The influential poetry/art magazine Mok (issue 5), first published in Spring 1969, is being re-issued in a limited edition to celebrate its 40th anniversary. Mok will be launched in Melbourne at Collected Works bookshop at 2.30pm on Saturday December 5th, with a poetry reading and discussion including Kris Hemensley, Richard Tipping, John Jenkins, Rob Tillett (TBC) and a tribute to Vicki Viidikas.
Mok 5 was published offset in an edition of 1000 copies at the price of "40c or yr soul". The magazine has large pages (278 x 215mm) with striking black and white page design, combining some memorable poems and experimental writing with bold photographs and graphics.
Mok was the first of what became a wave of alternative magazines in the late 1960s, introducing new ideas of what poetry could be. The fifth issue was national in reach, with the co-editors in Adelaide (Rob Tillett) and Sydney (Richard Tipping) attracting contributions from across the country. This was “when Adelaide / Melbourne / Sydney took a formal step towards the New Australian Poetry we felt in our bones!" as Kris Hemensley has written.
The re-issue is 100 numbered copies, laser printed on xxxxx paper. Scanning and design have been supervised by Warren Taylor at The Narrows, collaborating as co-publishers with Richard Tipping's Artpoem press.
Mok 5 anniversary 40th re-issue
2.30pm Saturday 5th December 2009
Level 1 Nicholas Building 37 Swanston Street Melbourne, VIC 3000
Phone: (03) 9654 8873
Richard Tipping phone 0415 292 939
Press Release - further details
1969 was a dynamic year, with American cultural politics impacting hard. The Vietnam war was growing increasingly unpopular, astronauts landed on the moon, the Woodstock festival and its musics played as “the great '60s insurgency of hippies and revolutionary socialists startled and alarmed the cosy world of corporate calm and suburban slumber”. The Yippies arrived, regenerating urban communities with cooperative zeal. Mok was connected to new American poetics through correspondence with magazines such as The Buddhist Third Class Junkmail Oracle. Mok was also a part of alternative culture in the 'Festival City', Adelaide, through the rock band Red Angel Panic (the editors were musicans)- and the co-operative café Geranium where poetry was performed with music and written on the walls.
The production of Mok 5 in Adelaide grew from a wide range of collaborations. Richard Tipping sent poems and ideas from Sydney, while Rob Tillett typed out all of the copy on an electric typewriter (very advanced for the time) and worked on production with a small offset printery. The layout and design was influenced by Marshall McCluhan's The Medium is the Massage, and put words and images together in dynamic relationships.
Rob Tillett writes that: “Offset was a new toy and we fooled with its potential (probably a bit much, as some of the text is too small and the layout's a bit erratic). Some of the pics were originals, but others were lifted from various sources (unacknowledged, as 'property is theft' etc etc). However, it broke new ground. The mag was assembled and bound by the Holocaust drama group's members and associates on a big table at the old Jam Factory. Some of these luminaries helped with the actual production and layout, too, in the spirit of 'contemporary dissolution and intemperance'. At the launch party we had music by the Red Angel Panic, a barbecued pig on a spit and a lightshow room in the basement.”
Poets in Mok 5 include Kris Hemensley, Vicki Viidikas, Charles Buckmaster, Nigel Roberts, Garrie Hutchinson, John Jenkins, Jacques Moncrieff, Toy Dorgan, Simon Bronsky, billbeard, Jonny Goodall, and the co-editors Richard Tipping and Rob Tillett.
Richard Tipping's poem Soft Riots / TV News was first published in Mok 5 and has been constantly in print ever since through anthologies, the latest being The Penguin Anthology of Australian Poetry, edited by John Kinsella (Penguin, 2009).
“Of the 57 contibutors to Mok, 34 currently appear in AustLit despite the contents of the Mok magazines not yet having been included in the AustLit database.”* * Sabrina Caldwell
Richard Tipping was 19 years old and Rob Tillett 20 when Mok 5 was published in September 1969. The magazine was completely self-funded and independent, and relied upon street sales to return its costs. Whereas the first four issues (in 1968) had been printed with a Gestetner roneo machine (with a screenprinted cover, in a run of 300 copies), the 5th issue leapt into offset printing with its graphic possibilities and a large print run of 1000. Unfortunately, although the edition sold out, it was hard to keep the finances together - and Mok 6 remains in manuscript. Richard had connected with many poets in Sydney through moving there from Adelaide in early 1969, and both editors were frequent visitors to Melbourne as the half-way point on this pendulum swing between cities. In 1970 Richard returned to Adelaide to continue studies at Flinders University, and edited several issues of a broadsheet called Mok Up included in the student newspaper Empire Times.
“Richard Tipping, born late in 1949, and co-editor of the underground Mok magazine, uses typographic innovations, headlines, concrete poetry, shapes like tears, humour, satire, radical politics, lyricism and irony. (…)
The student revolution has more fish to fry than straight politics. Perhaps one of their greatest strengths is that they refuse to separate the components of living. Poetry is a kind of demonstration too, against the philistines, and admass culture; a great raid on the inarticulate by a generation brainwashed by McCluhanism. In a country like this it's doubly important, where the tribe's dialect is overdue for a big dose of purification.”
Dorothy Hewett, Poets Alive
“The beginnings are back in 1968 when the poets chose to ignore the Australian literary scene: (…) the influences and catalysts were elsewhere. The most important thing it did was to stop the need for a poetry license in this country. If the poets could not find someone to publish their work (and they didn't really bother trying), they published themselves: they took the mystique out of publishing; it was no longer the light at the end of the tunnel, no longer the great success but just part of the process of poetry and from that the poem became a living thing: an inter-reaction between poets became possible. Any predictions must be optimistic.”
Introduction to Applestealers, 1974RT 15.11.09