Friday, December 9, 2011

Mark Zuckerberg: Creepy Guy of the Year

Is Mark Zuckerberg's creepy smile
predicated on having turning Facebook
into a tawdry advertising fishwrap?

Mark Zuckerberg and Facebook: the strategies of a pedophile:
  1. Hook 'em in with candy.
  2. Abuse 'em with a blizard of ads.
  3. Get 'em to tolerate being abused.

What we can do:

Call or email your congressman.  Ask that Facebook be regulated by the FCC and that it's financial books be opened.

Consult an attorney.  Is it possible there's a class action law suit that could eventually result in Facebook having to pay each  user a dollar for each ad placed on his or her page?

Call for an IRS audit of Mark Zuckerberg and of Facebook.

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Postcard to Kay Boyle

Kay Boyle
Palo Alto, California, 1978 or 1979

Postcard to Kay Boyle

Dear Kay,  The Revolution never arrived.
Tonight, far off, flames are singing
to a black sky, a Gaelic god's
shameless indifference.  The half-inspired
novelist-revolutionaries you fed
on Frederick Street are now sixty-something,
glum in Tenderloin hotels stacked with tales
no one will publish.  A few have chucked words
to craft strawberry-scented candles
on the Mendocino coast... and their meth-addled
children hate the patchouli stench of them.
I hope you have forgiven me for using
your letter of introduction to Beckett
to light a turf fire in Donegal.  Kate bakes
brownies as if our kids are still at home.
I spend nights walking toward a fire
maybe fifteen miles across high desert.
God love you, Kay.  Never slack-jawed,
never too weary to insist on marzipan
for every living soul, you were beautiful
as soft Irish rain.  Where you are,
I hope you have settled in with your beloveds,
Joyce, McAlmon, Beckett, and Ernest Walsh...
and that Hemingway is not
there to taunt you.  Love, Red

*  This poem is included in Red Shuttleworth's 2010 poetry chapbook, Drug Store Vaquero (Phoenix: The Basement).

Postcard to Jerry L. Crawford

Playwright Jerry L. Crawford

Postcard to Jerry L. Crawford

Dear Jerry,  We're at the radiant-blood precipice,
tumbleweeds snagged by barb wire.  Yesterday,
as daybreak floated across rock and sagebrush,
someone left a blood-dripping, gut-and-lung shot
coyote in a shopping cart in the Moses Lake
Wal-Mart parking lot.  The cart boy, Brent,
was dispatched to have a look.
It didn't fucking starve to death, he told his boss
before phoning me.  This is not, Jerry,
theatre for castratos of The New Yorker variety.
As I rolled up in my cherry-red Mustang,
chewing tobacco, listening to the Cowboy Junkies,
Brent was laying a couple of large black plastic bags
over the bullet-riddled carcass in the cart.
It caught me in its gaze, Brent whined,
like I was the pimplehead who shot it.
I told him to shut up.  A crowd was gathering.
Then the wind lifted the bags and they spun
off the cart and a clownish girl, with orange hair
and a black dog collar, began dancing.
A guy in the crowd snapped, For Christ's sake,
Nina, we came here for groceries and beer!
So Brent pushed the dead coyote cart
around to the back of the store, dumped the coyote
at the edge of the lake where we buried it
with brand new, soon-to-be-on-sale shovels.
It's a bit like baseball, Jerry:
where the head goes, the body follows.
We're almost over the wall, Red

*  This poem is contained in a 2010 Red Shuttleworth poetry chapbook, Drug Store Vaquero (Phoenix: The Basement).

