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 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

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 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

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 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

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

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 »
Aug 052016
On Voting

by Kirby Congdon……. A study in 1951, The Oxford Dictionary of Nursery Rhymes by Iona and Peter Opie, revealed how the characters of our childhood originally mocked political figures when censorship was rampant. With free speech, current news and people’s names were abandoned as too plebeian as references in poetry since those references soon became dated. Otherwise this writer would write a deathless poem honoring our presidential choices, inviting everyone to an enormous three-day block party in my backyard, there between the chicken coop and the [continue reading…]

 August 5, 2016  Posted by at 12:46 am Issue #178, Kirby Congdon No Responses »
Jul 222016

by Kirby Congdon…… Having been brought up in a rural, one-horse farm, I was used to being alone and doing without group approval. Unconsciously my stance was that I would be compromising my integrity if I were to accept the standards of a world that had always found me lacking in regard sports and the obligatory skills that went with them, or in regard to school with its competitive approach toward any accomplishment. I was only comfortable when I could be myself without being compared [continue reading…]

 July 22, 2016  Posted by at 12:26 am Issue #176, Kirby Congdon No Responses »
Jul 152016
On Simplicity

by Kirby Congdon……. The division between the races in this country began in first grade. But even Miss Brode, who taught it, did nothing about it. I told her that the problem was the Great Depression, but she didn’t listen. Well, it took me a couple of decades to verablize my advice. However, my third-grade teacher did speak up. She said that kids who could not come to school because they had no shoes were welcome anyway. I have gone without shoes so often at the [continue reading…]

 July 15, 2016  Posted by at 12:40 am Issue #175, Kirby Congdon 1 Response »
Jul 012016

A starling noticed how hungry the cat was. “Eat that one,” the starling said, motioning toward a caged canary, thereby hoping to keep attention away from himself. “But would that be a nice thing to do?” asked the cat. “Since when has protocol filled an empty stomach!” the starling countered. “Yes, that’s life,” the cat agreed, and ate both birds up at once. Kirby Congdon

 July 1, 2016  Posted by at 12:26 am Issue #173, Kirby Congdon No Responses »
Jun 242016
Thousand Cats Hill

Thousand Cats Hill The Watrous boy said he saw a million cats on the hill in back of the house. His father admonished him that one should alway speak the truth. The boy reduced the number to a thousand. To a hundred. Ten. Well, there was a stray gone wild up on the hill. And it moved so fast it looked like there were two of them. At least two. Maybe more.

 June 24, 2016  Posted by at 12:58 am ~ Artists ~, Kirby Congdon No Responses »
Jun 172016
About Language

by Kirby Congdon……. A Scotsman and I talk about English there in his native country and here in the colonies. We have some pet peeves by which we alienate people and send them to hell and damnation. We decided a major annoyance was hearing “I seen” instead of the past perfect. Journalists on television often swallow the verb “have” and perhaps we just don’t hear it. But in daily spontaneous speech this isn’t always so. An error of my own was brought up. “Personally, I [continue reading…]

 June 17, 2016  Posted by at 12:50 am Issue #171, Kirby Congdon No Responses »
Jun 102016

by Kirby Congdon……. If you have a hobby there should be no conflict between that interest and coping with the need for independence. However, if a preoccupation is more than a hobby, if it is your calling, if you feel it is the one thing you were born to do and if it lets you find out who you are, then you meet up with trouble and struggle because there is no test establishing your skills. You have to prove that you are who you [continue reading…]

 June 10, 2016  Posted by at 12:36 am Issue #170, Kirby Congdon No Responses »
Jun 032016

Languages Birds, hidden within their cool recess, twitter and tweet behind the leaves as beyond the written page our own vocabularies rage to tell us what the world’s about when we find that any peace of mind reaches out for that light that hangs over the rooted craniums of earth-bound trees with their huge arms amazingly upraised while even each green leaf’s stem extends its sturdy place in its own season’s time to offer even more praise. Kirby Congdon

 June 3, 2016  Posted by at 12:38 am Issue #169, Kirby Congdon No Responses »
May 202016
Poetry and Verse

by Kirby Congdon……. An important book on nursery rhymes, Iona and Peter Opie’s Oxford Dictionary of Nursery Rhymes (1952), pointed out that those light-hearted poems from Mother Goose were, in fact, documentaries, not just making things up. In those days an execution could be your punishment for embarrassing any political figure accused of mishandling civil rights — as if there were any! A few years ago, a local poet prefaced a reading of a poem by saying, “This really happened.” I asked myself, Does that mean [continue reading…]

 May 20, 2016  Posted by at 12:52 am Issue #167, Kirby Congdon No Responses »
May 132016
On Some Categories of Poems

by Kirby Congdon……. The Curator and Librarian of the Kenneth Spencer Research Library, Elspeth Healey, at the University of Kansas asked me, after I had sent her an early manuscript that had gotten misplaced among my own papers, how do I approach old work like that? Do I have difficulty making editorial changes or is the text considered, preferably, as a final one? The passage of time does give one a fresh view of old work. One’s ideas change. My reply to Ms. Healey is [continue reading…]

