A part of the third wave of New York School poetry, Frontward Books began life in 1976 with the publication of a collaborative performance novel, Bicentennial Suicide, by Nuyorican Poets Cafe stalwart Bob Holman and Bob Rosenthal. In all, the press published nine mimeographed books, noteworthy for their often hand-colored covers with drawings by Rochelle Kraut. Rosenthal, later to become Allen Ginsberg’s assistant, reminisces in “Mimeography: Friends Forever”: “In some ways, mimeo publishing poetry books was an outgrowth of the War in Korea, where corporal Ted Berrigan had run the mimeo machine in his unit, later producing his own magazine “C” using the new skill of mimeography. I was in Chicago just starting to write poetry and Ted was teaching at Northwestern University, where I sat in somewhat shyly on his classes but didn’t really get to know him until he was told that I had a car.
Bob Holman and Bob Rosenthal, Bicentennial Suicide (1976). Cover art and graphics by Rochelle Kraut.
He told me he needed someone to drive him and the stencils for his wife’s (Alice Notley’s Chicago) mimeo magazine over to a little church. I obliged and he taught me to use the mimeo. I can’t forget him taking off his pants and running the machine wearing his skivvies, a Pall Mall hanging off his lips. So my friends and I started our own mimeo mag (the Milk Quarterly) and later Rochelle Kraut and I published a series of mimeo books under the imprint of Frontward Books, which eventually banded together to combine our bookrate mailings, calling themselves Packet Poets. I eventually taught dozens of people how to use the mimeo machine and spent light-years walking around in collating circles reading the works of poets from all across the country…. Everyone felt that these books were merely holding space on the shelves until the major publishers picked them up and brought out ‘real’ editions. But the publishing boom of the time was soon over, and these books were really for real.”
“Susie Timmons goes nutso genius and what appears looks like a poem and it’s definitely okey-doke. ‘We are the Spanish Harps / Vwing Vwing Vwing.’ ‘Keep on going old sappy head.’ More than okey-doke. As good as going to see Superman or eating breakfast.”
— Ed Friedman, review of Hog Wild in L=A=N=G=U=A=G=E 11 (January 1980)
Frontward Books include
Berrigan, Ted. A Feeling for Leaving. 1975. Hand-colored cover by Rochelle Kraut.
Friedman, Ed. The Black Star Pilgrimage/The Escape Story. 1976. Front and back covers by Ed Bowes.
Hackman, Neil. Small Poems to God. 1979. Cover by Rudy Burckhardt.
Holman, Bob, and Bob Rosenthal. Bicentennial Suicide. 1976. Cover art and graphics by Rochelle Kraut.
Kraut, Rochelle. Circus Babys. 1975.
Notley, Alice. A Diamond Necklace. 1977. Hand-colored cover by Rochelle Kraut.
Rosenthal, Bob. Lies About the Flesh. 1977. Cover by Rochelle Kraut.
Timmons, Susie. Hog Wild. 1979. Cover and drawings by the author.
Toth, Steve. Rota Rooter. 1976.
Alice Notley, A Diamond Necklace (1970). Hand-colored by Rochelle Kraut.