Postcard to Julie Jensen

Playwright Julie Jensen

Postcard to Julie Jensen

Dear Miss Julie,  Gust of arctic wind and I shamble
into an all-night roadside cafe.  My casual seizures
of inappropriate rage or amusement are twenty years
north of Vegas and Red Rock.  In one booth
a couple of kinds are mutually glazed
with denim 'n leather seduction.  Up the aisle
there's a girl with frizzed blonde hair,
blue fingernails, and kippered face,
bred LDS-upright and tamped down,
wickedly perfumed, trembling over coffee...
a character from one of your plays?
The waitress jingles and scuffs toward me
with a dog-eared menu, grins like a rock chuck.
Unshaven for days and not a fraction rich,
I still listen to my lunatic heart.
My waitress has cigarette burns in her voice.
She's stoned, chewing gum.  I order
a night's sleep covered with a buffalo robe.
She serves me charred bacon and a gooey
fried egg, says, as if I've invited her to bed,
I don't trust guys in snap shirts and trophy buckles.
She's ice rain on warped corral boards.
Julie, you know the bump
of this country.  Love, Red

*  This poem is contained in a 2010 Red Shuttleworth chapbook, Drug Store Vaquero (Phoenix: The Basement).

Saturday, October 29, 2011

Norman H. Russell

 Norman H. Russell
March 1981
Fairbury, Nebraska

Norman H. Russell

No poet saw more of his poems appear in literary journals between 1970 and 1985 than Norman H. Russell.

News was carried to me recently that Russell died on May 14th of this year at age 89.

An internationally respected botanist, Russell began his poetry career relatively late... in his late forties... after taking a teaching post at Central State University in Edmond, Oklahoma.  He had made his name as an expert in the violet.  Although Russell had been a devoted reader of poetry, he only felt the impulse to write his own poems after  becoming a regular patron of the public zoo in Oklahoma City.  The first poems were about those zoo animals.  But soon Russell was writing out of his Cherokee ancestry.

 Night Dog and Other Poems
by Norman H. Russell
(Cottonwood Review, 1971)

Norman H. Russell's poems appeared in, literally, hundreds of magazines.  Some of them were dreadful.  Russell didn't seem to care.  He wrote a batch of poems... he sent out a batch of poems.  New journals appeared every month.  There were dozens of new journals launched every month in the early seventies.  Anybody within a few miles of a Xerox machine could start a magazine.  Most of those magazines died early. Some were good, a few were great, most were packed with mediocre-at-best poetry.  Russell did not appear to care about a magazine's reputation.

Frequently Russell published poems in most of the distinguished magazines of that period, including Ann Arbor Review, Crazy Horse, Dakotah Territory, Denver Quarterly, The Georgia Review, Ironwood, Kansas Quarterly, Laurel Review, Massachusetts Review, Nimrod, The Ohio Review, Poetry Northwest, Poetry Now, Poetry Texas, Prairie Schooner, Roanoke Review, South Dakota Review, Southern Humanities Review, Texas Portfolio, Virginia Quarterly Review, and Wisconsin Review. 

 The Longest March
by Norman H. Russell
(Nebraska Review Chapbook, 1980)

Norman H. Russell, writing out of his sense of himself as Cherokee and  humanist, wrote jewel-like poems... incantations toward reconciliation of man with nature.  Many young poets of the seventies admired Russell... he was a hero of poetry.  The Literati, though, were not quite prepared to adore, much less offer respect and homage, to Russell or his poems.  Perhaps Russell was too prolific, made writing great poems seem too easy, for the literary establishment.  The bastards of the Literati never fully embraced Norman H. Russell... no more than they embraced, for instance, Charles Bukowski.  Russell did not seem to care.  He sent his poems out... magazines published most of them. More than a dozen Norman H. Russell chapbooks and books appeared 

Luckily I came to know Russell's work and eventually became friends with him.  

In the early eighties, he got me a poetry reading at Central State University, where he was vice president for academic affairs.  I stayed with Russell and his wife, Arline, and we had a grand time.  Russell saw that I carried, as was my habit in those days, a sack of baseballs and a couple of gloves and two or three Louisville Slugger bats in the trunk of my car.  I was in my thirties.  Russell was decades older than me, but he insisted on playing catch.  So there we were on Thrush Circle in Edmond, Oklahoma, tossing a baseball back and forth for half an hour, talking poetry.  Russell had a fine arm, even at age 59, and moved fluidly and received the ball with soft hands.  We played catch... not fetch.  

