Reissue of Kroklok #2 Saturday 16th December 2006

Kroklok was an enterprise, if that’s not too strong a word, of Cobbing and Houédard (dsh) – Houédard making available his collection of visual poetry and his often arcane learning, with Cobbing the printer publisher and practitioner.

Of course, both were fine practitioners and both knew a lot of out of the way things.

Kroklok #1 names dsh as editor, with Henri Chopin, Stefan Themerson & Bob Cobbing advisers

Kroklok #2 names dsh as editor and Cobbing as executive editor of Writers Forum; but the syntax is ambiguous and might be naming Cobbing as executive editor of the magazine; and later Writers Forum publications lists show dsh and Cobbing as joint editors

Kroklok #3 “is edited by dom Sylvester Houédard with Bob Cobbing as Executive Editor and Peter Mayer as Associate Editor”; whereas Writers Forum lists after the event have it “edited by Dom Sylvester Houédard with Bob Cobbing and Peter Mayer

Kroklok #4 repeats the formula of #3

while Writers Forum listings after 1976 say #4 was “edited by Dom Sylvester Houédard and Bob Cobbing”

Certainly I am sure that some materials in #4 were included ad hoc by Bob’s fiat, with Sylvester finding out later. I do not offer that as a criticism. In all his editing and publishing work, if Bob had an idea that he liked consistently for any length of time, then he tended to act on it. And, in this context, presumably that is what is meant by “executive editor”.

So… it always was Sylvester’s magazine; and it always was something of a double act between Sylvester and Bob, with others being involved at particular times.

Originally, they hoped Kroklok would be a quarterly magazine.

The first issue appeared in February 1971; followed in September 1971 by #2; but #3 appeared in December 1972, and the final issue, #4, in May 1976. And that was the last issue. A little over five years in all.

Quite how it was that there wasn’t a fifth issue, I do not know. It doesn’t seem to have been the result of a decision as such.

In 2001 or 2002, a decade after Sylvester had died, Bob spoke to me of the possibility of republishing Kroklok. He may have raised the idea with others. I don’t know.

When he asked me, I said yes, I thought it was a good idea. We discussed the idea of actually reviving the magazine and publishing a Kroklok #5; but Bob felt that was inappropriate. That’s a feeling with which I concur now.

In so far as a decision was taken, it was to republish issues 1 - 4.

It was a decision which Bob did not live to implement; but Writers Forum is now in a position to do so. It would be pleasant to reissue all four in one go; but the work involved is considerable and a little painstaking. Rather than hold up what is available, we are starting with issue two.

Here it is. It is entirely printed by Bob Cobbing. My work has been to locate the remains, a few here and a few there; to sort them, weeding out the pages that were too damaged; to fold them; to collate them; and to staple them.

From the first the magazine was to be, in the words of its editor, dsh, in the introduction to Kroklok # 1. the Writers Forum anthology of sound poetry

That is, poetry on the page which is identified as sound poetry.

And this is differentiated from “visual poetry”.

To me, now, these seem odd separations, not least in the light of the work of Bob Cobbing himself. Nevertheless, it might be remembered that during what we might call the Kroklok period, the Writers Forum workshop met according to a schedule concentrating by turns on sound poetry, visual poetry and performance of poetry. Or so I remember. Others may correct me; but it was something like that.

I am not going to worry too much about it; and I point these things out because it may help you read these magazines.

In the introduction to #1, dsh expresses the hope that it will be possible to publish recordings along with the texts. That never happened, but how much more ambitious one would have to be now to include the wide variety of soundwork, not least the material made possible by new media.

Retrospectively, it all seems very ambitious; but it indicates something of the mood of the times.

Copyright © Lawrence Upton 16 December 2006