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


6 Poems
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


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


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

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


[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

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

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

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


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.

charles p. ries | reviews

26 04 2009

NOTES from the UNDERGROUND No. 180 | APRIL 26, 2009

(small press reviews #2)

Small Presses, Small Writers, BIG Voices:

By: Gloria Mindock
Ibbetson Street Press
25 School Street
Somerville, MA 02143
Price: $13.50 / 62 Pages / 45 Poems
IBSN: 978-4303-1034-1

In her third book of poetry, “Blood Soaked Dresses” Gloria Mindock raises horror to transcendent allegory. With language that has a lyrical soft quality to it, her new book of poetry becomes the perfect vehicle to express moments (sad, horrific, and glorious) that are set in El Salvador during its civil war from 1980 to 1992. When we see the massacre of innocents continuing in Kenya, Somalia, Darfur, Iraq, Afghanistan – the list becomes painfully endless. Her book becomes a timeless poetic prayer for peace.

Her book of poetry is about the most painful of subjects. Through Mindock’s love of this culture, its people, words, and many flavors, she creates transcendent metaphor after transcendent metaphor. Here are a few cherry-picked from her poem, “Seeing Is Only a Flawed Secret”: “A long shadow filling my body”, “I have conversation with the abyss”; “My weary mind is just a symbol.” “The sky is gray today. / healing itself back to blue.” Jesus, rearrange your schedule. / Go, show me your lips. Make your kiss / a compass so I know where to go.” “I look out the window and feel / like a fool. / Everyone carries on with no ears. / Such motionless supervision – a crime!” Amazing – and these lines and phrases are taken from just one of her 45 poems.

Mindock’s success with “Blood Soaked Dresses” is all the more remarkable given how very hard it is to write about horror. If a poet can enter into this world, speak to this blackness and create a wisp of hope, then the poet is by demonstration a great writer indeed.

typewriter art
By: Mark Sonnenfeld
Marymark Press
45-08 Old Millstone Drive
East Windsor, NJ 08520
Price: $4 / 16 Pages
ISBN: 978-0-9798819-9-2

Mark Sonnenfeld is a unique creature in the small press. His world is one that lives at the intersection of poetry, word, and visual art. Many times his use of language has nothing to do with complete thought or meaning, but rather the splattering of words in a random cascade. We might call his work “experimental”, but for the fact that poetry, as one of writings shortest forms, lends itself to constant variation and experimentation. His new book, “typewriter art” is no different. Dedicated to small press pioneer and all around good-guy Joseph Verrilli, he takes words, or rather the ink-on-paper-image of words, and collides them with a phrase. On page 8 we find word the word “Mark” in 68 point type face and below it the phrase, “Magazines from the stack”. On page 5 we find the phrase “I woke to head pressure” in 14 point type laid onto a page that has a series of letters extracted from words in 68 point bold black type face. His work is so conceptual that it is even hard to clearly describe – it must be both seen and read.

So what is one to make of this? Is it poetry or is it visual art? Certainly it is experimental, and in each art form there is a mad scientist who will push the medium’s relevance toward the absurd, toward meaninglessness, through the trap door of context, and perhaps, toward yet new meanings. Will this become the rage? Will thousands of writers try to do what Sonnenfeld has done? I doubt it, but the highest form of flattery isn’t always imitation, sometimes it is our acknowledgement to artists like Sonnenfield that we have experienced their creation and encourage their continued exploration. The great literary unknown will be a richer friendlier planet because we have pioneers like Sonnenfeld orbiting the “word”.

By: Francine Witte
Muscle Head Press Chapbooks
Boneworld Publishing

3700 County Road 24
Russell, New York 13684
Price: $5 / 40 Pages / 25 Stories

Francine Witte’s book of flash fiction/prose poems gives us two wonderful things. The first is her nimble and effortless use of story, form, and technique. This collection of 25 short form vignettes shows us how quickly a skilled writer can create place, character, conflict, and move a story to a stratifying conclusion. Witte who is also a poet and a playwright applies these two forms into interesting, fast moving short stories. Her technique is effortless and invisible, but central to making these stories move forward.

The second gift of “The Wind Twirls Everything” is her reflection on love, clueless good hearted men, place, and family. The men who populate her stories “try” to do the right thing, they are not without heart and soul, but still they do manage to stumble. Into this mix are the women who love, long for, or try to stay away from them. This collision of interests and abilities gives the stories in this collection their strong core. She is quick and nimble as she riffs around a variety of topics: a chair, a love, a city, a time, a man, a woman.

