by Kirby Congdon…….
The interest in American poetry got a boost with the Beat movement after World War II but what has kept that activity alive and well is the rather vast involvement of its publishers, readers, reviewers and writers from every level of society who have volunteered their energy from that time to the present.
One individual who can represent this phenomena caught one reader’s eye with his positive style and literary accommodations as a voluntary reviewer for The Small Press Review in California. Jacob lives in Oak Park, Illinois and has had his own collections of both poetry and prose published, starting with his father taking John’s early work to the printer when his son was about 15. For being so far ahead of his own time (Most poets are around forty before they are writing for public consumption.), John’s high school suspended him “for publishing underground publications.” Being independently creative is not welcome in our society. It is presumptuous to ever behave out of the norm!
When Jacob started college he was already familiar with the small press movement, was the editor and publisher of his own magazine and soon was printing other people’s work. The Small Press Review, a bimonthly, folded only recently after half a century reviewing books of the avant-garde. Mr. Jacob was a regular contributor beginning with issue number eight. Besides being publicly recognized in several projects related to the new poets and poetry he has been an English teacher at Northwestern University despite the distraction of having to write with problems with the sight of one eye. John Jacob closes a letter from him with these succinct and enlightening words:
“What is the why of it all? Because small presses offered venues that were denied to any writers. Because this was an alternative point of view. Because I had something to say and said it. There are very few places left to do this but if they exist I still will attempt to find them.”