Abbreviated aphoristic essays
Three of my Assays appear in the spring 2011 issue of the literary journal Hotel Amerika. You can see a PDF of the Assays here.
Sayings of the Desert Fathers
Words for Refrigerator Doors
The 20th Anniversary Edition, 2007
Comprises the complete texts (poems ad aphorisms) of both Words for Refrigerator Doors (1985, 1987) and 17 Reasons Why (1988). The Bay Area Reporter (April, 1986) said of Words for Refrigerator Doors: "Treats the tragedy of life with headline succinctness and a warm understanding which points up life's sweet ironies." You can buy the print edition and/or ebook from Lulu.com.
17 Reasons Why
Words for Refrigerator Doors
Gefluisterd Licht (Whispered Light)
published by Athenaeum in Amsterdam in 1996, is the first translation of Hart Crane's poems into Dutch. I wrote the introduction, and the translations are by Lloyd Haft, an American poet and sinologist who has lived in the Netherlands for many years. Click here to read my introduction (in Dutch).
I was fortunate enough to study with Alvin Feinman at Bennington College in the mid-1980s. He was a man of few words, but each of those words was marvelous, especially when they appeared in his radiant, intensely rewarding poems. The best, and still more or less only, consideration of Alvin's work appears in Harold Bloom's 1971 book, The Ringers in the Tower, pp. 313–321.
Words for Refrigerator Doors and 17 Reasons Why
After graduating from college in 1985, I moved to San Francisco, where I eked out an existence working in restaurants and driving a van, surviving mostly on boiled rice and vodka. When I first moved to the city, I discovered e.g., a second-hand bookshop located right around the corner from my apartment. I used to spend a lot of time there, browsing through the shelves and playing chess with the proprietor, David Highsmith. I soon learned that David also ran a small press in the back of the bookshop. So I showed him Words for Refrigerator Doors, which I had written over the previous two years as part of my undergraduate thesis. He liked the work and agreed to publish it.
So in December, after just a few months as a starving young poet in San Francisco, I had managed to get my poems published. I was very happy.
The first edition of Words for Refrigerator Doors consisted of 12 poems and 12 aphorisms. The book sold pretty well for a small press edition; it was reprinted in February and July of 1986. I did regular performances of the poems as well, appearing at arts venues in San Francisco and Berkeley, where I also sang (badly) and showed some of the short films I had made in college. And I kept writing, too. By 1987, when e.g. published an expanded fourth edition, Words for Refrigerator Doors consisted of 24 poems and 24 aphorisms.
In July of 1988, e.g. published 17 Reasons Why, which as far as I can remember was also reprinted two or three times. I did my own sales and marketing for the books, selling them mostly at my performances. But one of my favorite things to do was to periodically visit City Lights Bookstore in the North Beach section of the city; they had a small press poetry section in the shop and were always willing to take more copies of my books.
That’s Buster Keaton on the cover of 17 Reasons Why, sitting on a keg of dynamite, which he is inadvertently about to ignite with his cigarette. Which is pretty much how I felt at the time.