Ken Mikolowski



Born and raised in Detroit, poet and editor Ken Mikolowski earned a BA at Wayne State University. He is the author of several poetry collections, including Big Enigmas (1991), Little Mysteries (1979), and Thank You Call Again (1973).

In the 1960s Mikolowski founded the Alternative Press in Detroit’s Cass Corridor with his late wife, the painter Ann Mikolowski. As the press’s editor for 30 years, Mikolowski published—as unbound letterpress-printed mail art—the work of local Detroit poets as well as nationally recognized Beat and Black Mountain poets, including Charles Bukowski and Allen Ginsberg.

In 1983 the Mikolowskis’ work with the Alternative Press was recognized with an Arts Achievement Award from Wayne State University. In the catalog for the exhibit Time and Place: Art of Detroit’s Cass Corridor at the Elaine L. Jacob Gallery, Mikolowski discussed his motivation for starting a poetry press in post-riot Detroit: “We lived in ‘one of the worst cities in the history of the world’ and we were survivors, but more than that we reveled in it, and we swaggered when we walked. We didn’t own much, but we owned this, and we made art with it.”

Ken Mikolowski has taught at the University of Michigan since 1977. He lives in Ann Arbor.

Source: Poetry Foundation, Chicago

Ken’s own work is both minimalist and performative, and similarly, his genius as a publisher lay in his ability to appreciate all poetic forms and schools.  His selections included Deep Image poetry, documentary-political poetry, Second Generation New York School poetry, and Surrealist poetry, along with confessional and more traditional lyrics.  —Poetry