His Edmond neighbors were not so happy that Russell had turned against mowing his property... had restored it to its natural state, encouraging local rattlers and coyotes and deer to live beside him... and near his nervous neighbors.  

Norman H. Russell bushwhacked a trail for many Native American poets.  He was the first Indian to publish poetry widely.  He supported the growth of many poets, Indian and non-Indian, and helped more than a few gain publication.  Norman H. Russell was extraordinary in his generosity toward young poets... including me.

One can only hope, with the passing of Russell, an appropriate university press will take on the assembling and publication of a large collection of Norman H. Russell's best poems.

From Star to Leaf:
Selected Poems of Norman H. Russell
(Mr. Cogito Press - Pacific University, 1995)

Norman H. Russell books and chapbooks (an incomplete bibliography):

At the Zoo, JRD Publishing company, 1969

Night Dog and Other Poems, Cottonwood Review, 1971

Indian Thoughts, Blue Cloud Quarterly, 1972

Russell: The Man, The Teacher, The Indian, Northwoods Press, 1974

Open the Flower, The Perishable Press, 1974

Indian Thoughts: A Great Chief, BkMk Press, 1975

Indian Thoughts: The Children of God, University of California - Los Angeles, 1975

Indian Thoughts: My Journey, Blue Cloud Quarterly, 1980

The Longest March, Nebraska Review (chapbook #3), 1980

From Star to Leaf: Selected Poems of Norman H. Russell, Mr. Cogito Press - Pacific University, 1995

Monday, October 10, 2011

Wolf Shuttleworth: Interview

Wolf Shuttleworth
with Red Shuttleworth

Wolf Shuttleworth: Interview

Q:  You're a dog.

Wolf:  Irish Wolfhound.  Long literary tradition.  My kind is known for war and hunting down wolves, but we kept civilization literate during the Dark Ages.

Q:  Wolfhound are the largest breed of dog, right?  How big are you?

Wolf:  I'm pretty breed-specific... 36 1/2 inches at the shoulder, weigh around 150-pounds.  As the saying goes, "Gentle when stroked.  Fierce when provoked."  All in all, I'm a pretty nice guy.  The tellers at bank drive-up windows really enjoy handing me dog biscuits.  Kids come up to me all the time.  They love me.  Now... if someone is wary of me, then it's sometimes a signal that they're evil bastards up to no good.  Sometimes, if they're wary, it's because they've had a bad dog experience.  I can tell the difference right away.

Q: How did you come to collaborate with Red Shuttleworth?

Wolf:  He adopted me when I was a young puppy.  Started reading certain works to me right away: Trakl, Hemingway, Zarzyski, Heaney, Yeats....

Q:  What's the process between you and Red?

Wolf:  We're always together, so, as I come up with something Red can write down, I bring it to his attention.  We walk about a mile and a half a day... that helps.  Good poetry comes from the body.  The body never lies.  Head poetry is no good at all.  The body lives through images and sensations.  If you're senseless, then you're in a coma or you're dead.  The same goes for poetry: no use of the senses means the poem is dead.  Want dead poetry?  Then read Rumi.  Rumi's about as dead as Millard Fillmore.

Q:  You have something of a college background, right?

Wolf:  For my first three years, I went to Big Bend Community College... mostly to hang out in Red's office.  I'd meet students and listen to their life stories.  Pretty grim stuff, really, sometimes.  Around the 9th week of instruction, the students' cars would break down, grannies died, protection orders were broken by criminally insane former lovers and spouses.  Good stuff for material.  But I never went to class.  There were a lot of books in the office to chew through, so I read James Wright, John Berryman....

Q:  Did you hang around with the college's English faculty?

