This appeared, generously, in the amazing MALPAIS REVIEW [Vol. 5 No. 3 Winter 2014-15] edited by Gary Brower in Placitas, New Mexico. I thank Mr. Brower for permission to reprint this. LG

In the back of the house I shared with 3 other guys on Central Avenue was a little house apartment where Roz Stein lived. Short, ample, a New York Jewish woman with glasses, a smoker and as quick as a whip. She mentioned “that leaky-eyed poet.” Who’s that? “Robert Creeley.” Now that was in ’57 or 8 when I was living across the street from Okies’ Bar and in graduate school at the University of New Mexico. I’d discovered I was something of a poet when at USC it became apparent I wasn’t that good in music, certainly not at the piano and at composing. But I could write bad poems about music.

Later on I went to Mr. Creeley’s reading in Old Town at the Old Town Adobe Theater to see who he was. Of course I had no idea what to expect. Yes, he did occasionally take a red bandana out of his rear pocket and dab the eye socket. But more obvious was his reading straight on only to one person in the room, a woman with long dark hair, who looked steadfastly at him as he to her. No one else in the room seemed to matter. Even the drunk, obviously a friend of Creeley’s, who often would shout out “Yeah yeah yeah!” or laugh loudly, was ignored.

I was drafted into the Army, and they sent me to Camp Irwin in the Mojave Desert, outside of Barstow which is where I spent my Army years,’59 through ’61. Soon as I got out, I got back into trying to finish my master’s. I had been floundering around interested in Dylan Thomas and more academic types of poetry. I got a job teaching at what was then called the Academy for Boys, same place (as I found out later) Mr. Creeley had taught. Now it’s the Albuquerque Academy. Then I moved to Placitas in ’63. I think the Creeleys arrived here the same year I did.

So at age 27 I was in “English 121: Contemporary Idiom,” a small poetry class with Bill Dodd, Hank Chapin, an officer’s wife, and a few others listening to Robert Creeley and frequent recordings thanks to his Wollensak recorder, and looking at all kinds of dittoed samples of writing by, for example, Alexander Trocchi, William Eastlake, Jack Kerouac, John Hawkes, William Burroughs, William Blake, Alfred North Whitehead, Gertrude Stein, William Bartram, Wyndham Lewis, Herman Melville, John Rechy, and D.H. Lawrence. But the “text book” was Ezra Pound’s The ABC of Reading. And of course there was the newsworthy presence of the 1960 anthology, New American Poetry 1945-1960, edited by Donald Allen.

Bob’s interviews with poet friends were really the venue of our discussions and since he had a radio program, “The Single Voice,” on the Albuquerque classical station KUNM-FM, some of his interviews were aired. I remember (and often copied the tapes) Robert Duncan, Louis Zukofsky, Michael McClure, Allen Ginsberg, Edward Dorn, and of course Charles Olson, plus interviews of Ezra Pound he had. When Jonathan Williams of Jargon Press & Ronald Johnson came through Placitas on their way to Roswell to see one of the press benefactors, Donald Anderson, they carried with them and I copied, a wonderful Basel Bunting tape.

Bob introduced me to Ann Quin, the innovative British novelist, who was in New Mexico for her Harkness Grant at the D. H. Lawrence Ranch outside of Taos. “Isn’t she wonderful?” Creeley said to me. Ann and I grew to be great friends and we palled around since her frequent trips often brought her back to Placitas and I could find her a place to stay. We danced together wherever and whenever we could, often in the Thunderbird Bar in Placitas. It is one of the closest friendships I’ve ever had, thanks to Bob Creeley.

Denise Levertov was one of the visitors at the Creeley house, the house across from the Presbyterian Church, one of three they lived in at different times here. Bobbie’s home movies, available for viewing at Pennsound, show another house with an old-fashioned but concrete lined swimming pool, which is now demolished and forbidden in this longstanding drought. Movies show John Chamberlain and others swimming, this was about 1964. The final house, farther east in the village, was enjoyed the longest. There I saw Gary Snyder, Max Finstein, Chamberlain, and photographer Walter Chappell, Robert Duncan and Lawrence Ferlinghetti, and I heard of visits by Lenore Kandel, and many more poets and artists. I remember sometimes looking out our window and seeing the Creeleys walking down the road with composers Morton Sobotnik and Joan La Barbara or . . . Stan Brakhage or . . . it seemed endless. I expressed my take on those years that we were neighbors (tho at first I was up at the General’s place just West of the old village) in this poem that was published in Here On Earth.

The House That Makes It So
for the Creeleys

I drove by the old Creeley house
. . because I wanted to write a poem.
There was the piano-shaped bedroom
. . Bobbie had Von Shutze build.
The floors of adobe with sheep’s blood sealer
. . that kept crumbling in the old house,
The step-down new studio with that volcanic Jemez view
. . where we sat & picked the energy of language apart
and I could put my life in art back together
. . to go on in this isolated New Mexico way
where the others all seem taller, and I
. . sit & improvise only sometimes to connect.
Their talking out the window of VW rebuilt engines
. . or collaborations with Rauschenberg or Altoon,
The patio of corn & rhubarb & music to enchiladas
. . Almaden white wine as
Back to the kitchen, the slow night weaved on
. . and alternative worlds to where I was born
Played over the cassette player or hi-fi out to space
. . and Max, or John, I never saw, or
Stan & Jane & Ed & Tuli & Jonathan & Ronald & Ann & George
. . & on & on came through (I forgot Allen & Lawrence),
To meet like Gertrude Stein’s patio in their adobe hacienda
. . where children pulled apart & adults prospered
and friends analyzed until the dawn trailed off
. . the always fresh love of poetry that was life, life blood.
If apprenticeship is anything, or hand to hand, a better poem
. . commands itself to be written in the house that makes it so.

Larry Goodell

The “American Idiom” course I took with Bob turned my life around. I was mired in the Welsh overabundance of Dylan Thomas and the brilliant redactions of the great Irish playwright and poet W. B. Yeats. He placed intense attention on everyone he talked to, and certainly students, evident in his helpful comments here on one of my transitional poems. It is his comments, his “perhaps,” his question mark I’m interested in, very helpful as impetus to write new poems.

“It’s curious to see just where the ‘energy’ becomes most clear – and where it then tends to lapse a little,” he writes at the top of my dittoed poem. “Perhaps begin here?” he writes 5 lines down the poem, and pointing to an unnecessary adjective, “cut? It keeps it moving perhaps more flatly – and in fact picks up then an interesting rhythm.” 8 lines up from the end of the writing he puts a dash line, “perhaps end here.” What happened to me (and no doubt many others listening to Creeley) was a breakthrough his hand to hand help opened up, a useful direction by way of Williams-Olson-Creeley-now. Simply realizing, hearing and expressing my voice.

In the Creeley house there was a lot of white wine and marijuana around the kitchen table. I basically didn’t partake much in the conversation the times I was there. I think I’ve always been a kind of outsider. Besides, there was a hulluva lot that was flying over my head and my entrenched locality was no help. Of course I was wild at heart but primarily a poet listener to eventually become a poet performer. One night Ed Sanders, Tuli Kupferberg and the Fugs were wandering in and out of the house, and Bob was playing his tape of Frank Zappa’s “Suzy Creamcheese.”

Creeley and I had many conversations, a lot of which I don’t remember, because I was drunk. I remember so well him looking at me and me nodding my head as though I understood every word. What the hell is he saying? But the ground shifting had occurred in my late-blooming life. Bobbie [Creeley] and I got to be pretty close. At one point she told me she was writing poems but did not want to disclose that to Bob!

My worst experiences were in the years I was writing in a vacuum thinking Dylan Thomas was my teacher when in reality I had no teacher. Somehow all I knew of the Beats was the drivel in Life Magazine and the enthusiasm the librarian at New Mexico Military Institute had for them in my first year of teaching, 1958. But then later I met Robert Creeley who gave me a hand and pulled me out of the morass of closed poetry. Listening to his recordings of poets reading and meeting some of them and hearing them taught me to hear my own voice in the open forms William Carlos Williams presented us Americans. As I’ve said before (in the Holsapple/Tritica interview with me), many of us have benefitted, all over the world, “because of all the things he’s had to say about the poetry of others, his generosity in opening his home to people, to help other poets, suggesting things to do, places to publish; writing helpful notes for people’s books.” As he did for my book Firecracker Soup. Who else would say, “Put bluntly, Larry Goodell has been the only alternative to the Atomic Energy Commission for years and years now, and this book is a veritable blast.”

Right after that class came the 1963 Vancouver Poetry Conference. I drove up there in my ’47 green Chevy coupe mostly because Creeley wrote to me in February of 1963, “I really think it will be an exceptional group of people to have in one place at one time. Olson alone would be worth your coming, but Denise Levertov, Duncan, and Allen Ginsberg as well really make it something – and Margaret Avison, a Canadian, is also a shy intelligent woman. Anyhow I do hope it all works out so that you can come up.” So I went and Phil Whalen was there also and truly, and I met Drum and Diana Hadley and so many others. I was overwhelmed. It was good that I managed to become friends with Ron Bayes and Fred Franklyn and got to know Phil Whalen. When I came back home I was fired up, thinking of Robert Duncan’s talking about Garcia Lorca’s lecture on the duende, to start a little magazine, each issue of duende devoted to one person’s work, and I did and became part of the mimeo revolution of the 60’s.

More poets continued to be here to study with Creeley or just were here: David Franks for one, who lived in Placitas and whose book Touch I published. There were vicissitudes with the Creeleys and their house. William (Latif) Harris and Sandy Harris lived in it for a time. Others included Karla Tonella and the wonderful poet and friend Judy Grahn. In one case (residents unnamed) I became the mediator between the Creeleys in Buffalo and their tenants here. And the activities of the Thunderbird Bar took on great meaning for me not only for a watering place, meeting place, place of the best of local and well-known bands, but also as a place to do poetry with Kell Robertson, Holly Wilson, and others. Steve Rodefer was often around, Bill Pearlman, Charlie Vermont, Joe Bottone, Lora Linsley, with visitors like Fielding Dawson and Gary Snyder.

The Creeley’s visits to Albuquerque later become somewhat more formal, having to do with new books (bookstore readings, gallery readings, University of New Mexico lectures). And at a certain point it was Bob and Penelope Creeley and after their wonderful stay, perhaps the last one, the house was sold.

Charles Bernstein calls Creeley a “Hero of the Local.” Here are some pieces by local friends to Bob Creeley to round out my narrative here. I drove Ann Quin, the British novelist, Bill Dodd and Neil Nelson, students of Creeley’s, out to the Berkeley Poetry Conference in 1965. Neil Nelson, originally from Massachusetts, had met and studied with Creeley and wrote this poem about meeting him.

What The Poet Sd

lame-ugly &

so without shame,
it was

belly up to the bar
when we met &

I sd “Give me a

He sd, “Boston?”
“Newton”, I

sd. “No shit”, he
sd, “sit down”, &

like they say,
things change—

“in an instant”
could have been

what The Poet sd.

Neil Nelson (in Neil’s words)

How could I, age twenty-three, ever hope of going back to school, to a University? And Creeley replied, “You’re better read than most,” meaning the students in the English department at UNM. “You’re more mature, and New Mexico will recognize your GED (Massachusetts hadn’t), and you’re eligible for the GI Bill, it will take care of tuition.” So, he answered my objection. But, of more importance to me, much more, was his, “If they give you any trouble have them call me.” They didn’t. I applied, was accepted, and enrolled (on the GI), met my wife (of 35 years), graduated, and like our 24 year old daughter today says, ‘get a life,’ I did.

Latif Harris, San Francisco

When I went to New Mexico to study with Bob in 1965 after meeting him at the iconic Berkeley Poetry Conference, it was the beginning of a wonderful experience for me. I remember many nights sitting in the Creeley’s kitchen with other poets, painters and musicians who were part of a endless line of visitors from 1965-68. One night when Robert Duncan was visiting, I mentioned remembering him saying that “the genius is in the language not the poet” which he did not remember saying or writing. But it sparked off a wheel of conversation that worked in and around the idea mentioning many other poets. So many visitors came including Ed Sanders, Lenore Kandell, RJ Kitaj, Ed Dorn to mention a few I remember.

When the Creeley’s went off to Buffalo they rented their wonderful adobe home to me for a year and that same kitchen table was briefly left to me and my wife Sandra and that tradition continued with visitors like Gary Snyder, Robert Bly, Robert Sward, Larry Goodell, Ann Quin and many others during our brief caretaking year. Bob did so many kind things for me over the years, including obtaining a Fellowship for me at the University of Essex in England.

I was drawn to his work when his book For Love was published. In 1964, I reviewed it and his novel Island for the underground paper Open City edited by John Bryan in Los Angeles while I was attending City College of Los Angeles.

I returned to Placitas briefly in the summer of 1968 with my second wife Camille and spent time with the Creeley’s before leaving for London. Larry Goodell is the singularity of the Placitas poetry scene and his kindness to innumerable artists and writers for more than a half-century makes him a National Treasure in my mind. His personal ethic and dedication to the arts is unmatched. He was close to the Creeley’s in the years they lived in Placitas, and after they moved on to other places.

(Larry this is just a brief and partial memory of those wonderful years when the world was in an upheaval and cultural revolutions were following on the heels of the Beat Generation.)
. . .

I still have my original edition of Olson’s Maximus Poems by Jargon/Corinth, 1st edition, filled with notes and a drawing I did of Creeley during the time he taught the course on Olson . . . kind of fascinating — I did my paper on Olson’s use of vowels in the Maximus poem with the line “I found myself eating what they handed me.”

Namaste, Latif Harris, San Francisco
Orgyen Samten

Margaret Randall, Albuquerque, New Mexico

Robert Creeley was a mentor and friend. I’ll never forget his inviting me to read in Placitas sometime around 1964. I was living in Mexico at the time and going through a bit of a hard emotional time. I can’t even remember why. All I know is I mentioned this to Bob in a letter (yes, we wrote letters back then!) and he immediately invited me up. It was just the break I needed. Much later, during the years of my immigration case in the 1980s, were in again in touch. Bob was teaching in Buffalo then, and invited me to one of his classes to talk about poetry and politics. Politics? Most poets didn’t care much about politics back then. Creeley did. He cared about life and poets and social issues and how they all came together. He is missed.

Bobby Byrd, El Paso

“In the sixties, I was a young man at the University of Arizona BCW (Before ‘Creative Writing’), experimenting with the making of poems. Creeley and a host of his peers came through to read, thanks to the largesse of the Ruth Stephan Poetry Center and its board of teachers and writers who were plugged into the Allen anthology. We heard folks like Creeley, Robert Duncan, and Gary Snyder, among others. And Creeley became my hero. His poems were intense personal revelations that seemed so accessible at first reading, but the closer I got to them, the more mysterious and deep they became.

