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.

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 »
Dec 302016
 
End Game

by Kirby Congdon……. The consistency of science lets us extract from the vast multiplicity of the universe the common sense of reason that we need to stay sane. At the same time, we, as individuals, try, through control or persuasion, to be exceptions to the norm. We do this by either avoiding any risk of death or, with elaborate fantasies, deny it. On top of that one side of us wants everything to remain the same so that, in effect, we remain in a second childhood, [continue reading…]

 December 30, 2016  Posted by at 12:30 am Issue #199, Kirby Congdon No Responses »
Dec 232016
 
Darren Jones

by Kirby Congdon……. Darren Jones, a courageous and original artist, changed continents after his education in Edinburgh and London. After completing graduate work in New York at Hunter College he compiled an extensive exhibit of contemporary art from Scotland, Darren’s homeland. Later, as a noted curator and critic, writing for Artforum, Artcritical, and other publications, he was invited to the Artist Residency Program at the University of Texas at Dallas. There he participated in the art scene, writing reviews, participating in public discussions, and presenting [continue reading…]

 December 23, 2016  Posted by at 12:48 am News No Responses »
Dec 162016
 
Dick Moody

by Kirby Congdon……. This past week I went to a showing of Dick Moody’s paintings at the new Gildea Gallery in midtown on southward near the Bank of America. Mr Moody has been a vibrant figure having designed a large, impressive, and contemporary shark for Key West on College Road. I saw, now, a new gift in his use of paint. He is an accurate and provocative professional doing pictorial scenes with a sense of humor on the side. Besides physically presenting in long, slim [continue reading…]

 December 16, 2016  Posted by at 12:36 am Issue #197, Kirby Congdon No Responses »
Dec 092016
 
Soliloquy

by Kirby Congdon……. Soliloquy Each branch was poised on the silent air. No leaf stirred and no bird sang but one crow called and then was still. The sky was dull but light seeped through. The ocean’s line, drawn, was far and long as the sad surf’s sound still drew the earth’s edge as firm where oceans end out there under another world that only sound’s silence can comprehend.   – Kirby Congdon

 December 9, 2016  Posted by at 1:15 am Issue #196, Kirby Congdon No Responses »
Dec 022016
 
The American Scene in the Sixies

What impressed me most about the poets of the Beat scene was their independence. Their need was not quite so much to get appreciation and recognition from society for what they were doing as it was to establish faith in themselves regardless of pubic opinion or being in print. Our “kitchen-counter press” published William Wantling’s first publication because of this self confidence shining through it. Gregory Corso got his own poems down first and then looked around for approval, which he evidently got from Allen [continue reading…]

 December 2, 2016  Posted by at 12:35 am Issue #195, Kirby Congdon No Responses »
Nov 252016
 
Window

Window A holly branch, dodging shade, seeks its share of light as I, impatient, stare, unable to rearrange chance and change that a winter made. An artist invents a world that remains the same. The permanent keeps us sane. Even stars exfoliate gladness like some inner light expelled to mend a bad moment gone more sad that the universe, so big and easy! went mad. Kirby Congdon

 November 25, 2016  Posted by at 12:52 am Issue #194, Kirby Congdon No Responses »
Nov 182016
 
A Conclusion

by Kirby Congdon……. I first heard the word “hubris” in school when it described a hero in ancient literature who was too impressed by his own ego. I winced when Hillary said naughty black people should be “brought to heel” and taught how to behave. I winced when an upper-class business man, Donald Trump, said, “I seen,” instead of simply saying “I saw.” Both people have cut corners in their own personal development as politicians and as leaders. I see now that my vote lacked [continue reading…]

 November 18, 2016  Posted by at 12:54 am Issue #193, Kirby Congdon No Responses »
Nov 112016
 
Politics

by Kirby Congdon……. When my mother showed me pictures of the hopeful candidates for the Presidency I, being a conservative, indicated my preference and pointed at the portrait of Herbert Hoover who was featured on the front page with Franklin Delano Roosevelt. I managed to get over my disappointment, being very young. When I grew older, a high school teacher had a piece of furniture with legs that was a radio about three feet high with elaborate embroidery a few feet square covering the speaker. We [continue reading…]

 November 11, 2016  Posted by at 12:52 am Issue #192, Kirby Congdon No Responses »
Nov 042016
 
Martha de Poo

by Kirby Congdon……. Taking a second look at someone’s art work often helps you access it. I have had several looks at the watercolors of Martha de Poo and am invariably delighted with their elan, their spontaneity and easy skill. At least it looks easy. In a century of intense technology on the back of our wrists, it is a relief to let go and live for a while in someone else’s imagination. Ms. de Poo’s subjects are familiar enough. A pervasive light permeates the structure [continue reading…]

