Thursday, January 26, 2006

JONATHAN SKINNER
Here's my eleventh-hour answer. I sat on this so long because I didn’t know where to start or stop because such a question seems geared to the senior poet. I mean, there are plenty of (young) poets whose work I admire and is difficult to find because it’s not yet published, or rarely published.

Two names that come immediately to mind in this light are Robert Kocik and Julie Patton: verbal and conceptual geniuses, of different stripes, whose extensive (written) works demand wide readership. Kocik’s Overcoming Fitness came out as an Autonomedia pamphlet a few years ago. But anyone who’s been to one of his talks/ installations/ performances has probably seen and perhaps handled, maybe even walked home with one of the carefully written and gorgeously designed works he self-publishes for these occasions. Patton’s Elizabethan ebonics middle passage abecedarium, Teething on Type, came out with Rodent Press in 1995. She's been anthologized (in M.M. Sloan’s Moving Borders) and crops up richly, now and then, in journals (The Hat, Ecopoetics) but her performances draw on a wide range of works that deserve to see print. Joel Kuszai is another writer I suspect we could add to this shortlist of poets who have deeply affected the field while rushing little (of their own work) to print.

Tim Atkins, who with his partner Chiaki Matsubayashi edits Onedit, has been shaking up the London scene for many years. In the nineties, his gorgeous Folklore, a Piers Plowman update for the late-twentieth century Malvern hills, was published by Heart Hammer. Like Books (a Tim Davis outfit) put out To Repel Ghosts. The Figures published the post-Sapphic Twenty-Five Sonnets in 2000. I published an excerpt from his long poem "Emulsion Defect" in ecopoetics, no. 3. Everything Tim does is different, and fully out there . . . Rumor has it he's working on an expanded version of Folklore—so keep your eyes/ears peeled.

But this leads me to wonder, also, whether your query favors print poets. Some work is "out of print" because it doesn’t all go into print . . . and it doesn't get found, it finds you.

If I start to think about poets whose work is merely "difficult to find," the list immediately gets very long. (And in a sense, this includes all-of-poetry.) What about poets whose more current work is readily available, but whose ground-breaking early works remain out of print? Partly because of the formal break between his early and late work, Christopher Dewdney’s radical transhuman poetics, a kind of geological sci-fi erotics, neo-Darwinism of consciousness and of life refracted through close observation of landscapes and nocturnal creatures, and a collagist approach to language, isn’t readily available to some of its likely audiences. (He’s quite well-known in Canada, at least.) And when one does find out about it, the works can be hard to get. The five parts of Dewdney’s "natural history of southwestern Ontario," written over almost twenty years (Spring Trances in the Control Emerald Night, The Cenozoic Asylum, Concordat Proviso Ascendant, Time Wind, Permugenesis), were recently edited together and published as The Natural History (by ECW, 2002). But that appears to be already out of print. Earlier incarnations of that work, which often included fabulous visual collages, and some paratext not available with the recent edition, are only available on the rare books market. A handy volume, Predators of the Adoration: Selected Poems 1972-82 (McClelland and Stewart), with an afterword by Stan Dragland, can be a lucky (and expensive) find. Dewdney’s first book, A Palaeozoic Geology of Southwestern Ontario (Coach House, 1973)—printed to look like a government geological survey—is as inaccessible as the fossil depths it plumbs.

While in the Great Lakes area, let me mention John Clarke, who directed the Institute of Further Studies from 1965 on, in Buffalo, and oversaw the ongoing series A Curriculum of the Soul. This son-of-Olson, from Winesburg, Ohio, conceived an epic, twelve-book sonnet sequence (40 sonnets per book), In the Analogy, of which six books were completed (published by Shuffaloff, 1997). Each sonnet begins with three or four quotations from poets and thinkers (Olson figures heavily, but also Blake, Baudrillard, Virilio, Duncan—a whole spectrum of New American Poets, including Berrigan and Myles), clustering a theme that the sonnet refracts and meditates on. It’s more prose poetry shaped in the form of sonnets, to my ears, and the cerebralism can get academic, yet on occasion the axis of range and compression gives startling turns. Good terrain for further study.