His poems—and this is still what I find so extraordinary about Creeley and his generation—reflected exactly the poet who was writing them. Form was the constant subtext, his poems seemed to say, the place where a true revolution was being waged. The ‘new American poem’ was an organic mechanism, a reflection of the poet in constant flux, but more like staring into a creek or a lake than staring into a static mirror. The ‘New American Poets’ gave my generation this gift, and they had received it likewise from Williams and Pound, who had received it from Whitman. Etcetera.

Creeley was a handsome and charismatic guy in a disheveled and very personal sort of way. At an early age, he had been blinded in one eye; he wore a patch over the bad eye, which made him even more attractive. He loved fervent conversation—especially about poetry—took young poets seriously, and easily invited us into his circle. He would sit down, elbows on the arms of the chair, hands clasped. Then he would lean forward and peer at us with that one eye as he answered our questions about how a poem is made. He would talk about content becoming form and form becoming content, about using a typewriter or a pencil, about legal-sized pads of yellow paper as opposed to notebooks, about all these many things. And he would tell us stories about Kerouac, Ginsberg, Gregory Corso, Charles Olson, and William Carlos Williams. Not gossiping stories, but stories with an intent to reveal something about poetry and living life like a poet with eyes and ears wide open. His stories became parables in our hearts. It was a paradise. I wanted so much to be a poet.

Creeley and his poems were addictive. If you read too much Creeley, which I of course did, then you started writing like him with short perfect lines, simple nouns and verbs, short little ditties that were oblique and tantalizing with innuendo. Opening up any poetry magazine of the time you could find young poets scattered across the United States who had been snorting and smoking too much Creeley. But if you were serious about your craft, and you understood his ideas about form, then you would go find other poets and sources that led you back home to yourself. It was exhilarating. As the years passed I’d bump into him in various places. We’d talk like old friends and compare notes, we’d drink wine and laugh, and he’d tell me stories about poets and poems, peering at me through that one mysterious eye. The cadences of his conversation were the same cadences of his poetry. I was always scuttling back to his poems, more sure of myself, reading them, and being amazed. And I would always be reminded of the sense of a community of poets that Creeley had passed along to us. I still feel that way when I hear and read poems I like, and when I write poems, or an essay like this one. It’s a sense of participating in community—that together we are feeding the luminous beast which is poetry. Ezra Pound said poets and artists are the antennae of their race, and Creeley loved to remind his listeners of that statement, wondering aloud what it meant.

(This is from Bobby Byrd’s piece on Creeley on the Texas Observer’s Obit Page

Charlie Vermont, New York poet who lived in Placitas and is now an M.D. in Arkansas, in an email sent to me.

Larry, Here’s how it happened. Vietnam War, impending draft. Senior thesis with Alfred Dupont Chandler on Labor Unions during WW II. Despair at what was happening in the country and personally. Had no plans. While working on a paper on Lolita where the multiple layers of irony and entendre never end . . . coupled with a magic carpet ride substance . . . found quite by accident Elie Wiesel’s concentration camp memoir “Night” and also quite by accident within a short period of time For Love by Robert Creeley . . . which spoke to me. Then also by accident looking for an escape . . . graduate school I picked up the catalogue for the U. of New Mexico . . . which was modest and slim in those days and the physical description of the Sandias rising to 10,000 feet just to east . . . grabbed my attention . . . then I saw Creeley was on the faculty . . . The rest of course you were there for, but when I rented the house in Placitas I didn’t know that Creeley lived across the street. At the time, the place was rented by Judy Grahn and her lover Carla Tonella. Also at the time I had no idea what homosexuality was either . . . see, an innocent time . . . new . . . Then there was Anne (Vermont) and I never had a real poetic or creative thought without her . . . but it took a life to know that for sure . . .

When I met Bob and Bobbie Creeley as well as yourself . . . .Wilson, Blaisdell, Robertson, Rodefer, Katona, Pearlman . . . it was a whole world that offered solution as Joyce posed the problem “history is a nightmare from which I am trying to awake.” We see now that history is still a nightmare for many and America, parts of it, still remains as Lincoln said “mankind’s last best hope.” Creeley and Dorn had vision that man could love and live ontologically free and we were able to for awhile in Placitas. Certainly there were excesses . . . remember Ulysses S. Grant . . . Don Wasky . . . riding around on a white horse giving out Peyote buttons and then later killing people . . . probably Shorty (Gibbs) . . . Or the man, who I hope had a reasonable life who after taking acid put a hunting knife into the frontal lobe of his brain . . . Then there were all the creative moments. The Thunderbird Bar really was where the cowboys and hippies met and that turned ultimately into the Austin music scene . . . by some route . . . Creeley and Dorn were formed in part in Placitas . . . as the rest of us. I will always think of it as a place of vision. The subdivisions now wouldn’t get in my way . . . and in the back of my brain . . . I think someone introduced me to Bill Gates and Paul Allen (the Microsoft people) but it’s a dim memory. There’s an Eric Clapton song . . . . great guitar riffs . . . Steve Winwood also . . . the phrase was at the time “I have finally found a way to live in the presence of the Lord” If you had the recording you would know in what sense I mean it as the coming together we were part of in Placitas . . . and the spiritual (non-specific) knowledge we took with us.

There’s a nice poem in my Selected Poems (United Artists, 1980) about Bob and Bobbie, their living in Placitas (little places) or Bolinas (whales). It was in Big Sky and the book tucked away deep my closet . . . so my other identity remains in the closet . . . however with internet . . . San Francisco poem . . . Graffitti Poem . . . “All is known, Flee.”
Charlie Vermont

Larry Goodell, A Memento Concerning Kell Robertson

At General Hertford’s place where I caretook just outside Placitas up against the mountain, Kell was singing, talking, talking about singing and Bobbie Creeley, a singer herself, a Texan by birth, was really taken by it out on that rock promontory overlooking the Jemez, the Nacimiento, the River Grande, while inside, Bob Creeley looked at me with steely eye, assessing the entire party scene meticulously, as his dislike for Kell filled the room.

A Personal Memento, the Big Room, Creeley House

In the big flagstone living room with the magnificent view out to the volcanic mesas and the Jemez Mountains there was so much talk, John Altoon collaborations, Rauschenberg collaborations with Creeley, James Laughlin, Jonathan Williams, John Calder, publisher stories including Scribners, as well as local issues – rebuilding the VW engine, dislike of Ralph Roller (local realtor selling land to hippies), the Thunderbird Bar – there came a lull in the conversation, a dangerous lull and Bobbie said after a long pause, “Say something, Larry!” Who knows what I spat out. But that was a danger in all the constant talking, analyzing, observing, one-upmanship (mostly friendly), references to poets & publishers, that there might come an embarrassing stop, a silence. Neither Mel Buffington nor I could help much with that.

Mildred Tolbert, Judson Crews’ Former Wife, on Robert Creeley and Judson Crews. Crews (1917-2010) was a well known Taos poet of his day, a bookseller and a small press publisher. He was a friend of Henry Miller and published prolifically in small press publications.

As I understand it from my Ranchos neighbors, Flossie and Manuel Ocanas, the latter a jazz saxophonist originally from Chihuahua, Creeley came up here with Buddy Berlin, an Albuquerque friend, before we knew him. They spent a winter in a little adobe house, lived on pinto beans and smoked marihuana. They have fond memories of Creeley.

Later he came to see Judson, whose work he had seen in little magazines. He came to New Mexico from Majorca after leaving his first wife and two sons. Apparently his wife had wanted him to be more of a conventional husband and expressed this by throwing his typewriter out a 3rd story window. Ha had married her in his last year at Harvard, and dropped out. When we first knew him he seemed adrift . . . (Looking back on his life it seems that a close relationship with a woman was very important to him and a source of many poems.) At that period in Taos he drank and when he did he often got belligerent with authority figures such as cops and bouncers.

It is hard to recall the exact periods he spent in Taos. He stayed with us a number of different times, as we had a big house and he was an easy guest. He and Judson discussed poetry and publishing. Creeley published Judson’s poems in Black Mountain Review, the last issue of which was edited here with a cover by the artist Edward Corbett who lived in the apartment attached to our house.

After Bob left, he brought and sent poets to visit us. Max Finstein, an old friend from Boston, stayed on, eventually becoming a leader of the hippie commune, New Buffalo. Before Max’s hippie days he brought and married Rena Oppenheimer, former wife of the poet Joel Oppenheimer and their two sons. One evening he brought Allen Ginsberg and Peter Orlovsky, whom we found delightful. Denise Levertov’s husband, Mitchell Goodman came. Jonathan Williams, a publisher from Chapel Hill, visited a number of times. In the period following WWII, artists and writers were moving about a lot and many stopped at our old adobe house on Valerio Road where there was always a welcome.

Understandably, Creeley, with his sweet ways, had no trouble attracting women. He went off to San Francisco for a while and returned with Martha Rexroth and her two daughters. They stayed at our place. But the relationship was short-lived as Kenneth Rexroth gave her an ultimatum: Bob or the children. Judson published Creeley’s group of poems to Martha in The Naked Ear, one of his little magazines. Creeley returned to San Francisco and came back with a beautiful statuesque woman with a black baby. Sometime later on he married Bobbie Louise Hawkins in Albuquerque and brought her and her two daughters, Leslie and Kirsten, to Taos for a summer, where they stayed in our apartment. When they visited us later I photographed the family with their by then four daughters.

I have never known anyone with a greater capacity for friendship than Bob Creeley. He had a very wide circle of friends all over the country—jazz musicians, painters, writers, and spoke lovingly of each of them.

In 1968 when we were living in Wharton, Texas where Judson was teaching in the junior college, we drove to Austin to attend a poetry reading by Creeley, Borges and another poet whose name I can’t recall, at the University of Texas. There was a very large audience and before the reading he must have spotted us, for he came out and embraced each of us, and invited us to the party following the reading. I was very touched by this gesture. He rode with us to the party. I recall little about it, held at a professor’s house, except being introduced to Robert Duncan, who seemed quite aloof.

After Judson and I separated and he stayed in Albuquerque, he saw Creeley from time to time and housesat for him and his family in Placitas. He was very impressed with Penelope, Bob’s last wife.

Carole’s clearest recollection of Bob was when he told her about losing his eye when he was a small child sitting on his mother’s lap in the car and a lump of coal flew in through the window. Others now say this isn’t quite the way it happened, but such is memory. She also remembers a long conversation they had during a gathering when she was perhaps 4 or 5 and feeling he was her favorite grown up person besides her parents and Wendell Anderson. He never patronized or talked down to children, but gave them his full attention.

Bob Creeley enriched our lives and we miss him, even though many years have passed since we’ve seen him. Judson’s letters from Bob are at the Humanities Research Center at Austin.

Mildred Tolbert (sent to me by Carole Crews).

Dale Harris, Albuquerque

Years ago in Portland, Oregon, I made a little chapbook of some poems. I worked at Powell’s Books where I had begun reading Ezra Pound and Charles Olson in the large poetry section there, and I began too to read widely in the great small press section that store had gathered over the years. It was there I started reading Creeley’s Collected Poems, and so, with no community of poets, or one that then was growing slowly, I sent my chapbook with an admiring letter to Creeley’s address at the University of Buffalo. I passed out a few other copies to the handful of people with whom I had conversation in those days. Later that year I would move to San Francisco, attending the New College of California, and a new life awaited me there. But in Portland, trying to piece together a future life of poetry was complex and murky, to say the least. It was based on instinct and hope, not certainties nor expectations. And it was with some surprise I received weeks later an oversized post card from Robert Creeley, typed in full with encouragement and insights to my work. It was enough to see me through 10 years of hard work, an encouraging sympathy I’ll never forget. In other ways since then, he has remained a figure of absolute power to my growing imagination of the craft and life of poetry. And so to hear of his passing in Odessa, Texas, this morning stops me cold. What’s left but the work now, and to honor it. Our own and his. “Onward,” as he would say.

Gus Blaisdell (1935-2003), long standing friend and owner of the Living Batch Bookstore, Albuquerque

I am so glad he is talking all the time, talking back the surrounding darkness, putting in the candles where they need to be, forgiving and lightening my own once cyclopean dark with his friendship and his poetry.
This is from “For Robert Creeley on his 70th Birthday,” in the Gus Blaisdell Collected, UNM Press, 2012.

Bill Pearlman and Bill Dodd (a dialogue right after Creeley’s death)

Bill Pearlman (1943-2016) lived in San Miguel, Mexico and edited the “Rough Road Review” from which came these excerpts. Bill Dodd (born in 1941) died in 2009.

Bill Dodd Pearl(man), before I talk about my first meeting with Bob (Creeley), which was in Albuquerque, around 1961 . . . I was an émigré from the Texas Panhandle . . . where, left to our own devices, by 15 I could distinguish between good and bad whiskey, but certainly not between good and bad poetry . . . . At any rate, I left there for Albuquerque, 1959, knowing nothing else, running purely on the energies of youth, and by the fall of 1961, registered blind for a course in creative writing; and entered to find a tall, thin man in a worn corduroy suit, handsome, fine featured, and sporting a van dyke—with a curiously missing eye. There were no formal introductions. He just began talking about contemporary poetry—his poetry and that of his friends—as if we were all familiar with it. Of course, none of us had the idiom; but I think almost everyone there thought, as well, we soon would. It was his enormous energy and presence that dominated—but not self-consciously. We were perhaps naifs, at best, and Bob Creeley was already comfortable in his own skin and apparently conversant with the universe; meanwhile, I was a refugee from Badwater, clueless except I sensed he had some information I badly wanted.

There was also Bob’s unspoken conviction that not only we students but anyone of mental competence would be interested in the writing exploits of Jack Kerouac and Allen Ginsberg, and also those of Jack Spicer and Joel Oppenheimer, to name a few. He noted that (Charles) Olson was a master. This was the first man I had ever met, or, at least, the first to whom I ever paid any attention who wasn’t possessed by either God or money. Or both. He was the man as artist.

Here, truly, was something other than the rather despicable life I’d accustomed myself to, surviving in West Texas. Today, such events are called “viable alternatives.” Then, we had no such name for the phenomenon; I called it a godsend. Soon, for me, he connected as well with the “moderns.” And there were the facts surrounding his life to that point.

