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.

Sep 012017
 
Query

Query Does memory dare let us see time restract and, fading, pull us back from its endless song? Will orhestras return to let life sing? What symphonies can we ever play with instruments we, deprived, have never learned? As the sun’s light, burning off the dawn, dissolves its haze, can the will to live remain and reconcile, beyond a night, our need for life with that sun’s placid rays so that we, alive, may, voracious, live in the wide expanse of its timeless gaze? Kirby [continue reading…]

 September 1, 2017  Posted by at 12:24 am Issue #234, Kirby Congdon No Responses »
Aug 182017
 
A Good Book

by Kirby Congdon……. This past Sunday, August 13th (2017) Eric Bennett, in the New York Times Book Review, considers The World Broke in Two. Virginia Woolf, T.S. Eliot, D.H. Lawrence, E.M. Forster, and the Year That Changed Literature by Bill Goldstein. The breakage suggested in the title refers to the end of rewriting the work of historic writers, translating it into contemporary language, and reconciling their own personal crises with their own creative lives. Mr. Bennett’s remarks end with this strange conclusion: The homage Goldstein [continue reading…]

 August 18, 2017  Posted by at 12:28 am Issue #232, Kirby Congdon No Responses »
Aug 112017
 
The New York Times

by Kirby Congdon……. A friend of mine will not read the Times because it’s a monopoly, but having no morals your reader is an addict. The issue of August 6th, 2017 emphasized poetry for its Book Review last Sunday. I can’t review that issue in its entirety but I want to touch on contributions that provoke interest. I get from the Times editor, David Orr (and A. O. Scott as well) a sense of knowing a wide range of subjects and how the poets handle [continue reading…]

 August 11, 2017  Posted by at 12:36 am Issue #231, Kirby Congdon No Responses »
Aug 042017
 
Integrity

by Kirby Congdon……. In his book, Equipment for Living, the author, Michael Robbins, considers contemporary music and lyrics. Louis Menand has reviewed it in The New Yorker (31 July 2017, p. 64) with the title The Defense of Poetry with the subtitle, “Can a poem change your life?” Mr. Menand tells us that the claim suggested in the book’s title is that “poems and songs should make a difference.” The overall concern of the book, as I understand it, is that poetry as lyrics have declined [continue reading…]

 August 4, 2017  Posted by at 12:32 am Issue #230, Kirby Congdon No Responses »
Jul 212017
 
Social Amenities

by Kirby Congdon……. We love you, dear heart, even if you are queer. We only want you to relax and learn how normal people behave, you odd number, you! At least you got new shoes and gave up on those cowboy boots. It’s so nice when we don’t have to explain who you are any more. The power of love is so positive! Isn’t it? I said, isn’t it?!

 July 21, 2017  Posted by at 12:36 am Issue #228, Kirby Congdon No Responses »
Jul 142017
 
The Third Voice. Notes on the Art of Poetic Collaboration

Book Review by Kirby Congdon……. Eric Greinke has been a figurehead in the field of poetry for decades. He uses his talent in a recent book this year in a consideration of collaborations in writing poetry, having exercised his abilities in half a dozen projects working with prominent talents in this genre. Mr. Greinke defines “the third voice,” in the first of seven chapters, as a by-product of an interpersonal relationships by transmuting the creative process so that it is transformed and transfigured. The individual [continue reading…]

 July 14, 2017  Posted by at 12:30 am ~ Column ~, Kirby Congdon No Responses »
Jul 072017
 
Night Thoughts

by Kirby Congdon……. At age six or seven a child in a minority (beyond his own position in his own minority of being a child) wants to bond comfortably with his superiors. If his family is uneducated he will see that as his standard. Without the essentials, like food, housing, clothing, companionship and a decent income to begin with, his imagination has nowhere to grow and so we lose another generation of citizens. That one-on-one learning process relies on close associations where empathy, rather than competition, [continue reading…]

 July 7, 2017  Posted by at 12:30 am Issue #226, Kirby Congdon No Responses »
Jun 302017
 
Physics

by Kirby Congdon……. Centrifugal force would fling everything from the planet if its path hit a snag. Gravity is holding it all together in one clump. The ice in my glass, the nail in my shoe, the pupil in my eye defy incoherence or any sense of disunity whether it’s the intimate landscape that lies in the writing of your name or the long stretch of a mountain range. Such effects cannot work together at the same time, but they do. Is this what they mean [continue reading…]

 June 30, 2017  Posted by at 12:50 am Issue #225, Kirby Congdon No Responses »
Jun 232017
 
Anti Meridiem

Anti Meridiem “Once more, now.” Alright. I’ll breathe. They say it’s good for you but who cares? I want more sleep. “The clocks do not stop.” I said who cares? “We’re starting over.” Do I get a cup of coffee? “Two cups.” Alright I’ll start over. Kirby Congdon

 June 23, 2017  Posted by at 12:58 am Issue #224, Kirby Congdon No Responses »
Jun 162017
 