Wolf:  That would've been pointless.  Few college English teachers can write.  A college would never hire an athletic coach if that person couldn't demonstrate skills in his sport.  But colleges hire English teachers who can't or won't write.  Happens all the time.  The English teachers at Big Bend, save Matt Sullivan, are a doltish lot.  They couldn't write a memorable sentence without tracing paper.  Naw... I kept away from them.

Q: Should writers have dogs?  Like is it a big help to them?

Wolf:  Go ask Edward Albee about his Irish Wolfhounds and how they got him a handful of Pulitzer Prizes.  A writer without a dog makes no sense.  Steinbeck and Charlie.  Hemingway and Black Dog.  Zarzyski and Zeke.  A dog is quintessential to the writing process.

Wolf and Red Shuttleworth

Q:  Does being rather obvious, given your size, get in the way of observing what you come across... seeing, feeling, hearing... well, acquiring material for poems?

Wolf:  I am always scouting for poems.  It's my life's work.  Sort of a canine Robert Lowell... if you will.  Or a James Dickey.

Q:  Have you ever visited an MFA program?

Wolf:  One time I went over to look at the Idaho MFA program.  My human sister, Ciara, and my human brother, Luke, were giving a reading.  Somehow I got stuck at the hotel... so I didn't catch it.  But... look, you can't teach writing.  Maybe a few tricks or skills.  But talent can't be taught.  There are over 600 tenured professors of creative writing in America.  There are over 20,000 living recipients of the MFA in creative writing.  Really, how many are worth reading?  These questions tend to make the MFA literati nervous.  Most MFA professors are boring.  Most MFA students are wasting money.

Q:  But Ciara Shuttleworth, who will soon have her MFA from Idaho, has published in The New Yorker.

Wolf:  So what?  What's the New Yorker?  Just another provincial magazine... this one particularly curated-edited for apartment dwellers east of the Hudson River.  That's a pretty narrow sensibility.  As for Ciara, she's got major league talent.  I suppose one could argue that Bob Wrigley has mentored her well.  I wouldn't argue that, but Ciara would.  The hard truth is that most MFA students are customers... not talented student-writers.  How many of the Idaho MFA students will gain significant publication?  A few, yes.  But most will drift off from writing after a few years, heads down in shame at their inability to write for publication... and they'll get, if lucky, academic jobs... and learn to professor-posture.

Q:  At this point, Wolf, you and Red have posted over 500 poems on this blog.  What's the goal?

Wolf:  We like to write, both Red and me.  It's what we do.  It's our life's work.  Sure... it'd be nice to eventually have written 20,000 poems... like the ancient great, Li Po.  Right now we just take it day by day.  Walks and writing poems.  

Q:  Why did you leave facebook recently?

Wolf:  Why not chuck facebook?  It's going way creepy-invasive... tracking people's computer use.  Facebook ought to be regulated like phone companies and TV stations.  The constituency for facebook: advertisers.  Facebook could give a bark about the people who use it.  For me, it became a matter of its banalities.  I narrowed the roster for Red down to 139 people... and that still seemed like too large a number.

Q:  So facebook was useless to you.

Wolf:  Actually, there were some good friends out of it... especially Nuno Santos... a great guy in Portugal who writes poetry and plays and uses facebook to celebrate what's going on, what's truly happening in culture.  Yeah, Nuno Santos.  He came to America to meet me.  We had a heck of a grand time: good food, whiskey, late nights listening to music, driving around the Columbia Basin.  But when my friend poet Paul Zarzyski sort of faded from facebook, then I started talking to the old man about leaving.  We only have so much time and so much energy.  We need to put our hearts and bodies into poetry. 

Note: Wolfie Shuttleworth died at the premature age of five and a half years of age on January 4, 2013 at Washington State University's Veterinary Teaching Hospital while being unsuccessfully treated for osteosarcoma (bone cancer).  