There are many great stories in this collection: Jake Is A Forgotten Place, Someone Keeps Calling, My Husband’s Mistress, Joe and Sue Get In The Car, to name a few. The open paragraph of her story, “The Romance Of Sadness” gives us a taste of how well and how quickly Witte invites us into her world, “One day, she fell in love with the sadness. Unlike the man who had given it to her, the sadness would stay with her long into the night and never leave. If the sadness did leave, there would more sadness. And that was good.” And again her opening paragraph of “Someone Keeps Calling”: “A faraway voice. Like a voice underwater. He says hello. Nothing more. He hangs up. Calls back. His breath is angry, inviting, sexual. He’s distant, but intimate. Saying nothing. Saying everything.”

What a treat to see Witte bob and weave structure, pacing, and story with such alacrity. How wonderful to read stories that run no more than 350 words in length contain so much heart, humor, yearning and meaning.

Charles P. Ries

lives in Milwaukee, Wisconsin. His narrative poems, short stories, interviews and poetry reviews have appeared in over two hundred print and electronic publications. He has received four Pushcart Prize nominations for his writing. He is the author of THE FATHERS WE FIND, a novel based on memory and five books of poetry — the most recent entitled, The Last Time which was released by The Moon Press & Publishing. He is the poetry editor for Word Riot.  He is on the board of the Woodland Pattern Bookstore and a member of the Wisconsin Poet Laureate Commission. But most of all he is a founding member of the Lake Shore Surf Club, the oldest fresh water surfing club on the Great Lakes. You may find additional samples of his work by going to: http://www.literati.net/Ries/

hugh fox | icehouse & thirteen keys to talmud

23 04 2009

NOTES from the UNDERGROUND No. 179 | April 23, 2009

The Word,

the World,

the Whirl of Hugh Fox

in Review by Norbert Blei

by Hugh Fox
Crossing Chaos Enigmatic Ink
London, Ontario, Canada

Where to begin with this guy? I should have held off, boned up more on what I thought I wanted to do and say—or taken a pass. Just too much here. Impossible to pin/pen this guy down. He’s this, he’s that…and over there–that too! Beyond ‘writer.’ In a class by himself

Who is Hugh Fox?One of the classic writers of the twentieth-twenty-first centuries,” it’s been said.

So let others remember his name, his continuing contribution (enormous) to underground literature/the underground literary tradition in America. He’s been around forever…though you can see those shadows hovering over all his lines as he describes the time of his life NOW–what’s left of it, in his 2002 book of beautiful poems, VOICES, not to mention that super-sized COLLECTED POETRY OF HUGH FOX 1966-2007 published by World Audience. He deserves more than another 2-cents-worth of ink—wherever/wherever he can get it.

Who is Hugh Fox? Arch-priest and disseminator of the small press message/movement, Len Fulton, will tell you: “The raw heft alone of the published work of Hugh Fox is staggering ….the range of his intellectual inquiry is truly Renaissance: archaeology, anthropology, sociology, literary criticism and reviewing, novels, poetry, plays — there is hardly a genre left ‘unfoxed!’” (Len Fulton, in Editor’s Notes, Small Press Review, May-June 2007)

May I also suggest Fox remains a necessary reminder for writers just starting out, for writers weary of the process, for writers who have lost faith in the publishing system. Just take a gander at what Hugh Fox has accomplished—under the radar, so to speak…while barely, if ever, waking up the New York Literary Mafia of “Books & Writers Manufactured by Us”…Here today/Gone tomorrow.

Who is Hugh Fox? “Like Charles Ives, like Herman Melville, Hugh Fox is an American original. There is no one else writing like him today,” says Richard Morris.

There was a little-mag-time in this country (50’s, 60’s…) when you could open the most obscure mag coming out of Godforsaken, America and probably find something in it written by Hugh Fox. He was always there. Where it was at. Where he thought you should meet him. And he’s still there. You want “minimalism”/”flash fiction” before New York baptized/renamed/rediscovered yet another ‘literary trend’? Here’s Fox, man-of-his-own-word, way before his/the time. This, from Curt Johnson’s little mag, december, vol.18, nos.2 and 3, 1976:



Dusk. Fall. Mid-Michigan. International picnic. Some kids had been blowing plastic whistles, one of the whistles got “stuck,” the Corfuian tried to “unstick” it unsuccessfully, gave it back with a “Sorry,” stood there looking at the cars, the picnic tables, cast aluminum rhinos and donkeys and dolphins stuck into concrete blocks on big heavy springs,

“I don’t understand where things come from. I mean the plastic whistles, anything. If it’s all just rocks and trees, grass, sky . . . like watches (he pulled the Stretch-banded watch on his wrist) . . . where do they come from?”

His wife smiled. Small woman with bleached hair starting to go black
under the blonde.

They’d been married for three months. She thought he was kidding.


More Fox? Of course. Who can stop him?

