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
I'D CLIMB THE HIGHEST MOUNTAIN WITH YOU
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.