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.

Dec 152017
 
Yard Waste

by Kirby Congdon……. Raking up the past in dead piles of withered leaves, we dance around the little sins 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 which younger men in their routine on garbage trucks lift on up with weightless ease.

 December 15, 2017  Posted by at 12:52 am ~ Column ~, Kirby Congdon No Responses »
Dec 082017
 
Previews of Exhibitions at the Gildea Gallery

by Kirby Congdon……. The Gildea Gallery has been promoting solid work by experienced painters and sculptors. We have now three distinctive artists this season in a joint show opening on December 11th, 6 to 8 p.m. Suzanne Donazetti works on copper, putting a subtle wave vertically on her sheet of metal juxtaposing her control over this shape with a vast checkerboard of small squares each one tinted in overall patterns of closely related tones. The three-dimensional effect not only gives depth to the surface but gives [continue reading…]

 December 8, 2017  Posted by at 12:23 am ~ Artists ~, issue #246, Kirby Congdon No Responses »
Dec 012017
 
Hanging Around

Hanging Around I haunt the old place, like any fool, chin up, head high, charming, debonair as I watch my glass of ginger-ale grow warm, and then go stale. I catch my breath at your silhouette when I forget that I can’t as yet. So I pretend in front of friends: no one’s aware this is the end of our affair. Only fools could think I cared. Kirby Congdon

 December 1, 2017  Posted by at 12:48 am Issue #245, Kirby Congdon No Responses »
Nov 242017
 
For Sir Robert Antoni

For Sir Robert Antoni Troubles recovered are victories won as any struggle provides the hope of continuing on. We were there when “there” was then as here and now, our names remain, when all is done, beyond the gloomy stare of judgment’s sun. The trampled weed, the fallen tree, let us feel survival’s thrill as we finish all the odds and ends we had begun and still engage in what we share: a single chance at life’s deep need to give or get, not just [continue reading…]

 November 24, 2017  Posted by at 12:33 am Issue #244, Kirby Congdon No Responses »
Nov 102017
 
Keeping Track

Keeping Track I try to cross the tracks as the engineer honks his horn. “Get out of the way,” he calls. I watch my step to arrive upright on the other side. “You don’t count,” the engine warns. “I know,” I, resigned, respond. Safely on the other side, I feel the rush of wheels roll on by. The engine, disappearing, cries, “Count, count, count. Count, count, count. “Next time, stand your ground, “Only heroes overcome this trip’s sound “of Grind, grind, grind.” When the tracks [continue reading…]

 November 10, 2017  Posted by at 12:42 am Issue #242, Kirby Congdon No Responses »
Oct 272017
 
Storm

Storm The cast iron statue of an athlete stood firm against any reckless lack of care. Its heavy weight assured us nothing sturdy fails. Beauty glows whenever even strangers’ eyes or a sculptor’s hand prove it’s there under the shallow surface of distress. Our lives still remain beyond catastrophies when, anonymous, all we knew lay aimless, beyond repair, across the floor. Identity, for the two of us, even now, with only ruins to clarify the world that was, has no need for names. Mind and [continue reading…]

 October 27, 2017  Posted by at 12:54 am Issue #240, Kirby Congdon No Responses »
Oct 272017
 
Book Review:

by Kirby Congdon……. Blue Collar Review Vol. 20, Issue 4 (Summer 2017) Several names are familiar. This means, for them, writing poetry is an addiction. That’s my kind of poet. The definition of it all gas to go back to Lucretius. We’re not sure why it works, but we know when it does. Mary Franke tries some experimental phrasing with contemporary references. “I’m letting it ride. My life I mean.” Don Narkevic’s “Elegy for a Seamstress” ends with “After a prayer they …. decide whose [continue reading…]

 October 27, 2017  Posted by at 12:40 am Issue #240, Kirby Congdon No Responses »
Oct 272017
 
Hazel Griffiths Showing at Gildea Gallery

Hazel Griffiths Gildea Gallery 522 Southard Street 5:00 p.m., Friday, 27th October (through November 7th) by Kirby Congdon……. The movement in our society toward women’s rights appears continuous with the exposure of public bullies in business or politics. A more voluntary action is often found in creative work. Hazel Griffiths’s paintings, “Dreamlands and Soulscapes” (using encaustic wax) at the Gildea Gallery (on Southern Street, near the bank, between Simonton and Duval) reflects this freedom. Her paintings are bold and imaginative, holding our attention. Her technique [continue reading…]

 October 27, 2017  Posted by at 12:10 am Art, Issue #240, What To Do No Responses »
Oct 132017
 
Gay Murders

by Kirby Congdon……. The front page of The New York Times for Friday, September 29, 2017, had this headline: Bullying Seen as Prelude to Classroom Stabbing, with the subtitle, Death in Bronx School Defies Drop in Crime. A reader might have assumed we were pretty well beyond this kind of behavior, but I guess the Bronx cheer of razzing someone with your tongue belongs where it came from. During the Great Depression there is this poem, “Geographical Reflection” by Ogden Nash from his book, Hard Lines [continue reading…]

 October 13, 2017  Posted by at 12:46 am Issue #238, Kirby Congdon No Responses »
Oct 062017
 
Bach & God

by Kirby Congdon……. Mr. Marissen gets a couple of ideas off his chest before we get into his project. His Preface states, “This book is scholarly but not devotional.” Page 2 of the Introduction asserts, “I am an agnostic.” The subject of all the essays is the text of Johann Sebastian Bach’s cantatas, their history, translations, interpretations and grammatical definitions. The language is English but the reader’s knowledge of German, as well as access to recordings, can be helpful. The librettos of the cantatas may discriminate [continue reading…]

 October 6, 2017  Posted by at 12:16 am Issue #237, Kirby Congdon No Responses »
Sep 292017
 
Cricket

by Kirby Congdon……. Cricket Carried in the spin of earth’s dogged days, allowed to see the space of time in an eon’s length, I heard a cricket sing to entice a mate. That brave thread like the spread of a spider’s web, made the starlight ring as even silence sang among neurons engaged in errands quickly sent to the inside depths of my singing head. Kirby Congdon

 September 29, 2017  Posted by at 5:21 am Issue #236, Kirby Congdon No Responses »
Sep 222017
 
Book Review: The Bees Have Been Canceled poems by Maya Catherine Popa

by Kirby Congdon……. Our dependency on such a trivial concern as the spread of pollen has, with our industrial and technological forces, become one more anxiety in civilized society. Maya Catherine Popa’s collection of poems opens with the title prose-poem, “The Bees Have Been Canceled.” The ambiguity of the factual business jargon and the poet’s own language is clever and full of concern at the same time. The narrator comments in a discursive tone that recollects what the activity of bees used to be like [continue reading…]

 September 22, 2017  Posted by at 10:20 pm Issue #235, Kirby Congdon No Responses »
Sep 222017
 
Fortitude

Fortitude Bravado came, like hopefulness, on its knees to give a name to good fortunes received that any body needs, lifting life by song or dance beyond a world’s end of bad dreams. Kirby Congdon

 September 22, 2017  Posted by at 2:25 am Issue #235, Kirby Congdon No Responses »
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 »