Jan 202018

Key West Poet Laureate Emeritus Kirby Congdon (Photo by Richard Watherwax)

by Kirby Congdon…….

On glancing through the first production from the poetry group, Decimos, I was delighted with the Spanish title because this reviewer took three years of Latin in high school voluntarily. There is so much meaning beyond all those declensions! In a world of sports, competition and success Latin gave me something cultural outside of adolescence that was, for me, a beacon.

When I read the biographies at the end of this collection I thought, “Well, gee, maybe we’re going somewhere. We’ve got adults here.” The production of any magazine is, in itself, admirable. When I despaired of being able to keep my own periodical alive a Professor Emeritus of English from Long Island University advised me, “To survive beyond that first issue is a literary accomplishment by itself.” I remarked to an editor of Decimos that his first issue struck me as quite attractive, having reviewed poetry books for twenty-five years for The Small Press Review. This fact is always interesting but not a necessity. But it does mean we have a literary group here in Key West that knows what it’s doing, where, why and how and is getting it done.

When I was shown the second edition of Decimos I saw that familiar contributors still had something to say. An early poem by Rosalind Brackenbury is tattooed on my mind. In it she waves goodbye to family, scrooched up in the rearview window of a car, doing the same thing. The ache of the separation has stuck by me. In Decimos she points up the strange mystique of looking back on what had been her future, suggesting how difficut it is to balance one reality against the other. Prose doesn’t handle such perspectives quite as well as poetry does. Roz knows this even though her public relies on her being a novelist.

This same situation in a different context is established in the last line of Flower Conroy’s poem, I am the Medusa. That line is as conclusive as it is thoughtfully provocative. Poetry can do that. She simply asks, “Who was I anymore?” How often we ask that on so many levels!

Dear reader, there is a new dimension in the name and the place of Key West. I know these guys are going to hold on to it. This is a new generation in a new century. Now, where were you all when I needed you in mine?

Kirby Congdon

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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.
 January 20, 2018  Posted by at 12:23 am News  Add comments

  One Response to “Decimos (We Say)”

  1. “Dear reader, there is a new dimension in the name and the place of Key West. I know these guys are going to hold on to it This is a new generation in a new century. Now, where were you all when I needed you in mine?”

    Kirby Congdon

    You lost me here. What is the “new dimension in the name and the place of Key West?” And, is a “new generation in a new century” a younger generation coming up in the world, or just a different kind of people with different thoughts than the previous generation?

    Or, is the new generation just the same old generation that either does not have or refuses to use the power of foresight?

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