Tuesday, October 4, 2011

Catullus Speaks to Clodia Metelli

Catullus Speaks to Clodia Metelli

Here the pleasure and mud-prowl.
We float.  Lust-thirst... and drink.
Wolf-runs. Your bared breasts.
Bared teeth. Twitchy-thighed you.
Perfume of rumor.  Are you feeling languid?
Is all this a temple to your brassy laughter?

We are the new people we are seeing.
All-nighters when your husband shambles
from town to village... selling spliced wire,
foreclosed villas, blackout candles.
We are star-drugged lovers,
relentless wind and laughter.
It's only pleasure.  You stir morning.

Less sleep.  My warrior-poet body thins.
The sheen of my seed on your inner thighs,
on your belly, on your breasts, on your lips,
inside your womb, your fists frantic upon my back,
your plum-painted fingernails clawing me closer.
You whisper, We are innocent... dear friends...
only desperate friends tending to quirky pain.
Thrust and thrust and thrust again atop thrust
through the folds of your silk nightgown,
a spear into a new woman of Now-Now-Now, baby.
Your granite bed covered with pillows.
You laugh, This is friendship, the secret gift.

You have not soothed me, Clodia-Lesbia-Clodia.
Yes, we are a measure of more than the mortal nothing.
Your husband shakes my hand at the temple,
asks after my verse, back-slaps me jovially.
You, Clodia-Lebia-Clodia, smirk,
lower mirthful eyes, toy with your long hair
gathered up with pins and needles.

Nakedness and wild desire-frolics.
You are the same as many others before  you.
Let me go.  Keep me.  Let me go.
We are strangers when we meet in town.
Radiant beauty of your husband's refusal to see.
Diverted to and from love by your marriage.
The sun-kissed taste of your flesh.

I am leaving you.

But returning right away.

The blue flame in my heart is for you.
I am running alone.  You are running alone.
Azure sky.  Cracked daylight moon.

This poem, and a raft of other bio-sketch poems, are presented in a Red Shuttleworth collection of poems, Ghosts& Birthdays (Humanitas Media Publishing, 2012) available via Amazon.

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Happy Birthday, Sergei Yesenin

Happy Birthday, Sergei Yesenin 
(September 21, 1895 - December 27, 1925)

The  yellow-hued rope you hung yourself with
still swings in Moscow, back and forth, back and forth.
When he got the news, Stalin danced in mockery of Isadora.

Five marriages in twelve years can wreck a man:
Anna Izryadbnova was the first song of love,
Zinaida Raikh sprinkled lemon juice on the sheets,
going-fat Isadora gave you a taste of American bourbon,
and you hitched-up with Augusta Miklasheyskaya
before butter could melt on Isadora's rye bread toast.
Before there were movie stars, there were poets.
Perfumed silken girls, girls fresh from ten-chicken villages,
begged you to tease, to suck and love them...
more girls than all the wind-blown fir trees in Russia.
Vodka, vodka, more vodka... and more love:
poet Nadezhda Volpin gave you a poet son.
Near the break-furniture, set-fire-to-hotel-rooms, end,
Sophia --Leo Tolstoy's granddaughter-- dragged you
to a hospital for a no-vodka, screaming month.

Now, on the other side, how do you, and Jim Morrison,
and Georg Trakl, grind-out eternity?  Do you run into Stalin?
Is there a heaven with peace?  Is dinner served promptly at five?
Do the wives, all five, and the girlfriends, hundreds of girlfriends,
offer sunrise kisses as you prepare to sleep all day long?

You might like it here, Sergei.  Toaster waffles for breakfast.
Dark tea.  No smashed-head cadavers... like the ones
Stalin's thugs dragged you past to change your poetry.
Here it's as quiet as the skittering of brittle autumn leaves. 