Review

Review If you forget me do I die? Does memory last for man or his name? Was it your love or mine that kept us alive? Whatever we do is lost in time but the flesh is defined as partly divine. Does a universe survive within the measuring mind when the depth that we share is as deep as it is wide? Kirby Congdon

 June 16, 2017  Posted by at 12:40 am Issue #223, Kirby Congdon No Responses »
Jun 092017
 
Rejection Slip

  Rejection Slip Is there any tension that one can mention deeper than the apprehension of condescension in the printed invention that says “your ability to write with facility has held our attention. Good luck elsewhere.” In practising hypocrisy it takes agility to convey civility with such serene duplicity. Kirby Congdon

 June 9, 2017  Posted by at 12:58 am Issue #222, Kirby Congdon No Responses »
May 262017
 
On Dictators

by Kirby Congdon……. Donald Trump’s reference to the age of the dictator of North Korea, Kim Yong Un, came as a surprise. To be 27 with all that power is revealing for both of them. Love and affection seem to have been denied them in their early development as human beings. The thrill of saying, “You’re fired!” or in executing an annoying uncle replaces the attention and independence they feel they have missed out on. Other more rational ways to be recognized and appreciated is [continue reading…]

 May 26, 2017  Posted by at 1:00 am Issue #220, Kirby Congdon No Responses »
May 192017
 
Butterfly

  Butterfly Against the eager surf pounding the monuments of stone, unperturbed, a butterfly in pantomime carves a yellow arabesque – a hieroglyphic script engraved with an instant’s wing on the oblivious air. I, reading the runic sign, would hope or, God willing, would be certain just as I am certain I should be sure – oceans and insects, like men, for seasons or eternities, equally, as they say, endure. Kirby Congdon

 May 19, 2017  Posted by at 12:46 am Issue #219, Kirby Congdon No Responses »
May 122017
 
Yard Waste

by Kirby Congdon……. Raking up the past in dead piles of withered leaves, we dance around the little things we missed as that song of grief we sing becomes a pagan howl of rectitude to redeem whatever victories we did not win. So losers begin their lives again and watch the trash bags almost burst their straining seams as perfection’s world unfolds in listless imitations of those dust-laden dreams that younger men in their routine on garbage trucks lift on up with weightless ease.

 May 12, 2017  Posted by at 12:36 am Kirby Congdon, News No Responses »
May 052017
 
Blue Collar Review

by Kirby Congdon……. Al Markowitz and Mary Franke have produced another solid issue of their Blue Collar Review, Journal of Progressive Working Class Literature for Summer 2016 with a tidy sketch on its cover. Two men on their knees are giving attention to a third laying on his back. The perspective is accurate. We feel the tension on a man’s back, see the strain on the side of another man’s face while the man who is prone raises questions that are not answered. The suggestion of [continue reading…]

 May 5, 2017  Posted by at 12:42 am Issue #217, Kirby Congdon No Responses »
Apr 282017
 
Wolves

Wolves were here when these woods crept to the precarious edge of town. How their tails would fly at each season’s count pinned on the walls of barns! So men cleared all their troubles out. Those dark dens are dooryards now; the foliage of the wilderness is trimmed; the last murky swamp, solid ground. New wolves wait, a more patient breed, at the other end of the well-trod stairs, behind the smiles for the cocktail hour, in proper rooms of barren mien, along the streets [continue reading…]

 April 28, 2017  Posted by at 12:38 am Issue #216, Kirby Congdon No Responses »
Apr 072017
 
On Recent News

by Kirby Congdon……. With political matters becoming more urgent everywhere, this writer has found that one should avoid bringing these conflicts into the medium of poetry. Discussing them or otherwise reacting to them is better handled in an editorial way, as in public letter-writing forums. It is not that such matters are not worth our attention. They are, indeed, our concern. But a poem about a particular event soon becomes out of date and its sense of concern loses its strength as history reconciles a conflict [continue reading…]

 April 7, 2017  Posted by at 12:38 am Issue #213, Kirby Congdon No Responses »
Mar 312017
 
Book Review: "The Only True Power is in Connection", Poems by Andrea K. Willison

by Kirby Congdon……. A feminist literary magazine, 13th Moon, originally promoted the publication of poems by the late Andrea K. Willison. The collection, consisting of 91 poems, is entitled The Only True Power is in Connection. These words are the roots of a poem in themselves. They suggest the solidity of this author’s work and why there have been several printings of the book. My curiosity was immediately piqued by the first three lines when I opened the book in a perfect binding of 152 [continue reading…]

 March 31, 2017  Posted by at 12:39 am Issue #212, Kirby Congdon No Responses »
Mar 242017
 
Archives

by Kirby Congdon……. Does the reader of these words have a box of photographs he can’t get rid of? Aunt Mildred’s graduation, from whatever it was, can however be more than just a document. You can’t clean house and throw her out. It’s a part of your life, too. And what about your brother’s stamp collection that he took years to assemble? That is part of his life as well. As a friend reminded me, even a family full of human beings is a collection [continue reading…]

