These are for YOU NorbertO’, with all our love.

23 08 2019

As Norb’s birthday rolls into view, I am compelled wanting to say something to him / about him (like: you should be here … ) to share on his Poetry Dispatch post. He would be 84 this August 23rd.

It occurs to me that I and the family are not the only ones who love him, miss him … I asked a few of his closest friends and members of “the Blei tribe” if they’d like to make a comment? A sentence or two … an experience, a thought of him, a lingering memory?

These are for YOU NorbertO’, with all our love. ~ Jude


“In an old journal recently found, I talked of how I loved Norb and my early days at the Clearing. I remember his sort of talking me into playing my guitar on a Friday night, and I was paralyzed and not only splatted all the chords but couldn’t sing a note. Fortunately, his big voice boomed out “Those Were the Days, My Friend,” and they really were.” ~Jackie Langetieg


“Ah – there he is – teacher, mentor, inspiration, friend! Our birthdays were just 5 months apart (1935 was a good year.) Without his encouragement I wouldn’t have figured out I could write poetry; I wouldn’t have a single book. I’ll be eternally grateful!” ~ Alice D’Alessio


“The way to do is to be – Lao Tzu. The way to write is to write – Norber Blei


This is the quote and mindset that began and shaped Norb’s annual class at The Clearing Folk School, the class he led for over 40 years. I first attended that class in 1996, in 2001 Norb published my first book under his Cross+Roads Press, and this year, 6 years after Norb’s passing, I have the privilege and honor to still be teaching Norb’s Writing Workshop at The Clearing. Yes, I miss his presence and wisdom, but through his writing, I can regularly share a visit with him and his no-nonsense ways, “If you are not quietly writing who you are, where you are, at the time you are, you are not writing the fictional truth, but living the transparent lie” (The Winter Book). Each year as I prepare my Clearing writing class, I am visited by Norb’s influence -and maybe it’s his spirit or energy or dare I say ghost? that points me toward just the right passage, whether from his own writing or someone else’s. After seven summer workshops, the class has taken on my own personal touch, but I do my best to maintain Norb’s approach and teaching style. And every year I find more of his words to share with my students. Words to live and write by: “Don’t live second-handedly! The poetry of other people is good for only a beginning. But it’s nothing compared to the poems you hold inside yourself.” (Adventures in An American’s Literature) Happy 84th Birthday, Norb, you’re still with us! ~Al DeGenova


“Norb: a writer, a philosopher, a mentor, a friend, a baker, a lover of Door County, a drinker of good scotch, and a defender of the Bridge.” ~ Rev Michael Brecke


“Having come from similar backgrounds, I felt I had good insights into Norb’s reactions to life here and now, that is to beautiful Door County in the late 20th Century. And I was absolutely delighted when he began asking me to illustrate his wonderful writings.” ~Chick Peterson


“Without Norb, I would not have become anything more than scribbler of words. I learned that poetry can be seriously pursued. Miss ya, man.” ~Michael Koehler


“Norb was a very gifted teacher and I thank Phyllis Ingwersen for dragging me out of the weaving class at the Clearing In Winter one day saying “you belong in this writing class! Norb’s first words to the class were, “write something, any thing, about the color red.” It was my introduction to writing and a fine teacher. “ ~Sue Peterson


“I miss Norb… I REALLY miss Norb! I first found Norb in the Reminder… that followed up with my very first NorbTOON that Lonnie printed in his paper THREE times… I know that rubbed Norb the wrong way. Then, I met him for the first time outside a bookstore (imagine that) on Thrid in Sturgeon Bay. He knew of me and said he “LOVED that toon! Lonnie didn’t need to print it in the same paper THREE times though…” followed by a guffaw! Made me smile out loud : ). We became best buds. I really miss his serendipitous phone calls/ dropping in always unannounced and ALWAYS welcome/ his huge guffaws! His stories/ his ideas/ his manila envelopes with rubber stamped icons and stickers and hand typed (old fashioned typewriter) address. … inside, newspaper clippings he thought were of importance/ interest to me; I missed him ALWAYS asking about the kids, and Dede. I miss the coffee houses / trip to Bayfield with Jude and Dede / concerts / dinners / lunches; I miss just stopping by his house followed by that warm smile wider than his mustache! The very last time I went to see Norb, at Scandia, just days prior to him leaving us all … I could see he was trying to conceal horrendous pain -Norb says “How’re the kids, what are they up to? How’s Dede, How’s her shop doing?” Whew… choker : / .
Love you Norb. Happy Birthday! ~Mike McCartney


“Love … is not simply a recollection of a bygone past,
but a living force sustaining us in the present …
love that transcend the limits of time
and offers hope in all moments of our lives.”
~ Henri Nouwen


“You are there; I here; worlds separate us
Death’s angels, the void of space . . .
Yet I say your name and waves of light
Wash to me silently from your Heart.”
~Jalal-ud-Din-Rumi






Happy Birthday Norbert!

