Tuesday, June 08, 2004

BERN PORTER, dead at 93 

Bern Porter died yesterday morning at the age of 93
in his home in Belfast, Maine

his extraordinary life, from helping to build the atomic bomb, to leaving the project when he realized what he was doing, to spending every last penny he owned to help rebuild Nagasaki and Hiroshima...to never touching numbers again. to turning the angle to poetry, for life.

when Sheila Holtz first moved to Maine to edit the bi-monthly Bern Porter International, an old friend of mine was upset about Sheila's decision. he had no interest in reading Porter's poems or reading his magazine, "just THINK of all those lives destroyed because of his work! fuck his poetry!" but i disagreed then, and will always disagree with that argument.

at one point Sheila Holtz and i spoke of possibly interviewing Bern for PhillySound, but Bern was phobic and ignorant of technology, deliberately so after WWII

in fact he never quite understood that when i called his house in Maine to speak to Sheila, that i was paying for the call, and he'd yell, "THIS IS COSTING ME DAMMIT!"  and he'd hang up on me.  sometimes it took me more than a week to get ahold of Sheila.

this is not something i'm sharing in order to laugh at Bern.  i'm telling it because the man was a genius, but because of the greed and power in some men in this world, this genius was used in ways the man had never intended, and left him sick with its results, to shun his own intellect of numbers...

with the story of Bern Porter, no one need ever wonder again what the strength of poetry can be

here are some online links to his work, and life:









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