On Coping With It All

kirby art

by Kirby Congdon…….

A suggestion was overheard on television the other day which was that blacks often need a “slower” college education if they reach that point. My response was don’t whites need it too? This writer sure did. Who, after all, doesn’t? An alcoholic remarked to me once that to be provided with a bed in a row of cots in a barracks here in Key West was pertinent but it still was demeaning. This fellow had an IQ of 150 and was writing a novel. The physical attention for people who rather desperately need it only skirts the whole problem of the disadvantaged. Can any institution or any program satisfy the needs so many people require to simply stay sane?

What is needed, from my perspective, goes far beyond physical care. The care that is needed beyond the body’s health is a mental one. Everyone needs a loving associate who can supply understanding, encouragement, advice as well as trust besides individual help in surviving as a human being. This guardianship should begin right away, at about the age of nine and, at the latest, at age fourteen. If we can go back there we can start over but as we all know the problems have already settled in between the age of fifteen and fifty. By then we realize we cannot cope with them ourselves and no one can do it for us because each of us has his own situation to deal with. A policeman, a teacher or a psychologist can only handle a situation as a generalized group of misfits which is beyond their grasp to get a hold of. One solution is for the individual to find it on his own like being reborn in a relgious sense or finding usefulness in a military sense, if not both simultaneously as our current world war illustrates. Having a talent or a creative calling works out better but these are not the people in our societies around the world that need our concern so much, especially when, at nine or fourteen, we are already mentally disturbed and have no way to know it.


If enemies amputate
both hands and arms,
I still walk
across a summer ground,
and, legless, I can see
the world revolve.
Tongue torn out,
I shall hear
the season turn.
When I am deaf
to my own cries,
and the visions
in my own mind chill,
this heart will beat
like the world’s own clock.
And when for want of winding
the works run down,
no man dies:
it’s the world that stops.

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.

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