Sep 182015
 

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by Kirby Congdon…….

The interest in American poetry got a boost with the Beat movement after World War II but what has kept that activity alive and well is the rather vast involvement of its publishers, readers, reviewers and writers from every level of society who have volunteered their energy from that time to the present.

One individual who can represent this phenomena caught one reader’s eye with his positive style and literary accommodations as a voluntary reviewer for The Small Press Review in California. Jacob lives in Oak Park, Illinois and has had his own collections of both poetry and prose published, starting with his father taking John’s early work to the printer when his son was about 15. For being so far ahead of his own time (Most poets are around forty before they are writing for public consumption.), John’s high school suspended him “for publishing underground publications.” Being independently creative is not welcome in our society. It is presumptuous to ever behave out of the norm!

When Jacob started college he was already familiar with the small press movement, was the editor and publisher of his own magazine and soon was printing other people’s work. The Small Press Review, a bimonthly, folded only recently after half a century reviewing books of the avant-garde. Mr. Jacob was a regular contributor beginning with issue number eight. Besides being publicly recognized in several projects related to the new poets and poetry he has been an English teacher at Northwestern University despite the distraction of having to write with problems with the sight of one eye. John Jacob closes a letter from him with these succinct and enlightening words:

“What is the why of it all? Because small presses offered venues that were denied to any writers. Because this was an alternative point of view. Because I had something to say and said it. There are very few places left to do this but if they exist I still will attempt to find them.”

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Kirby Congdon

Kirby Congdon found his calling in the time of the Beat Movement, his poems being published by the New York Times, The New York Herald Tribune and the Christian Science Monitor as well as countless small-press outlets. While influenced by the assertive stance of a new generation in literature, he preferred to set aside the spontaneous approach of his friends and use his work as an exploratory tool in establishing the new identity of his times as well as that of his own maturation. This search was incorporated in 300 works which were compiled in a bibliography by a Dean of the English Department at Long Island University in his retirement and made available in hard-back with an extensive addenda by the literary activists of Presa Press through their skills achieved from the University of Michigan and their own experience which commands a movement in itself of contemporary literary action.


Congdon’s work in poetry covers innumerable treatments of countless subjects in single poems, long treatments on a subject, and many collections of both serious thought and imagination through not only the poetry but through essays, plays and ruminations. Named the first poet laureate of Key West, he received a standing ovation for his reading honoring this position and was the featured poet in a festival celebrating Frank O’Hara in the New York region. He was also asked to read his work as well as give a talk on the country’s national poet laureate, Richard Wilbur, at a seminar honoring that man. Currently, Congdon is working on an autobiography and a collection of complete poems.


 September 18, 2015  Posted by at 12:34 am Issue #132, Kirby Congdon  Add comments

  3 Responses to “About John Jacob”

  1. Ray,

    Thanks for keeping the light on. Excellent information and insights, written as usual, extraordinarily…

    Keeping opportunity and access available, as creative outlets, has been an invaluable tool for my development as a human being.

    Committed Instructors such as yourself are inspirational and illuminating.

    With Blessings & Respect, Always

  2. Kirby, He was suspended for “publishing underground publications”? Really? If that is true I can only marvel at the crap we swallow with regard to America’s “freedom” and such. Thanks for your work, Jerome

  3. Kirby-Kirby-Kirby,

    Please forgive my typing error, in addressing you in my initial comment.

    It’s distressful that I made such a blunder.

    Your ideas, words and insights are an extraordinary part of my life. I don’t know how this mental lapse occurred.

    I look upon you as a teacher and mentor. I hope you’ll excuse my oversight.

    Blessings & Respect…