Mar 112018
 

Kirby Congdon, Key West Poet Laureate Emeritus, [Photo by Richard Watherwax]

by Kirby Congdon…….

Sheri Lohr’s outfit, Seastory Press, has provided a service for those of us who have not yet been adored by the commercial, academic or popular institutions of our literary world. Eight or nine years ago she tried setting up an annual get-together at the Heritage House under the auspices of Jean Porter. Ms. Porter had originally encouraged local writers in her garden area, having already been a host to Robert Frost while Lawrence Ferlinghetti had been a personal friend whom I met at her house. Sheri’s experiment provided a show, advertising and sales for authors to handle for themselves, skipping agents and middle men. This has become a tradition for the last eight years at 322 Duval Street in back of the historical Oldest House, attracting both local authors and independent writers from the United States in general. Each author rents a table for five hours. The average cost for this comes to little more than the sale of one book since each author is his own sales person and accountant.

This reporter walked up to the first table he saw. Among Sue Merrell’s paperbacks were a mystery and a memoir. Her attractive calling card describes her as both author and critic with the email, merrellsue@gmail.com. She had come to this fair from Grand Rapids, Michigan. She was also a journalist, she said, having taken the advice from Mark Twain that to write well one should practice journalism.. I explained that I, too, had regular access to The Blue Paper on the Internet here in Key West and had a warm place in Michigan with its Presa Press in Rockford. The Internet identifies Ms. Merrell as as www.suemerrellbooks.com.

I moved on to the next table where Greg Buell had one book, a large illustrated one of nonfiction entitled Inventors and Inventions, a nicely done compilation one could browze in. His hand-out card with a cartoon of an animal cum autombile on it advised us “Invent Something Today,” suggesting an electric windmill car from GM for your birthday because 1.75 billion birthdays are coming up for earthlings. We need a gravity engine soon, as well. Mr. Buell is at www.electricwindmillcar.com. He said he lived in New Haven, CT.

Brian Simpson came from St. Petersburg, also with a single book, a novel, Island Dogs at Amazon. He hastened to tell me his second novel is on its way.

Seventeen Steps of Stone. Escaping Paradise is available on Amazon and Kindle. Cal and Joan Coolridge, joint editors, tell us, in 230 pages, about the hotel they established in the Caribbean after a life in suburban Washington, D.C.

I had a discussion with Daniel P. Hochreiter on his first book of 312 pages of automatic writing which we both had experienced. On the cover is a colored painting of a bucolic sea with a boy standing by his motorized life-boat with the explicit name on it, which is the book’s title as well, Luv I Sam. This is a transcription of an uneducaed man’s language in the Islands, meaning that love is what identifies who I am. This author is visiting rom Rochester, N.Y.
Page 2 of three pages. Sheri Lohr.

The last table was attended by a J.D. Adler whom I had seen around town. He is connected to the handsome poetry magazine, Decimus, which has just come out with its third issue. Mr. Adler, a novelist and poet with a collection, Daughter of the Son. He was also displaying a collection of poems, Beautiful Chaos, by Jose Gomez that has gotten a lot of talk. A review of it is expected to come out in The Blue Paper.

I want to mention that Alyson Matley stepped up to me and signed her earlier book of reflections, A Key West Concoction. She edited a newspaper in Key West, Cayo, for which I had been the poetry editor. Alyson lives here with Kevin Crean, the photographer. Like so many of us, she has become a permanent resident of this town. Her origins are in Reno, Nevada.

Kristina Neihouse had a large table, being an employee representing Key West Island Books at 513 Fleming Street which handles new and rare books as well as, “for our crowd,” many local poets and writers.

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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.
 March 11, 2018  Posted by at 12:55 am Issue #259, Kirby Congdon  Add comments

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