Here’s his ‘says-it-all’ intro from his latest book: ICEBOX & THIRTEEN KEYS TO TALMUD

A Few Fore-/Afterthoughts

Dada, vorticism, futurism, surrealism, then an immersion in the Beat Revolution, the work of the generation I named The Invisible Generation, ten years watching avant-garde films and everything else while I was teaching at Loyola University in L.A., then a fellowship at Brown University in Providence immersed in the craziest, avant- garde collection of literature I had ever seen, most of which I’d never heard of before, then a year studying at the University of Buenos Aires with friends like Jorge Luis Borges and Edgardo Antonio Vigo.

Let me throw names at you like Rimbaud, Tristan Tzara, Apollinaire, Varese, Alban, Berg, Schonberg, Stockhausen, John Cage, A.L. Gillespie… it’s all in my (still unpublished) An Aesthetics for the Year Ten Thousand.

And then in 1968 the big Poetry Pow Wow happened in Berkeley and COSMEP was formed, the Committee of Small Magazine Editors and Publishers and I was immersed in the gringo American avant garde, became friends with Charles Potts, Richard Kostelanetz, Harry Smith, Lyn Lifshin, Guy Beining, Richard Morris, started my own magazine Ghost Dance and became a permanent board member of COSMEP, which had yearly conventions n San Francisco, New York, Minneapolis-St. Paul, New Orleans, you name it, and all the avant-garde and not-so- avant garde poets and writers and magazine editors got together and shared souls. You should check out The Ghost Dance Anthology 25 years of poetry from Ghost Dance: 1968-1993′(1994) and then take a look at The Living Underground: A Prose Anthology (1999). Let me give you a little visionary statement from the introduction to The Living Underground:

The writers in this anthology are all part of a “movement” I call the Invisible Generation. We weren’t “Beats,” although we all had great affinities to the Beat Generation. It’s temptint to call us The Hippy Generation because we were kind of “hippyish.” Our drugs were soft, our world-view non-linear, non-occidental. We were psychedelic, Amerindian, Asian. We were visionary but not imperialistic, not so much Dharma Bums as San Pedro Cactus Prophets. We lived inside the Great American Dream Machine but always dreaming our own alternative dreams. (“Introduction,” p.1)

Imagine ten years in LA, going to every avant-garde anything, finding a theater in Hollywood that showed only old foreign films, immersing myself in avant-garde German, French, Italian, Russian you name it films. Only one book came out of my film-immersion. Opening the Door to French Film (World Audience, 2007), but I could have easily written similar books on all the other European and Japanese and American films. There were always avant-garde film-festivals at UCLA, and I never missed one of them.

In 1968 I met Harry Smith, a Brooklyn millionaire who published The Smith, which he later changed to Pulpsmith, and he and I became best pals. I’d go visit him three or four times a year, between semesters, during the summer, during Christmas break, sometimes early fall before classes began at Michigan State where I was teaching.

His wife, Marion, and I became best-pals. She told Harry’s kids, “He’s not Hugh Fox but Uncle Hugh, my brother.”

I’d work on his magazine Pulpsmith, we’d have lunch every day with all the craziest far-out poets and prose- writers in New York, like Stanley Nelson, Richard Nason, Sidney Bernard. I became pals with Mr. Super-Avant- Garde Richard Kostelanetz, got to know the gang in Boston, Sam Cornish, Jerry Dombrowsky, Doug Holder… and through Harry met Menke Katz.

OK. From the avant-garde style of my novels, to the content of The Thirteen Keys to Talmud.

Katz didn’t live in New York but about 3 hours away out in the country, Glen Spring, and every time I went to New York Harry and I would visit him. He was a Yiddish- and English- and Hebrew-speaking genius who was the deepest, most profound scholar of Jewish tradition that ever existed.

Let me give you a picture of Katz from my autobiography Way, Way Off the Road, published by Ibbetson Street Press in 2007:

We’d always go up there when I came to town… Three hours drive, Katz in his upper seventies by then, the Great Holy Man, bald on top, long hair on the sides… into the house, a bunch of toasts, “Lach Hai’um’!/To Life!” Always to life, Blessed be God, Ruler of the Universe, Creator of the Fruit of the Vine. (p.50)

Katz was the greatest Talmud scholar who ever lived. Talmud, the most sacred of ancient Jewish books, after the bible itself. We’d go out walking in the forests together for a while and I’d bring up some obscure problem I was having in my life (like living menage a trois with wife number 2 and the Brazilian who would become wife number 3), he would quote Talmud, solve my problem for me, put it in talmudic perspective and then we’d come back to the house and he’d go in and pull out a couple of volumes and find the passages he’d been quoting. That’s all he’d done all his life was study Talmud and Kaballah.