During WWII, he had driven an ambulance in Burma; there was his Harvard beginnings; the sojourns in Majorca and Central America. He brought his friends in to read and lecture…Robert Duncan, Denise Levertov (?)…it was pretty heady stuff, for me. He was definitely another kind of cat, and one I respected.

I’d like to ask you, Pearl, you come to this encounter with Bob from an altogether different environ: L.A. What turned you on to what he was doing? And what, to your mind, was he doing?

Bill Pearlman Well, my first contact with Creeley came when Peter Marin, who was introduced to me by Jack Hirschman, suggested I take a look at For Love, which Peter thought representative of the best poetry after WC Williams, and in WCW’s tradition. So I got a look at that book and liked it. So from the early 60s, there was Hirschman, Williams, Creeley as strong influences. And then when I moved to Placitas, NM in 1967, Bob and Bobbie were there and we got acquainted some, and then I took two classes with Bob in 68-69 at University of New Mexico . . . Yes, Bob’s seriousness about poetry was real, and conversations with him and others from his generation (including Dorn and Ginsberg) opened up something powerful for me. We read through Olson in the first class I took, and I remember doing a paper on Philip Whalen. What Bob seemed to be up to as a poet was refining the short lyric, in a tradition that took in for me Emily Dickinson, Williams, Zukofsky. And Creeley was hip, to boot, and liked his wine, and spoke in that sometimes amazing style all his own, with weird recurring phrases, ‘like they say,’ ‘not heavily,’ and exact and heartfelt, and though dominating conversation, he still listened to the other. There was a different kind of intensity in Bob than I encountered in Hirschman, who was also a great force in those years. Jack had finished his Ph.D. at Indiana and was on a tenure track at UCLA before Vietnam overwhelmed his ability to hang in. Bob was less credentialed than Jack, (M.A. from UNM which is what I in fact ended doing), but Bob got on a tenure track at SUNY Buffalo and later got a Chair in Poetry, and stayed the course. But Creeley manifested, as you Bill have pointed out, some kind of devoted sense that poetry mattered and was worth doing and hearing. And I think he brought home perhaps from Williams, the idea of improvisation on themes that appeared readily in his world.

I’d like us to look at particular poems as this dialogue advances . . . Which poems, in that light, first struck you as breaking ground that you found valuable, Bill (Dodd)? Because you encountered him about 1960, when For Love I think first appeared; what did those curious love poems do for your own quest and sensibility?

Bill Dodd Well, the most famous short poem of his, “I Know A Man,” comes immediately to mind . . . but I read that book, For Love, really as if it was one long poem. The voice there is so harmonic and attuned, and it is seeking to accurately reflect the mind of the man writing . . . so even the irrational, or perhaps, the irrational particularly intervenes in the music, like, very modern music, and he was, you know, a friend of Cage, who was, I believe, at Black Mountain when Creeley was there, so there is necessarily [that] stoney (Northeasterly, the Cape, the rock beaches) isolate sound that occurs and is arrhythmical by nature—against the measured beat of poetry up until then that often practically drowns one in its omniscient repetitions and beat. Unfortunately, like much of the Rap and Hip-Hop of today, so governed, as it is, by the Beat, insistence cadences (meter), and hard end-rhyme stops. I think Creeley really wanted to stay away from that beat. But wanted, also, something honest, as a guide to phrasing, or phrase, in its place. “Breath” was his answer. As the best measure of a man might be his physiology, my words, so perhaps Bob, although I never heard him say this exactly, took the best measure for a line as a single breath. No one who every heard Creeley didn’t hear this. . .

He was meticulous. Anyone who ever talked to him at length could see that clearly. A lot of thought went into those little short poems, but, of course, by the same token, was never allowed to touch them. The quandary—although I’m fairly convinced he never lost sleep over the issue—was that “popular” poets, of his, or anyone’s day, always got a great deal of mileage out of those old poetic devices. The public, as it were, loved it. Bob could never have brought himself to write a “poetic” line. John Cage couldn’t compose a “Rhapsody In Blue,” for many of the same reasons. That was not what they heard.

I went, at some point, away from Bob Creeley. And am now, probably, even more so. Mine is a social concern. Maybe like one physicist concentrating on quarks and other subatomical particles and one concerned with the biomechanics of global warming, I don’t know. I doubt one could get much leaner than what is in much of Creeley’s work (though some have tried).

Bill Pearlman You know, Bob wrote a blurb for my last book, so we had a communication over some years, and he thought I was concerned with possibilities, as least as far as that was his reading of what I do. I like what you say about breath, and the meticulous element . . . Sending you a last note from Creeley. Thought also Id take a poem and see what it says at this removed . . .


All night the sound had
come back again,
and again falls
this quiet, persistent rain.

What am I to myself
that must be remembered,
insisted upon
so often? Is it

that never the ease,
even the hardness,
of rain falling
will have for me

something other than this,
something not so insistent—
am I to be locked in this
final uneasiness.

Love, if you love me,
lie next to me.
Be for me, like rain,
the getting out

of the tiredness, the fatuousness, the semi-
lust of intentional indifference.
Be wet
with a decent happiness.

Robert Creeley

Something strange but true in it. Something his own, his own associations, his own trip, as we used to say . . . Surprising too, his mind at work, on the rain, the poem, the love . . . uneasiness he’s locked in, the self-consciousness explored; and then the release, the statement, directly to her (Bobbie?), as source of release from those elementals so vague in some ways—semi-lust of intentional indifference? As if chastising himself for a depersonalized realm, that is such a part of fucking? But there, somehow, lying next to him, and wet /with a decent happiness. So weirdly New England, somehow, but hip as well, placed in time, good timing, perhaps of use to them as a couple? One hopes that the case, otherwise an exercise in very intense self scrutiny, but it’s that as well. An improvisation on a natural event paralleling another course of nature, that redeeming wetness of the lover . . . It somehow talks to me in a strong way, and I have pieces similar, I think. . . .

Email Letter from Robert Creeley to Bill Pearlman
March, 2005, shortly before his death March 30th

Dear Bill,
Reading your generous note, for a moment seeing “Semana Santa,” I thought is it Xmas already? Ah, well . . . . Years ago in Barcelona, we thought the Familia Sagrada was some local folks named Sagrada, and likewise getting a tape of Pablo Casals playing at the “Casa Blanca,” we thought that was the same place as the Bogart movie, etc etc. Anyhow where there’s la vida, there’s la esperanza—and so far, so good. With luck we are now in Marfa till May 1st, then back to Providence—if health gets worse, we’ll go back early but fingers are crossed. That space and that bowl of mountains is terrific. Onward!
Best as ever,
Marfa, Texas

Bill Dodd . . . Poetry, as I think Bob might agree, is first—and last—the arena of the felt and sensed . . . and only afterwards, anything else. Of course, much of that cannot help but infuse someone’s verse . . . “Form is the extension of content,” was his koan. And OPEN composition, or “composition by field,” was a familiar refrain from Bob. This went directly back to Pound’s CANTOS, and, more indirectly, to Walt Whitman. These, together with the breath measure, were the theoretical pillars of Robert Creeley’s poetry. And though his sensibilities may well have been as “neurasthenically” frayed by this century of war as any English poet dying in a WWI trench, he managed, one way and another, to put together a body of lean and wry work with more than its share of memorable moments and more than its share of permanent markings. His presence, for many of us, in the SW was a testament to the well-springs of democracy. He was a friend, mentor, teacher, and poet of repute; a singular man . . . and a very, very rare one.

Bill Pearlman
Let’s let Bob have the last word.


Now I recognize
it was always me
like a camera
set to expose

itself to a picture
or a pipe
through which the water
might run

or a chicken
dead for dinner
or a plan
inside the head

of a dead man.
Nothing so wrong
when one considered
how it all began.

It was Zukofsky’s
“Born very young into a world
already very old…”
The century was well along

when I came in
and now that it’s ending,
I realize it won’t
be long.

But couldn’t it all have been
a little nicer,
as my mother’d say. Did it
have to kill everything in sight,

did right always have to be so wrong?
I know this body is impatient.
I know I constitute only a meager voice and mind.
Yet I loved, I love.

I want no sentimentality.
I want no more than home.

Robert Creeley

Poetry Here

The University reading performances such as Allen Ginsberg in the Anthropology Hall packed to the ceiling with people and Lenore Kandel with Gregory Corso at her side engaging the full audience at Popejoy Hall, these events and many others energized young poets and the public. Robert Creeley teaching at UNM was a magnet for poets as was his home in Placitas visited constantly by major poets crossing the country. Bookstores – the Yale Street Grasshopper run by Phil Mayne which turned into the Living Batch Bookstore, and John Randall’s Salt of the Earth & the women’s bookstore Full Circle – featured almost endless readings & gatherings. Presently in Albuquerque and other cities in New Mexico there are numerous readings – Slam and Post-Slam in every public place possible, open and featured poet readings and there is a burst of publication – poetry books, anthologies and magazines. Poetry in New Mexico is alive and well and the years the Robert Creeley and family and friends were here are a powerful part of the entire scene and always will be.

Larry Goodell

Four Poems for Robert Creeley
by Larry Goodell.
The first I wrote in 1964 when Bob rolled his bus.

Some Things

         the VW
         over the road
         into the arroyo
         you in it
            sitting on the divan 
            a bandage around your head 
          when I came by

                "I turned the bus over last night"

            I was 
                        and meager 
                        with thumbs in 

        she came in with the pants you wore
        torn all down the side
        asking about the size
                    cuts    on your left side 
                    a distant     neighbor 
                    happened by    took you in 
                to the hospital

                        "You should've left him there" 
            that doctor said

                            books back and forth 
and this —
mother-in-law bending over a chair 
in the household
                           fidgeting    what 
                S A V E D 

on your way in to town to get
neighbor ?
we all
where we can be together
get up and go
with things
under my arm

            had to go back in

            leave them 
        with you

Larry Goodell / 29Dec64 / for Bob

Honest, Oh Boy
for Bob Creeley

Again it is hitting the words free
Out of the block of imploded misuse
Mr. Singer You, time to see you again
When there isn’t any time 2000 miles apart,
To hear, the architecture of your presence
Is an old friend and a glimpse of when
We were around the kitchen table far into the night.
When they were out to get some fresh air
And there was the moon out there and the light
Over the table stark high energy that in there
Was you, I was just a seed boy at heart
Unrealized I would devote my life to plants
And performance of the slings of words at
My heart, literally, through your guidelines honest.

Larry Goodell (1987-88) An Affection for Creeley

Jarring to the depths of domesticity
where the futile angst is free
singing downward
as the voice goes upward
connecting the male universe
to the female
you wrenched the English free
by playing it out
American as a high
till the shout, muted
was hard to hear
I always sat close to you
heard you looking at me
nearer to me than to you,
now separated by
a large space

I come back in my mind now
my youth was saved
by yours.



/for Bob Creeley 1926-2005

Between the heart & soul is the caring voice
that stumbles down the page, harkening.
Magnetizing spirit, no waste
The awk- in awkward
taken stance
in beauty of vertical dance
surgically enticed.
extension in the form of
My heart, your hand
more than usual, eye
on me, on everything.
Everything is beauty in the arms of
a magician.
Look once
count your name to
the holy dozen.
Who stole my
rabbit in a hat?
You did
and then
you gave it back.
Is that not love
for love.
Love for love?
Is that not you there
That insistent tone is
until you happen
to tell your story
of the particular.
Graces bend ears
to hear.

Larry Goodell / 31Mar05

Bob Creeley, Bobbie Creeley (Bobbie Louise Hawkins), Ron Bayes, children including Sarah hugging her dad, Kate next to Bobbie, and a neighbor boy. Larry Goodell in front, photo probably by a. fredric franklyn.

Credit due to Gary Brower for his MALPAIS REVIEW which originally published this commemoration for Bob Creeley. lg

Posted in live poetry | Leave a comment

An Interview With Larry Goodell

by Bruce Holsapple & John Tritica

This interview appeared in a somewhat abbreviated fashion
in Gary Glazner’s How to Make a Life As a Poet, Soft Skull Press 2006.

Photograph by Lenore Goodell

Editor of duende (and coeditor of Fervent Valley), poet, musician, performer, Larry Goodell is a member of that group of poets defined by The New American Poetry in the 1960s and the Vancouver Poetry Festival in 1963. His work has appeared in magazines like Caterpillar, Conjunctions, Sulfur, Telephone, Puerto del Sol, and Exquisite Corpse, and he has published four books to date, Cycles (duende 1966), Firecracker Soup (Cinco Puntos 1990 ), Out of Secrecy (Yoo-Hoo 1992) and Here On Earth, 59 Sonnets (La Alameda 1996).

The interview was conducted on two dates, June 9, 2004 at Larry’s home in Placitas, New Mexico, and February 12, 2005 in Albuquerque.

John Tritica: Larry, you said once your father and his parents came to Roswell, New Mexico from Kansas in a covered wagon. Could you talk about your parents, their background?

Larry Goodell: The wagon was drawn by a team of mares. It went from Kansas to Grenville, New Mexico, outside of Clayton, and they were going to be farmers, thinking they were going to tend 40 acres of land. It was very difficult for them, actually. My grandfather got into the lumber business, so after a while ended up in Artesia, NM. My father married a Roswell girl and moved there, so that was where I was born in 1935. My mother’s father came from Abilene, Texas, and her mother came to Roswell with a bunch of farmers in a railroad car from Springfield, Illinois in the early 1900’s.

Bruce Holsapple: What was Roswell like, growing up? Is that the border of oil country?

Goodell: There are oil company offices there, but actually they refine in Artesia and Hobbs. I remember an almost idealized small town, residential areas, lots of trees (Chinese Elms), which have died. It was precisely the kind of town that would make you want to rebel. The happiest day of my life was leaving Roswell, when I graduated high school and went to the University of Southern California (USC). I left in a 1948 green Chevy coupe with my grandfather Hub Brown. We had relatives in Los Angeles. So now I look upon Roswell as a kind of wonderful place to arrive as if you’re traveling from another planet.

Holsapple: You left about 1952-3? What did you study at USC?

Goodell: I graduated from high school in 1953. I had written and produced a musical in Roswell—my mother taught me how to play piano, and I took piano and tap-dancing for years. I was in chorus and band. I played the drums and clarinet. I got interested in jazz; we had the old ten inch records of Kenton, George Shearing, Stan Getz, Lee Konitz, Shorty Rogers, Sonny Stitt, Dave Brubeck, Miles Davis.

Tritica: You had access to those in Roswell?

