Friday, January 15, 2016

i started the day with reading a few poems by philip whalen.  whalen name checks his friend the late bay area poet richard duerden and duerden's cats.  i don't know much about duerden.  what i do know is he was included in donald allen's breakthrough poetry anthology the new american poetry: 1945 - 1960 and the few poems published here and there on the 'net.  so i reread the three poems published by allen before i leave for work.

i think of duerden all day.  and whalen.  and the late poet james koller.  i remembered seeing one of koller's books for sale at time tested books.  i stop there after work.  and there it is right on the counter california poems [black sparrow press; 1971].  i can't believe my good fortune.  i pick up the book, open it, and read

                   if you thought you could make it

koller possesses an elegant ordinary simplicity.  the kind of elegant ordinary simplicity i aspire to.  koller passed away in 2014.  here is a blog, crows talk to him, dedicated to his memory.  and here you will find an interview with james koller.

with koller's poems in hand i scan the stacks at time tested books.  i find life interrupted: the unfinished monologue [crown; 2005] by spalding gray with a foreword by francine prose as well as remembrances and dedications by a host of writers.  i like spalding gray.  a lot.  he suffered a brain injury and later depression then committed suicide in 2004.  i can't let the book go.  i take it.

there is another, earlier book by gray on the shelf.  i pick it up, thumb thru the pages and put it back.  i don't know.  this book seems like it will be an easier find in any other bookstore.  the unfinished monologue book, i think, if i don't get it now i'll never see it again.

then i spy a collection of essays about new orleans by andrei codrescu, new orleans mon amour [algonquin books; 2006].  i'm about to put it back on the shelf when i see the blurb by spalding gray.  the arc of the day's unfinished symmetry.  i can't put the book back.  i take that too.  


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