While we're onto well-known poets whose works are hard to get, I'd second the mention of Stephen Rodefer on this list. His excellent recent works are available through Burning Deck (Passing Duration, 1991) and The Figures (Emergency Measures, 1998; Mon Canard, 2000) as well as Alfred David Editions in the UK (Left Under a Cloud, 2000). And his early, classic Villon "translations" under the pen name Jean Calais—one of my favorite books of all time—is still available through SPD. But it's simply astonishing that Rodefer's Four Lectures(The Figures, 1982), one of the best books of the "language writing" era, remains unavailable. This is a book that should be taught in American poetry courses, and yet there's only a couple of collector's copies floating around ($60 at abebooks).

Jack Collom is an under-recognized American poetry dynamo. You can get fairly broad swaths of his work in Extremes & Balances (farfalla press, 2004) and Red Car Goes By: Selected Poems 1955-2000 (Tuumba Press, 2001). "A sort of Ted Berrigan for the Colorado steppes," as one reviewer calls him, Collom writes in too many different kinds of forms to be able to characterize. He's the experimental poet to have most consistently taken Darwin's ideas on board. Suffice to say he will be recognized as one of the great writers/thinkers on nature, when we take a long look back. I'm publishing an essay of his, An Evolution of Writing Ideas, in the forthcoming ecopoetics (no. 5).

John Godfrey's works are available but I seldom hear him talked about, nor does he seem to give many readings. (I heard part of a knockout reading in NYC in the nineties.) Somewhere between Coolidge beat and New York School surrealism, he alternates between prose and lyric poetry—all condensed, very much "by ear," and focused on local urban experience, with a quality of surprise and a classically solid sound that's all his own. His recent books are Push the Mule (The Figures, 2003) and Private Lemonade (Adventures in Poetry, 2001). Thanks to Anselm Berrigan for reminding me.

I'm from New Mexico, and my early live encounters were local. I should first mention Phillip Foss—far from a "local" poet, he edited the very avant-garde Tyuonyi poetics journal for a time. He’s produced a few books (most of them published by Chax—the latest, Chromatic Defacement, 1998). A breathtakingly baroque poetry, that doesn't lay it on thick; smeared yet translucent syntax, as if Gerhart Richter had dragged his scraper across the lines. A stunning piece, "Strung," cropped up online more recently, on Jacket Magazine (#13, issue co-produced with New American Writing, 2001). The main reason we don’t hear more about Foss may be that he prefers to spend his "spare" time bow hunting in the Jemez Mountains rather than do readings and the like.

The list of New Mexico poets whose work is difficult to find is a long one (I think of Larry Goodell, for instance) but I’ll mention just two more poets. Leo Romero, who runs a secondhand bookstore in Santa Fe (don't know what it's called now, since he recently moved locations), published a book called Celso in 1985 (Arte Publico Press). It’s a great, moving sequence, like a barrio philosophy version of the Dream Songs (though in straightforward free verse, rather than Elizabethan sonnets), in the voice of a borracho who turns the community, and his own heart, upside down. The simple language belies complex emotions, sharp irony and a philosophical kind of comedy. I guess he's taken to writing prose (Rita & Los Angeles, Bilingual Review Press, 1995), and Ahsahta Press put out another book of his in 1990 (Going Home Away Indian), but I have no idea where to find his work nowadays.

Finally, Keith Wilson's long poem, Graves Registry (Grove Press, 1969) should be considered a classic of war poetry. Clearly influenced by the New American Poetics (Olson, Duncan, Creeley, Oppen lurk around the variable measures), it nevertheless hews to the communication of past experience, namely the Korean War in which Wilson served as a naval officer. It's hard to get into—the rhythms can feel clotted, the words often refuse to shine—yet the Grove Press collection interests me for its juxtapositions of life at the front (of Empire) and a "homestead" language, rooted in rural New Mexico, all of it coming fresh from contact with the New American Poetry. Plus, if (post-atomic) war and poetry will ever work together, this may be as good as it gets. The volume is readily available used, and was reissued in 1992 (Clark City Press). Bosque Redondo: New and Selected Poems was published in 2000 (Pennywhistle Press) and The Priesthood Quartette in 2001 (Writers Club Press). Only the latter seems to be still in print. Wilson must be about eighty now, still living in New Mexico.