Goodell: Oh yeah. A friend of mine was a sax player and I played the piano; we had a drummer, and then we’d get another player and play for the dances. But we really liked to play jazz. Walker Air Force Base was still going and there were Air Force guys into jazz. On the AM radio at night you could pick up live performances from Birdland in New York, Brubeck, for instance, and the Palladium in LA, Kenton. We had records. We listened and practiced. That’s how we rebelled. Everybody else wore Levis and were into sappy pop or western music; we wore dress pants and loved jazz. We went to El Paso and bought a Mr. B dress shirt, and a narrow brown velveteen tie and a kind of blue Zoot Suit to wear at gigs. So when I arrived at USC, I was going to say, I had written this jazz musical, called Club Progressions, which we produced for a high school assembly. Also at the time I got interested in Stravinsky and Schoenberg and Berg and Webern.

So I went to the music department at USC and listened to Schoenberg and Bartok especially. I took harmony and solfeggio and piano and the usual kind of liberal arts thing. Then I wrote a twelve tone piece. I didn’t know what the hell I was doing! I took this to a pretty well known composer there who’d written a biography of Bartok, Halsey Stephens. I showed him my piece. He went over to the piano and played an interval and said, “What interval is this?” I couldn’t tell him. I think it was a major sixth. That was a humbling experience. It taught me to try to stick with what I know, what my real abilities are. So I then started writing about music, writing about Bartok. But I was also fascinated by Gertrude Stein. I had asked my English teacher in Roswell about her and she said, “Don’t bother about her.” That naturally made me look up Stein as soon as I got to USC, Cezanne, Picasso, Tender Buttons, Autobiography of Alice B. Toklas. I started taking English and creative writing and 20th Century American poetry.

Tritica: Were you publishing at that time?

Goodell: No. I had just started to write. I was showing it to friends. It was ghastly. By the time I was a senior a professor introduced me to someone as a “poet.” My face turned red. Just the idea of being a poet; I had a stereotypical prejudice against such a thing as that. But I started . . . I went to a lot of jazz events, Shorty Rogers and His Giants, Dave Brubeck, Chet Baker. There were a lot of things going on in the late 1950s in Los Angeles—you could hear Gerry Mulligan’s Quartet right there in the Drive Ins! I came from a place where no one was interested in jazz, so. I went to the Hague and other clubs. There were a lot of international students. I hung out with them. At a certain point I bought big volumes by T. S. Eliot, e. e. cummings, and then Stephen Spender. The one I really got a lot from was cummings. I read him and marked all the way through. I liked the humor, the playing around with words. The one thing I learned from cummings was that I didn’t have to have a massive vocabulary to be a poet. Cummings could do all this stuff with ordinary words. That was a great lesson. So I didn’t have to go searching for odd words. I got my Bachelor’s in English. I came to Albuquerque to do graduate work at the University of New Mexico in 1957.

Holsapple: It sounds like you drifted into literature sideways from music.

Goodell: Yeah, definitely.

Tritica: You studied with Robert Creeley at UNM. What year was that?

Goodell: ’61.

Tritica: How would you characterize that experience?

Goodell: I heard Creeley read first, at the Adobe Theater which was in the Old Town, and a very odd experience. I’d never heard anything like that. He kept staring at one person in the audience, Bobbie Creeley. For Love had just come out and it was dedicated to her. This entire evening he was directing these poems to her. Meanwhile in the audience, there was some drunk who was a friend of Creeley’s—I don’t know who it was—saying “Yeah, Yeah, Yeah!” [Laughter] So anyways, that was my introduction to Creeley, and then I took this course. It was a small class. What he did was use his Wollensack tape recorder a lot. He played interviews for us. He also had a radio program at KHFM—I think it was called “The Single Ear”—on which he interviewed poets. That experience began to open doors. It was a revelation to hear interviews with Dorn, Ginsberg, McClure, Levertov, Bunting, Zukofsky. That was important for me.

Holsapple: What does an English major do after college in the 1950s?

Goodell: I went to graduate school for one year, then I got a job teaching English at the New Mexico Military Institute. Then I was drafted into the Army, and they sent me to Camp Irwin in the Mohave Desert, outside of Barstow which is where I spent my Army years,’59 through ’61. Soon as I got out, I got back into trying to finish my Master’s, and that’s when I met Creeley. I had been floundering around interested in Dylan Thomas and more academic types of poetry. When I got back to graduate school, I I met Creeley, and I got a job teaching at what was then called the Academy for Boys; now it’s the Albuquerque Academy. Then I moved to Placitas. I think Creeley arrived there the same year I did. I saved my money and just stopped working. Since I had the GI Bill, I was working on my Master’s on and off. But I never got my Master’s, thanks to my own lack of organization. But I also had problems with the teachers, I remember talking to George Arms who was a very respected professor. He had put out this publication, The Explicator. Ever seen The Explicator?

Tritica: No. I know who George Arms is.

Goodell: I was offended by this publication. Is that what we’ve come to, the poem on one page and the explication de texte on the other? But I don’t know what happened. I think it was just sloth on my part. I was really afraid of that Master’s exam, though I had Dr. Ernest Tedlock as my advisor.

Holsapple: Dennis Tedlock’s father?

Goodell: Right. I knew Dennis. So I did a creative thesis. It wasn’t very good. I was handed a list of books I needed to read to pass the Comprehensives, and it was about thirty pages long. It terrified me, so I kept putting it off and never got a Master’s. I ended up doing more graduate work than [one would]for the Ph.D. because I kept taking more and more courses, the English Novel, Browning. It was great, Emily Dickinson, Walt Whitman.

Holsapple: The New American Poetry comes out in 1960. Was it evident that there were two poetry cultures taking place?

Goodell: Oh definitely. It was so academic back then. There was a post-Eliot “freeze” on—I don’t know how many times I had to read The Waste Land. Thank God for the San Francisco Renaissance, Allen Ginsberg and the Beats. What Creeley was teaching was part of something that wasn’t covered at that time. I learned about Williams Carlos Williams, whose work I knew, but I didn’t understand what was going on in the poetry. There is so much information about all this in Creeley’s [own] interviews—I almost had those memorized. I mean, he expresses so well the problems they were facing, the difference between Williams and T.S. Eliot, what that represented, when Eliot was in power, until, finally, the revolution of Williams’s way of looking at the language began to take hold. I became aware of all these things by way of Creeley.

Creeley’s way of teaching was to have recordings with his poet friends, including Williams. We would listen to those and in every case it was someone who no one knew anything about except Creeley. Not only that. People would visit and he had the radio program, interviews. He used Pound’s ABC of Reading as a “textbook.” It was a break through. Creeley opened doors, particularly to Charles Olson and the “Projective Verse” essay, which was the most important thing a person could read at that time, covering the differences between closed forms and open forms.

I couldn’t be academic. I didn’t like the stuff. W. D. Snodgrass, Robert Lowell. There were the Academic Poets and the New American Poets. At the time there was camaraderie and interchange of information, a wonderful kind of openness and discovery. And a mission that the New American poets had. So I got to know these people by way of Creeley. He wrote me a note about going to Vancouver. He said Charles Olson alone would be worth the trip. I went to Vancouver in 1963. That was an opportunity to be with all these people.

Tritica: Did that sense of mission give you camaraderie with others?

Goodell: If you had spent two years in the desert in the army trying to write like Dylan Thomas when you were from Roswell, New Mexico and then you took a course from Robert Creeley, you would find it to be an absolute and total revelation. I mean, to be introduced to—my understanding of Ginsberg was what I read in Time & Life magazines. To be introduced to interviews with Ginsberg, with Dorn, with Levertov, with Basil Bunting, with Louis Zukofsky, all of these people, was mind-boggling, and it was all new, so my poetry began to change. I began to listen to my own voice, rather than ape somebody I could never become. And that’s what Creeley’s point of view was—it’s a hand to hand operation, where younger poets learn from older poets, period. In the way he learned from Williams, I learned from him.

Holsapple: That must have converted you, I mean, must have swept you up.

Goodell: Yeah, because I was writing a lot, and finally I had something I connected with, Williams’ approach to writing, based on American speech patterns. Immediately I started writing my own poetry and was beginning to find sources good for me. To me a printed poem is like a musical score. It shows the reader how to read the poem—it shows me how to read it, especially when I haven’t looked at it in a long time. For instance the end of a line is a breath pause for me. I got that from Creeley. But my lines were longer, and I became aware of pitch in some lines. When you have a long sentence, which is several lines of poetry, it will start up here [demonstrates], so the higher the pitch of the line, the farther from the left margin. So I’d start up here and then come down like this as that sentence progressed [gestures], until the voice falls at the end. So I used that technique a lot in short and long lines. It can be complicated because sometimes you can use it with both short and long lines. The pitch can drop, but there may be no pause in the line. Often I wanted the line to be longer, and there’s a breath pause in the middle of a line. I needed to learn about the line and breath pause and get away from my four-beat stricture.

Holsapple: But you’re also saying, aren’t you, that use of speech, a speech-based poetic played a big role in what’s called the New American Poetry?

Goodell: This gets back to the “Projective Verse” essay (which I wish I had in front of me). I mean, I don’t comprehend poetry that is not speech-based. Manipulated, “aca-nemic” exercises and rehash and revamped bullshit. Williams’ point about the American language is integral; it reaffirms the necessity of using American speech patterns in one’s writing if one wants to be honest. And I was terribly dishonest when I was trying to do something else.

Tritica: Could you discuss your Vancouver experience? I know Ginsberg was there, Olson, Whalen, Duncan, Levertov. You mentioned once how exciting it was to meet Ginsberg, who had just come back from India.

Goodell: As usual there were so many people at his reading, they had to put speakers in the hallway.

Tritica: He was that popular that early? What made Ginsberg that popular?

Goodell: There had been articles in Life and Time. As I recall, Time was following him around. He was very well known—the Beats, that was the biggest literary thing [going on, and]—they could write all kinds of falsehoods about it. And it was outlandish et cetera, and, true to form, the academics despised Jack Kerouac. And could not stand Ginsberg. It’s hard to realize that back in those times how revolutionary this was. I mean people starved themselves and with no money hitch-hiked to Vancouver to hear those people. It was phenomenal, the energy and interest. And you would hang on every word.

The one that I really connected personally with was Philip Whalen. I also got to meet the people I first published: Ron Bayes, who has one of the most wonderful ears in poetry; he was teaching in Oregon in LaGrande, Eastern Oregon College; he’s still teaching, in North Carolina; A. Frederick Franklyn from Los Angeles, a film critic and poet. Philip would come over on the way to a lecture. I remember he came to the dorm room where we were staying and started taking things out of his pockets [gestures] and stood on his head for a while before we went out. Ward Abbot [of Albuquerque] was at Vancouver with a sidekick; they were getting manuscripts from people for a publication. That’s when I saw Whalen’s manuscripts, which were eight and a half by fourteen. They were just beautiful on the page, the way the lines were arranged. I fell in love with those, just the look of them. Whalen was very available. At one point we were talking about meaning, and he talked about Gertrude Stein and gave examples of her definitions of literary terms, as in Lectures in America.
Tritica: What did you find useful about Whalen’s work?

Goodell: Well first of all, those manuscripts, the calligraphy; it’s so enjoyable just to look at the presentation on the page, the spontaneity. It reminds me of a quote from Ken Irby: “It is impossible to write of what one has written or lived except as this day is, out the window, new, explicit.” And with Whalen’s writing you have the feeling that at the moment of writing it’s like a jazz musician creating something, there it is. And, when he read, often you didn’t know when the poem began and his commentary ended; it’s like a wonderful weaving in and out of poetry and talk.

Tritica: George Bowering was there?

Goodell: Yeah, there were a lot of Canadians there. Margaret Avison, Phyllis Hess, Fred Wah. People came from all over the country. There were some there without any money whatsoever. They’d eat what was left in the cafeteria. And Bobbie Creeley was there, Clark Coolidge, David Bromige, Carol Bergé. And I met Drum & Diana Hadley! Then of course there were huge parties. At one day session everyone was reading a favorite Williams’ poem, which was really interesting. This is all on tape, tapes at [SUNY] Buffalo, I’ve been told. And Carol Berge did The Vancouver Report, mimeo, 1964, worth reading if you can find it. Olson was the one who floored you. The leaps. There are ways that university professors lecture, but they don’t make jumps that Olson makes from one thing to another. There was a lot of discussion about memory in cells and feelings, Mayan hieroglyphics, Pound, HD. I was trying to take notes. (I still have those, but I can’t make much sense of them.) It was mind-boggling to be immersed in those poets and the way they talked, incredible. You had a sense that poetry related somehow to everything, that it “has a sense of everything,” as Zukofsky said. The more you learned, the more you could write. When I left Vancouver, I was driving home and I couldn’t stop crying. Tears running down my face.

Holsapple: A time of great possibility?

Goodell: I was so overwhelmed with these people, great poets! I was astounded. I visited a college friend in Seattle and I couldn’t even talk to the guy. We were in totally different worlds. This was a guy I’d been corresponding with and sending poems to for years. Then I visited Ed Dorn in Pocatello. He was real interested about Vancouver. Then I came home visiting Indian ruins and writing all the way.

Holsapple: Dorn was teaching in Pocatello. How did you come to know Dorn? Did he visit Albuquerque?

Goodell: Oh, of course! because as usual he was a poet that would often visit Creeley and either I would go over there [to Creeley’s] or hear Dorn at readings at the University of New Mexico.

Holsapple: Do you share Dorn’s concern with geography?

Goodell: The importance of it? How could it not be important, especially to someone living in New Mexico who’s had any contact whatsoever with Pueblo and Navajo people whose remarkable essence–song and ceremony–is intertwined with the land? And that was something brought out at Vancouver, something I thought a lot about, coming back, going to Mesa Verde National Park—I went to several parks—looking at the artifacts. There was quite a bit of talk about sense of place. To me, a sense of the land.

Holsapple: Carl Sauer, Land and Life? Is this part of everybody’s reading list?

Goodell: Yes. Irby talked a lot about Sauer.

Holsapple: When did duende begin?