I had been raised as a fanatic Irish Catholic in Chicago, Irish nuns in grammar school, the Christian Brothers of Ireland in high school, Loyola University. Mass every morning for decades, the idea of a good evening read (after my avant-garde immersions) the Fathers of the Church like St. Augustine. Raised as a fanatic Catholic by a Jewish grandmother who never revealed she was Jewish, and I only found out when my mother made a deathbed confession to her nurse in her nursing home in California.

Just before he died in Glen Springs, Katz had told me “Jews aren’t supposed to proselytize. It’s a sin. But, OK, so I sin, but I tell you ‘Become a Jew. You will never regret it and it will immensely enrich your life.” (Way, Way Off the Road, p. 52).

So I became a Jew and immersed myself in Talmud.

So there you have it, the crazily avant-garde poet- playwright-novelist immersed in talmudic lore.

The result — The Thirteen Keys to Talmud.

Of course when I wrote the book my second wife and I had broken up and I hadn’t seen my little son, Chris, for more than a year, and it was this sense of loss that prompted me to write such a surrealistic statement about alienation and separation… all in a sacred talmudic context.

Ice House I wrote about Wife Number Two, the sexiest woman who has ever stretched across the bedsheets of Planet Earth. Besides the crazy avant-garde influences in my life, I should almost mention that I wrote the first books about Bukowski, Lifshin, Charles Potts, A.D. Winans, etc. So under all the surrealism, vorticism, futurism, etc., there was still the Chicago guy who had lots of contact with the Chicago streets (between museum-visits, theater- immersions and concerts) and all the between-the-eyes realism therein contained.

So I asked Hugh Fox recently about his writing characteristics , and he replied in his Foxy 3rd person:

“Fox got his B.A. and M.A. in English from Loyola University in Chicago (after a childhood totally immersed in the arts and being pushed into pre-med and medicine by his M.D. father) and then got his Ph.D. in American Literature from the U. of Illinois in Urbana-Champagne. His Ph.D. dissertation on Poe’s cosmological poem EUREKA. The first book he wrote after his disserttion was a study of the novels of Henry James. So he was a very academic, on-track scholarly type. And then one day after he got a job teaching at Loyola (now Loyola-Marymount) in Los Angeles, he came across a book by Bukowski in a Hollywood bookstore (CRUCIFIX IN A DEATHHAND) and wrote to the publishers saying he wanted to meet Bukowski. They wrote back and said “Look him up in the Hollywood/L.A. phonebook and give him a call.” Fox did just that, met Buk, Buk gave him copies of all his books and Fox wrote a critical study about Bukowski…an experience that totally changed his way his words and world-outlook. Then he got involved with COSMEP, The International Organization of Independent Publishers and got totally involved with the Underground, ended up on the Board of Directors of COSMEP and got to know all the underground writers and publishers in the U.S., and eventually abroad too (during his year at the U. of Buenos Aires, two years teaching in Caracas, a year in Mexico, a year in Spain, two years teaching in Brazil, trips to Paris, England, etc. etc. etc.). He wrote a bunch of books about The Underground:

  • Lyn Lifshin: A Critical Study, Whitston Publishing Company, Troy, New York, 1985.
  • The Poetry of Charles Potts:Criticism, Dustbooks, Number 12 in The “American Dust” Series, Paradise, California, 1979.
  • An Analytical Checklist of Books from Something Else Press, published as Vol.6, No.1, of the Small Press Review (Issue Number 21, March, 1974).
  • Updating: A Do It Yourself Handbook on Modern Poetry, Ghost Dance Press, East Lansing, Michigan, 1974.
  • The Living Underground: A Critical Overview, Whitston Publishing Company, Troy, New York, 1970.
  • Charles Bukowski: A Critical and Bibliographical Study, Abyss Publications, Somerville, Massachusetts, 1969.


“He became Mr. Experimental Underground…best pals with Harry Smith (of THE SMITH), Richard Morris (San Francisco writer, head of COSMEP), A.D. Winans (Mr. San Francisco), Lynne Savitt (East coast poet), Doug Blazek, F. Richard Thomas, Sam Cornish, John Bennett, Shaon Asselin, Lo Gallucio, Diane Kruchkow, D.A. Levy, Duane Locke, Bree, William Wantling, John Oliver Simon, Alta, Norm Moser, Lyn Lifshin, Lynn Lonidier, Richard Krech,Lynn Strongin, Jorge Luis Borges, Charles Potts, Pablo Neruda, Gerard Dombrowsky, Robert Bly, you name him (or her) and he knew um……”

So that’s Hugh Fox ? Note quite: “Hugh Fox’s poems live in two worlds — they are both now and then, they speak and are silent, they are print and voice….these are not poems about poetry, not even about or for poets; they are a search for reality-as-possibility, a commitment to conviction. To me they represent the basic style of the most relevant modern poetry, that is, the conviction that language is meaningful (whatever its source of meaning) because poetry itself gives evidence of its capacity to mean…Only through words, that most difficult of adversaries, can one mediate ultimate problems, reveal and validate experience, and his do.” Intoduction to Fox’s collected poetry by Pulitzer Prize Winner, Russel Nye.