Speaking of the New American Poetry, whatever happened to the work of Helen Adams? I know she wrote lots of those amazing, surrealist ballads, and other stuff—there was at least one published in Allen’s New American Poets anthology. Then there was Turn Again to Me (Kulchur Foundation, 1977) . And I’ve seen the big collage books in the Poetry and Rare Books Collection at SUNY Buffalo, which were out on her coffee table when Adams hosted Spicer, Duncan and others for "poetry magic," and undoubtedly an influence. Kristen Prevallet has written a dissertation (at least partly) on this and supposedly is editing her works for republication. I doubt I'm the only person to recommend Helen Adams to this list.
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DALE SMITH
There are many people whose work I admire and who are either out of print or not yet published. However, since he died recently, I want to mention my dear friend Carl Thayler. He is a terrific poet who learned poetry from Paul Blackburn and George Oppen. He made his living diversely as an actor, teacher, and janitor, at various times in his life. His book, The Providings (Sumac, 1971), has been out of print for years. I published Naltsus Bichidin (Skanky Possum) in 1999, and a few small chapbooks appeared over the years. I have copies of most of his manuscripts and will one day publish a large collection of his poems. He is primarily preoccupied with the American West, with particular focus on the late 19th and early 20th centuries. While his lyric gifts are evident in ways that formally resemble Oppen, his work is concerned with moral questions of character. Indeed, much of his work makes arguments for the kinds of men and women who influenced the world we inherited from them.

I will mention also Thomas Meyer, whose long poem Coromandel (Skanky Possum) Hoa and I published a couple of years ago. He has worked with Jonathan Williams on Jargon Press for many years and is perhaps better known for that reason than Carl, whose own contribution to poetry was minimal over the years. But Thomas is a marvelous poet with an exceptional gift for the relation of every day life. That is, he finds meaning in the minute particulars that form our lives.

Finally, Lucia Berlin, although she was published by Black Sparrow Press, is not read by many people. Her autobiographical short stories are documents of a life deeply felt and minded. In her language is an impersonal distance from subject matter that prevents a cheap emotionalism from taking over, so that what you have is an experience felt by the reader, not pushed off onto you by the writer. There is light in all her work.
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ROD SMITH
This is the kind of question that as soon as one hits send one thinks of 10 other poets that absolutely HAD to be mentioned. One poet that I think is way fab that although she has an award winning book on Sun & Moon I don't think people know well enough is Jean Donnelly. Two more genius poets down here in DC are Lynne Dreyer and Phyllis Rosenzeig, another is Doug Lang. All of these are DC poets who are in my opinion "underpublished." I'll throw in one non-DC poet and stop lest this become a litany-- Harrison Fisher, who was in Albany last I heard.
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SPARROW
Anique Taylor is a fine, full-grown, excelling poet (also my friend and neighbor, here in Phoenicia, NY). My wife, Violet Snow, is a valiant, crackling writer of verse.

Mark Dorrity (who lives in Phoenicia, too) makes poems that counsel plangent, interior wisdom.

John Farris, an African-American poet of the Lower East Side of Manhattan, may be the greatest living American poet. His writings are Shakespearean, but abstract.

Tom Savage, of the East Village (a bit north of John) is an underrated poet mage. (I have the books Political Conditions/Physical States (United Artists Books) and Housing, Preservation, & Development (Cheap Review Press).)

Amiri Baraka is a true Titan. Five years ago I heard his recent poems about God -- from a Marxist perspective. Ambitiously power-sharp!

Mary Reilly is a 23 year old poet of lucid, magic-clasping honor. Her poems "pack heat," to use old detective slang.

Tracie Morris is my favorite "spoken word" writer. (I helped edit her book Intermission for Soft Skull Press.) Her influx of fragrant brain intuition is ace and flowered.

Last September in San Francisco, I saw Radio Active, a young, Muse-blessed, cosmos-clapping poet, recite at the Club Deluxe.

(Incidentally, I consider rap music a valid poetic form. I like essentially all rappers, but my favorite is Ice Cube (I have "Lethal Injection"). I must mention Ol' Dirty Bastard with respect. (And the best rapper I SAW was Killah Priest.))

