Published in Detroit from 1965 to 1967, Free Poems Among Friends was one of a large number of literary undergrounds.
“The social movements of the 1960s and 1970s transformed American politics, social life, and culture. From civil rights groups, to feminist organizations, to environmental activists, to antiwar GI’s, Americans mobilized in new ways to promote social change. Some of the notable groups that we’ve mapped include the Black Panther Party, the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee, and the United Farm Workers. Today, Facebook, Twitter, and other social media platforms allow us to publish and read diverse opinions, organize protests and demonstrations, support the organizations and causes we care about, and, in some cases, speak directly with people in power. In the 1960s and 1970s, the underground press served that same purpose, giving voice to marginalized groups and helping them build stronger communities. Before the Vietnam War era, the term ‘underground newspaper’ was used to describe the publications of resistance groups in totalitarian societies, such as the Moscow-based underground poetry journal Sintaksis (Petrov). Starting in the mid 1960s, young journalists repurposed the underground label to describe their radical and countercultural publications. News media at the time was dominated by three television networks and two wire services that fed a uniform package of national and international news to urban daily newspapers. The underground press broke into this monopoly, publishing on subjects and with viewpoints that could not be found in mainstream media, and introducing graphics and design that defied every convention of print publishing. Radical in content, radical in design, and often highly unconventional in all aspects of their operations, the underground press represented something of a precursor to disruptive social media revolution of the last two decades. The creativity of the underground press was evident in the names that founders chose for their little newspapers. Some were mildly respectable even while signally independence, like the several versions of ‘Free Press,’ but others made their political stances and subject matter clear to potential readers. …”
University of Washington – Civil Rights and Labor History Consortium