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.





norbert blei | small presses, small writers, big voices

2 03 2009

NOTES from the UNDERGROUND No. 171 | March 2, 2009

: (small press reviews #1)

Small Presses, Small Writers, BIG Voices

With this posting, #171, Notes from the Underground will periodically showcase the reviews of Wisconsin’s own, Charles Ries — one of the small press warriors out there, devoted to spreading the word of writers and works that never get the attention they deserve. We’ve all heard that before.

Writers, readers, reviewers, publishers, lovers of grassroots/real/experimental/lost literature to be found mainly in the ‘underground’—we’re all in this together. For better or worse. Certainly not for profit. But for the good of the soul.

I hope you will read the reviews. I hope you will purchase some of the books…support the cause of new and seasoned writers who need to be read, need to know that somebody out there is listening.

Most of these writers cannot be found at Amazon. com nor are their books readily available at Barnes and Noble. A few independent, often local bookstores…perhaps. Mail order, most likely. From the trunks of their cars? Possibly. (The personal touch).

Lend them your ear—and a few shekels along the way. –Norbert Blei

BREATHER

By Bruce Dethlefsen

83 pages / 59 poems / $15 – Fire Weed Press

Review by – Charles P. Ries*

Bruce Dethlefsen doesn’t write many books of poetry. It’s been six years since he came out with his second book, Something Near the Dance Floor by Marsh River Editions. And one doesn’t see much of his poetry in and around the small press, but my-oh-my, when he decides to show us his good stuff, he comes out swinging. In this, his third and largest collection of poetry, Dethlefsen does most everything right. He is a master of drawing word pictures that are at once narrative stories, melodies, and free association free-for-alls.

The book is broken into five sections that broadly define the thematic mood of Dethlefsen’s mind: migrant, knots, poet warrior, secrets, and autopsy. There is great kindness here, and a mind with a very wide reach.

Here are two poems from Breather. “Playing the Field”: “you hover / you say I’m not your first flower / your first lover // you lower yourself / how hoverly / how loverly / then leave // oh bee / my honey boy / oh baby mine / come back to me”. And “When Somebody Calls after Ten P.M.”: “when somebody calls after ten p.m. / and you live in wisconsin / and you’re snug in your bed // then all’s I can tell you / somebody better be missing / somebody better had a baby / or somebody better be dead”.

In Breather, Dethlefsen flows from the concrete to ethereal. He orbits around the collective unconscious like a Jungian astronaut – his interior radar big enough to find meaning in both the great moments and the small nuances of life. This is the blessing of the mature poet – one who has lived hundreds of lives and can bring this diversity of experience to us as a numinous pool of images to soak in. Breather is an exceptional collection of poetry.

Editor’s Note: Send Check or Order To: Bruce Dethlefsen, 422 Lawrence Street, Westfield, WI 53964

d.a. levy & the mimeograph revolution

Edited by: Larry Smith & Ingrid Swanberg

Review By: Charles P. Ries

A few months ago I asked Chris Harter, Editor/Publisher of Bathtub Gin who were some the pioneers in the independent small press movement. He said without a doubt one of them had to be the late d.a. levy of Cleveland, Ohio – this was the first time I had ever heard of d.a. levy.

Levy was 26 years old when he shot himself. Well regarded small press editor, Len Fulton says that the mimeo graph revolution “is almost overwhelming in its reach and passion for its subject. It is sobering to think that one young person could accomplish so much in so short a time, while confronting torment from within – and genuine torments from without.” While I enjoyed reading levy’s poetry and seeing his visual art, what I found most compelling were the numerous interviews with him from this time period. They reminded me how ground breaking the free speech movement of the 1960’s was, and what a wonderful, diverse and passionate group of poets were at the forefront of this effort.

In Karl Young’s essay on levy he says, “levy invented more literary forms then any other young poet working in the U.S. in the 1960’s.” Levy who only graduated from high school devoured books and build an international network of writing friends. He was consumed by language and words. When he was arrested on obscenity charges in 1967 Allen Ginsberg and the infamous Fugs (Ed Sanders rock group) came to Cleveland for benefit concert. He never left Cleveland or, rather never gave up on Cleveland. As Ed Sanders says, “Cleveland was levy’s decision. I think it was an act of Cleveland patriotism. ….he wasn’t going to let anyone drive him out.”

Contributors to this book include: Ed Sanders, T.L. Kryss, Karl Young, Allen Frost, Larry Smith, Russell Salamon, John Jacob, Doug Manson, and Michael Basinski. The book includes a 2006 DVD of Kon Petrochuk’s film documentary titled, if i scratch, if i write. It also includes a chronology of his life and work, biographical essays, photographs, interviews, profiles, statements, letters, art work, collage, poems, critical appreciations of his writing and art, “Cleveland Prints” in full color. This is as comprehensive and riveting a book about an artist, passion, and persecution as I have ever read. It’s all meat, no bullshit. I found it confounding and amazing that such a young, untrained writer could grow himself in to such a remarkable talent in so short a time.