That is my collection of respectable under-known poets, at this moment.
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BETHANY SPIERS
One writer that I know has been very important to many of my favorite contemporary poets is Jack Spicer. I haven't read too much of his work but have been intrigued by what I've come across as more and more friends have brought him to my attention recently. I'm sure most know The Collected Books from Black Sparrow Press is out of print. I found a couple copies through rare booksellers on the web, but I don't really have $162 to drop on anything other than rent right now. I've been really interested in incorporating epistolary forms with poetry and a few months ago Karen Weiser sent me, "Chapter III/ What the Dead Letters Said," so now I'm hooked.
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CHRIS STROFFOLINO
Don't want to fuck this up logistically, so I won't waste my time on lengthy explanations of why, etc. if people want that they can write me

so here's the list aside from myself (ha ha) with my books out of print and the fickle publishing world etc the living people that probably first come to mind would be Yuri Hospodar, Liz Brennan, Brett Eugene Ralph, Delia Tramontina.
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CHRISTINA STRONG
Lola Ridge ­ I am not a great admirer of her poetry (too strident and narrative for starters) but I do like her strong sense of politics. She was born in Ireland, immigrated to both Australia / New Zealand and then to America in 1904. She is on the modern American poetry site as web cite (sic) said:

"Ridge rejected the notion that women could not fully participate in politics"

She wrote about laborers, immigrants, and was arrested for protesting the execution of Sacco and Vanzetti in 1927. Her poetry is a call to arms.

TO THE AMERICAN PEOPLE

Will you feast with me, American People?
But what have I that shall seem good to you!

On my board are bitter apples
And honey served on thorns,
And in my flagons fluid iron,
Hot from the crucibles.

Your list of questions made me think of all the people I have known and the sad part is that some of them are dead via suicide, overdose and aids. I didn¹t want to think of that, as it¹s of course depressing, so I thought of the one woman who lived in poverty, wrote poetry and tried to organize the masses. Hence Lola Ridge.
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STACY SZYMASZEK
Poets I admire whose work is hard to find/op: scanning my bookcase I see Classic Plays by Dick Higgins, The Divine Mimesis by Pier Paolo Pasolini, various things by Franco Beltrametti, Stuart Perkoff, some of Paul Mariah's Manroot titles esp. The Complete Poems of Jean Genet. Then, Rachel Sherwood's Mysteries of Afternoon and Evening, some of Maureen Owen's Telephone Book poets: Susan Cataldo, Rebecca Wright, Elio Schneeman. There is an early Burning Deck chap by Peter Gurnis that I love called The Body of Liberties. He recently sent me a whalebone and a copy of The Revisionist by Douglas Crase. Peter O'Leary directed me to Philip Church's Furnance Harbor, lake country stuff - oh, and finally, Sailor With Banjo by Hamish Maclaren, 1930: "I will knit him a foam-white jersey, / Soft as the breast of the mew;" - Hott.
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KEVIN THURSTON
This is a really tricky question. They are all hard to find (indeed, with the exception of the Oprah poets and occasional book by a pop-star like Jewel). That is where the reward is. Consider, since I know we share the vocabulary here, Buck. He has had only one 'real' book published (by AERIALedge), to my knowledge, but you know he produces. You know because you meet him and gave him your address! This is serious work, and it is probably part of the problem and part of the reason that plenty of poetry is neglected by the public. Not necessarily a problem if you aren't aiming for a career in poetry (and, shameful and embarrassing as it sounds, there are plenty who are).

Whom else do i like that if it weren't for the post-office and internet i wouldn't know? probably any and everybody i'll mention here: buck downs, ross priddle, john barlow, gustave morin (see, this gets tricky as some of these people are in lots of small handmade affairs--for this reason, i abort any list)

