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The Best of Nearly 500 Poems

My Final Poetry Book

Can Anyone Hear Me? That's the subtitle of my grand poetry anthology, which (like many of my works) has undergone several title changes over the past few years. F. Scott Fitzgerald, who wrote his immortal (and wonderful) novel The Great Gatsby at around age 29 in 1925), thought he had been forgotten by the world when he died rather suddenly at age 40. There it is again—that evolutionary arc, peaking in the mid to late twenties. Nothing spooky about it. It's all DNA, water, and sunshine. And wind… and all the wonderful things that make our lives worthy of poetry, song, and other artistry even in the darkest times.

Done Deal at 27. I've already described most of the salient ('jumping') facts in my discussion of that other collection, October Leaf. Amid all the chaos and unexpected turns of life, it surprises me to think back and remember that class taught by Walther Uhlig around 1969. He planted that seed of thought in my mind, which germinated at age 23 when, working at a very stark and industrial power station in New Haven Harbor as a security guard, I brought in my old Underwood upright, a rickety typing stand, and my cardboard box full of poetry and disorder. It took me at last a week, probably, to type those 425 pages. That was a remarkable harvesting moment, a pivot in time. I wrote probably another fifty poems or so, including some very good ones while stationed at Panzerkaserne in K-Town. My final tally is probably around 500. I love them all, and am particularly proud of a smaller number among them. They traveled with me in their binder, probably a good 20,000 miles in all, until they came to rest in my garage in this old San Diego neighborhood. I don't know if I'll ever release them all on line, but there will be buy links and some samples. Actually, if you read Cymbalist Poems and October Leaf, you'll have a good idea of my writing style. More commentary to come in 2020, which I call the Vision Year. I hope we have some vision (to get the crooks out of governments around the world and in Washington; to avoid becoming extinct in our looming climate crisis; and—well, I see another crisis coming, just as terrifying as the first two, but I'll write a futuristic Speculative Fiction (SF) novel about that (TBD).

Lyrical Poetry. I don't plan to write a thesis or textbook here. I think the fall-back to Aristotle's Poetics in this Wikipedia article tells us plenty. For me, it was a natural, personal style of writing. I usually felt an underlying sense of rhythm, especially of certain jazz tropes including the Cool Jazz of Pharao Sanders and his school; Miles Davis; and Dave Brubeck, to name just three. I was strongly influenced by the previous generation of Beat Poets, including Lawrence Ferlinghetti, Alan Ginsberg, and more. I recognize many names here in this quick lookup (again) at Wikipedia. The list is not complete for me, since it's missing W. H. Auden and many other fine poets. The more I think about it, the more names crop up for me, including the Anglophone circle associated with the famous Shakespeare & Co Bookstore in Paris.

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selection by teenage New England poet (cover includes two old images of him from about 1969)

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