Is there a Fox book that remains to be written, I ask?

“I have a number of books walking around in my head full time. Like a few days ago in Lansing we went to a restaurant called The Golden Harvest. Czech-ish food like my Czech- and Yiddish- speaking grandmother used to make. The waitress was a beautiful young woman who told us “I want to be a dancer but Lansing Community College closed down its dance-major, and anyhow I live with my farmer boyfriend out on a farm in Portland….my whole life is something other than this, but….” I would like to write a novel about this woman. I won’t give you the plot, but she doesn’t become a dancer, her daughter does….. “I’ve already written four (still unpublished) autobiographies/memoirs, and have some 30 unpublished novels on my shelves.

“What happens is that new ideas keep coming into my mind every day….like the other day the idea that all of us represent the fulfillment of millions of years of development/evolution/history and that if we enjoy THE NOW the way she should we are fulfilling the dreams of our ancient ancestors. A little poem I wrote about that:


Momdad great-, great-, great, great-
all the cro-, pro-, pre– way back,
smelling, tasting, seeing the rebirthing
Mayness through the eyes of uncountable

“And…now…..ah, yes, my inner voices are starting to talk….there is one book I’ve never written that I’ve wanted to write. My grandmother spoke Czech all the times with her neighbors and clerks in stores in Cicero, outside Chicago…..Czech food, Czech-Jewish worldview….I’VE ALWAYS WANTED TO GO AND SPENT THREE OR FOUR MONTHS IN PRAGUE, LEARN SOME CZECH BEFORE I GO AND WRITE A NOVEL SIMILAR TO MY NOVEL IN THE BEGINNING ONLY SET IN PRAGUE INSTEAD OF PARIS. If only I had the possibility of going to Prague for a few months!!!!!!”

Let’s end it all on this final note…beat this damn underground literary drum one more time, the writing you and others, but YOU, Fox, in particular, have spent a lifetime “getting out there” via the underground because…well, you know the way things are. Give us your take as things stand now–as they have always stood? The relationship between underground and overground literature and the thrusts of American culture now.

“I think that Overground publishing in New York (agents and publishers) have formed a kind of NO-OUTSIDERS-ALLOWED CLUB. There’s no way you can get a review of one of your novels or collected poetry or anything else published in THE NEW YORKER or THE NEW YORK TIMES BOOK REVIEW. I mean take a town like Boston (including Somerville, Cambridge, etc.)..and there’s a HUGE, VITAL SUBCULTURE. My old pal Sam Cornish has become the Poet Laureate, Doug Holder runs Ibbetson Street Press which has an e-mail review site which is active every day and also does a lot of publishing, Gloria Mindock runs Cervena Barva Press which publishes great poets like Lo Gallucio, there’s a group called The Bagel Bards which gets together and reads poetry in an art gallery in Somerville…it’s a vital, alive society….but will you ever see anything about it on national TV? There’s a local station, OK…Doug Holder from Ibbetson interviewed me for it…but national TV? Depressing evening news, horrible films, horrible everything…..and the same is true for NY agents….no space, time….unless you conform to the seller rulebook. Now it’s moving to internet everything….only who goes searching for internet poetry, internet novels, etc.? It would be nice to see COSMEP reborn…..there are poets like Bree in Cleveland Heights or Potts out in Walla Walla , Krech in Berkeley who have poetry get-together festivals which are High Art, Mike Strozier of WORLD AUDIENCE in NYC is trying to triumph in the publishing industry…but out there in Never Never Land…forget it….we really need a rebirth of the Underground, for the Underground to RESURFACE again and this time invade the National Everything……nous verrons….”

Who is Hugh Fox? Below, about 4 pages of his “Somewhat Complete Bibliography”– of 66 pages…and counting…



  • Yama, Publish America, Frederick, Maryland, 2007.
  • The Last Summer,Xenos Books, Pasadena, California, 1995.
  • Shaman, Permeable Press, San Francisco, 1993.
  • Papa Funk: A Novel Excerpt, Brian C. Clark, Publisher, San Diego, California, 1986.
  • Leviathan — An Indian Ocean Whale Herd Journal, Carpenter Press, Pomeroy, Ohio, 1981.
  • Honeymoon/Mom, published as a special issue of December Magazine,Chicago, Vol. 20, Nos.3/4, 1978.
  • The Invisibles–A Dialectic, The Smith, New York, New York, by arrangement with Horizon Press, New York-London, 1976.
  • Just, Venice Publishing Corporation, Van Nuys, California, 1972.
  • The Angel, the Mago and Mama Glinka, A Ghost Dance Pilot Edition, Ghost Dance Press, East Lansing, Michigan, 1972.
  • Icehouse, A Roots Forming Press Book, Okemos, Michigan, 1970-71.
  • Countdown on an Empty Streetcar, Abyss, Somerville, Massachusetts, 1969.


