Fred Whitehead. For more on Fred click on this.

It seems Pete is knocking the Yanks cold "we had lunch at the Land Institute today, and Peter read his plant poems--a big hit!!" writes Fred. An earlier shot of Pete in New Mexico is attached.

Peter (left) with John Crawford of West End Press

Peter's poems pop up occasionally in the Oik - there's one in the next issue, but for the latest collection Listening to the Dark visit our sister site Penniless Press Publications at http://www.pennilesspress.co.uk/books/listening_to_the_dark.htm

Peter writes straight oik memorials of earlier times but his passion is for the natural world with which he has an extraordinary attachment. I thought of this  when I came across the following in the Journal of Jules Renard (1864-1910)

"The poet shouldn’t only dream – he must also observe. I am convinced this is how poetry will be rejuvenated. It demands a transformation like that of the modern novel.  Who believes any longer in the old mythology? Why do we think trees are still inhabited by fauns? They inhabit themselves. The tree lives: that’s what we must believe. Plants have a soul. Leaves aren’t simply what idiots think they are. One often speaks of dead leaves but one scarcely believes they die. Why create one life alongside another? Fauns your time is up: it is now with the trees themselves that the poet must interact."

Journal 23 November 1888.

News from the POD front. 

Nigel Ford, architect and proprietor of the amazing Worldscribe (http://www.worldscribe.nu/index.html) informs me that an anthology of oik tales has now been translated into Swedish and will appear soon. It contains four from my own Nietzsche’s Birthday, two from S.Kadison’s Is That You Mr Clooney and one from Bob Wild’s Dogs of War. It’s probably too late for me to learn Swedish but at least I can imagine a citizen of that country – say Ingrid Bergman or Britt Ekland - curling up under a duvet and having a larf at these stories. Indeed I often imagine these two floosies but never before holding in their hands my fat, swollen…volume of prose. (Just for the record Ken I think you’ll find Ingrid is long dead) 

Nigel also attaches to his latest email a story from Russia and instructs me to send Oiks 14 and 15 to contributors in Egypt. He mentions a stack of “over a thousand stories” from all over the planet and that he has “an army” of Chinks working for him. I am agog and feel dazed like some battered old prospector in California hitting a rich vein. The Oik may well become international. How does Crazy Oik International Times sound? (er ..Ken..have you thought about the acronym?) Better yet he can source hardbacks from China at ridiculously low prices. He’s thinking of a print run of 1000. Cost? £80. “A few noughts missing there Nigel” I reply – but no, it really is that cheap. The playing field is levelled a bit when you include transport but he has a mate importing “junk” who’d do it for peanuts. “Yis” I reply “An I suppose the junk’d be packed in a book-shaped container for delivery to my address” (har har!) But no again. This is all quite kosher – the “junk” would be electronic shite like iphones and stuff. Nigel adds, almost in passing, that his son is at Peking University (or Beijing or whatever else they call it these days). “Christ Nigel!” I expostulate “That’s terrible! I know jobs are hard to get over here but that’s no reason to send the poor kid to China to peel spuds and clean the amenities in some vast building”. Then Nigel points out that his son is in fact a student. Jeezus! What a hero! The kid’s not only doing a PhD in Quantum Mechanics but also speaks fluent mandarin! Surely a chip off the old block. 

Meanwhile in Kansas. I hear from the Pope of US Oik lit Fred Whitehead. Fred would probably bridle at being called Pope since he execrates all religion so I’ll revert to his usual title – the Lorenzo di Medici of US Oik Lit. Fred is taking the plunge recognising the great virtues of POD (Print-On-Demand) and setting up the John Brown Press. (JB was a radical hero of the mid-west who is greatly traduced in the film Santa Fe Trail starring Errol Flynn and Ronald Reagan where the activist is subjected to some quite McCarthyite smears (the film preceded this dark age being made in 1939). Fred’s first production will be an anthology of radical poets – he’s aiming at about 25. We will keep Oik readers posted on progress. 

I sent both Fred and Nigel a link to an article in the Guardian analysing the current publishing scene and extolling the virtues of POD as a way of bypassing establishment gatekeepers (see I’m well up to date on the jargon). This is at http://www.guardian.co.uk/books/2012/oct/12/ten-ways-to-save-publishing-industry?INTCMP=SRCH 

Then, bugger me, just to round things off, I read in today’s Guardian a story about Johnny Depp setting up as a publisher. JD writes: “I pledge…that we will do our best to deliver publications worthy of people’s time, of people’s concern, publications that might ordinarily never have breached the parapet” Nice phrase John (after that flannel about worthiness) yes I like it – breaching the parapet that’s our mission statement. But all this dissatisfaction with the current scene resembles the flak against Louis XVI in 1788. Does anybody out there actually approve of the present publishing set-up? Probably only Hilary Mantel and JK Rowling. In fact Hilary is in the same paper receiving a fat cheque from the Booker. With that much cash she could import a million hardbacks from China and sell them out of the back of a van – has this occurred to her I wonder?

Johnny Depp - publisher