henry denander | 6 poems on writing, writers, fatherhood, marriage, jazz, jazz musicians, fame & much more

30 04 2009

Henry Denander by Henry Denander

Poetry Dispatch No. 279 | April 30, 2009

HENRY DENANDER

6 Poems
on
Writing, Writers, Fatherhood, Marriage, Jazz, Jazz Musicians, Fame
&
Much More

My first encounter with Henry Denander was not the written word but the image.

Evidence of him. His art. His watercolors. In the summer, 2007 issue of my friend, t.k. splake’s (and artistic ed., Jikiwe’s) putting-it-all-together, as they did, in a lively, color drenched, fine-papered, got-your-attention little ‘off-the-road’ lit-mag from Up-North/copper-country, Michigan: THE CLIFFS, “Soundings”. (That may or may not still exist, given the short life-span of these heartfelt, time/dollar-wrenching, often thankless endeavors).

A treat to the eye. A keen eye to the ‘Beat’-ing word. I saw Henry’s front cover of a guy with a tall, yellow hat, a hand, a blue rabbit-cat, a couple of mountains off in the distance, a house, maybe the sun (and saw something/someone in this instantly), then flipped it over to the back cover, and…ah, Jazzy…sax-man in blue, blowing fire down his horn, blowing his scrambled gold head off. Yes. I’ve been here before. I know the color of this music…

Bring front and back covers together and what I saw/see in Henry, was one I’ve harbored in my imaginary/image-marrying of words and paint, of my own self for more than forty years: Miller time. (Not the beer.) But the Henry Miller time-man who taught many a writer: Though it’s all in the words—it’s in the watercolor too. Drink it all. Work a little color in those hands.

What I’m saying is I found another compadre. Immediately. A writer-painter-man after my own heart. And if there was any doubt, all I had to do was open the front cover, and there it all was on the fly-leaf. Miller’s Greece. Henry’s Greek Island of Hydra; my Greek Island of Rhodes, village of Lindos. All the white houses watercolor-washing down to the blue Aegean.

One way or another all that we love…we meet all again–in spirit. It’s not a matter of being unable to go home again. It’s a matter of knowing where to find it—the words and pictures that put you there when you need it.

I HARDLY KNOW THIS GUY! But I do. In that instance of image alone. And know him even better as I grow more familiar with his written lines. You’ll see what I mean, those reading him for the first time. You’ll find yourself smiling when you least expect it. (Oh, yeah…he got that right.) Smile..

It was not my intention to say much here. I’ve said enough already. Henry can more than speak for himself in words and images. I just want to introduce or re-introduce you to delight. In case you need it. Or are looking.

There are those, I know, who may find these poems too simple, too easy, “just talk.” I think Locklin put it best in his Foreword to Henry’s, I KNOW WHAT SHE WILL SAY: “…contemporary poetry can be about anything and it can be in any format and style (as long as it has the properties of music, and even they may be inconspicuous).”

Even so, I still see at least one critic “harumpfing” in the distance, not buying it, whether the music goes ‘round an’ round” or not.

‘Hey,’ I’m fixing to say: “Everything’s a poem. When you’re there, it’s there. The problem is getting there. –Norbert Blei

Airhead by Henry Denander

synonyms

for some years i have been trying to write
poetry, my literary heroes like bukowski and
locklin and fante (both John and dan) were
writing in english and all my friends in the
literary world were in america so i started to
write in english as well.

when i recently read a poem by locklin i felt how poor
my language was when i saw how beautifully he writes
and how broad his language is and how he uses words
that i didn’t even know about.

being Swedish my english vocabulary is not
very big of course.

now i’ve bought a synonym lexicon, suddenly
i realize there are many words to choose from,
many of the words i find in this book i have
never seen before but they sound really nice
when i try to pronounce them.

i will use some of them in my next poem.

conceivably the solitary negative aspect is that
my acquaintances who appreciate me and my
written and verbal communication will not be
sufficiently proficient to recognize my
technique in my forthcoming poems.