Editor’s Note: Bottom Dog Press, P.O. Box 425, Huron, Ohio 44839, Price: $25 / 264 Pages

ANGELFLIES IN MY IDIOTSOUP

By: Christopher Robin

Review By: Charles P. Ries

I don’t read many poets whose world I enjoy entering more than Christopher Robin’s. Angelflies In My Idiotsoup is Robin’s third book of poetry and his best work to date. Again, he captivated me with his view from the street as he reflects on his circle of friends, poets, losers, and lovers. His stories are mesmerizing in their own right, but come to life through his significant gift at creating metaphors and word unions that collide street culture with pop culture. I would say, in this case, to be able to write it one must have lived it. I often think “humor” has become poetry’s dirty word or the kiss of death if one has ambitions. But none of this matters to Robin who continues to find something to laugh at while visiting the snake pit. He reports to us from his village, but was there ever a village populated by such an array of nut cases, lost souls and hearts seeking healing? I don’t think so.

Editor’s Note: Platonic 3 Way Press, Post Office Box 844, Warsaw, IN 46581, Price: $5, 27 Pages/ 18 Poems

*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. Most recently he was awarded the Wisconsin Regional Writers Association “Jade Ring” Award for humorous poetry. 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.

A citizen philosopher, Ries lived in London and North Africa after college where he studied the mystical teachings of Islam called Sufism. In 1989 he worked with the Dalai Lama on a program that brought American religious leaders and psychotherapists together for a weeklong dialogue. It was during this same week that the Dalai Lama was awarded his Nobel Peace Prize. Ries has done extensive work with men’s groups and worked with a Jungian Psychotherapist for over five years during which time he recorded five hundred dreams and learned to find the meanings in small things. He is a third degree Reiki healer, and has received advanced yoga training. He now finds mystical insight while drinking brandy old-fashioned sweets and writing in his basement.

Ries has begun work on a second book entitled, SEEKER, which will follow his path as a mystic in Morocco, and subsequent floundering while living in Los Angeles. All of which has convinced him of the time-honored wisdom, “wherever you go, there you are” and “this isn’t Kansas, Dorothy.” He lives and writes in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, with his two daughters, four frogs, two cats, and one salamander on a wooded street along the lazy Menomonee River three doors down from his brother, Joe.





norbert blei | for writers, poets, and artists in particular

27 02 2008

double_happiness.jpg

NOTES from the UNDERGROUND… No. 132 | February 27, 2008

NOTE:
For Writers, Poets, and Artists in Particular——-

In Defense of Sadness: Happiness Is Overrated

Americans love to be happy — just look at the self-help section of your local book store. But writer and professor Eric Wilson thinks happiness is overrated. After trying yoga, salads, tai-chi, and a few of those self-help tomes, Wilson concluded: “The road to hell is paved with happy plans.” In his new book, AGAINST HAPPINESS, Wilson argues that there is a vital need for sadness in the world and says we’re missing out if we medicate it away. Jerome Wakefield, a professor at New York University School of Medicine, also weighs in on happiness in America. He’s the co-author of The Loss of Sadness: How Psychiatry Transformed Normal Sorrow into Depressive Disorder.

At the behest of well-meaning friends, I have purchased books on how to be happy. I have tried to turn my chronic scowl into a bright smile. I have attempted to become more active, to get away from my dark house and away from my somber books and participate in the world of meaningful action. … I have contemplated getting a dog. I have started eating salads. I have tried to discipline myself in nodding knowingly. … I have undertaken yoga. I have stopped yoga and gone into tai chi. I have thought of going to psychiatrists and getting some drugs. I have quit all of this and then started again and then once more quit. Now I plan to stay quit. The road to hell is paved with happy plans.

Wilson has embraced his inner gloom, and he wishes more people would do the same. The English professor at Wake Forest University wants to be clear that he is not “romanticizing” clinical depression and that he believes it is a serious condition that should be treated.

But he worries that today’s cornucopia of antidepressants — used to treat even what he calls “mild to moderate sadness” — might make “sweet sorrow” a thing of the past. “And if that happens, I wonder, what will the future hold? Will our culture become less vital? Will it become less creative?” he asks.

Wilson talks to Melissa Block about why the world needs melancholy — how it pushes people to think about their relation to the world in new ways and ultimately to relate to the world in a richer, deeper way.

He also explores the link between sadness, artistic creation and depression — which has led to suicide in many well-known cases: Virginia Woolf, Vincent Van Gogh, Hart Crane and Ernest Hemingway, for instance. Wilson says perhaps this is “just part of the tragic nature of existence, that sometimes there’s a great price to be paid for great works or beauty, for truth.”

“We can look at the lives of Dylan Thomas, Virginia Woolf, Hart Crane and others and lament the fact that they suffered so. Yet at the same time, we’re buoyed, we’re overjoyed by the works they left behind,” Wilson says.

The husband and father of a young daughter also acknowledges that melancholy is “difficult terrain to negotiate in domestic situations.” He says there are certainly times when his family hoped he would be “happier,” and yet they would not want him to pretend to feel something he doesn’t.

Wilson says that by taking his melancholy seriously, his family ultimately will get to know him more deeply and develop a more intimate relationship with him.

“To get to know your partner, your spouse, your friend fully, you really have to find a way to embrace the dark as well as the light. Only then can you know that
person,” he says.

[SOURCE: NPR, “In Defense of Sadness: Happiness Is Overrated”, February 14, 2008. Check the website to read and/or listen.]








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