 November 4, 2016  Posted by at 12:48 am Issue #191, Kirby Congdon No Responses »
Oct 282016
 
Magazine Review

by Kirby Congdon……. Al Markovitz and Mary Franke have produced the Summer 2016 issue of their Blue Collar Review Journal of Progressive Working Class Literature with a drawing on its cover. Two men on their knees are giving attention to a third lying on his back. The suggestion of the front grill of a car is indicated but no other explanations are given beyond the drama itself. Like the poems inside we see into the lives of some four dozen poets that provide a cimate for [continue reading…]

 October 28, 2016  Posted by at 12:42 am Issue #190, Kirby Congdon No Responses »
Oct 212016
 
Book Review: The Contemporary Art Gallery, Display, Power and Privilege

Book Review by Kirby Congdon……. An advance copy of Darren Jones’ compendium, The Contemporary Art Gallery, Display, Power and Privilege, arrived here at Baker’s Lane a few days ago. This is a reference book instigated about five years ago as a project by David Carrier, an authority in the art world. It will appear in publishing circles on November 1st, 2016. The information took several years to compile with verbal descriptions enhanced with 32 photographs. Cambridge Publishing Company specializes in art books and asked to [continue reading…]

 October 21, 2016  Posted by at 12:36 am ~ Artists ~, Issue #189, Kirby Congdon No Responses »
Oct 142016
 
Perspectives

Perspectives We know the room where we live and the window’s familiar view. Here is where a space, confirmed, is the place a mind can feel at home as its body speeds with each day’s turn on the very edge of this earth’s rim. A spider also spins and, suspended, hangs its weight before my face. With studied care it takes me in as some distant kin that floats like him as we stare immersed at our busy worlds of boundless air where even silence [continue reading…]

 October 14, 2016  Posted by at 12:34 am ~ Artists ~, Issue #188, Kirby Congdon No Responses »
Oct 072016
 
Declensions

Each leaf that falls is its own monument for the life it had leaving a shadow’s shape, each edge enterred in the depths of air providing our summer with a season’s name and my own body with a time inside the brain defining those eternities a man would claim with every sense of his being as always or forever in the present tense, like an elegant fence standing alone surrouning a memorial’s weather-proof stone. Kirby Congon

 October 7, 2016  Posted by at 12:50 am Issue #187, Kirby Congdon No Responses »
Sep 302016
 
Matins

With the stillness in the morning, can this silence predate the begining of time? Or do those colors in the farthest depths of the sky howl and rage like a brain gone dry? Dawn comes like a whisper. A solitary bird flies by. Mute witness, ignorant of how or why or what survives there and then, I can still identify with here and now and for the moment assert I am, once more, alive.              Kirby Congdon

 September 30, 2016  Posted by at 12:52 am Issue #186, Kirby Congdon No Responses »
Sep 092016
 
On a Bird Feeder

by Kirby Congdon……. My wireless printer along with prosthetic limbs controlled by the brain lets me consider how living creatures evolve. No bird has the intelligence to have known its bones need to be hollow to facilitate flight. This development of a species can be applied over and over where protective advantages are taken on. Darwin’s trial and error does not resolve an animal’s survival. By the time all the attempts at an advantageous change have been tested, the species is exhausted beyond existence. Is [continue reading…]

 September 9, 2016  Posted by at 12:46 am Issue #183, Kirby Congdon 1 Response »
Sep 022016
 
Mr. Cady

by Kirby Congdon…….. We had a splendid upright piano at home. In the Great Depression I got my first lessons for free by taking a trip with my older sister on the trolley out of town to a teacher working under the Works Progress Administration in West Chester, Pennsylvania. When we moved to Old Mystic, Connecticut, my teacher, Miss  DeeWilliams, came to the house every Saturday and gave me lessons for fifty cents. Mr. Cady tuned the piano for twenty dollars. He pointed out to [continue reading…]

 September 2, 2016  Posted by at 12:49 am Issue #182, Kirby Congdon No Responses »
Aug 262016
 
Art and Politics

by Kirby Congdon……. This writer believes in keeping up with his own times. When the poet, Quincy Troupe was showing his remembrance of the trumpeter, Miles Davis (1926 – 1991), in a publication tour in Key West back in 2000, this correspondent hastened to buy a copy and read it right away, like this summer. Well, it’s only 16 years later. The milieu of Miles Davis was not one this listener had ever sought out, but after reading Quincy Troupe’s book I felt close to both [continue reading…]

 August 26, 2016  Posted by at 12:25 am Issue #181, Kirby Congdon No Responses »