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Bumper stickers, bookmarks, postcards

"The Alternative Press Multiple Originals Project" celebrates 30 years of letterpressed poetry



Bumper stickers, bookmarks, postcards—in the beginning, Ken and Ann Mikolowski printed poetry on whatever was at hand. Their Alternative Press emerged in late-1960s Detroit, two years after the infamous riots that left 43 people dead. An old letterpress discarded by an artists' colony became the first tool in a publishing effort that ultimately spanned three decades.

The Mikolowskis sold subscriptions. Ken, a poet, did the editing, and Ann, a painter, created the look. "The attention given to each poem made it possible, were it a good poem, to see it as an isolated mental event—having a small perfectly defined place in a world gone mad with monster breakable petrochemical machines," wrote Allen Ginsberg, a fan.

"The Alternative Press Multiple Originals Project" is an exhibit of TAP postcards bearing poems by Robert Creeley, Alice Notley, Ted Berrigan, and others. Tonight's reception will feature Ken Mikolowski, along with fellow poets Andrei Codrescu, Bill Berkson, and Emily Warn. TAP ended in 1999, with Ann Mikolowski's death, but this show—the first in the new Poetry Foundation building—offers a shot at the immortality Ginsberg predicted for it. "Detroit's Alternative Press products," he wrote, "will outlast the auto industry."

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