Thursday, November 06, 2003


this is an idea i had about a year ago for a magazine celebrating obscure poets i'd like more folks to know about, but it kind of went nowhere with the first issue. the first poet was supposed to be a feature of Merle Hoyleman. she's really amazing, and maybe i'll share some of her poems on the Philly Sound blog, but it's impossible to use her for the WHATEVER HAPPENED TO THE POET? magazine, mainly because everyone who knew her is already dead, and there's not even anyone out there who has read her poems, it seems. James Laughlin knew the most about her. Jonathan Williams knew her, but doesn't have too much to share, except that she would call him in the middle of baseball games and talk about the "Scum," her paranoid collective she seemed to focus on a lot. New Directions gave me permission to reprint her Christopher Letters Poems and maybe that's what i'll do, here on the blog, soon. they're really brilliant, lost treasures.

to get moving with a poet i KNOW will have some hits is Frank Samperi. this is the 30th anniversary of the publication of his book QUADRIFARIAM, the 2nd part of his large trilogy of books. i just found a copy (hardcover) of this book at the Strand in NYC. couldn't BELIEVE it when i saw it! it was the remaining part of his trilogy that i hadn't yet read. how can anyone give his work to a used bookstore?

Cid Corman turned Fran Ryan onto Samperi. Fran Ryan turned me onto Samperi, then Gil Ott added to the excitement of the Samperi discoveries, if anyone can excite us to Samperi it's Gil Ott. he has a reverence for the work, sees it as "pure witness."

in 9for9, i asked the question: There's a face of a poet on the kite you are flying over the city. Who is this poet? When you reel them back from the wind what will you ask?

Gil Ott's answer was: The poet's face on my kite is Frank Samperi, reclusive when he was alive, but now deceased at least a decade. I would ask him to elaborate on the word "procession," which he used to distinguish from "process." I imagine this man's mind as pure witness, tuned to the essential deity of events, and so endangered.

to be honest with you, my respect for Gil Ott is just about the most respect i've ever had for a poet i've known. he's one of the most generous, in every sense. he hears EVERYTHING carefully in what he reads and hears. he really listens to younger poets, something some of his peers should take a cue from. he always understands and never underestimates the multitude of poets who are always around, making poetry's engine continue, and continue. so to have a man like Gil Ott praise Samperi some years ago, well, how could i not look as deeply into the poems as possible? now i'd like to do my part in spreading the word on Samperi.

i'm going to start requesting information from poets like Cid Corman for details about the man and the poet Samperi. also looking for ANYONE out there who is a fan of Samperi's poems to come forward to give me a paragraph, or whatever length, on how Samperi's poems have affected how they feel about poetry, how he might have changed their ideas about writing poems. or, even just some sincere fan mail for the man's poems.

my guess is that with this new focus for the first issue, we'll actually be able to HAVE a first issue. what a shame about Merle Hoyleman not working out. there's a whole manuscript of her poems, unpublished. and i'd LOVE to get my hands on that book one day, win the lottery, and let the world take a look. i'd like to take a look. only poems of her's i've read are the New Directions pieces.

but anyone out there with a feeling or two, or information on Frank Samperi you want to impart, send me some email...CAConrad13@aol.com


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