About Rampike

Welcome to the Rampike on-line Web-Site!

Thank you for visiting the Rampike on-line web-site! This site features all of the back-issues of Rampike starting with Volume 1, Number 1 (1979), right up to the final issue, Volume 24, Number 1 (2016), with over 4000 pages of choice quality material. Since this is a web-page for Rampike, we’ve nick-named it the “Rampage” site (please check our new “Rampage” Chapbook series). The material within this web-site is offered on a free-public-access and not-for-profit basis. Here is the copyright statement:

All copyrights remain with the contributing artists and writers. Online Issues of Rampike are made available to readers for free through this website. Copyright of all contributions is reserved by contributors. Permission to reproduce works must be obtained from the rights holder(s).

There is an easy opt-out for artist/writers who may wish to be excluded from this on-line site, but so far, everybody has been happy to be included in this Rampike historical archive. For more information, including info about limited numbers of hard-copy back-issues, please contact the editor, Karl Jirgens via email: jirgens@uwindsor.ca or, jirgens@sympatico.ca

If you’re on this site, and you’re not sure where to begin, then we’ve included a handy page listing all back-issues, and all contributors. That list of stellar and innovative talent should interest new readers, scholarly researchers, as well as aficionados of art, theory, and literature. Rampike’s back- issues include art, writing, and theory, as well as interviews with artists, writers, and theorists.

Review the complete list of Rampike Contributors

For those interested, here is a short history of Rampike. – Even with the first few issues, Karl Jirgens (editor & publisher) had the good fortune of featuring some of the finest contemporary artists and writers. The first issue featured the legendary Dennis Oppenheim who made many return visits to the magazine. Soon after, Rampike was granted texts, art, and interviews with numerous luminaries in the world of art and writing. The names of our outstanding contributors are far too numerous to include in this short commentary, so please consult our web-list of back-issues. Early good fortune followed Rampike throughout the entire print-run. Towards the final years of the magazine, we had the pleasure or running an interview with Booker and G.G. prize-winning author, Eleanor Catton (see; issue 23.1). Over the years, Rampike has featured numerous prize-winning and ground-breaking artists and writers, including nominees and winners of awards such as the Booker, Commonwealth, Orange, Pulitzer, Dublin Impac, Neustadt, Giller, Trillium, Writer’s Trust, and Governor General’s Award, to name only a few. For more details, please consult the full list of back-issues and past contributors provided on this web-site. As Rampike’s editor and publisher, Karl Jirgens was interested in featuring established innovators, as well as emerging talents. The idea was to let readers compare and react to the material printed.

Inspiration to initiate Rampike magazine came from Norman Levine’s idea that writers frequently begin in small magazines. Equally inspiring was A.J. Liebling’s idea that freedom of the press belongs to those who own a press. Rampike aimed at providing a forum for fresh and alternate modes of expression. Jirgens explains that when he was searching for a name for the magazine, he sought a Canadian word that could serve as a worthy title. Potential titles included “fire hydrant,” “concession road,” and “rampike.” The latter term resonated, as did the meaning of “rampike.” A “rampike” is the charred skeleton of a tree after it has been ravaged by lightning or forest fire. The cones on the lodge-pole pine-tree do not open until temperatures exceed 120 degrees Fahrenheit. This is a survival mechanism in case of lightning which frequently starts forest fires. As the tree starts to burn, pine-cones burst open releasing winged seedlings which are sent aloft in the hot updraft. When temperatures cool, the seedlings settle back on the ground. Fertile ash mixed with soil nurtures the next generation of saplings. After the conflagration, the rampikes remain, charred skeletons of trees, black fingers pointing to the sky, a phoenix image signifying death and rebirth. The idea behind Rampike magazine was to introduce a fresh generation of artists and writers. Now, Rampike serves as an historical archive with over 4000 pages in print, providing a perspective onto writing, art, and theory from the 1980s into the new millennium. When Rampike started publishing in 1979, Toronto’s Coach House Printing was chosen for most of the work. Stan Bevington had great ideas, and his press-people were consistently excellent. Modest funding for the first issue came from the Student Council at the Ontario College of Art (now re-named OCADU). For years, the publication was produced out of a basement on Rivercrest Road near the Humber River, in Toronto’s west end. In Toronto, during the early days, the magazine was first funded out-of-pocket, and then with support from the Ontario Arts Council. OAC funding helped greatly during those early years. Following the first decade, the Canada Council for the Arts took over as a prominent grant source.