  • The Brazil Poems , Whims of an Angel Press, Yakima, Washington , Fall, 2008.
  • Now-Alive , Green Panda Press, Cleveland Heights, OH, 2008. Illustrations by Peter Tabor.
  • Peace / La Paix out from Higganum Hill Books, Higganum Hill, Connecticut, 2008.
  • The Collected Poetry (540 pp.), World Audience, NYC, 2008.
  • Alex, Rubicon Press, Edmonton, Alberta, Canada, Spring, 2008. Cover by M.B.Costa-Fox.
  • Ghosts, Green Panda Press, Cleveland Heights, Ohio, Spring, 2008. Cover by M.B. Costa-Fox.
  • Where Sanity Begins, Cervena Barva Press, Somervllle, Masssachusetts, 2009.
  • Finalmente/ Finally: Brazilian poems translated from Portuguese, Solo Press, Carpinteria, California, 2007.
  • Defiance, Higganum Hill Press, Higganum Hill, Connecticut, 2007.
  • Time, Presa Press, Rockford, Michigan, 2005.
  • Blood Cocoon, Presa Press, Rockford Michigan, 2005 (Connie Fox)
  • Black Frogs, Mystery Island Publications (www.mysteryisland.net), 2004.
  • Hugh Fox: Greatest Hits, 1968-2001, Pudding House Publications, Johnstown, Ohio, 2003.
  • Voices, Three-Legged Dog Press, Plymouth, Michigan, 2002.
  • Boston: A Long Poem, Ibbetson Street Press, Somerville, Massachusetts, 2002.
  • The Angel of Death: O Anjo da Morte, Ibbetson Street Press, Somerville, Massachusetts, 2000.
  • Slides, special edition of Lilliput Review, Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, July, 2000.
  • Back, Ye Olde Font Shoppe, New Haven, Connecticut, 1999.
  • Strata, Mayapple Press, Saginaw, Michigan, 1998.
  • Techniques, K.C./Chicago Poems, Scars Publications, Chicago, Illinois,1995.
  • Once, Permeable Press, San Francisco, California, 1995.
  • The Sacred Cave and Other Poems, Omega Cat Press, Cupertino, California, 1992.
    Jamais Vu, Dusty Dog, Zuni, New Mexico, 1992.
  • Entre Nous, Trout Creek Press, Parkdale, Oregon, 1992. (Connie Fox.)
  • Time, The Plowman, Ontario, Canada, 1992.
  • For Richard (Dick) Thomas’ Fiftieth Birthday, Zerx Press, Albuquerque, New Mexico, 1991.
  • Our Lady of Laussel, Spectacular Diseases Press, Peterborough, England, 1991 (Connie Fox).
  • Song of Christopher, Clock Radio,n.p., 1987.
  • Nachthymnen, J. Muddfoot, Mudborn Press, Santa Barbara, California, 1986.(Connie Fox)
  • 10170, Trout Creek Press, Parkdale, Oregon, 1986. (Connie Fox)
    Babicka, Kangaroo Court Publishing, Erie, Pennslvania, 1986.(Connie Fox)
  • Oma: A Long Poem About the Amerindian Year Cycle Seen Through the Eyes of the Goddesses, Implosion Press, Stow, Ohio, 1985.
  • The Dream of the Black Topaze Chamber: The Poem Cycle, Ghost Poney Press, Madison, Wisconsin, 1983. (as Connie Fox)
  • Almazora 42, Laughing Bear Press, San Jose, California, 1982.
  • Yo Yo Poems, Allegra Press, East Lansing, Michigan, 1977.
  • The Face of Guy Lombardo, The Fault Press, Fremont, California, 1976.
  • Huaca, Ghost Dance Press, East Lansing, Michigan, 1975.
  • Survival Handbook: For my Son (And Youngest Daughter), Cat’s Pajamas , Ann Arbor, Michigan, 1972.
  • Handbook Against Gorgons, A Ghost Dance Press Pilot Edition, East Lansing, Michigan, 1971. (Drawings by E. Vigo).
  • Echoes Off the Human Tribe, Hellric Publications, Boston, 1971.
  • Paralytic Grandpa Dream Secretions, Morgan Press, Milwaukee, Wisconsin,1971.
  • The Industrial Ablution, Ghost Dance Press, E. Lansing, Michigan, 1971 (Graphics by Deisler).
  • Kansas City Westport Mantras, A Ghost Dance Press Pilot Edition, East Lansing, Michigan, January, 1971.
  • The Ecological Suicide Bus, Camels Coming Press, San Francisco, California, 1970.
  • The Permeable Man, Black Sun Press, Brooklyn, New York, 1969.
  • Son of Camelot Meets the Wolfman, Quixote, Madison, Wisconsin, 1969.
  • Glyphs, Fat Frog Press, San Bruno, California, 1969.
  • Capabilities (drawings in Part I by Cathy Cuiss), Ghost Dance Press, East Lansing, Michigan, 1969.
  • Open Letter to a Closed System, Mercenary Press, Cleveland, Ohio, 1969.
    Apotheosis of Olde Towne, Fat Frog Press, San Bruno, California, 1968.
  • The Headless Centaurs–Their Voyage and Conquest, centerfold book in The Wormwood Review, Storrs, Connecticut, Vol.8, No.4, Issue Number 32, 1968.
  • Eye Into Now, Ediciones de la Frontera, Los Angeles, California, 1967.
  • Soul-Catcher Songs, Ediciones de la Frontera, Los Angeles, California, 1967.
  • 40 Poems, Coleción Nuestro Tiempo, Caracas, Venezuela, 1966.
  • Skin, Gland Press (really Abyss…this is a satire on early Lifshin), Somerville, Massachusetts, no date.
  • The Angel of the Chairs, a series of 6 poems with accompanying lithographs by the Argentinian artist, Amalia Cortina Aravena, Ghost Dance Press, East Lansing, Michigan, undated, but probably 1971. One copy in the Special Collections at Michigan State U. library, 2 copies in the possession of the author, the rest destroyed.