Goodell: Soon as I got back from Vancouver. I got a mimeograph machine from some nuns. I met Richard Watson in Vancouver in Olson’s class. At Vancouver, we were all mimeographing our work, for either Olson or Ginsberg or Creeley, and Watson had a long form he had been working on. I published History of the Turtle, Book I, by Ron Bayes, poems of Fred Franklyn [Virgules and Deja Vu], and this thing by Richard Watson [Cockcrossing]. My idea in duende was to feature one poet and give them a lot of space. So many magazines would just use three or four poems per poet, if you’re lucky; I thought a person needed more space. The issues became like books, really, except it was a magazine, each issue devoted to one person. There were also notes, news about further publications. In fact I stated in the first issue an intent to do long poems; I was writing longer poems and was interested in chance operations. Then I met Ken Irby—I’m not sure when—who was living in Albuquerque, through the Creeleys. He was in the Army, originally, now out, working at Sandia Laboratories. I think I went to see Ken at Creeley’s suggestion, after Vancouver. That was a major meeting. We became close friends; we’ve corresponded for years and years. I published his Roadrunner Poem. (It was written in Albuquerque.) Then I published a larger bunch of poems called Movements/Sequences in September 1965. Ken Irby to me was so much like Olson, such a comprehensive mind, an incredible ability to read and remember and to be creative, to have a sense of music in his writing. I think of him as Olson’s successor.

Tritica: Were you deliberately blurring the distinction between book and magazine?

Goodell: I just thought that you had to have a larger chunk of a person’s work to get an idea of that they were really up to. Simple as that. So that in a lot of anthologies and magazines where they had one or two poems—it wasn’t enough to give a sense of the person’s creative world. So yes I was blurring, I guess. Also, you know, I had studied Yeats’s plays. I was interested in plays, too. I published a Larry Eigner play, The Reception. And I started writing very short plays, later on. Those were, in a sense, longer forms.

Holsapple: Can you tell us a little about Irby when he was in Albuquerque?

Goodell: He lived on Gavelin Place off Fourth Street (in the North Valley) and he had built in, I guess, many, many bookshelves, and it was this enormous collection of books and records. I remember knocking on the door and entering a remarkable sanctuary. It was an overwhelming sensual delight—every aspect of current thought and feeling. There was usually a lot of very good, extremely spicy food, lots of good dope, lots of good liquor, and constantly listening to music—Delius, Scriabin, Busoni, Satie, Coltrane, Chinese Classical, the Carter Family, and on and on—music is going on all the time. And talking. He’s an amazing person.

Holsapple: How about your interest in the long poem, was that from a general interest in developing an inclusiveness in poetry?

Goodell: To paraphrase from Pound, the job of the poet is to build us his [or her] world, the interconnectedness of things . . . . It was a little bit like a piano roll, some of those poems I was writing in the 60s which became Cycles. One was in a big loop, for instance, in which I was allowing things to enter the poem by counter-pointing what was actually happening in front of me with things I remembered that would surface in my mind. I had showed Duncan poems [at Vancouver] that were dream writings, and he said, why don’t you counterpoint this with what’s going on around you? So Duncan talking about counterpoint was important. But there’s another aspect of the long poem that I got interested in later, which had its germination in Williams’ Kora in Hell and Jack Spicer’s talk of serial poems and dictation. I tried to do that—I mean I wasn’t consciously trying, it just began to appear—called Dried Apricots. So I’ve had several phases, first Cycles, then “event” poems, then my Ometéotl Trilogy, then that phase [Dried Apricots], then, more recently, when I was writing sonnets, for two straight years, fourteen line poems. I had the feeling I was involved with something larger than myself. That was called All Of Love, and some of those ended up in Here On Earth.

Tritica: You published Robert Kelly’s Lectiones in 1965. In what way were you involved with Kelly and Eshleman?

Goodell: See, again, we’re all contemporaries, and Irby knew Kelly and Eshleman and was in contact, so I fell in with that. There were these mimeograph magazines of poetry [that were] common back then. The thing is, I got an address list from Amiri Baraka (then Leroi Jones) for Floating Bear and I sent duende to this list. So some of the submissions to duende were follow-ups to that. It was great to exchange with other mags, like Wild Dog in Idaho.

Holsapple: There is a well-defined community of people who shared the same sensibility?

Goodell: Well, from when the New American Poetry came along, you really did feel you were part of that; at least, I did.

Tritica: What drew you to Placitas?

Goodell: A friend of mine, a grad student, was renting a place in Placitas, and he found out about a house-sitting opportunity, General Hertford’s adobe overlooking Placitas. I had free rent. I had saved money from teaching. It was ideal. At one time the General (former head of the Atomic Energy Commission) paid me $50 a month to do routine things, take care of the water system and check on the main part of the house, etc. Basically I lived in a little rural casita adjoining the large adobe house. They came out on weekends to stay. So that’s how I got to Placitas. Then I met [my wife] Lenore, who as a sculptor-photographer from New York City had come out to New Mexico to get her Master’s. We had our son, Joel, in 1969. It was eleven years in that place. Then we had this place in the village built and moved here in ’75. During the time I was at Hertford’s, I was often visiting the Creeleys at their house in the village. That’s where I met Stan Brackage, Ed Sanders, Max Finstein, and Jonathan Williams, who had a wonderful tape of Basil Bunting’s.

Holsapple: These people were traveling around, visiting each other?

Goodell: Visiting Creeley, yes. I can’t think of anything comparable except with Gertrude Stein in Paris. That’s the place where all the writers came. There was this camaraderie, cross-fertilization. People would stay there, then move on.

Holsapple: Ekbert Faas interviewed you in 1993 for his biography of Creeley. Have you read that? No? The book offers a somewhat flat view of Creeley. You don’t get much sense of his presence. But you’re presenting a pretty dynamic version of Creeley.

Goodell: I owe my existence as a poet to Robert Creeley. I mean, all the things he’s had to say about the poetry of others, his generosity in opening his home to people, to help other poets, suggesting things to do, places to publish; writing helpful notes for people’s books. I don’t know how anybody can give a flat presentation of Robert Creeley!

Tritica: In “The House That Makes It So” you talk about that atmosphere, “as

Back to the kitchen, the slow night weaved on
and alternative worlds to where I was born
Played over the cassette player or hi-fi out to space
and Max, or John, I never saw, or
Stan & Jane & Ed & Tuli & Jonathan & Ronald & Ann & George
& on & on came through (I forgot Allen & Lawrence),
To meet like Gertrude Stein’s patio in their adobe hacienda
where children pulled apart & adults prospered
and friends analyzed until the dawn trailed off
the always fresh love of poetry that was life, life blood.
If apprenticeship is anything, or hand to hand, a better poem
commands itself to be written in the house that makes it so.

Goodell: There was a lot of white wine, marijuana. I basically didn’t partake much in the conversation. I think I’ve always been a kind of outsider. At Vancouver I was overwhelmed. It was good that I managed to become friends with Ron and Fred and got to know Phil Whalen. Bobbie [Creeley] and I got to be pretty close. Bob and I had many conversations, a lot of which I don’t remember, because I was drunk. I remember him looking at me and me nodding my head as though I understood every word.

Tritica: You were at the Berkeley Poetry Festival [in 1965]. Who impressed you there?

Goodell: Drummond Hadley, Ed Sanders, Jim Koller, John Wieners, of course Duncan, McClure. There were a lot of people who impressed me. Ed Dorn of course. But also that’s when Olson’s drunken lecture was—have you read that? That was a monumental event! A lot of people walked out and you could hardly understand what he was saying. But it was like Olson running for president, was what it was! It was just such a bizarre thing, and to me that’s exactly what academia needs. People didn’t know what to do, walk out, stay, and it’s—you know, there’s a lot there in what he had to say.
And it was an amazing experience to encounter Jack Spicer. I didn’t know anything about Jack Spicer. I thought he was a young poet. This old guy comes in and tells people not to worry about publication. He was involved with Open Space. I liked the idea that there was a publication, perhaps modest, right there in San Francisco. I liked the modesty of his approach. But more than that, his concern with dictation seemed to fit for me and help with my own writing. The way he describes what happens to him when he writes a poem. I discovered that was the way I worked in my poems, in that I would not write something down that I was consciously manipulating or adding too much to from my brain—that, if it was truly dictation, then I was writing something that was coming to me. There was a faithfulness to the innovation of new sentences arriving in my brain. I don’t know how else to express it. He says that you might want to write a poem about Viet Nam, but when you sit down the poem might be about skating in Vermont. Intention has nothing to do with it as far as I’m concerned. I love his “Vancouver Lecture,” where he talks about ghosts and Martians playing with blocks to try to communicate with us.

Holsapple: I’ve heard of Drummond Hadley, but don’t know anything about him . . . .

Goodell: I forgot to mention him being at Vancouver. The thing that was impressive was that he had a lot of his poems memorized. He worked as a rancher. He has the animals, livestock. A very connected person. And he’s incredibly good looking. His delivery; he stares right at you, you know, and here come the poems. He plays the guitar with some poems. That impressed me. I have a book of his called Strands of Rawhide. It’s a wonderful book of poems.

Holsapple: Poets tend to create their own traditions from within the larger cultural nexus. I would guess Stein is part of yours.

Goodell: Especially the Caedmon recording. It’s tragic that there aren’t more recordings of Stein. To hear her read makes understanding Stein easier. I’m not as good at reading the difficult stuff. As an exercise, I open How To Write and read. It’s amazing how much music there is in her writing. I can’t take very much, because it is daunting. I can’t give up reference, whatever the referent is. I don’t like secondary stuff and I don’t like use of metaphors and language that are separate from what is right there before you in writing. I like to be able to come up with references, some sense of what a poem is stating.
When you participate in a lot of readings, the viability of hearing poetry read out loud becomes essential to the poems. I don’t know if you’ve heard of this one recording of Whitman on a wax cylinder? I find that incredible. I’d give anything to hear Shakespeare read, or Emily Dickinson. I just can’t think of poetry as separate from performance. At least we have Vachel Lindsay who is the father of so much of our contemporary performance and/or slam poetry.

Tritica: What comes first in your experience, page or performance?

Goodell: Page. What comes first is usually a line. To see something different, sometimes in the middle of the night, usually, just a line, and if I’m doing my duty, I get up and write it down. Generally, that’s how a poem starts. I try to be subservient to the form, so I don’t know if it’s guiding me or I’m guiding it, but that’s a precious moment, and when it comes to an end, it comes to an end, and I don’t revise it, because there’s no way I can get back to that incredibly distinct moment. It’s a little like a jazz performance: You record it, and it’s frozen in time. The musician doesn’t go back and change it.

Tritica: When did you first begin giving performances of your work? Who were the people who informed or inspired you?

Goodell: Once I started putting out duende, there were readings. I guess it was after ’64. I remember reading in the Thunderbird Bar in Placitas; they were having major musical groups coming through (Sonny Terry, Brownie McGhee, Johnny Otis, Asleep at the Wheel) and they asked me to do readings. That was when I did some of the early theatrical pieces.

Tritica: Were there masks and other props?

Goodell: Yeah, sometimes with Lenore’s help.

Holsapple: You’re a little uncomfortable, I take it, with people classifying you as a “performance poet”?

Goodell: Yeah, because it puts me in some other category, when all I am is a poet. See, any time I experienced anything other than someone reading from their poetry to you at a reading, it was startling, when someone had something memorized, like Drum Hadley. See, it dates back to this. Look. I thought I wanted to be a composer, and I found out I’m not that good, and I started writing poems that kind of related to music. But also in college I took a lot of courses in art and got involved in painting and sculpture, so that I was interested in music, writing, the visual arts and was terribly interested in opera. I was kind of brought up on Hollywood musicals.
So being a New Mexican and going to Native American dances, to me that’s an indication of where poetry possibly comes from. It’s not someone reading from a page to other people. Here were people chanting poetry, there were dancers involved and meaningful dress—I don’t want to use the word “costume.” So the important aspect of seasonal change and the rites that occur meaningfully from the land, from working the land, from living on the land, are evident in the ceremonies. And yet, being Anglo, I couldn’t use that consciously in my own work. But it revealed to me that poetry is not necessarily what you study in school. It’s again “a sense of everything,” as Zukofsky says. So when I started, interested a little bit in John Cage and Jackson Mac Low, in chance, in using cards, in writing things on cards, the idea was to have a room, so that in a bag you had six cards, and you put one on the ceiling, one on the floor, one on each wall, arranged in the six directions, and to read that, you have to walk around. That’s a sort of borrowing from Native Americans.
And then we did a play out on Fourth Street, Wherever She Blows, with Mel Buffington and a dancer. We did a mock poetry reading and whenever they would shine a spotlight on one of us [the readers], we had to read a poem, and progressively we start making things up as the spotlight hit, and towards the end, I would be reading something and tearing it up or making something up or . . . . So the idea of having happenings began to emerge. I wrote several happenings, one called The President—there are about four of those—events—take 20-30 minutes to put on.

Tritica: Your interest in multi-cultural issues, is that a view you share with Alcheringa, Tedlock and Rothenberg?

Goodell: I guess, but I had little to do with them directly, though I did get Alcheringa and I did know Dennis and Barbara Tedlock pretty well. But this stuff just grew out of where I was, you know?

Holsapple: Was there a regular New Mexico poetry scene at this time, what with Keith Wilson, Margaret Randall, Bobby Byrd, and Gene Frumkin around? Was there a poetry circuit so that poets were talking with one another?

Goodell: Gene Frumkin has been around all this time. Margaret off and on. Keith Wilson and Joseph Somoza down in Las Cruces. There were several important poetry festivals, the Southwest Poetry Conference, organized by Randall Ackley. There was one in Durango, and one in Santa Fe that Drummond Hadley organized. One in Albuquerque. A really good one at Colorado College in Colorado Springs. I came to admire Ricardo Sanchez, what a wonderful ear. These festivals were good because, for the first time, there were Hispanics, Native Americans and Anglos involved. It was varied and fresh. I miss them.
I worked in the Living Batch Bookstore with Jeff Bryan [of La Alameda Press] and others, for Gus Blaisdell, and there was an opportunity to have lots of readings there. Then there was an effort to revive the downtown area. All the storefronts were closed. It looked like a ghost town. Lots of artists started moving in. We had “Downtown Saturday Nights.” Gene Frumkin was involved with this, Keith Wilson, and Rudy and Patricia Anaya. They organized the Rio Grande Writers Association, which set up a “coffee house” in an old vacant shoe store summer of 1978. There would be a throng of people and it would have different ethnic emphasis week to week. That was exciting! We had about 50 poets read that summer. We made money selling beer and paid the poets.

Holsapple: 1969, ’70?

Goodell: Late 70’s into the 80’s.

Holsapple: You published Margaret Randall’s Some Small Sounds From the Bass Fiddle. Can you tell us how you met her?

Goodell: Well, my world began to open when I began sending out duende. It got beyond New Mexico because we exchanged magazines, and I got El Corno Emplumado faithfully from Margaret Randall, down in Mexico. Again, she was another contemporary, so when Lenore and I went to Mexico, we visited her. She fixed this huge wonderful salad for us! Always felt very close to what she was doing. I thought El Corno Emplumado was one of the most important publications in America. Getting these people translated, bringing together these two worlds. Plus you know we’d been studying the PreColumbian. So it was a great series of publications. I’ve seen her several times since then, but not recently. She liked duende and wrote me about it, so I did a little book of hers.

