“Never since the beginning of the world has there been so little light. Our winter afternoons have been known at times to last a hundred years.”
― Charles Simic, The World Doesn't End
Charles Simic died just a few weeks ago. This issue is dedicated to his memory.
Charlie accepted me into his quirky, little University of New Hampshire MA poetry program in 1976. I had read those early books of his that Braziller published, Dismantling The Silence and Return To A Place Lit By A Glass of Milk with awe and could scarcely believe my luck. And the program was tiny then, wonderfully so...I believe there were only five or six of us in that group. Marilyn Johnson had come from Oberlin, Frank Butler who showed up with a BS in biology from somewhere in the south, wrote loopy poems about DNA and once brought Charlie a souvenir from a bus trip through Mexico: a shrunken head (Charlie refused it). Jon Pijewski was still there and other wonderful poets Larkin Warren, Mimi White, Charlotte Matkovic, Susan Webster and others whose names are now lost in the fog of the years.
Charlie liked the small workshop. And we grad students couldn't have been more different. We were a lab experiment, a small orchestra composed of tubas, banjos, harps, clarinets, washboards, hubcaps, spoons, barnyard sounds and violins. And Charlie conducted the ensemble with those thin, brown cigarettes he was smoking back then. What a time.
I'm not sure he knew my first name. From the start I was Schulz. I'm not sure I ever really needed or wanted a first name again. I was Schulz. Sometimes he said it in surprise, Schulz! other times like a thought, Schulz simultaneous with a subtle chuckle...Often, when I'd written something bad, really bad, it was a lament, schulz.
He once said a poem I'd written titled Backdoor was the greatest basketball poem ever written. He said he'd shown it to Tom Meschery, a poet who'd also had a good career in the NBA, who agreed. If I never do anything else in my life as a poet, I have that, though apparently there isn't much call for basketball poems. It's never been published.
I once found myself (dazzled) in a "green room" with Charlie and Mark Strand after a reading somewhere or other. Strand had brought a couple bottles of wine, good wine as you might expect. But he hadn't brought a corkscrew so Charlie took a pen and happily poked little pieces of cork into the wine and poured with gusto.
Charlie read in Portland a few years ago. We had dinner in the loud little jazz club where he was reading...Charlie, Helen (of course), my daughter Hannah, and me. I brought a copy of a small chapbook Charlie had published in 1976 titled Biography and A Lament. Charlie had given it to me just before I left UNH. He inscribed it: For Bill, with love and so much more…I can’t find words for right now.
Lament? Yes. Lament.
You'll find more memories of Charlie in the section that follows, Remembering Charlie.
This is the first issue of our fourth year and it is just packed.
Richard Shindell, songwriter, guitarist, singer, producer and now poet is our Headlines feature. I was introduced to Richard's music nearly 25 years ago and he's been a constant on my playlists ever since. I wrote to him many months ago to see if he'd contribute and he's been kind enough to share his poem, Spider Wasp.
Jefferson Navicky, a noted poet here in Maine, reviews Jody Stewart's new collection of selected poems, This Momentary World.
Marie Harris (former Poet Laureate of New Hampshire) and Carolyn Kreiter-Foronda (former Poet Laureate of Virginia) spoke with several current and former poets laureate to ask, can the occasional poem outlive the occasion? The answers are fascinating.
Of course the issue is packed with art, poetry, and video from old and new friends.
Our cover artist is Jo Richardson. More of Jo's striking work is inside and in issue 3.1.
We've had 2,546 unique visitors to Hole In The Head and 3,600 site sessions since our last issue on November 1.
We get the most visitors on Tuesdays, an average of 54 per day. And the fewest visitors on Sunday and Monday, an average of 32 per day.
And here's where are readers are located
My thanks, as always, to everyone here at Hole In The Headquarters who help to pull this all together: Bill Burtis, Nancy Jean Hill, Jere DeWaters, Marilyn Johnson, Michael Hettich, Marie Harris, Peter Johnson, and Tom Bruton. Thanks for routinely pulling me back down to earth at the end of every reading period!
Rest in peace Bryan, Grant, Greg, Father Tom, Charlie, and Michael.
Thank you for all you gave.
Here's what I'm listening to at this very moment:
We'll be back with more of this Hole thing in May.
I'd love to hear what you think: firstname.lastname@example.org
Be free you fool!
- photo, George Pagan III