[from: I KNOW WHAT SHE WILL SAY, Foreword by Gerald Locklin, Bottle of Smoke Press, 503 Tuliptree Square, Leesburg, VA 20176, $5 ]

Keith Jarrett? | by Henry Denander

headache & a cup of coffee

keith jarrett is fingering away
some well known melodies
all by himself
more controlled than he usually is
hesitating to take off without the bass
and the drums
perhaps waiting for them
to arrive

trying to get the guts to go to the office
and do some work this Saturday but i ‘ve got a headache and
i ended up in front of the computer

my wife and young son are visiting the Mother-in-law
over the weekend
i will call them later
tell them i have been working all day

i am surfing on the net and sending emails and answering letters and
writing a long poem
about the time i met chet baker in london
in 1986

making a cup of coffee from the greek coffee that we brought home
from hydra
it’s nescafe but in the greek way

tastes great
stir it into hot milk and you are
in java paradise

it started to snow again yesterday
bad news
now it’s five in the afternoon and
still light outside
i think the winter
wtil slowly leave now

thinking of writing a poem about just nothing
or perhaps about the things i have been doing today

i’ll think about it

we’ll see

[from: I KNOW WHAT SHE WILL SAY, Bottle of Smoke Press, 2002, 503 Tuliptree Square, Leesburg, VA 20176, $5 ]

The Denander family by Henry Denander

The last stanza

I had a letter from a magazine editor
saying he passed on my poems, which
is fine of course, but in the end he
added that he really liked one of my
poems up to the last stanza which he
didn’t like at all.

I liked the letter from the editor except
his last stanza.

[from: WEEKS LIKE THIS, Poems & Artwork, Bottle of Smoke Press, 2005]

Blue Guitar by Henry Denander

Cool

I told my wife about the incident at
our son’s school today when a new
girl in his class asked me if I was
William’s grandfather.

-If it had been someone else
maybe they would have taken it
really badly but for me it was OK,
I am cool, I said

-But you’re not THAT cool about it
are you? my wife said, rubbing it
in.

And later when I shaved off my three
weeks old grey beard I thought that
maybe she was right.

Maybe.

[from: WEEKS LIKE THIS, Poems & Artwork, Bottle of Smoke Press, 2005]

Miles Davis by Henry Denander

Jazz memory

I called Anders and we tried to remember how many times
we had seen Miles Davis in concert in Stockholm over the
years and we double-checked with a discography of all
his live recordings.

Anders was not sure but he vaguely remembered that we’d
been to the concert in 1982 at Konserthuset when Mike
Stern and Marcus Miller had been in the band.

I wasn’t sure at all.

But Anders remembered that one time we had been out
drinking before a Miles Davis gig and we had been really
drunk at the concert. This must have been the 1982
concert.

It must have been a great concert—we don’t remember
anything.

[from: WEEKS LIKE THIS, Poems & Artwork, Bottle of Smoke Press, 2005]

Blues for Retirement – based on Gerald Locklin’s poem by Henry Denander

Fame

Our neighbor on the next floor is a well-
known author. His latest book was a big
event here in Sweden. It’s 794 pages
long and I am mentioned in the book. In
one sentence he writes that he wakes up
in the middle of the night and can’t go
back to sleep because his neighbor is
snoring so loudly. If these were my
fifteen words of fame perhaps I was
expecting something more.

[from: I KNOW WHAT SHE WILL SAY, Bottle of Smoke Press, 2002, 503 Tuliptree Square, Leesburg, VA 20176, $5 ]

Kamini Press by Henry Denander

was started in 2007, named after a small village on Hydra island. The editor has had his summer house there for 12 years and the name is in homage to some former “neigbours” in the village. In 1939 Henry Miller arrived together with Katsimbalis (the Colossus himself) to visit the artist Ghikas in his mansion overlooking the Kamini harbour. Miller describes this in “The Colossus of Maroussi”. The ruins of Ghikas’ house are still there. The poet, author and singer Leonard Cohen’s house is also close by in the Kamini village. It was there that he wrote many of his songs and books. The beautiful photograph on the back cover of “Songs From a Room” was taken in his Kamini house.

Kamini Press publishes fine poetry in handmade, self assembled chapbooks, usually together with original cover art. Most books also come in limited editions with watercolors.