Tritica: Did you work with Joy Harjo?

Goodell: Joy? A long time ago, KUNM [at the University of New Mexico] would have readings on Saturday night and bring poets in, and Joy and I were reading together. I think that’s where I met Joy. That’s when she was married to Simon [Ortiz], and I knew Simon much better than I did Joy. As far as I’m concerned, he’s the No. 1 Native American poet in America.

Holsapple: Anyone else?

Goodell: I haven’t mentioned Keith Wilson. At first I thought it was plain old regional poetry. But the more I got to know him and his wife, Heloise, the more I became aware of the different facets of his work. Slowly I began to realize he is a fine poet and that no one can write like him. The more you read, the more you can hear his voice. When he’s gone—and his health is not good—no one can ever do what he has done. He has the essence of place more honestly that any other writer. It’s amazing how he can capture it.

Tritica: Joe Somoza is also a New Mexican poet.

Goodell: We became good friends. He’s retired now, but I used to go down there to visit when he was teaching. You sit in his backyard and it’s like you’re sitting in one of his poems. It’s the same thing I got from the New American Poets, Irby and others, Creeley too. There’s something specific, no bullshit. That’s what you need. It has strength. It doesn’t matter where you are or what you’re doing. Other people will relate to it, when you’re really being specific. Duncan says it: “Every particular is an immediate happening of meaning at large.”

Holsapple: In 1984, Whalen came to Santa Fe to work with Richard Baker. Were you able to reestablish contact with him? He read at the Living Batch, for instance.

Goodell: Oh yeah. He was a monk then, and he and Robert Winson used to come into the bookstore, and Whalen read there. When I gave a reading at St. Francis Auditorium in Santa Fe—it was video-taped—there were three people in the audience, Phil Whalen, Drum Hadley and a friend of mine who had helped me load and unload the car! Oh, and my wife—maybe there were five there. He really liked my Shaman Song which is a spoof of the poet as shaman and I hold a staff with a shoe on top of it and wear bells. I didn’t spend a lot of time with him, but I saw him many times in the bookstore and we talked. We talked once of the need for more “spontaneous glee.”

Holsapple: In 1972 you began Fervent Valley, can you talk about your involvement with that group, you, Bill Pearlman, Charlie Vermont, Stephen Rodefer.

Goodell: Bill Pearlman named it; Fervent Valley referred to Placitas. There were four editors, fighting all the time. But each issue was a little different. Lenore was the art editor. Pat Bolles [of Grasshopper Press] sold me his Davidson offset press for a dollar and we moved it to an off room of the Thunderbird Bar and I printed there. Stephen Rodefer did one primarily on his own. Then he started doing the Pick Pocket series. Steve was teaching at UNM.
About this time [1974], Steve and I went on tour. I took my medicine bag—my circus trunk—and we went off in a Datsun station wagon, Steve and Lenore and my 4-year old son, Joel. We had a National Rifle Association credit card. We went all over the country, even Canada, thanks to Steve’s organization. We read in Chicago. We went to Connecticut where the Olson archives are now and saw Olson’s own marbles. We read at St. Mark’s in New York; we went to Buffalo and Toronto. Each place I’d do a rather elaborate set up of the Ometèotl poems.

Holsapple: There was, I take it, an active poetry scene at the national level, so you could set up readings?

Goodell: Yeah, again, this is by way of friends. Steve knew a lot of people. He went to graduate school at Buffalo and we visited friends of his there who were involved with Olson. John Clarke, Harvey Brown.

Holsapple: What are you up to these days? What are your interests?

Goodell: I’m involved in looking back over my creations, activities, and archiving, actually. Sounds dreadful, but I’m trying to make sense of all this. My study is a small room added to our house, built right to the property line (at the time), and I have everything in that room, all my records, a huge number of tapes, especially tapes done at the Living Batch from years of readings, plus ancient video tapes of my performances. I’ve got some fifty odd notebooks; I’m trying to get stuff on to the computer; I’ve worked back through about eight years [so far]. All my boxes of quasi-ceremonial reading paraphernalia are there. Since I can now use the computer to transfer cassettes [to compact disk], I can make recordings of piano songs I wrote and put them on cd. I now have a Roland Keyboard. Lyrics are extremely hard—I may never get around to more lyrics, but I do have an idea for a musical. I continue to write in my notebooks and type things up and give readings. I irrigate Lenore’s organic vegetable garden and help maintain our fruit trees. We’re on the acequia system here in the village. And I do just about all the cooking. So that’s about what I’m doing.


I am grateful to Bruce Holsapple and John Tritica for their energy behind doing this interview. Both men are notable poets, notable teachers and valued friends. I appreciate their professionalism and expertise.
Gary Glazner’s interest in my work led to his publishing a goodly portion of this interview.
Photo by Lenore Goodell.
lg ● a duende books digital release 2010

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An Interview With Drum Hadley

by Larry Goodell This originally appeared in THE MALPAIS REVIEW.

Drum Hadley on Drumm Street, San Francisco
photo by Emma Piper-Burket 2009

Drum Hadley brings all the best of American poetry into land-speak. There are no acanemic cubicles here, no lecture-poetry from a lectern under florescent lights. There’s the broad expanse of the West voiced, the particulars of nature and its demands, the human character of real working individuals, the intense humor and relaxing stories, the music of the voice of words at its best. Voice of the Borderlands is a grandiose cumulative achievement. It exists in 368 pages plus the entire composite of writing read by Drum Hadley on 12 CD’s – all from Rio Nuevo Publishers in Tucson, Arizona, 2005.

I asked Drum Hadley some questions via email and Holly Piper helped facilitate this exchange. Here are his answers, year 2010. Larry Goodell /Placitas, New Mexico

Larry: Robert Creeley wrote me about the Vancouver Poetry Conference of 1963 saying if Charles Olson alone was there it wd be worth going. Ginsberg, Duncan, Levertov, Whalen and other poets were there. And that’s where I met you & Diana. What prompted you to go and what was it like to you?

Drum: Keith Wilson had told us that there was a great wonderful get together of poets. Keith didn’t go to it, he was a functioning professor. He just told me to go. He said that it would be a wonderful opportunity to go and be with these new poetry people. It was very exciting to be part of . . . it was very ‘far out’ as they say. It was people who were very sincere at that time which was sort of a ‘ hippy time’.

Larry: Drum, what initiated your great love of the land?

Drum: My relationship with the land was irresistible, the land itself was stretching out all around me. It was a compelling being that I wanted to meet. I loved the land because it seemed to be the only thing that was sane to me. Whatever the land showed me, I thought was true.

Larry: What got you into ranch work?

Drum: Ranching was simply an extension of large, open spaces and interacting with them, again it felt true to me. It was a way to get to know the land better.

Larry: Did you write out there “on the job”?

Drum: I wrote on everything I could find to write on. I always tried to have something on which I could write – envelopes, napkins, scraps of paper. For awhile I had a tape recorder I carried with me and was able to record. Sometimes if you’re in the saddle and you want to write and you don’t have a pencil or pen you can write if you have to using a lead bullet and pieces of rawhide (chaps).

Larry: What prompted you to put your writing to heart? When did you first start saying your poems to others? At the time it was rare for poets to say their poems from memory, like Vachel Lindsey did . . . .

Drum: Heart is simply a term used to express the feeling that human beings have when they have a strong feeling. I felt so strongly. I thought that there might have been something of value. I was able to chart my feelings and writing was a way to do that. I wrote a story about Cynthia my donkey when I was 9. That was probably the first thing I shared with others.

Larry: I found your direct eye contact with the hearers very powerful.

Drum: I was giving them the poem. I told poems in the same way that I spoke to anyone else.

Larry: How did The Webbing get published? Donald Allen? (Four Seasons Foundation, San Francisco 1967.)

Drum: Donald Allen was a publisher – he was at the Vancouver Poetry Conference. He heard my poems and he asked me if he could publish my work. The poets liked what I was doing. That first book was The Webbing. I had been in the snow and in snow shoes and I thought of a webbing to be able to walk on the snow – that’s why I used the word “webbing.”

Larry: How did your friendship with Keith and Heloise Wilson come about?

Drum: They thought I needed some food so I ate some food with them on 3rd street I think it was. (In Tucson.) Keith was writing poems. We jibed together ‘cos we were both writing poems.

Larry: I remember visiting several times in Santa Fe. How was it living in Santa Fe? I know you had some notable visitors.

Drum: Santa Fe . . . It’s beautiful country. I loved the Pecos Wilderness. I shod a horse for someone in exchange for being able to ride the horse whenever I wanted. We would go to the Pecos Wilderness and explore. I got a job cowboying on the WS Ranch (now the Turner Ranch). I still sing the songs I learned from the vaqueros then. We had a number of poets come by to the house on Delgado Street – Gary (Snyder), Allen (Ginsberg), Keith (Wilson), Harold and Larry Littlebird . . . and we were talking about poetry. It was very much alive in that time . . . Lots of Poetry Readings around.

Larry: And there was that Southwest Poetry Conference that you and Jim Koller put together. How did that come about & how was it?

Drum: I was certainly part of it. I didn’t think I put it together. Larry and Harold Little bird were there reading their poetry and doing chants.

Larry: I’d sure like to know some specifics of your ranch. What did it look like. . . Where & how did it change over time. The running of it. The problems. The rewards. How did the kids like it? And where you stand with it now.

Drum: It’s beautiful . . . huge valleys stretching into eternity. I saw the beauty of the country and was very moved by it. There are cliffs and rocky bluffs, waters that had been developed so that cattle could drink and sustain themselves in the canyon systems, cottonwood trees and sycamores line the creek beds sometimes filled with water, more often dry. For about 50 years I have called the borderlands my home. My children were raised here and continue to have roots here. It has always been a wild and remote world but has been more so lately.

Larry: My friend Bruce Holsapple has a question for you: “Speaking of that relation between poetry and love of the land, are there poems that speak explicitly to that relation or is it the feel of your work overall?”

Drum: There is a poem from Voice of the Borderlands that exemplifies this (though there are others). (From memory . . .)

A Walk Down the Canyon

Because of one rock
Five cottonwood trees have come up
Because of three grass stems,
A sycamore tree has grown
Because of a rain high in the mountains
Two Cooper’s hawks raise their family of one
Because of you and I taking this walk together
Each of us is true
Earth and Sky along this dirt path
One white cloud drifting by.

(page 327 of Voice of the Borderlands)

Another piece . . . (not published), almost a chant . . .

A landscape to shape the heart of a people
A people to shape the life of the land.

(end of interview)

Some Poems from The Light Before Dawn by Drum Hadley

Drum Hadley has a new book of poetry due out from Chax Press in Tucson, The Light Before Dawn. Also, there will also be a piece Drum wrote on Edward Abbey in a journal called “Matter” by Wolverine Farm Press in Fort Collins, Colorado.

Here are a few excerpts from his new book. As Holly Piper says, they are “quite different than his other work (written when he thought his days were almost gone so that perspective flavored the work). They are more like koans, or frozen moments to meditate on . . . quite personal in an inner way. “

So then we are the movements
Of the mountain mists,
Set free among the mountains.

What I have Learned

I have learned to place the tea bag
Into the hot water in the morning
And to sit looking at the far hills
On the other side of the lake.

Drum Hadley

Dead Horse Poem

The last horse at Guadalupe:
All of the hoof prints,
All of the valleys,
All of the ways, all of the trails . . .
Her hoof prints in the sand,
All of the mountain ranges,
Even the tracks of the buzzards through the sky;
And the ant lions and the ant lion’s dens
Dappled shadows
Drawn in the dust.

Now we’ll sit here,
Through these storms and the leaves
In the blowing sunlight,
To wait for what will come.

Water falling
Away, away, away
And nothing more
but the sky
To dance with . . .

Drum Hadley

In Praise of Drum Hadley’s The Light Before Dawn, from Chax Press, 2010
James Northrup

A poet’s style is closer to being like a “voice” than any other writer’s. And Drum’s voice is stripped to the bare essentials, and mercifully so, since his subject matter lends itself to aminimalist approach. To paraphrase Pound, “a poem should be written at least as well as a short story”. And in Drum’s case, as with all great American poets, that means cutting the superfluous to get not just to the point, but the heart of the matter. Coming so soon after his magnum caliber reminiscences of a venturesome lifetime, Voice of the Borderlands, these intimate new works are surprising reminders of what this 21st century transcendentalist can do when he turns his mind inwards.

Drum’s is a uniquely American poetic voice – as developed by Whitman, perfected by Emily Dickinson – and taught to Drum by his mentor, Charles Olson, his friends and fellow pranksters, Allen Ginsberg and Gary Snyder. So it’s good to “read” Drum’s voice again – as he channels the great metaphysical like some back country Zen riddler. The key is that voice comes from the breath, the heart, the sentiment is unvarnished and unlimited by metrical constraints. That’s Olson’s heave of the trochee – blank English verse going back to Shakespeare – verse as if spoken on a stage or around a campfire. Verse meant to resonate a direct meaning when received. Not frenchified with iambic pentameter or overly academic in its approach or content. Not tricky – at least not overtly so.

In Borderlands, we have stories remembered as poems, picaresque vignettes and campfire tales rendered in the original voices – as faithfully and fully as by fellow cowman Will James. In The Light Before Dawn, we have the koans of a mortality faced as quietly and introspectively as Emily Dickinson. Hers:”I heard a fly buzz when I died”. The fly outlived the protagonist. But the poem, as information, is forever. Drum’s: “He knew who he was, And then he was gone”. The poem is a declaration that he knew who he was – which is a rare feat for any sentient being – and the poem, as information, is at the deepest level, immortal. Nice trick for an old cowman.

James Northrup

Thank you to James Northrup for this comment and thank you to Gary Brower, editor and publisher of MALPAIS REVIEW, for publishing this interview and poems by Drum Hadley.

Larry Goodell / Placitas, New Mexico / May 14, 2022 /

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Dessie McCarty, My Grandma, Tells of Her Journey to New Mexico from Kansas

Going to Sunday School – Dessie Goodell driving the Wagon, South Of Clayton, NM ca 1916

Interview with Dessie McCarty Goodell (1889-1971) in 1964

Her son Lawrence Goodell (Senior) was present at the beginning. Larry Goodell, her grandson, conducted and recorded the interview on a reel to reel recorder in 1964 and subsequently converted the interview to digital and a CD for the extended McCarty family. Larry’s transcribing the interview takes place in August 2021. Anything in parentheses are his comments. You hear Dessie’s rocking chair throughout the interview IF you listen to it. Hear it here at Bandcamp.

