Even then, it was an idea whose time had arrived…

I first began publishing Urban Graffiti in 1993. A litzine of transgressive, discursive, post-realist writing concerned with the struggles of hard edged urban living, alternative lifestyles, deviant culture – presented in their most raw and unpretentious form. With the progression of each successive issue, Urban Graffiti’s transgressive, discursive, post-realist mandate expanded to include photography, illustrations, comix, and works of visual poetry.

An early advocate of the litzine, Hal Niedzviecki (founding editor of Broken Pencil magazine, zine culture elder statesman, literary novelist, pop-culture analyst) described Urban Graffiti as:

“The antidote to all the precious, crapola lit mags out there…home to the ugly, the depressing, the sexy, the funny and the fucked up.”

Over the next eighteen years and eleven individual issues, Urban Graffiti showcased some of the most transgressive, experimental and risk-taking fiction writers, poets, and artists including: Daniel Jones, Matthew Firth, bart plantenga, Hal Niedzviecki, Vern Smith, Michael Bryson, Sonia Saikaley, Nathaniel George Moore, Philip Quinn, Bill Brown, Clint Burnham, Neale McDevitt, Catherine Owen, Carolyn Zonailo, Jason Gallagher, Jason Heroux, David Groulx, Angela Hibbs, Jeffrey Mackie, T. Anders Carson, Mandie Lopatka, and George Amabile.

Urban Graffiti gave voice to a kind of writing and art which many current Canlit mags were not addressing: fiction, poetry, and art which examined the dark underbelly of Canadian urban life in all of its myriad manifestations — violence, sexuality, addiction, criminality, deviance. Brave new work by brave new writers whose new work examined and transgressed the boundaries and limits of what’s possible, then gave it voice. Uncompromising. Explicit. Authentic. Unsentimental. Gritty. Gutsy. Erotic. Sarcastic. Hardboiled. Nihilistic. Pornographic. Psychosexual.

By 2011, I had long mulled with the idea about re-starting Urban Graffiti as an on-line magazine.

By May, 2011, it was an idea whose time had arrived…

Now, a year and two months later, Urban Graffiti is re-launching with a new site, a new look, and bold new features:

Urban Graffiti Mixes, Audio, Video, Events, and Interviews.

New indie and progressive music from independent and DIY labels.

Past Issues of Urban Graffiti made available as PDF downloads.

Reviews of micro-press publications including chapbooks, broadsides, magazines, books, anthologies, cassettes and compact discs.

Visual, photography, and performing art.

In keeping with Urban Graffiti’s ongoing experiment in free speech and anarchist publishing, the follow writers and poets have been invited to blog for Urban Graffiti:

