is the fattest Corpse I've ever seen! When I started this journal in January
1983, I had no idea that nineteen years later, we would still be kicking
ass. It began as a skinny twelve-page newsletter, elegant enough to be literary
and rough enough to resemble a newspaper. The idea was to provide the urgency
of news to literature, as if poetry, art, fiction and impressionistic reportage
were as fresh and current as the world seemed to be in the dailies. The
placement of stories, like those in the daily fishwrapper, was chosen for
its burning actuality. A new book of criticism by Helen Vendler or a new
poem by Anselm Hollo were as important to us as earthquakes and fires. The
interest and controversy that animated the first Corpse are still, amazingly,
present in this issue. In the nearly two decades of its existence, the Corpse
became a complex and various creature that, like any living thing, went
through phases and moods. We started belligerently and never lost our adolescent
energy, but we grew inevitably to become part of the culture we mostly rejected.
We had our scandals and tantrums, but also our long periods of sheer Olympian
greatness. The Baltimore year (1983-1984) was gawky and lucky, the early
Baton Rouge period (1984-1986) was roughly engaged in a campaign against
mainstream boredom, the Laura Rosenthal years (1986-1996) were gracious
and sexy, driven by the Lectrice's acid wit and deep respect for genuine
art, and our years in cyberspace (1997-2002) were marked by the Mark, Mark
Spitzer, whose macho readiness was distinctly bellicose and in your face.
Hundreds of writers came into their own in the pages of the Corpse and have
continued to write for us even as they went on to stellar careers. Three
anthologies from the pages of the Corpse became required reading for students
of contemporary literature: The Stiffest of the Corpse (City Lights,
1996) and Thus Spake the Corpse, volumes one and two (Black Sparrow
Press, 1999, 2000). The Corpse changed formally when it went from print
to cyberspace in 1997, but its contents remained solidly Corpse in their
nature. The demands of the new medium were many, but the chief benefit was
the ability to increase our volume. We published more writers than ever
before and even added, briefly, a lively café, where discussions
went on day and night among writers and readers from all over the planet.
Cyberspace made our sensibility available to millions of readers who had
never seen the paper Corpse. We never grew respectable, though the number
of our readers is most respectable. We are now entering on a new period,
with the departure of Mark Spitzer. Mark Spitzer is taking off to be a professor
at Midwestern Muskellunge University in Missouri, mazeltov! He will continue
to be involved in our next projects, a compact disk and a new anthology,
but the day to day tending of the Corpse will pass on to other hands. I
rarely indulge in laments for the past, mainly because I am not sure what
separates it from the present, but this time I am quite convinced that we
are at the end of an era. Do stand by, though, we are still armed and dangerous.
- Andrei Codrescu.
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