Friday, September 9, 2011

A Dirge for Paul Funge

 Paul Funge
1944 - 2011

A Dirge for Paul Funge

It was an exaltation of pure joy... the painting,
the friendships near and windblown.
Now it's better to laugh, stifle a growl...
better to remember us drunk in San Francisco,
a short walk to the surf, snug and well fed
in a surviving '06 quake Victorian,
bombastic for art and poetry...
four decades ago... how you passed out
on a wide couch in a bottle-clogged
front room, my Irish Wolfhound, Bran,
curled at your feet, proprietary guard
of your sleep, your dreaming of new paintings.

How could we have known, that afternoon
in Gorey, Wexford, us in our twenties,
when James Liddy walked me through 
your new festival, when you talked, joked
a verse-wilted sweet-nippled girl
into my arms, annointing me,
The new crazy-great Yank poet...
how could we have known, in that Gaelic sun,
that the nicotine-yellow fish-scale-fleshed 
Abaddon of the Bottomless Pit
would stalk us, trip us into the icy
trap of lights-out codgerhood?

All these decades... no words between us.
My fault the silence.  Wheeling onward with poems.
Giving sweet Kate babies.  Never gathering wit
long enough to at least send you a postcard.
Tonight it's not nearly enough to grieve-stare
at your paintings, luminous on a techno-screen.
Yet that is what your friends must get by on:
the luminous work, paintings you gave with joy.

 Kilmore Quay
Paul Funge

Landscape with Dark Clouds
Paul Funge

Thursday, August 25, 2011

HIGH PLAINS FANDANGO: A New Red Shuttleworth Play

High Plains Fandango
a new Red Shuttleworth play

Directed by Tom Loughlin

A World Premiere
State University New York - Fredonia

February 24-25-26, 
March 1-2-3,2012

High Plains Fandango, Red Shuttleworth's new play, opened on February 24, 2012, as part of the Walter Gloor Mainstage Series at State University of New York - Fredonia.  It was directed by Tom Loughlin at the Bartlett Theatre.

The cast was Kelsey Rispin as "Waitress," Clayton Howe as "O'Garr," Tony Taylor as "Ken Adams," Cassandra Giovine as "Cinthia," Claire Elise Walton as "DQ," Andrew Albigese as "Moss," Jessica Drew-Cates as "Aquinas," Nicholas Nieves as "Father Ben," Caitlin Molloy as "Isabelle Roche," Sean Marciniak as "Louis Roche," and Jonathan Dimaria as "John Hooley."

Clayton Howe ("O'Garr") and Cassandra Giovine ("Cinthia")

High Plains Fandango takes on the coming threat of water privatization in the face of national and international water shortages.  The American West, long subject to extraction economies, booms and busts, faces a not-so double-edged Bowie knife, progress (the beloved mantra boosterism and of the cancer cell) and full-bore despoilation.

High Plains Fandango received development and a public reading by the Echo Theater Company in Los Angeles.  The reading, directed by Ethan Phillips, was held at The Zephyr Theatre on March 14, 2011, with the following cast: Tara Karsian, Vaughn Armstrong, Gigi Bermingham, Wallace Bruce, Alana Dietze, Christopher Shaw, Anabella Price, Steve Hofvendahl, Paul Lieber, Rena Strober, and Rod McLachlan.  Red Shuttleworth is grateful to the Echo Theater Company!  Special thanks to Ethan Phillips!

Red Shuttleworth

High Plains Fandango is available as a paperback book (issued by Humanitas Media Publishing in 2015) and can be located on Amazon:

Red Shuttleworth's plays have been presented widely, including at Churchill Arts Council (Fallon, NV), Foothill Theatre (Nevada City, CA), Kearney State University, Spirit of the Horse Theatre (St. Paul, MN), Sundance Playwrights Lab, Sun Valley Festival of New Western Drama, and the Tony Award-winning Utah Shakespearean Festival.