Within five years after its inception, Rampike gained international recognition, and contributors were sending in materials from around the globe. Within that time-frame, Rampike was distributed on five continents including North America, Europe, Australia, as well as Asia, Japan and the Pacific Rim, plus, South America, with limited distribution in the Middle and Far East, including Turkey and India. However, Rampike was primarily a North American venture. Early issues, using the tall format sold out quickly, perhaps due to their unusual shape (6 inches wide and 18 inches tall). Independent book-stores across the continent were pleased to stock Rampike on their shelves. However, in the 1990s, big box stores demanded a format that fit their shelves better. With grudging compliance, the publication’s shape was reconfigured to something approaching “standard format.” Sales dropped but subscriptions remained steady. Renowned Libraries, Universities, Collections, and Art Galleries from around the world remained as steadfast subscribers (e.g.; Harvard, Yale, Tate, Zurich, the National [Ottawa], Sackner Archive, Stedelijk, Bilboa, several MOMAs, etc., to name only several of the regulars). As with any new enterprise, there was a steep learning curve, but newly acquired editorial skills during the early years quickly improved layout, design, typography, and budgeting. During the first decade, the editorial section was enhanced with help from a cohort of volunteers including Boston’s James Gray, and Toronto’s Jim Francis. Others, such as Joe Revells, David McFadden, and Paul Dutton helped substantially. Early contributing editor-writers who helped spread the word included Nicole Brossard, bpNichol and Steve McCaffery, along with several from the Underwhich Editions group and those working in related milieus such as Bev Daurio, Richard Truhlar, Michael Dean, Brian Dedora, Steven Ross Smith and Lola Lemire Tostevin. Later, contributing-editors included Frank Davey, Ray Ellenwood, and Violeta Kelertes, our Lithuanian colleague from Baltic circles. Rampike featured diverse and remarkable contributors and associates who are far too numerous to list here but can be found on our accompanying list. As time went on, a growing group of international contributing-editors enhanced the publication. Among them were editors and artists, translators and theorists, as well as stellar authors from around the world. If you check our back-issue mastheads, then you’ll see how we built a broad base of associate writer-editors who helped significantly including, Carla Bertola, Christopher Dewdney, Peter Jaeger, Baiba Rubess and Mara Zalite (the latter two, both Latvian). It is a little-known fact that Jirgens’ parents were war-refugees from Latvia who came to Canada after World-War Two. English was Jirgens’ second language and the fact that his family was relegated to “D.P.” status (displaced person) contributed to the publication’s “outrider” approach, to borrow a term from author, curator, and performer, Anne Waldman. [Editor’s note; Allen Ginsberg, Anne Waldman, John Cage, and Diane di Prima founded the Jack Kerouac School of Disembodied Poetics at the Naropa Institute]. Anne Waldman is also one of our many distinguished Rampike contributors. The “outrider” position contributed greatly to an ongoing appreciation, admiration and inclusion of Indigenous culture featured consistently throughout the publication’s history. Over the years, Rampike has enjoyed highly favourable critical responses.

Early on, Mike Gunderloy praised Rampike in Factsheet 5. Judith Hoffberg called it a “vital and important” journal in Umbrella. Marjorie Perloff commented extensively and favourably on the “radical artifice” of Rampike. Steve McCaffery thanked Rampike for “taking the postmortem out of postmodern.” Michael Basinski commented on the ritziness of the publication’s editorial choices. Those and many other favourable critical comments galvanized us and encouraged further publication. Editing Rampike was a labour of love, but it was still a labour when dealing with the mixed joys associated with editing, fund-raising, publishing, distributing, advertising, promoting, launching, as well as tax-filing with Revenue Canada. It was time-consuming work. On the other hand, the “press-passes” led to some wonderful venues, permitting meetings, conversations, and connections with a wealth of wonderful artists and writers.