1 – About the Trip?

Lawrence: Are you going to put down about the trip coming in a wagon from Kansas?
Larry: I want to ask you about this.
Dessie: Oh I’m afraid I’ve forgotten so much of it. I came over a lot of the same ground, same road. I sure did.
Lawrence: I remember sleeping under that wagon seat, on that hay.
Larry: Did you have any streams to cross? That’s what Mamaw (Hattie Brown, Larry’s maternal grandmother) was talking about.
Dessie: Oh I was telling them (the Browns) when we were coming down that road how you sat in that front seat all the time and would not get back and I was counting on you to have a nap and you would not and every once in awhile you would wiggle and say “My bottom is tired.” But you didn’t [?] and say anything.
Lawrence: I can remember a lot about that trip although I was 4 years old. Is that right? Dessie: Yes.
Lawrence: And I can also remember the time we got the horses, can you remember that?
We picked up the horses somewhere in Oklahoma and . . .
Dessie: No, we picked them up in Great Bend, Kansas, and took them to Liberal.
Lawrence: I can remember how it snowed.
Dessie: And I can remember we hitched those horses in and spelled off our horses that were so tired because we were in mud ooo! just awful mud. Highways are a different proposition now, I tell you. The country looks different too, I’m sure.
Beautiful streams. So much water.
Larry: But it doesn’t look this way all the year around.
Dessie: No, the Spring is the nice time.
Lawrence: How long did it take us to make that trip.
Dessie: I think it was 28 to 30 days.
Lawrence: We didn’t hurry though did we?
Dessie: No, I don’t think so, we couldn’t have you know
Larry: Were there four of you?
Dessie: Four of us and two kids.
Larry: Who besides you and . . .
Dessie: Joe Goodell and his wife. He had a team of mules and we had a team of mares.
Larry: He’s the one you just saw wasn’t he.
Dessie: Unhuh. His wife cooked for 7 years in that hospital. She’s not the main cook but she tends to the diet and fixes the plates. 69 years old and she could retire but they’re afraid to on account of their circumstances and the prospect of a long sickness. He has had 3 or 4 strokes, but not bad ones.

2 – I Can Remember

Lawrence: I can remember when we lived in the wagons out on that little homestead and they built that house.
Larry: What homestead.
Lawrence: At Clayton.
Dessie: I can remember different towns where we had camped. We stayed all night in Meade, Kansas when we went through Meade. We stayed all night in Liberal.
Did I tell you we ate with Ernestine?
Lawrence: Yes. Was that a homestead, that piece of land that . . .
Dessie: It was a small . . . The ranchers in the early day had their men file in adjoining quarter sections around other places so that they could surround this place and make it undesirable for anybody to come across that land and they fenced the whole thing and they had what they called an “isolated acreage” within their fences. And this was an isolated 40 that belonged on a ranch to a ranch.
Lawrence: Was it just 40 acres?
Dessie: Just 40 acres was all it was.
Lawrence: But how did you find out about it?
Those people who were friends of ours who had moved there several years previous went to the land office. They were wanting us to come and they went to the land office and located this isolated 40 and wrote and told us about it. It was right on the highway in Clayton about 2 and a half miles South. So that was all we had to go to when we started out. We wanted to go to New Mexico and that was all we had to look forward to was getting that 40 acres. And the ranchman who told us the day we proved up on it he would give us 10 dollars a quarter acre for it. So, and, under the law, covering that kind of a deal, you could get it or, you could prove up in 14 months.
Lawrence: You would drill a well on it.
Dessie: No, we built a cistern and had the water hauled out from town. That is what we did and we rented some land from this rancher and put in row crops which consisted of broom corn, and feed crops which did real well.
Lawrence: How long did you live on it?
Dessie: 14 months and we proved up on it and he gave us the 10 dollars and in the meantime, you know, Papa had gone to work for Common[?] Lumber Company and then they transferred him to Grenville. (Just can’t make out company name)
Lawrence: What year was that?
Dessie: Well it was, I think it was 1916. Don’t you think that’s when it was?
Lawrence: I think that’s right.
Dessie: And I know that in 1918 we were in Grenville. I know that because that’s when the War started.
Larry: How far were you from downtown Clayton? Or was there a downtown.
Dessie: Oh less than 3 miles. We were right next to the highway.
Lawrence: There’s still a little cement thing there that was a chicken house wasn’t it? Or something, a barn?
Dessie. A chicken house and a cistern and the barn. Somebody moved the house away I presume.
Larry: Has Clayton grown or is it little tiny?
Dessie: Oh I don’t think it’s grown much larger than ?
Lawrence: I don’t know, probably about the same. Poppa had a motorcycle, didn’t he buy a motorcycle?
Dessie: Yeah he bought a motorcycle and rode it into work after he started working for Common Lumber Company. And I think he spent more time pushing it than he spent riding it because it didn’t work very well.
Larry. They had motorcycles in those days?
Dessie: Oh yeah, oh yeah.

3 – Dipping Snuff

And I can so well remember the ranchers hauling their broom corn and then they’d go past the house and one time some women the rim ran off of a wheel and they had to get somebody to come and fix it, then they came in the house and stayed and one of them looked around, went out and got a can sat by her chair she was dipping snuff. And that’s the first time I’d ever seen anyone dip snuff.
Larry. How big of a can?
Dessie: Oh just a little can.
Lawrence: I remember that when Papa was going back for the harvest in Kansas, a coyote came up to the chickens and you tried shooting the coyote with a gun. (Laughter) She was holding it like this. You got the gun out to shoot the coyote.
Dessie: I remember they ate the watermelons out of my garden, dug up the peanuts, we planted peanuts, they dug those up and ate them.
Lawrence: I remember one time, you know we had an outside toilet, and Virginia was going to the toilet and Uncle Joe said Hey Sis where are you going? And so she turned around like this, there was a tub of water sitting out there. She turned around like . . .
Dessie: Talking to Joe.
Lawrence: and fell in the tub of water.
Dessie: And you know that Joe, one of the things he told me.
Lawrence: It didn’t hurt her at all. She just backed into the tub of water.
Dessie: Joe sure did love her, my my.
Larry: I’ll bet he hasn’t seen her for a long time.
Dessie. He hasn’t.
Lawrence: It has been a long time.
Dessie: You know when she came up here the other day she said “I just think about and think about why I couldn’t have arranged to go with you. I would have given anything else in the world but I couldn’t possibly have taken just a week off.”
Larry: Doesn’t she get a vacation?
Dessie: Yes but she took one week of her vacation and cleaned house.
And so she didn’t have enough time left. I certainly would have been proud to have taken her with me.
(Lawrence leaves to go back to work)

4 – Grandma and I

Larry: Well I was wondering about when you moved from there to here.
Dessie: From the land down to . . .
Larry: Artesia?
Dessie: Oh. While we were still on the homestead . . . Grandpa went to work for the Common Lumber Company and then after the Depression, no, not the Depression it was before then. So many homesteaders were coming into the country and we did an enormous lumber business and they moved us to run a yard in Grenville which is between Clayton and DeMoines and they built a new yard. No, they had a man there in a small lumber yard who absconded and I had worked himself up to be a book keeper for the manager of this yard where he was working in Clayton. So after this man absconded they telegraphed and wanted to know if he would send him up there and take over this yard. And he went and after that, was about 1918 or 17, and the crops, dryland crops were wonderful and so many ranchers, or farmers, dryland farmers were improving their farms and there was an immense lumber business. We sold lumber, coal, cement, barbed wire, posts and a line of hardware, builder’s hardware. And I kept books and we were quite well paid and oh my we enjoyed it all. Lawrence and Virginia were big enough to go to school, but about that time along came Harry and I had to resign on that account and no longer kept the books. And he stayed there for I think into our eighth year in that place. And by that time why things were not so good and they closed the lumber yard. And we went to work for . . . no, before that
Larry: Who was they?
Dessie: The Common Lumber Company. But in the meantime Roberson [?] and Alber Company from Amarilla had built a yard there and we took over that. And then moved from there to Artesia for Roberson Alber in I think about 1925.
Larry: For the war years you were in . . .
Dessie: In Grenville and I remember in that little lumber yard one year at prices of course low prices, we did 100,000 dollars business which was a lot, but so much of it was building material, houses, and cement and the town boomed and Poppa and another man bought a tract of land off to the North, up to the Southwest part of town, opened up an addition, sold lots, and together made quite a little bit of money. And a few houses were build on these lots before times got hard and we left town. Then we went [?] Artesia in a lumber yard about 8 or 9 years before the depths of Depression. At that time we left and went back to Kansas and Colorado.
Larry: Oh I didn’t know you had gone back to Kansas.
Dessie: Yeah, we did, we went back to Kansas. The lumber yard was closed in that town.

5 – Beginning of Trip

Oh I might tell you about when we started to New Mexico we left from my father’s farm and ah we had the two wagons and what personal belongs we were bringing with us. And my father put in sacks of corn and even some bales of hay down underneath the seat, the wagon seat and Lawrence, the kids sat down on those bales of hay to rest, and when we started out I had the idea of writing a diary every day to send back home and I’d sit on that bale of hay by a lantern and write [?]entries in this diary. And then about every so far we stopped to pick up the mail. We had 3 or 4 places specified along the way where we would stop and ask for mail and then we would mail an installment of this back to
Larry: Back to your father . . .
Dessie: back to our folks and oh my! They just were so anxious to get it because they felt we were doing a rather courageous thing to start out on the highway you know and camp beside the road.
Larry: And where was the farm, Grandma?
Dessie: South between Clyde and Concordia in Cloud County.
Larry: Well why did you move to start out with?
Dessie: Why did we?
Larry: You got the land I mean . . .
Dessie: We had that land to come to and Harry and his brother Joe had owned a dray service, what we called, hauling for a lumber yard and oh they worked so hard, they would unload loads of coal and service down in people’s basements and unload lumber and stack it in that lumber yard and they worked awfully hard but they made pretty good money and they both were raised on a farm and I had been too and we all wanted back on a farm and we figured we never could own a farm in Kansas – land was too expensive so we thought we’ll just pioneer and we’ll just go to New Mexico where land is cheap and maybe sometime we’ll all get back on a farm which was our intention and while we were in this time in Grenville we did, while we were prosperous in selling those lots, we did buy a big farm. And made a down payment on it, but never were able to go ahead on the contract because times got hard and it just had to be lost what we put into it. It wasn’t any great amount. But it was really what we wanted to do.

6 – Storm of Great Bend

But as we were coming we got [?]in the spring I can’t remember I think it was March and when we got down to Great Bend Kansas we got into a snow storm and the most horrible rain, biggest rain and the roads were just bottomless – there weren’t any paved roads there weren’t even gravel roads and the horses would have to pull so hard and it was so cold and miserable that we found a place, a wagon yard to put the horses and a rooming house for us to stay and we must have stayed there for 4 or 5 days. And (laughs) I remember walking down the hall with the kids and there was a sign up there I suppose it said “This Way in Case of Fire” or whatever to do and one of the children, I never can remember which one, stopped and said “How many miles to where does that say, Mom?” We’d been reading road signs.
Larry: Well you had Virginia and
Dessie: And Lawrence, Virginia 3, Lawrence was born in 1912 so he was 4 and she was 3, that’s how old they were. But anyway while we, when we went to leave that wagon yard a man came in. He’d gotten acquainted with the boys and he had a team of horses that he wanted taken to Liberal, Kansas, to a man there, they belonged to this man, or he was just sending them to him I don’t know. He wanted to know if we would take these horses and deliver them to that man. Well, we were glad to do it because I’m sure they had eyes on spelling our horses with these, putting them in the harness part of the time, so we started out with bad roads and heavy traveling, so we would occasionally hitch one of these horses in to help out the mules and the mares. And we were delayed, we didn’t get down there as quick as we were expected to, so these people at Liberal had the word you know that we would be there a day or so late getting to Liberal because of the bad roads and they were a mile or so on the other side of Liberal watching for us. I know they were wondering if we were a bunch of horse thieves.
I can’t remember, I’m afraid I’m not a very good narrator.
And you want to remember how long has it been? It’s been nearly 50 years. Because that would be 18 from . . . 50 . . .

7 – The Wagon

I’ve got a picture somewhere of a wagon – we took the top, the cover part of the wagon off and sat down on the ground and we slept in there until well when we built the house there wasn’t room for all of us in the house – Joe and Mabel and the 2 kids slept in the house and we slept outside even in real cold weather in that wagon, what you call wagon jet, it’s set up far enough that we put a floor underneath it and then a canvas top over it and we slept out there. And we took the wagon and got the seats on it and went to Sunday School, a school house over about a couple miles, and we’ve got a picture of us and the kids and some neighbors all of us in that big ole wagon getting ready to go off to Sunday School. (Laughs) And then Joe, the big joker, he had a gun or two in the house, we thought we had to protect ourselves along the way, which we didn’t need – people got more friendly, the farther West we got the more friendly they were. They would come out and say “Well help yourself to the feed in the field here for your horses and after you’ve had your supper why come in and visit with us awhile.” Through Oklahoma and the Panhandle and down through Boise City everybody was so friendly.

And people began to try to sell us a place, where are you going and where would you like to locate. Well right here is the best place. They’d had a lot of rain around Boise City and they had some good dry land feed crops and they would ask if we would like to buy some land. And one day we came to a church in Boise City and there were clothes hanging out on the line – have I told you about that? – there was clothes hanging out on the line and one of the children said “Does somebody live in the Church?” And Joe, the big wag, said, “God lives there when He’s not out on a land deal.” (Laughs)
Larry: Well they take land and when they arrive and when others arrive they make a little money if they sold the land.
Dessie: Oh [?]. . It’s a dry land country which is the biggest gamble out of doors. [?]dry land.

8 – The Journal

Larry: The 20’s I guess that’s when you lost a lot of money.
Dessie: And the depression.
Larry: It didn’t seem too roaring to you.
Dessie: No it really wasn’t. I so well remember when the War broke out and so many people are going.

Larry: I guess they don’t have that diary, Grandma, do they?
Dessie: Well I’ve . . .
Larry: Have they traced it down?
Dessie: No, it was sent back to me and I’ve got a few sheets of it somewhere. It wasn’t as wonderful as they thought it was because they were so glad to hear from us and know how we were getting along.