Monday, August 15, 2011

Poet Kirk Robertson

Red Shuttleworth and Kirk Robertson
Fallon, Nevada
July 1999

Kirk Roberston ( poet, artist, editor) published twenty-two poetry collections.  An arts legend, Robertson is a spare, tight, lyric bard of the fecund minimum.  William Kittredge said, What we should want is more artists like Kirk Robertson who keep poking holes in the facades we put up between ourselves and the emotional possibilities inherent in our lives and the lives of our communities.

Kirk Robertson has been inducted into the Nevada Writers Hall of Fame. 

I knew and appreciated Kirk Robertson, both as a poet and as a friend, for decades.  We had a few drinks along the way.  And probably no one, at least no one I know, can speak about music with as much erudition as Robertson.

Just Past Labor Day by Kirk Robertson

What a wonderful collection of poems: Just Past Labor Day.  Get it if you can.  At least have your library order it through inter-library loan.  Or see if you can order it online from someone... new (yes!) or used; you'll thank me.  The dastardly director of University of Nevada Press allowed this treasure of vital, important, great writing to go out of print. 

Kirk Robertson
Fallon, Nevada
July 1999

And Kirk Robertson's New Poetry Collection,
How the Light Gets In:
New and Collected Poems 1969-2014,
published in July of 2014,
is available from Black Rock Press
at the University of Nevada at Reno!!!

Tuesday, August 9, 2011

Kay Boyle

Kay Boyle
in her San Francisco home on Frederick Street
(in the 1970's)

Kay Boyle (February 19, 1902 - December 27, 1992) was a distinguished American writer who published nearly fifty books (novels, collections of short fiction, poetry, and non-fiction).  A ferociously independant woman and writer, Boyle, as Leah Garchik noted, was "always quick to approve or disapprove."  Boyle was in Paris with James Joyce, Samuel Beckett, Ernest Hemingway, William Carlos Williams, Robert McAlmon, and a raft of other writers.

A good place to start with Kay Boyle is Fifty Stories (Doubleday, 1980) and/or Collected Poems of Kay Boyle (Copper Canyon Press, 1991).  

For nearly two decades, Kay Boyle taught at San Francisco State University.  The most fortunate student writers had her for "directed writing," which she taught in her home on Frederick Street.  I was among the lucky, though I have no idea, to this day, why she chose to help me with my poetry, because she had made it clear, just before I became her student, that "white male writers have nothing more to say."  When I finally asked about this view, she smiled, "I wasn't speaking of you."

The first semester that I studied with her, once a week meetings, she spent the first nine weeks lecturing on Paris, praising those she liked, damning those she found distasteful or boorish or just talentless.  On our first meeting she asked what I drank.  "Irish whiskey," I said.  I settled for bourbon.  She drank what she always drank, Dubonnet.  After that Kay kept a bottle of Power's Irish Whiskey for me.  I'd get half-sloshed and she would lecture on the evils of drink for writers.  On the other hand, when Kay got going on why writers must not get flabby, must always be lean, that obese writers were awful, she praised my athletic appearance... saying that it signaled a marvelous writing future.

Although she widened my circle of influences, her writing was far from the turf where I could work.  It's probably natural for student writers to be strongly influenced by mentors... to consciously or unconsciously imitate them.  I had not the talent or sensibility for that.

Ever generous to her students, Kay located opportunities for them.  One afternoon she announced that it was time for us to do a joint poetry reading.  I was astonished... having carried the notion that Kay was, essentially, tolerating my rather soft and weak poems.  But read together we did, along with William Dickey (my other mentor), Jim Hubert (also a grad student... with a poem in Esquire, Barbara Riddick, and Gene Ruggles.  We had a marvelous night, with an overflow audience, at the Parkside Public Library in San Francisco.

If  not for Kay Boyle and her tiny camera, no photographs would have been taken at my oldest daughter's baptism.  Kay insisted, too, on being the first person to give us a gift for the forthcoming infant (a blue baby rattle) and, if memory serves, gave Kate and me diapers, baby powder, and many stern lectures on child-raising.