i want to focus on a different kind of difficult to find, the performance of poems. i'll aim for brevity here as i could really go on. many poets whom i like when i read, i hate when i hear. others reverse this. but, the best poems and poets are always the ones that are at their best when the poem is living in a host-body. most of these poets are difficult to find because you need to travel to them, and only when conditions are right, do you get to see and hear what you came for. i consider myself fortunate as i have seen some great poets in multiple locations, in dc k lorraine graham gave an excellent reading last year, mike basinski (perhaps) never misses live, lauren bender has been known to throw down, i am also fortunate to have gone to undergrad with three poets that produce live: ric royer, matt chambers and christopher fritton. even when you see some of their poems, the poetry can be hard to find. only when enacted? occupied? do these poems come alive. so, look for the poets who make poems (come) alive and maybe you'll get a sense of why it is important to me.
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CHRIS TOLL
Well, I immediately thought of Jeffrey Miller - Andrei Codrescu turned me on to him. His first book - The First One's Free - is wonderful - a poem can come from anywhere - the parking lot of a McDonald's is a fine place to get a poem. But eveyone knows Jeffrey Miller so he's probably not a good choice. I never really went to school - I've mostly been self-taught - so there's no lost poets from my workshop days. Then I thought of my lost friend Ed Bavis. He moved to Baltimore four times and every time he became a junkie and a thief. He had one book - I think I had the only copy - Ed "borrowed" it from me because he had lost all the copies of his poems. What was it called? - The Seven Veils Of Heaven - something like that, riddled with drugs and a herald for the New Age. Then I thought I would invent someone - an anonymous man or woman, a file clerk in a faceless skyscraper, whose poems were firebrands. Then I thought that was dumb so I didn't do it.
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TONY TOST
One poet whom I'm always recommending to people is Mary Margaret Sloan. Her book The Said Lands, Islands and Premises is still available from Chax. Each poem, or sequence, that I've read of hers seems to operate as its own unique system. The last piece in the Chax book, "The Eccentricity of the Middle Ground," is the most ambitious poem I've come across where every single word (letter!) is pitch perfect. Joe Donahue is letting me borrow his copy of Kevin Magee's Tedium Drum right now: very inventive but it has a kind of ancientness to it that I can't pin down. I've really gotten into Piers Plowman lately, and Tedium Drum's aesthetics seems like a good companion to PPl. It's published by lyric & press, from 1994. CS Giscombe, who I know has a dedicated following, but he should have a larger one. He's one of the few poets published by Dalkey Archive, and he takes on an Olsonian type of project in Giscome Road; goes places Olson could never manage. Another great Dalkey Archive poet is Carl Martin, who lives in Winston-Salem. NY School-y, but stranger, and more baroque. A poet who I've just recently picked up is Craig Watson, who I haven't heard much discussion of. His True News, from Instance Press in 2002, is full of really tight, really smart lyrics. Super ear. The last book that I thought of was Anne Tardos' new and selected, The Dik-dik's Solitude from Granary Books. Huge range in her writing, from performance texts and multi-media and collab things, with some fantastic sequences bobbing in and out. It's a backpack kind of book. Makes you happy to be travelling around with it.
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ELIZABETH TREADWELL
Wilma Elizabeth McDaniel's plain rich poems of the Cherokee Okie diaspora have meant worlds to me...in correspondence a number of years ago we discovered we might be distant cousins. Julia Ward Howe's "Mother's Day Proclamation -- 1870" which, quite pre-Hallmark, helped to establish the holiday as one of healing from and resisting war. It's a really strong poem. And all the poor, the women, the ones whose words haven't been shelved and alphabetized and crammed into our collective noggin. The missing.
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KEVIN VARRONE
Upon reading your question I thought immediately of one of my absolute favorite books of poems--favorite books of any kind--titled Nostalgia for Death, by Xavier Villaurrutia. I think it is out of print. My copy is a translation by Eliot Weinberger and was put out by Copper Canyon Press in 1993. The book stuns me every time I read it and I've read it now dozens of times. It's so lush and elegant, beautiful, sad, and saturated. Here's a poem called "Nocturne: The Statue":

Dream, dream of night, the street, the stairway
and the scream of the statue unrounding the corner.

Run to the statue, and find only the scream,
long to touch the scream, and find only its echo,
long to grasp the echo, and find only the wall,
run to wall and touch a mirror.
Find in the mirror the assassinated statue,
pull it out from the blood of its shadow,
dress it in a flutter of eyes,
caress it like a sister who suddenly appears,
shuffle the chips of its fingers
and repeat in its ear a hundred times a hundred hundred times
until you hear it say: "I'm dying of sleep."

Another person that comes to mind is Evan S. Connell (the historical novelist), whose book, Notes From a Bottle Found on the Beach at Carmel, was--and remains--important to me. It's out of print but available through alibris and those kinds of places. I like its gangly scope and untidy encyclopedic approach.

More low-key, perhaps, is Brian Lucas, whose work and person Chris McCreary introduced me to a few years back. He is originally from California, but lives in Thailand now, still, I think. He writes poems I wish I had written, some of which can be found here: BEARD OF BEES.

Perhaps Karen Weiser doesn't really fit the definition of one whose work is hard to find (she has a beautiful new chapbook out from Ugly Duckling Press called *Placefullness*) , but I like so much of her work, and her chapbook, *Eight Positive Trees* (which I think is out of print), is an all-time favorite of mine.

Lastly, C.E. (Chris) Putnam is someone I have great admiration for. He's Eric Stoltzian in character yet funnier, smarter, stranger, and much more poetically ambitious. Still, he seems to stay below the radar a bit.