23 08 2015
Artwork by Norbert Blei

Artwork by Norbert Blei

všechno nejlepší k narozeninám !





Jude Genereaux | He is here…

22 08 2014

NorbertBleica1965..

Norbert Blei ca. 1965

He is here …

Last night, Thursday August 21, a first effort BLUES ON THE BAY event was held in the heart of our beloved village Ellison Bay. One of the sponsors, Jennifer Lee, mentioned Norb had noted in the not too distant past, that the only thing Ellison Bay needed was “a little blues…”. Well, he sure gave us that.

Opening for Chicago’s Billy Flynn was our local Pete Thelan, one of the best of Norb’s loyal band of coyotes; Pete belted out “Sweet Home Door County” for Norb and sent it skyward with the assurance “We MISS you!” … and his wish that he was here.

He is here. He’s all around us, always in this little town … just over my shoulder, just out of view, but he’s here in every sunrise, sunset, poppy bursting orange and birch tree glowing white. Every drive north on 42 there comes a glimpse of a little beige Honda and for a moment, I see his beaming face behind the wheel. For a moment, turning on Europe Bay Road, I am just going home. He’s in our booth at the Viking for “early bird breakfast”, at the counter in the Pioneer picking up a movie for after dinner, in the post office each time I open Box #33, and turning into The Clearing path on my walks up Garrett Bay Road. And he was here with us on the bay as Pete belted out the blues last night.

Life will never be as good, as vibrant or joyful without his rumbling voice in my ear, without his words on Poetry Dispatch for all of us to savor, but one can always find him … because he is Here. In Ellison Bay. On this August 23rd, 79th Birthday, and always. — Jude Genereaux





Jude Genereaux | Happy Birthday Darlen’ …

23 08 2013

Happy Birthday Darlen’ …
78 this day: August 23rd, 2013.

You may find yourself in grander company this birthday dinner Norbert, up there with Dave Brubeck & Studs, Vaclav Havel … my brother Al? But Norbr’ – ya shoulda been here. We – all of us, Blei’s & Buff’s & Aunt Lorry & the Blei-Tribe miss you more than you would have imagined. You left us all – too soon.

And I really don’t know how to do this …
learning to live without the sense of your presence in the simplicities of every day life ~ the habits & routines created, moments I turn with news to tell you … the hardest time – 5:45, when I expect you to be coming in from the Coop. Not that we hadn’t spent time apart … but one of us was always on the road back. Always.

How do the rest of us sing our songs without the lilt that made them come alive? much less celebrate days empty without you? Or move through the favorite month of August when it echoes so much loss? These things we never want to learn.

So be patient (for once) until I get back to your side. Our picnics will be quieter now, but I’ll come sit in the grass beside you & recall the ways we honored our holidays – anniversaries & birthdays. For as much as you’d protest that you “didn’t want all that attention!” – you did. Never flinched as favorite restaurant people in Milwaukee & Door served up cupcakes & candles … protests rang hollow up north as well, as Tag-Along or Five O’Clock sang choruses of “Happy Birthday”, you – smiling like a kid.

You left us all too soon, so we’re singing our songs to you with all our hearts … forgive us if they sound a little off key.
~ your Jude

Birthday Gifts

We sit face to face
center of the bed
sharing birthday surprises.

A rose for you
pressed impatiens for me
a watercolor, photo of dawn
strawberries and books
A heart of gold, a truffle or two;
backrubs and chatter
your face
next to mine in the morning.

The true gift is: Time
to lean into hunger
speak the secret language
taste the sweet peace of Renewal.

So run us a tub, my hot lovin’ man
fill it with passion fruit foam
and sink in beside me.
Joy
bubbles forth
You
are the promise
my life bargained for.

Hoarding

I want the shirt he died in.
I want the clothes pins, our dishes,
the last bottle of champagne …

I want all the books, love letters, the
movies and our blankets and
the time we wasted …

I want to hang the sheets, trim his mane
fetch him coffee, bring home bird seed
& go to breakfast at the Viking …

I want his hands, those eyes
his bump in the night
I want him back.

~ Jude Genereaux
Coyote Woman

norbandjude