Apr 292016

by Kirby Congdon…….

Kirby Congdon [Photo by Richard Watherwax]

Kirby Congdon [Photo by Richard Watherwax]

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 featured coverage of Eric Greine’ work in Forge, Vol. 9, Issue 3 edited by Tim Mclafferty here and in England.

Mr. Greinke, a maker and shaker in Michigan, explores what is meaningful. “November Nights” describes the comfort of being in bed and that’s it! Another category is that of exploration in which the narrator lets the poem, “Lifelines,” describe the dangers of life on the sea, ending,

In dreams of flight above rough seas,
I search for you, to throw you these lines.

And then we have, “After the Freeze” written with Alison Stone. This is the category I call writing for its own sake rather than for history (as in Ginsberg’s Howl, “I saw the best minds of my generation…”) or to express an opinion (as in Eliot’s The Waste Land, “April is the cruelest month…”) The poem by Stone and Greinke is the kind of poem we look for and want to write. It ends with these words:

…What was hidden…now emerging
until what blossoms
shines with
the familiar false hope
of fresh flowers.

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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.
 April 29, 2016  Posted by at 12:38 am Issue #164, Kirby Congdon  Add comments

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