Hope this fits the bill. I'm not sure if these folks are truly hard to find, but I like them all a lot and wish they all got more attention.
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DIANE WALD
the mention of ceravolo---also one of my own obscure favorites. also pierre martory, who died in 98, book called the landscape is behind the door----wonderful. saw him read from it (a little, very accented, very charming) a couple of years before he died. ashbery, his friend, his translator i think, was also there. in boston, at the french library. someone in the room was wearing an amazing turquoise hat. i love diane di prima's work---i don't think too many people read her now. so brave and female and honest. but mostly and predominantly i would say kenneth patchen. he's not out of print, but i don't think he's widely read----or certainly not as much as he deserves to be. patchen has been a magical being to me. a psychology prof. i'd become close to as an undergrad, when i was just discovering poetry by plunking through shelves in a library without any guidance, one time asked me who's your favorite poet and i said patchen and this fellow amazingly had known patchen a little when he lived in connecticut and had all his books and gave me some. i was agog. for years. the poems and the poem-pictures and the prose. you can just sink away in his words. he seems angelic---i don't mean pretty, although he can be that, but other-wordly and quirky and full of wisdom, and, most of all, compassion. i don't know any other poet who is as angry but who also forgives humanity for all we've done. oh yes and just remembered.....here's an odd one.....leonard cohen. yes, the singer.....but take a look at his early poetry books, esp. death of a ladies man. just remembered that.
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MARK WALLACE
A fantastic poet who everybody in D.C. loves but whose work is almost impossible to find is Doug Lang. His work is humorous, insightful, always risky. Almost all his work is out of print, although Edge Books, I think, is trying right now to get a volume of it out. Two poets from my Buffalo days who haven't published much but whose work I think is really first rate are Cynthia Kimball and Bill Tuttle. Both of them have a few small edition chapbooks really worth getting your hands on. Cynthia may be in Oregon these days, and poets out there may know more about her than I do, but I always loved her poems. Bill gave a reading in DC with Ron Silliman maybe four or five years ago that everybody who was there still remembers. Also, although he's not a poet, a writer who no poets have ever heard of but should have is Dennis Etchison. He's a horror genre writer supposedly, but his short fiction is some of the most structurally and thematically striking work around. It's like nothing else out there. For a long time his great 1982 book Dark Country was available only in old, beat-up trashy paperbacks, but it's now out in a brand new edition and is truly eye-opening for anyone who thinks that genre writing can't be art.
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26 Comments:

Blogger Catherine said...

among mine that aren't in the public domain are GEORGIANA PEACHER (a member of Anais Nin's NY writing circle and longtime instructor at John Jay College), Mary Stuart's Ravishment Descending Time, a brilliant prose poetry novel, IMO, and Sandra Hochman (found her second book in ACRES OF BOOKS in Long Beach), who also made a film

http://www.sptimes.com/2004/01/16/Floridian/It_s_finally_the__Yea.shtml

and let's not forget FRANCES FROST!!!

10:21 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

CA,

Well in slacked-off absence responding to your neglectorinos request
I felt like I could at least comment after the fact & acknowledge someone whose writing I care for deeply and feel so strongly about....and though she is just a few years older than I am,
I feel still that she is overlooked in that the work is often or mostly unavailable...and that is the powerful poetry of Betsy Fagin: sharp and soft and sharp again.

".....

yelow with white buttons, white stripes
pushing pulling stars in their hair
stopping to talk to dog walkers.
           breed, habit, curiosities
pony clubs, vacation expenses
traditional dyeing of plumage
be-fringed, be-saddled
elevated on stilts for the waters
return, good luck horseshoe robbed
from the pony club stashed in pink
knapsack to live appropriately
cleanly, rainbow ceilinged celebrating
humanity,         convoys of police vans
(capacity=12 seated, 22 standing)
sales from flames, enchanted, beneath
the dead queen's fire blanket.

