Mirage #4/Period[ical]
Co-edited by Dodie Bellamy and Kevin Killian
Mirage #4/Period[ical] came about when Dodie Bellamy and I were visiting Vancouver in the spring of 1992. We were impressed by the intense energy of the Kootenay School of Writing and the whirlwind of activity made by what was actually a very small number of poets and artists. Inspired by Kootenay, we decided to publish a magazine using the tools at hand, it didn’t have to be fancy like O-Blek or Sulfur or Conjunctions, it just had to be come out fast and often. It didn’t have to be a hundred pages, as long as it came out just as fast as people could write for it. It was, in fact, modeled on the magazines Jack Spicer sponsored in the late fifties and early 60s, J and Open Space.

From the beginning, Mirage has distinguished itself by its cover art. Perhaps no other literary journal had had so many unusual covers and gotten so many fine visual artists to execute them. We were able to get all these people usually by failing to tell them what we were really doing when we asked them for autographs, to “draw a little picture for me,” et cetera. Thus by stealth and subterfuge Mirage had gorgeous covers by the likes of John Baldessari, Matthew Barney, Jennifer Bartlett, Louise Bourgeois, John Cage, Vija Celmins, Chuck Close, John Currin, Jeremy Deller, Tom Friedman, Ellen Gallagher, Nan Goldin, Robert Gober, Michael Graves, Thomas Hirschhorn, Jess, Chris Johanson, Mike Kelley, Ellsworth Kelly, Jeff Koons, Sol LeWitt, Meredith Monk, Tony Oursler, Raymond Pettibon, Pierre et Gilles, Jack Pierson, Richard Prince, Charles Ray, Bridget Riley, Peter Saul, Carolee Schneeman, Kiki Smith, Torbjorn Vejvi, Bill Viola, Sue Williams and dozens more. In conversation, Charles Bernstein called this practice the “absolute low end of high art.”

Mirage has also gone into the archive and sponsored first publication of work by writers such as Jack Spicer, Robert Duncan, Djuna Barnes, Marianne Moore, Robin Blaser, Christa Wolf, Allen Ginsberg, Helen Adam, George Oppen, James Broughton, William Bronk, Philip Lamantia, John Wieners, Joe Dunn, et al. In the nature of zines, the stakes are low. It’s easy to take risks. We wanted to recontextualize the work of prestigious writers by jamming them up against unknown, beginning, or, frankly, non-writers. We printed the Goth-death poems of the security guard at New College next to Jackson Mac Low or Barbara Guest - to invent a new economy of reading.

The zine shut down in 2009 when an officious office manager blamed me for wasting hundreds of pages of office paper. It was either get fired or submit to authoritarian rule. Under the auspices of the Wattis Institute, an enlightened regime, we are returning to give the world 10 or 12 new monthly issues.

- Kevin Killian

Edited by Kevin Killian between 1985 and 1989, Mirage ran for four issues. The last issue, built around the theme of feminism, was guest-edited by Dodie Bellamy. After that, Bellamy and Killian continued as co-editors, renaming the magazine Mirage #4/Period[ical], publishing 155 issues between 1992 and 2009. On the occasion of Dodie Bellamy's year-long season at the Wattis Institute, they are starting it up again and producing 12 new issues