Short Fiction

  • The Bardo Conductor,(32 flash-fictions) published in e-zine Cantaraville, #4, October, 2008.(32 short fictions).
  • Wobbley Zombies, Goose River Press, 2004.
  • The Point of Points, French Bread Publications, Campbell, California, 1996.
  • The entirety of Sketches from Xibalbay, a volume of short fiction, in Beyond Baroque, Venice, California, Spring, 1978.
  • Happy Deathday, Vagabond Press, Ellensburg, Washington, 1977.
  • The Face of Guy Lombardo, The Fault Press, Fremont, California, 1976.
  • Peeple, Dustbooks, Paradise, California, 1973.


  • The Living Underground: A Prose Anthology, Whitston Press, Troy,New York, 1999.
  • The Ghost Dance Anthology: Twenty-Five Years of Poetry from Ghost Dance, 1968-1993/Other Kinds of Scores, Whitston Publishing Company, Troy, New York, 1994, preceded by a spiralbound notebook used in classes at MSU, called Other Kinds of Scores,Phase 1, 1991.
  • Poesia Também é Literatura: Uma Antologia de Poesia Norteamericana Contemporanea, edited with an introduction by Hugh Fox, published as Vol.1, Numbers 2 and 3 of Ilha do Desterro, U. of Santa Catarina, Florianópolis, Brazil, May, 1979.
  • First Fire: Central and South American Indian Poetry,edited with an introduction by Hugh Fox, Anchor Books, Garden City, New York, 1978.
  • The Living Underground: An Anthology of Contemporary American Poetry, Whitston Publishing Company, Troy, New York, 1973.
  • The Living Underground,An Anthology of Contemporary American Poetry, ed. by Hugh Fox and Sam Cornish, mimeo edition, Ghost Dance Press, East Lansing, Michigan, 1969.

katha pollit | moth

22 04 2009


In Celebration of Earth Day


Matthew 6:19

Come bumble-footed ones,
dust squigglers, furry ripplers,

inchers and squirmers
humble in gray and brown,

find out our secret places,
devour our hearts,

measure us, geometer, with your curved teeth!
Leaves lick at the window, clouds

stream away,
yet we lie here,

locked in our dark chambers

when we could rise in you
brief, splendid

twenty-plume, gold-
spotted ghost, pink scavenger,

luna whose pale-green wings
glow with moons and planets

at one with the burning world
whose one desire is to escape itself.

Katha Pollitt

[from THE NEW YORKER, April 20, 2009]

jorge luis borges | the just

14 04 2009

Poetry Dispatch No. 277 | April 14, 2009


The Just
by Jorge Luis Borges

A man who cultivates his garden, as Voltaire wished.
He who is grateful for the existence of music.
He who takes pleasure in tracing an etymology.
Two workmen playing, in a café in the South,
aaaa silent game of chess.
The potter, contemplating a color and a form.
The typographer who sets this page well,
aaathough it may not please him.
A woman and a man, who read the last tercets
aaaof a certain canto.
He who strokes a sleeping animal.
He who justifies, or wishes to, a wrong done him.
He who is grateful for the existence of a Stevenson.
He who prefers others to be right.
These people, unaware, are saving the world.