..."

also, I second Steve Carey's poetry...so good and with a sound and quality that adds a very new kind of personality to poetry

---John Coletti

7:54 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I wanted to talk a little about a couple of poets Norman Finkelstein put me
on to, poets he published some years back under his House of Keys imprint.
Last time we hand lunch he generously gave me a huge stack of books which
I've been making my way through, & a couple of these poets I'd not heard
of at all before. One is a little book called Sonnets Elegiac and Satrical
by Henry Weinfield (& perhaps these names are familar to others of
course), the works in here are marvelous, & one, dedicated to Oppen, is
really incisive, really thrilling:

For years I called myself a communist,
But held myself above the common lot,
As if I had been chose to exist
In lieu of those whom history forgot.
While others were anonymous, I thought
That as a communist I had a claim
To be the master whom his servant fought
for glory and the honor of a name.
To be anonymous--that sacred word
By many communists misunderstood--
I had to purge myself, and here record
That I was one among a multitude.
I was the beaten pavement of New York
On which your hurried on your way to work.

The other is Bradfor Stark, whose book A Gradeschool Grammar I've been
spending quite a lot of time with lately. The following poem A Resignation
and Indictment sounds like it coulda been written yesterday, on a blog
somwehere!

A Resignation and Indictment

Accept that I don't ultimately want
to have to decide for anyone except myself

and that even with respect to myself
I only ask that I have the power to refuse

which is apprently too much to ask,
no longer viable, so to speak

but that is to be entirely lacking
in the descriptive sense,

when what you mean is I am being chalked up
in the account of what is evil by definition

and that you are no longer interested
in anything I have to say.

Dana Ward

8:34 AM  
Blogger Curtis Faville said...

CA:

You didn't ask me because I'm not an authority, since I always make it a practice to avoid the authorities. Nevertheless, I think my 45 years of experience sitting on the sidelines and watching and listening might be worthy of attention.

Here is a shortlist:

Ronald Johnson--A Line Of Poetry, A Row Of Trees; The Book of the Green Man; The Different Musics. Radios. Ark. The Shrubberies. My favorites are in the first, published by his (then) lover Jonathan Williams. Johnson can't be said to have ever been truly neglected, but he's head and shoulders about 95% of everyone in his generation.

Joe Ceravolo--total original. Spring In This World of Poor Mutts. This guy came out of nowhere, with a style no one had ever approached for freshness and sheer mysterious invention. I always thought he would go on to make a body of astounding work, but he died young.

Robert Grenier. Bob deliberately turned his back on the first two--very successful, very accomplished--phases of his career, thereby throwing it into a premature eclipse (premature, because he was already indeed, obscurely known). The repudiation of the earlier work only made its scarcity more pronounced. Dusk Road Games. Series. Sentences. A Day At The Beach. And perhaps two unpublished manuscripts between Dusk Road and Series, which will never see the light of day. Bob was my first writing teacher, but luckily that doesn't cloud my judgment. He's a (small) miracle.

John Koethe. Blue Vents. Early (academic/Ashbery) heavy side of the New York School (2nd Gen). A philosphy prof at Wisconsin for the last 30 years. I know absolutely nothing about the man, but that first book + a few loose poems really made an impression on me at the time.

Bill Berkson. Bill combines the best aspects of his New York School forebears--humor, intellectual sophistication, a clinical surrealism, broad range, etc. I still like the collection Blue Is The Hero which I published in the Seventies, but Lush Life contains wonderful work too.

Ian Hamilton Finlay. I met Ian for the first (and probably the last) time last May in Scotland, in his garden. The Dancers Inherit The Party, and selected "concrete" poems. The more you know about Ian's work, the more complex and contradictory it becomes.

Barrett Watten. Barry and I were friends during the early 1970's, and had unwavering admiration for his writing, all the way up to Bad History, where I think it tips into theoretical prose, instead of "poetry." Frame (Sun & Moon Press). You can see the science and aesthetics tangling back and forth in his work.

There is a host of other names, far too common to be considered obscure: Oppen, Blackburn, Coolidge, Eigner, Whalen, Rodefer, Riding, Taggart, Garrigue, Strand, Darryl Gray, Armantrout, James Koller, Spicer, Bunting, Kees, and so on and on.

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Some great obscure poets who deserve to write beyond the grave if they're dead and beyond their living room if they're alive but using the dvr too much would include...Jeff Vetock, Jenny Gough, Dan Featherston, Gene Hosey, Marty Esworthy, Celestine Frost, Andrew Mossin, David Gonsalves, Keith Baughman, Janet Gray, Asa Benveniste, John Byrum, Steven Farmer, Charles Cros, Jessica Grim, Claire Needell, Rod Smith, Katie Yates, Lewis Carroll, Paul Weidenhoff, and the Brothers Grimm, who rarely wrote a line of prose. :-) Bewitjanus@aol.com

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