 May 13, 2016  Posted by at 12:30 am Issue #166, Kirby Congdon No Responses »
May 062016
Key West: An Art Colony

by Kirby Congdon……. The town of Key West makes you step back and look at it. This writer spent a summer in an art colony in Maine as a pot-and-pan boy in the kitchen to be able to stay there. I didn’t assimilate the need or the drive to be a creative person for decades. But I see it all around me now. This past season Auwina Weed and Joseph Lowe provided us with a keyboard concert for organ and piano very recently (April 28) [continue reading…]

 May 6, 2016  Posted by at 12:46 am Issue #165, Kirby Congdon No Responses »
Apr 292016
Eric Greinke

by Kirby Congdon……. Pulling a new collection of poetry out of its envelope, I flipped through the pages and two poems caught my eye. These were intimate poems, an obituary of a dog emphasizing our need for a pet rather than the other way around, and a meditation on a public institution for those on disability. In this second one the narrator describes his attempt to handle the situation, closing his poem with “I finally fell away, imaginary wings broken.” Both poems were in a [continue reading…]

 April 29, 2016  Posted by at 12:38 am Issue #164, Kirby Congdon No Responses »
Apr 222016
On Bach

by Kirby Congdon……. The harsh clatter of a bell tells us time’s up, attention! stop thinking, get out of the way. Or it can toll — letting us reflect, relieving us of distractions to iterate success or failure, celebration or commiseration. All these interpretations take only one note. In the first Prelude of The Well-tempered Clavichord, BWV 846 so familiar to every piano student, Bach uses one note in the bass, like a bell, fourteen times consecutively in one great sweep while the right hand chords [continue reading…]

 April 22, 2016  Posted by at 12:30 am Issue #163, Kirby Congdon 1 Response »
Apr 152016

by Kirby Congdon……. A close friend asked me why I don’t provide some remarks for this column on the subject of depression? Where would I begin? My first contact with it was Rachel, an overseer at a state orphan asylum. Rachel’s mother lived on a bankrupt farm, familiar to most of us. It consisted of about two hundred acres in rural Connecticut with a huge mansion built in the eighteen-hundreds that still had neither water nor electricity nor, in the ongoing mass-production age, an income. [continue reading…]

 April 15, 2016  Posted by at 12:44 am Issue #162, Kirby Congdon No Responses »
Apr 082016
Small Talk

Small Talk When an admirer told the soprano,”I loved your aria,” she replied, “It’s written for a falsetto you know.” Her acquaintance answered, “Well, I’ve cheated in my time, too..” “No,” the singer explained, “I don’t mean false. I mean like a coloratura!” The man nodded tactfully. “Oh yeah? Who would know? You could always pass for a white person.” The lady was more explicit. I’m referring to the range of the aria.” “You sing on a ranch. What area is that in?” Finally the [continue reading…]

 April 8, 2016  Posted by at 7:52 am Issue #161, Kirby Congdon No Responses »
Apr 012016

Portents When the sun fell down its light, having failed, went out. The sullen moon, unstable, mourned a sky gone black. With all that, can this world’s end find some way back? Even dawn is late when night is done and the sun, cautious, arrives delayed. Our last lost hope for a final truth is gone. Those who are patient hang along for the ride to learn, soon enough. Their end of time, being timeless, is forever, as it procrastinates in designing fate, making us [continue reading…]

 April 1, 2016  Posted by at 12:28 am Issue #160, Kirby Congdon No Responses »
Mar 252016
56 Years After

To the Readers of the Blue Paper: A poem that celebrates a piece of current news becomes chronologically irrelevant in, like, five minutes. This writer has nothing in his files to commemorate President Obama stepping onto Cuban soil 56 years after I fled Castro’s invasion of Havana on the last plane to Miami and, so, spent the rest of my vacation in my first visit to Key West, changing my life along with how many others then and how many more now? Kirby Congdon

 March 25, 2016  Posted by at 12:58 am Issue #159, Kirby Congdon, Letter to the Editor No Responses »
Mar 182016
Book Review: Better Living Through Criticism / How to Think About Art,  Pleasure, Beauty and Truth

Better Living Through Criticism How to Think About Art, Pleasure, Beauty and Truth O. Scott 277p, Penguin Press, 2016 Having noticed the down-to-earth reviews of poetry books that A. O. Scott has written for the large presses, I bought this book. I winced at the title’s assertion of a right way to do things but the text itself was, once more, provocative, inviting, knowledgeable and thoughtful without saying so. Right down this reader’s back alley! In an introductory chapter an imaginary reader, defending himself, remarks, [continue reading…]

 March 18, 2016  Posted by at 12:22 am Issue #158, Kirby Congdon No Responses »
Mar 112016
Flower Conroy

by Kirby Congdon……. Flower Conroy The Awful Suicidal Swans by Flower Conroy 6 x 9 paperback, 40 p. Headmistress Press, 2014 60 Shipview Lane Sequim, WA 98382 $10.00 How can one not be amused when an adult book of poetry is brought out by a publishing house called the Headmistress Press? We have come so far since I was aiming my own poems half a dozen decades ago at the polite poetry editor of The New York Times! Miss Conroy’s book of poems reminds me [continue reading…]

 March 11, 2016  Posted by at 12:35 am Issue #157, Kirby Congdon No Responses »