 March 24, 2017  Posted by at 12:50 am Issue #211, Kirby Congdon No Responses »
Mar 102017
 
Seventh Annual Key West Authors’ Book Fair

by Kirby Congdon……. Stopping by this nationally known festival on the lawn in back of the Oldest House on Duval Street, I noticed Rosalind Brackenbury’s recent novel, The Third Swimmer. On display with it was her humorous treatment with its political subtext of “chicken liberation,” using a satiric approach that suspends reality as in Cervants, Jonathan Swift, possibly Mark Twain, or the Fantocinni of our generation, or even our own Trinidad Joe’s work here in Key West as a comic interpreation of reality. Brackenbury shared a [continue reading…]

 March 10, 2017  Posted by at 1:10 am Issue #209, Kirby Congdon No Responses »
Mar 032017
 
Swarm

What features are there to see when a creature’s size is beyond recall and the smallest measuring stick ignores the larger need for human sight to detect details as a face with eyes if that body’s head can only be defined as a period’s pin prick dropped from some forgotten page? Should we revere a nonentity with neither name nor thought or ever envy those who fly when we see how bugs, given wings, identify their annoying lives with the gift of flight by flying [continue reading…]

 March 3, 2017  Posted by at 12:49 am Issue #208, Kirby Congdon No Responses »
Feb 242017
 
Secondhand Store

Who were you, out there, furnishing our home, composing our music, writing our books, or you, strangers, anonymous, who first wore my clothes, broke in my boots, provided my bibelots? And who are you, now, fingering my poems, reading my letters, discarding the irrelevant, putting aside the dispensable, dismissing what’s unessential, burning up the obsolete, rejecting the weak, the decrepit, the lame, or on top of your deep heaps of debris in their garbage pits, throwing away my name? Kirby Congdon  

 February 24, 2017  Posted by at 12:58 am Issue #207, Kirby Congdon No Responses »
Feb 172017
 
War Letters

From a collection of war-time letters. Germany. Nurnberg, 1945 Dear Mother: What a day! I got up early and got some stuff ready to send home, which I hope to do tomorrow, after it has been censored. Later on in the morning I was put on a detail to help evacuate a four-story apartment house.  The tenants seemed to accept it quite calmly. Within five minutes dozens of go-carts and wagons appeared from nowhere, like a too-realistic play. Some filled up one little wagon load [continue reading…]

 February 17, 2017  Posted by at 12:45 am Issue #206, Kirby Congdon, News No Responses »
Feb 102017
 
An Opinion

by Kirby Congdon……. What motivates people to deliberately abuse another person, as in gang rape, or group denial of a victim’s identity, or for a president to enjoy, as he does, a bullying personality? We cannot understand such negativity because we don’t want to. It comes too close to our own need to dominate and to be superior. It originates in the thrill of being powerful, to control by diminishing a victim’s ability to retaliate. It is the foundation and the purpose of our society’s [continue reading…]

 February 10, 2017  Posted by at 12:54 am Issue #205, Kirby Congdon, News No Responses »
Feb 032017
 
Book Review: The Dance That Begins and Begins Selected Poems 1973 - 2013 by Jack Veasey

by Kirby Congdon……. One may wonder if the Beat movement will have had an affect on the poets who followed them. This writer received a new collection from the American poet Jack Veasey with a cover by the literary figure, Ian Young, in Canada. A reader may be curious as to the influence the Beat period may have had on Veasey. It is a pleasure to be able to say that his book is an engaging one, always holding the reader’s attention with both skill [continue reading…]

 February 3, 2017  Posted by at 12:54 am Issue #204, Kirby Congdon No Responses »
Jan 132017
 
Book Review: Don’t Read This Poetry Book

Book Review by Kirby Congdon……. Don’t Read This Poetry Book by Edgardo Alvarado-Vazquez Key West, Fl: Seastory Press, 2016 www.seastorypress.com ISBN 078-1-936818-36-5 This collection of drawings, obituaries and poems is a compendium, just now published in 2017. The flippant title suggests reticence about being in the public eye. However, as we get into this collection we become more aware of the depth of Mr. Vazquez’s life. There are references to Berlin, to the avantgarde artist, Keith Haring,  to the poet Rilke, to family, the Spanish [continue reading…]

 January 13, 2017  Posted by at 12:50 am Issue #201, Kirby Congdon No Responses »
Jan 062017
 
Asphalt and Ambrosia

by Kirby Congdon……. In an essay, “A Few Questions for Poetry,” printed in The New York Times Book Review for the 1st of January, 2017, Daniel Halpern of Ecco Press tries to provide an answer to his headline. The phenomenon of poetry is a tradition that is useful, like a vitamin pill that is good for you. The poet W.S. Merlin is quoted as saying that poetry “addresses individuals.” Mr. Halpern suggests that in the “owners’ hands” there is a sense of sanctity within the “experience [continue reading…]

 January 6, 2017  Posted by at 12:43 am Issue #200, Kirby Congdon No Responses »