  • Ron Kolm (born 1947) is an American poet, editor, activist and bookseller, based in New York City. Kolm came to New York in 1970 and got a job at the Strand bookstore, where he worked with Tom Verlaine and Patti Smith. In 1985, Kolm, Bart Plantenga, Mike Golden, Max Blagg and Peter Lamborn Wilson founded the Unbearables, a loose collective of poets and artists. Kolm has been one of the editors of their anthologies: Unbearables (1995), Crimes of the Beats (1998), Help Yourself! (2002) and The Worst Book I Ever Read all published by Autonomedia. Kolm’s own publications include The Plastic Factory (1989, Red Dust), Welcome to the Barbecue (Low-Tech Press, 1990) and Rank Cologne (P.O.N. Press, 1991). His work can also be found, along with the other Unbearables, in The Outlaw Bible of American Poetry, and in Up Is Up, But So Is Down: New York’s Downtown Literary Scene, 1974-1992. He has collaborated on a novel, Neo Phobe, written with Jim Feast (Unbearable Books, 2006).
  • For the past 20 years, Bart Plantenga has been producing his mythic radio show Wreck This Mess in New York (WFMU), Paris (Radio Libertaire), and currently in Amsterdam (Radio Patapoe). Plantenga is the “nonfiction novelist” of Beer Mystic and Paris Sex Tête and recently published YODEL-AY-EE-OOOO: The Secret History of Yodeling Around the World, the first-ever global history of this mysterious vocalization. He is also a founding member of the New York writing group, the Unbearable Beatniks of Light. He currently lives in Amsterdam.
  • Stephen Morrissey, poet and teacher, was born in Montreal, Canada, in 1950. In the 1970s Morrissey was associated with the Vehicule Poets, a group of young poets (Ken Norris, Endre Farkas, Tom Konyves, Claudia Lapp, Artie Gold, John McAuley, and Stephen Morrissey) who published and organized poetry readings at Vehicule Art Gallery in Montreal. Morrissey’s first book of poems, The Trees of Unknowing was published by Vehicule Press in 1978. Morrissey also published two literary magazines of poetry, “what is” (1973-1975) and “The Montreal Journal of Poetics” (1978-1985). Since 1976 Morrissey has taught English and Humanities at Champlain College, where he is still employed. In 1983 Coach House Press in Toronto published Morrissey’s second book of poems, Divisions. The book was accepted for publication by bpNichol and edited by Frank Davey. Family Album (1989) was published by Caitlin Press in Vancouver. Morrissey has also published five chapbooks of his poems, Poems of a Period (Montreal, 1971), The Divining Rod (Edmonton, Greensleeve Editions, 1993), The Beauty of Love (The Poem Factory, Vancouver, 1993), The Carolyn Poems (The Poem Factory, Vancouver, 1994), and 1950 (The Poem Factory, Vancouver,1996). Stephen Morrissey has one son, Jake Morrissey, born in 1979. He married poet Carolyn Zonailo in 1995. In 2000, they founded Coracle Press, in Montreal, Canada.
  • Jose Padua has written poetry and fiction for in Bomb, Salon.com, Exquisite Corpse, Another Chicago Magazine, Unbearables, Crimes of the Beats, Up Is Up, But So Is Down: New York’s Downtown Literary Scene, 1974-1992, and many other journals and anthologies. He has also written features and reviews for NYPress, Washington City Paper, the Brooklyn Rail, and the New York Times. He has read his work at the Lollapalooza Festival, CBGBs, the Knitting Factory, the Public Theater, the Living Theater, the Nuyorican Poets’ Café, the St. Mark’s Poetry Project, the Black Cat Club, the Washington Project for the Arts, and many other venues. He and his wife, the poet Heather Davis, are the authors of the blog Shenandoah Breakdown. They live with their children in Virginia’s Shenandoah Valley.
  • Catherine Owen is a Vancouver writer, the author of nine collections of poetry and one of environmental and poetic essays and memoirs. Her book, Frenzy (Anvil Press 2009) won the Alberta Literary prize. Other poems have won the Earle Birney Prize and the Freefall Award, as well as being shortlisted for the CBC Award, the Fiddlehead contest and ARC’s Poem of the Year. Her 2011 books are Dark fish & other infernos, a collaboration with Joe Rosenblatt, out in both chapbook (Jackpine) and tradebook (Black Moss) form and a collection of essays and memoirs called Catalysts (Wolsak & Wynn). She has a Masters in English, works as an editor/tutor, plays bass in metal bands and will be narrator of the upcoming production Awakening the Green Man, an eco-musical.
  • Tim Beckett has been a cook, tree-planter, road-sweeper, documentary researcher, housepainter and many other things besides. He grew up in Edmonton, Alta, and Uranium City, SK, with side trips to Port Radium, NWT and Vancouver, BC. He has lived in Montreal, London and presently hides out in New York City. He edits and contributes to Sensitive Skin Magazine, and has been published in a few places. Tim’s work has a unique and immensely valuable expatriate perspective.

Enjoy the new improved Urban Graffiti.

Mark McCawley, Publisher, July 2012