* I snapped these photographs (in the 1970's) as Kay talked to my wife, Kate.  The negatives were rediscovered recently... found in a box in a closet as I searched for old poetry notebooks.

Sunday, August 7, 2011

The Poet Dave Kelly and Red Shuttleworth

Red Shuttleworth and Dave Kelly
Lake Michigan, 1976

Few poets blasted into the seventies with the firepower of Dave Kelly.  His Instructions for Viewing a Solar Eclipse (Wesleyan University Press, 1972), a dark-dark-dark sardonic take on the world, was much too bleak for critics.  But young writers loved Kelly's poems for their keen, dead-on, tough, beautifully wrought portraits of an America leaving the road at ninety, totally out of control.

The cover of Dave Kelly's Instructions for Viewing a Solar Eclipse

Kelly's book had just arrived in book stores.  The night I bought it I stayed up all night... reading it over and over.  A bright new poetry star had appeared in the heavens.  After I wrote a fan letter to Kelly, we began corresponding.  We became friends.  Kelly (and his Michigan State friends and classmates Jim Harrison and Gary Gildner) became a strong poetic influence.

Dave Kelly has not had a commercial or university press book since the appearance of Instructions for Viewing a Solar Eclipse.  His work no longer appeared in the poetry establishment's prominent journals, like Prairie Schooner, Atlantic Monthly and The Nation.  Kelly became a renegade poet of the small press scene.  His poems --bullets and jagged glass-- were not for reading at family Thanksgiving feasts, not if you wanted your mother-in-law to remain civil.

Dave Kelly is the most neglected poet in America... a great poet left out on the least hospitable edge of the frontier, a grim contrarian.

Dave Kelly... 1976

Books and chapbooks by Dave Kelly include:

Dear Nate  (Runcible Spoon, 1969)
Instructions for Viewing a Solar Eclipse  (Wesleyan University Press, 1972)
At a Time  (The Basilisk Press, 1972)
Did You Know They'e Beheading Bill Johnson Today?  (The Stone Press, 1974)
In These Rooms  (The Red Hill Press, 1976)
The Flesh-Eating Horse and Other Sagas  (Bartholomew's Cobble, 1976)
Poems in Season  (Texas Portfolio Press, 1977)
Filming Assassinations  (Ithaca House, 1979)
Northern Letter  (Nebraska Review Chapbooks, 1980)
Great Lakes Cycle  (Steps Inside, 1980)
Talking to Myself  (State Street Press, 1994)
When You Tell Them About Us  (Igneus Press, 2003) 

Dave and Sylvia Kelly
Lake Michigan, 1976

Saturday, August 6, 2011

Heavyweight Challenger Ron Lyle in 1975

Ron Lyle, within days of fighting Muhammad Ali
for the Heavyweight Championship of the World
(May 1975, Las Vegas, Nevada)

Ron Lyle, Don King, and Muhammad Ali
(one of the press conferences...
the Tropicana Casino in Las Vegas, May 1975)

Ron Lyle in the locker room of the Las Vegas Convention Center
after losing his bout with Muhammad Ali
for the Heavyweight Championship of the World

Ahead on all three judges scorecards in the 11th round, Lyle took a strong, quick right from Ali, then a number of unanswered punches.  The referee stopped the fight... in what soon became a controversial decision.  Lyle was stunned that the fight was ended despite his being uninjured and fully conscious. 

Ron Lyle fought professionally 51 times, winning 43 of those bouts. 

In the three weeks leading up to the Ali-Lyle fight, I was in Las Vegas, trying to break into freelance boxing journalism.  I managed to place articles and photo's with The Ring and Boxing Illustrated. 
Every morning, until 72-hours from the fight, Ali and Lyle did their roadwork,
rising early for dawn runs on the golf course of the Dunes in Las Vegas.

I ran those pre-fight miles with Lyle and his sparring partners.

I snapped all the photographs presented here.