No rush jobs, one book per year was the idea, but this is flexible and we try to keep up the tempo.

We like to present the poetry in a good way, to respect the writers. We agree with the great publisher William Packard of the New York Quarterly, who said he wanted to present the printed poem in the best possible way; he thought that “bad printing and mediocre book design inevitably militate against a fair reading of a poem”. He even found different typeface for each poem in his magazine. We don’t do that, but we agree on his thoughts.

We do not take submissions at this time, as we have plans already for the next two years.

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10 responses

1 05 2009
Robert M. Zoschke

I remain honored to have had a long poem of mine that I really wanted published SOMEWHERE to wind up getting published in the CLIFFS Soundings Iit/art mag Norbert Blei mentioned in his essay on Henry Denander. I was further thrilled to see that a painting of Henry’s that depicted a scene central to the metaphor and theme of my poem was creatively ensconced on a page between the text of my long poem. And then I was even more thrilled to learn from the CLIFFS Editor that Henry had written him with particular praise for my poem. Norb wrote in his essay something so very poignant about Henry when Norb wrote “I HARDLY KNOW THIS GUY! But I do.” That applies, I believe, for many writers who have been fortunate to have their work published in literary journals and mags that happened to also feature the artwork of Henry Dedander. We hardly know Henry, but we do! We know as soon as we see a particular issue (latest for me being the Dave Church Tribute Chapbook from Alternating Current/Propaganda Press) featuring our writing whether the artwork is Henry’s, and if it is Henry’s, we feel instantaneously better about the journal or magazine in our hands, it is instantaneously more SPECIAL because of Henry’s dramatic, beautiful artwork. Now, after Norb’s feature on Henry here on this site, we all know more about Henry the special writer and Henry the special craftwork artisan/publisher. Thanks to Norb and thanks to Henry. Always. From a cohort in the craft, RMZ.

1 05 2009
Robert M. Zoschke

Thanks to Norb Blei for this wonderful enlightenment on the full creative scope of Henry Denander’s artisan craftwork. Norb was poignantly accurate when he wrote “I HARDLY KNOW THIS GUY! But I do.” Any writer who has been fortunate to have their writing appear in journals or lit mags accompanied by Henry’s artwork feels the same way. I have been fortunate to have my writing appear in various places accompanied by Henry Denander artwork. Instaneously, holding those contributor copies in my hands upon receipt, they became much more special creative gifts, thanks to Henry’s artwork. I’m sure any and all writers who have had writing in publications that feature Henry’s artwork feel the same way. We hardly know the guy, but we do, we know his artwork will make a publication more special. Thanks to Henry, always, for those special gifts. And thanks to Norb for enlightening us to the full scope of Henry’s writing and publishing artisan/craftwork that is just as uniquely special as his paintings.

2 05 2009
Gerald Locklin

What a great set of doors and windows into the house of many rooms that is the residence of Henry Denander’s many talents and fascinating life! Norbert Blei deserves immense praise for producing this introduction/tribute, and Henry deserves every word and image of it. –Gerry Locklin

3 05 2009
Glenn Cooper

Yes, this is good.

4 05 2009
anders hellström

Thanks. This is a fun blog. I like Henry´s poetry a lot and paintings. It´s alwary a great occasion when a new poem find it´s way out trough the WEB or in printing.

4 05 2009
Ralph Murre

Cannot improve upon what’s been said in all the comments above, can only thank you for bringing to brighter light the varied works of the old friend I hardly know and have never met, except through the printed page and the wonder web.

~ R.

7 05 2009
Salvadore Poe

I have had the pleasure of spending time with Henry in his beloved Hydra, Greece. His poetry and paintings capture his love for and distinct vision of that lovely Island. I’m always tickled whenever I read one of his poems and constantly floored by his paintings. Keep it up Henry!!

Tack!

-Sal

7 05 2009
dave newman

Great introduction to Henry’s work. Hopefully, those unfamiliar with Henry’s poems and artwork will track down the books and help expand his fifteen words of fame to many many million.

18 05 2009
Carter Monroe

A very fine job this.

21 05 2009
Ronald Baatz

henry is a rare gem…

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