Monday, August 24, 2009

Poetry book announcement

I wanted to let readers know that I'm editing and producing a book of poetry for a friend of mine and it is nearing completion. I anticipate seeing it available on Amazon in about a month. The book is titled Life Lines and includes 203 poems by acclaimed upstate New York poet Charles (Charlie) James, famous for being the successful plaintiff in a free speech case that went all the way to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit (the defendants petitioned the U.S. Supreme Court to hear an appeal and got turned down - twice).

Charlie is a true poet, certainly the most accomplished one I have ever had the privilege of knowing. He lives a writer’s life, or at least what I would call a writer’s life; that is, he lives to write. He writes every day, and he reads poetry every day. I think without poetry, there would be no Charlie.

Charlie’s inspirations are many, from the Black Mountain style – especially Robert Creeley and Denise Levertov – to Chinese culture, to Tillie Olson, to A.R. Ammons. He once told me boldly that “if poetry isn’t for the people then it’s not poetry.” I don’t think he said that as part of his Marxist leanings (he is a self-admitted Marxist). Rather, he eschews the academic obtusity of many poets, whose works require a dictionary, thesaurus, and literary encyclopedia at one’s side in order to bring meaning to a passage. If explanation is necessary, Charlie provides it, as in his occasional footnote explaining a Chinese term. Otherwise, he uses ordinary language to explore ordinary experiences in a most extraordinary way.

I wouldn't classify Charlie's poetry as beat poetry, but it's certainly got beat influences and he is about as beat a character as you'll ever find. When the book becomes available, I'll let you know. It would be a stellar addition to any beat library.

1 comment:

Crystal said...

I love Charlie and his poetry. I felt I really got to know him better by reading Richard Harris’ book, Freedom Spent, Tales of Tyranny in America. It has a chapter about Charlie’s fight to wear a black armband while teaching, as a silent expression of his opposition to the war in Viet Nam. I've read much of his poetry but as with most good poetry, it will be nice to have a compact little book that you can carry around and read over and over.