Translated by Alastair Reid from: “Insomnia”, Six Poems by Jorge Luis Borges, Harper’s Magazine, February, 1999

norbert blei | six found-poems in the words and paintings of andrew wyeth

10 04 2009

Poetry Dispatch No. 276 | April 9, 2009


Six Found-Poems in the Words and Paintings of Andrew Wyeth

We have all seen and discovered poems before we ever read them or found the words to write them ourselves. For as long as I remember I have ‘rescued’ (found?) poems in my surroundings.

Especially poems in the city: the writ of grit; words on walls; words scratched on homemade window signs; words twisted into colorful tubes lighting up the night skies, morphing into a mix of watercolor puddles at your feet in the glowing, wet streets; cryptic words and images chalked on concrete sidewalks by children, the truly legitimate artists of the world—ah, but for the moment.

For as long as I remember, I have communed with art and artists on every level. Brought things out-into-the-open within myself, outside myself. If ‘going-to-church’ had any meaning and effect upon me as a child, it was the glitter of gold and silver chalices; the sheen of sacred vestments, vigil candles flickering in ruby light; stained glass windows romancing the morning and evening light; the blue of the statuesque Blessed Virgin and blood-red robe of Christ, the Sacred Heart arm and hand outstretched to the multitudes; statues draped in purple during Lent. And the greatest graphic novel in the world which arrested a child’s wandering eyes when candles, chants, bells and incense lifted you toward being/not being there…that life everlasting medieval mural showing the way (for Mexican muralists and New York graffiti artists to come)…the journey, depicted along both walls of church, santuario, and cathedral: The Stations of the Cross. Lost and found. THIS way–>

Among my closest artist-friends in my lifetime, I have always seen ‘the writer’ (the poet), “the word” in the paint. Even when some never saw it, some refused to consider it. Or, in the case of my friend, Emmett Johns, we seemed mutually aware of what we held in hand, which I longed to capture (for his sake, my sake and others) in a book: I THOUGHT YOU WERE THE PICTURE, 1996, limited edition, 500 copies, Cross+Roads Press, #6. (Sold Out). The idea coming together after my seeing/reading stacks of his sketchbooks one winter, delighting in their richness of line, their sense of story, self-analysis, perception … everything down-on-paper as you see it, in the artists own words and images..

I experienced somewhat the same discovery recently going through books about Andrew Wyeth’s life and works. (See previous Poetry Dispatches –Wyeth & Peterson–at www.poetrydispatch.wordpress.com). I saw the simple poetry of Wyeth’s own words whenever he spoke about what he saw, felt. How it all came together in painting. His life as art. His art as life.– Norbert Blei

Toll Rope

Inside the church at Wylie’s Corner, Maine,
I liked going up in the belfry.
The dry quality of that church steeple,
the dried flowers,…and the sea anchor
wrapped in black crepe
from the seamen’s funerals…
totally New England.

Mill in Winter

I’m intrigued by the first moments
of a snowstorm. There’s danger in it.
You never know how it’s going to turn out.
I love the bleakness of winter and snow,
get a thrill out of the chill. God, I’ve frozen
my ass off painting snow scenes!
I’m taken by the bleakness—
not the melancholy feeling of snow.
My winter scenes…they’re not romantic.
They capture that marvelous, lonely bleakness—
the quiet, the chill reality of winter.


Look at the feeling of the lips,
the feeling of the sleeping eye,
the light that goes over the body.
Anyone who’s watched a female
form at night in that kind of light
knows that this has a strong female smell to it.
This picture—and most of the Helga pictures—
are too real for some people. You have to feel
deeply to do this kind of thing. You can’t
conjure it up, There’s a penetrating and throbbing
sexual feeling in all of the Helga pictures. I felt
the country, the house, Germany, and the dreamy,
moist, rich female smell—the whole thing.
Wholesome…fresh…really American.

Open House

…a house on a back road in Maine
where horses were rented out to ride.
I took the nurse who was taking care of me,
after I had my hip operation…she loved to ride.
..a foggy day…the house was gray, with all these
horses—one even stuck inside the house,
sticking his head out the window. The owner had a
daughter who kept horses, and he told me,
“She’s got a few boards missing in the attic.”

Love in the Afternoon

I was looking out the window in the Mill…
I go to that window and open it in the morning,
close it in the evening.
I wanted again that tawny feeling of winter
and grasses matted… I was taken by the feeling
of almost falling out of that window.
I didn’t want a frame around it.
I didn’t want a feeling of the inside of the room…
I wanted the feeling of pushing this windowpane out
and letting in the air and that you’re just there
for a second.










[SOURCES: ANDREW WYETH Autobiography, introduction by Thomas Hoving, Konecky & Konecky, 1995, $50. ANDREW WYETH, Museum of Fine Arts, Boston, MA. Introduction by David McCord; Selection by Frederick A. Sweet]