Bumper stickers, bookmarks, postcards | Art Sidebar | Chicago Reader

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."

Support Independent Chicago Journalism: Join the Reader Revolution

We speak Chicago to Chicagoans, but we couldn’t do it without your help. Every dollar you give helps us continue to explore and report on the diverse happenings of our city. Our reporters scour Chicago in search of what’s new, what’s now, and what’s next. Stay connected to our city’s pulse by joining the Reader Revolution.

Are you in?

  Reader Revolutionary $35/month →  
  Rabble Rouser $25/month →  
  Reader Radical $15/month →  
  Reader Rebel  $5/month  → 

Not ready to commit? Send us what you can!

 One-time donation  → 

Agenda Teaser

Performing Arts
July 15
Performing Arts
April 30

Popular Stories