Credit and thanks are due to the various scholarly and literary groups that helped support the magazine with invitations to present talks related to periodical and small-press publishing including the MLA, NEMLA, ACCUTE, Trans-Canada, Ultimatum, the INTER-Fest, SANTARA, SHARP, IAPL, IFOA, Two Days of Canada, Livewords, AABS, the CCWWP, the Harbourfront Author’s Summit/Festival (Toronto), BookFest Windsor, the Toronto Small Press Fair, and Meet the Presses (Toronto). Thanks also to the many Art Spaces and Galleries which have hosted shows and/or collaborated with Rampike including Artcite, Common Ground, Algoma Art Gallery, Wuthering Bytes, Toronto’s Blancmange, Scadding Court, L’Affair ’Pataphysique, Cold City Gallery, Powerhouse Gallery, and Toronto’s Music Gallery, to name only a very few. Jirgens took Rampike with him when he landed teaching jobs in other cities including Sault Ste. Marie, and Windsor, Ontario. Thanks to the academic institutions that provided teaching positions and an income that helped Jirgens sustain Rampike over several decades, including York University, University of Toronto, Laurentian University (Algoma U.C.), Guelph University, Humber College, and the University of Windsor. Special thanks to Mary Anne Hannett (we hope we spelled her name correctly) for designing the Rampike logo at the time of our ’Pataphysics issue (Vol. 5/#2).

Deep thanks to those who helped guest-edit special issues, including “Aboriginal Perspectives” (Vol. 11/#2) guest-edited by Kateri Akiwenzie-Damm; the special Québec 400th Anniversary issue / Identité, Mémoire, Territoire, guest-edited by Richard Martel (Vol. 17/#1); and the “Eco-Poetics” issue (Vol. 18/#1), guest-edited by Alana Bondar. There are so many others to list and thank here, and we’re sure we’ve left out some important acknowledgements. Sincere thanks to all! Meantime, please check our back-issues and mastheads for credits provided. Apologies if we’ve mis-typed, mis-cast, or mis-represented something or someone. If so, please let us know. Trying to condense 36 years in this short span of words is an interesting challenge.

As a closing note, it may be of interest to know that Rampike started during the advent of personal computers. Ushering the publication through 36 years has proven to be inspiring and thought-provoking. It progressed from what are now considered antique methods of assembly using large-format negative film and goldenrod paper, eventually moving to purely digital formats. Some of our back-issues presented on this web-site had to be scanned in order to include them. The intersections of print and digital culture bring syncretic and fascinating results. Our more recent issues were already digitized and were
readily adapted to an on-line format. Thanks to the University of Windsor for providing a web-site featuring Rampike’s history. And special thanks to the U Windsor Leddy Library folks including Heidi Jacobs, Dave Johnston, Marg McCaffery-Piche, Christina Olsen, and Selma Eren Conklin who helped make this on-line venture possible. There were also a number of grad students at U Windsor who helped, including Hanan Hazime, Marisa Reaume, John Matias, Jared Pollen, and Shawna Partridge, among others. Editor/publisher Karl Jirgens extends hearty thanks to his many advisors and mentors including Dave Godfrey, Eldon Garnet, Selwyn Dewdney, Eli Mandel, Clara Thomas, Frances Halpenny, Frank Davey, Ray Ellenwood, and Marshall McLuhan, all of whom inspired and supported this publishing venture. We’re sure that we’ve left out some important acknowledgements, but profound and sincere gratitude goes out to all those who helped make this publication a success! In closing, warmest thanks to our numerous, wonderful, and loyal readers from around the world who followed Rampike for so many years! As the old saying goes, “without an audience, there ain’t no show!” Huge thanks to all!

Karl Jirgens, (c. 2000)