But the very first stop we made the next county south of home we stopped to see at night if we could water our horses and the woman looked askance at us and turned around and asked her husband if it would be alright and we wondered if we were going to get to come in and water our horses and that was the first county South of where we’d lived all our lives. And then the farther west we got the more friendly and the more pleasant it was [?] we actually had a lot of [?]
Larry: Did you actually go back to Kansas first? Or what?
Dessie: We were in Kansas. (?) We never left here after we got here. And I didn’t even go back for a visit for 5 or 6 years.
Larry: Oh. Where did you go during the Depression? That’s what I was trying to . .
Dessie: We moved to Artesia from Clayton.
Larry: Well why there?
Dessie: Because the lumber company that we worked for closed their yard and moved us. Oil had been found in the Artesia area and they put in what they call a rig yard and sent us down there on the rig yard.
Larry: Well how did that work?
Dessie: Oh fine for awhile, just fine.
Larry: And then did they close that down?
Dessie: Let me think. I believe they sold to the Big Joe Lumber Company. I believe they sold it. And then we were out of a job.
Larry. Unhuh.
Dessie: And then we decided to go back to Kansas. That’s when we got in the restaurant business.
Larry. But you didn’t go back to Kansas

9 – Back to Kansas

Dessie: We did go back to Kansas.
Larry: Oh you did.
Dessie: And stayed there a couple years and the black blizzards came. That was the dirt storms. The very first of the dirt storms.
Larry. Was that back on your father’s . . .
Dessie: No, that was western Kansas. We never went back to that part of Kansas, that was western Kansas. And we went there because my mother had a brother who was running a restaurant in a hotel and she was sick and tired of it and we . . . well we were just sort of desperate for something to do or we never would have traveled. And we went back there and kept the same cook, a young woman, and then rented it, rented the place from them. And oh it was when things were so cheap. That must have been about 1937. And we took that over and from the time we started it we did better and better and . . .
Larry. Where was it, Grandma?
Dessie: Atwood. Atwood, Kansas, which is the second county from the northern tier and the second county from the western side of Kansas, a big wheat farming country, and they raised a big corn crop and wasn’t too good plains[?]. We specialized in Sunday dinners and we’d just begun having a crowd and we doubled that business within two months’ time, a nice place. All it needed was for someone to furnish good food. And then this woman who had promised us that we could have it indefinitely if we could make a go of it – she owned it – and she was the wife of my mother’s brother. Well she told us she wanted it back. (Laugh). She thought the Depression and all the hard times was over.
But we bought turkeys for turkey dinners for 10 cents a pound on foot. Just think about it. And eggs for practically nothing. Well then we went over to another town and rented a restaurant over there.

Larry. My dad was still in Artesia.
Dessie: Yes.
Larry. And had married and I’d been born.
Dessie. Yes.
Larry. My mother was in the hospital I guess.
Dessie. She went to the hospital I think while . . .
We went to this other town and started again and these horrible black blizzards came. It would darken, the earth would darken the sun. It would be dark at 4 o’clock in the afternoon. The wheat fields just raised up and blew away. So that was when we . . .
Larry: Tremendous dust storm.
Dessie: Yes. And it went on and was driving people out [?] and we left there and went to Denver.

10 – Denver, Empire

Larry: Well, why? You started west.
Dessie: It was just too bad there. We decided that we might go back to New Mexico. And we went to Denver and looked around for a location and finally found this place in Empire which we built up, you know, and when we left there, we’d been there 15 years and we were the oldest persons in the food business in the county and I’m sure had the very best reputation.
Larry: What year did you get there, do you know? In Empire?
Dessie: Well let me see now, it must have been ‘32. Harry was in the 8th grade and he was born in 1920 so it was about 32. And stayed 15 years. And we enjoyed it after we began to do well and we made money. Saved money. In fact that’s the money I’m living on until the time I started doing what I’m doing now. And I haven’t touched one dime of that since for four years since I’ve started baby sitting and staying with Mrs. Reynolds [?]. I’ve got a lot to be thankful for, a LOT to be thankful for, taking care of Poppa for the ninth year when he died without any income at all, you know, except for what interest I got.
Larry: Well you worked awfully hard.
Dessie: Yes I did, Larry, I don’t see how I ever did it. I don’t. But, Larry, it didn’t hurt me. I’ve observed that of all the people I saw and I saw all the old folks, in fact, you know that old poem “If I should live to be the last leaf upon a tree, let them smile as I do” . . . no, “If I should live to be the last leaf upon the tree in the Spring, let them smile as I do now on the old forsaken bough where I cling . . .” and I told Leo (oldest McCarty sibling) we certainly are the last leaf because there are no more. There are so few. Everybody I’d asked about, well now he died, many of them much younger than I so I don’t figure that those days that I worked so hard hurt me very much.
Larry: Well you were the major cook. I mean you wrote checks.
Dessie: Yeah when I started I was doing it all and when I finished I had two helping me you know, one morning shift and one after shift but I was supervising them both so I was really working two shifts. Think of the wonderful friends we made.
Larry: How many pies did you bake a day, 15?
Dessie: Well, yes, on Sunday.
Larry: I recall that.
Dessie: We used 3 ovens and two of us worked on them. And we had to have them out by 8 so the roasts could go in, and the turkey.

A lot of pleasant memories. And made the most wonderful friends. And they still remember me.

11 – Concordia Reunion

Larry: Concordia, Kansas (recent visit)?.
Dessie: On this last visit of mine I arrived in Concordia on May the 29th and that night was the night of the high school alumni annual meeting for all graduates of the high school and their friends and since I had 5 brothers and sisters who had graduated from that high school I felt more than eligible to attend as one of their guests and I went hoping that I would see somebody that I knew. I saw a few and several spoke to me and talked to me because they remembered these younger brothers and sisters of mine who had graduated, each one of them having been elected president of his class when he had entered the highschool except the twins and they couldn’t have two presidents so the day they had the meeting to elect the class president they broke up because they couldn’t decide which one of them to make the president. The next day they had another meeting and made one of them president and the other vice-president so to keep up the tradition of the members of this family being the president of the freshmen class when they enrolled in highschool. I don’t know how long they continued to be but that’s the way they started. And I went and I had enrolled in that highschool, let’s see, 50 years, no, 60 years ago this same year I had enrolled in 1904 and would have been a member of the nineteen eight graduation class but I stayed on part of the year and we moved then to Concordia and I went to the highschool in Concordia. So I despaired of seeing anyone, almost anyone there that I knew and I finally decided that if I felt like it, if I felt good enough, strong enough to get out and do it, but I was tired, I would walk up to these people and I would say what is your name? I probably knew your grandfather (laugh). I really wanted to do it. But several came to talk to me that were friends of my younger brothers, and one man said, my brother introduced me to one man that I knew the family but didn’t know him and he said now this is my sister and she is from New Mexico he said “Oh my goodness I don’t see how you stand it. I got down as far as Tucumcari once and that’s all I could take.” (Laugh) And my sister-in-law was the next to the oldest one there and she graduated in nineteen six and then one woman was there who had graduated the year I had entered high school 60 years ago. There were a lot of them there and we had a very nice time.

12 – Graveyard and Homestead

And then furthermore I want to tell you this. The graveyard that we all visited on Decoration Day was a corner out of the homestead of my grandfather who came there and homesteaded after the Civil War under the law that allowed a Civil War veteran to apply the length of his service on the two years that it took to prove up the land, so he got his land without having lived there very long cause he had spent a full service, you know, in th Civil War. And then the school house where we had attended this reunion was on the exact side of the home where my mother was born and where the homestead stood, where the house stood, the homestead, that’s where the highschool was built. So that made it interesting.
Larry: What did you see in the graveyard?
Dessie: Well, graves of my grandmother’s parents, some of the oldest of the inheritance, graves of many many relatives, far more than . . . all, far more than, well there are none left but my immediate family, there are none.
Now that’s all I wanted to tell you about. The county was named by my Grandfather who was the first Representative in the Legislature after the County was organized and editor of the oldest newspaper, weekly newspaper in the county.
Larry: What was it called?
Dessie: It was called the Clyde Herald (laugh), what else, they were always the Herald or the Blade or the Clarion or the Enterprise.
Larry: Such as the Territorial Enterprise.
Dessie: Yeah. Those were the old days.


Any comments or suggestions:
larry goodell po box 571 placitas, nm 87043 (505)867-5877
The recording:
Related, from Lawrence Goodell years later:

The actual recording is here.

Related, from Lawrence Goodell years later:

one of the few extant pages of Dessie’s dairy she sent on the Journey

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“I Love You Truly Times” and Club Progressions

Notes for the video I put together from my poem and from old photos of a jazz musical I did in 1953 . . .

This ‘90’s poem evokes my ‘50’s time when I was intensely discovering and attempting to play and write jazz tunes. Our predominant small town music was pop ballads and western music. For this video I used existent photographs I have of the performance of Club Progressions, the musical I wrote and produced with many friends’ help on April 30, 1953 in my senior year at Roswell Senior High School. Richard Olson, teacher, took the photographs of the stage. I took most of the photographs of the combo and high school performers, band members, fellow students.

Our combo was Lyman Lea tenor sax, Sal Gonzales drums and me piano. Cast was Cornelia Magee, Jeannine Hooper and Louis Gonzales, principal singers, with Jeannine leading dance numbers. Oliver Owen and Bill Taylor were the romantic and character leads, respectively. Dancers were Jeddie McEvoy, Nene Ackerman and Jeanie Shomp. Club gatherers, who served as a chorus, were Floyd Hardimon, Priscilla Trout, Louis Gonzales. Carmelita Shultz, Don Dye, Ardith Jernigan, Jerry Yowell and Betty Boellner. Bruce Hood, who also effected the art work, was club waiter. Stage manager was Dorris Drew. Bennie Farmer and John Lankford stage crew. Many thanks and love from me to you now all almost 70 years after.

Larry Goodell, Placitas, New Mexico, July 5, 2021.

Cast and crew CLUB PROGRESSIONS, 1953, photo by Richard Olsen
Songs composed for Club Progressions
Cast & Crew Photographs by Richard Olson
Songs I Tried to play on the piano.

just tryin’ to get a gig
Eastern New Mexico Fair Parade 1952 photo by the poet

More photographs of early 50’s in Roswell are available and could be added here. Thank you for any comments, Larry Goodell 7/30/21

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Jaguar Seen In New Mexico

Children dressed as jaguars dancing directed by choreographer and dancer Lindsay Mayo in Santa Fe, 1998, as I read the intro and poem on the side of the stage!


Too many of us & not enough of them
Spotted cats endangered
from poaching
from our slashing & burning.
Recovery of
bald eagle
whooping crane
habitat protection
is supreme.
Too many of us & not enough of them.
Recovery is supreme.
Recovery of the earth and her ills healed.
Man, woman shrinking,
earth staying the same
blossoming into itself is my dream.
Habitat protection
is supreme
bald eagle
whooping crane —
the spotted cats endangered
because of poaching
slashing & burning.
Too many of us & not enough of them.
But man, woman shrinking our absurd population
earth staying the same
blossoming into itself
is supreme.
Oh glorious spotted cats!
Too many of us & not enough of them.

























larry goodell / placitas, new mexico / 15Dec97
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Hello Wayne

(self portrait from the Thunderbird Bar years)

poems from a few years having to do with old friend Wayne Jones (1939-2020)

by Larry Goodell

Evie and Wayne: Dawn and Evening Twenty-Five Years Marriage /7Apr1990

East creates west.
West keeps dropping off into the ocean.
West floats back to the East and becomes East.
East decides to go West.
East meets West.
West courts East.
To stay.
The arroyo is so nice after the rain, the tall cottonwoods
the rain splats, the mud.
And the West, howling at the sunset, so affectionate.
East meets West and all the other directions
come for dinner
over and over
the sun throws over the upside-down landscape of
the clinging stars the outlines of real people from real directions
revolving, staying, complaining, living, straying, teaching, groping with problems
groping with the changing anatomy of the Earth, the Earth coming up to meet them                                 again
and provide them home, married, to work, the East becomes the West
the West becomes diversity of the rhythms of change, the same damn thing
changed, transfigured, transmogrified into daily marriage to joy
marriage to change, over and over the age
over and over the age silvers the light in the arroyo, aurora it’s simply
dawn and evening
evening and dawn.


November 15, 2009
for Steve Spalding and for Wayne Jones birthday celebration in Placitas
reaching beyond 70

You have reached the vantage point where you can see all humanity.
George Bush is now in Rectum Alley. Chinch-mouth Cheney is in
daughter-pushing land, chipping off the old block.
There’s a little hope in the vista we can build upon —
as the multi-conglomerate maggots continue to gnaw away at our souls.
But we can triumph by spitting democracy right back in their capitalist faces.
Yes, an eternal note: all of us are created equal
and thus speech ascends into freedom.
Love pulverizes all with more love, like water dissolving,
air breathing, blood warming, plants digesting,
animals coming near to be fed. Life, the back bone of life.
The creative dance of seeing through the haze to a distant galaxy
              that before Hubble we thought was only part of us —
                                 Welcome Andromeda!
How we’ve expanded into ourselves!
In our lifetime our borders have been stretched out and back so much
that we can find humility. Not even a cog on a wheel, but a bump on the cog.
Not even a bump but a bit of a bump. Not even a bit but
a nano particle: human consciousness shrinks to where it’s at,
and the world seems bigger. Seeing things clearly in every birth of a day.
                             /from Foxhole Prayers in GROUNDED, duende press 2020


Have We Been Here?
                      We Have Been Here
/for Wayne Jones, at 80

Have we been here
we have been here
you and me and
many others
some came and left.
                    Some came with spangles on
left with mud on their boots.
Many came and left.
Remember the Vietnam War
remember the Vietnam Vets
as you are
                  who came here
                  lived here
remember marching down Central
young people, we were younger
some pregnant women
the business people looking at us
                as we walked
and when we danced danced
                in the bar
                to loud and louder bands
some quieter or just a country fiddler
or Ginsberg in a crowd
dancing, chanting, people doing
                uncommon things
the matching and uncoupling of people
the handmade day to day activities
embroidering blue work shirts
long dresses, belly dancing, marriages
love, remember love?
drumming, ignorant chanting
lighting stars on the forehead
out of mind ritual guided drugs

shouting in canyons, marriages
               by the creek or next to red rock canyons
                            rock groups from Taos Santa Fe
Albuquerque, thr0ngs for New Years
arts fairs, locally designed booths
              a casita almost a hermitage
renting houses or squatting
turning a place into a magnet for others
much to surprise and confusion and some
             elder dislike of residents –
so many could build unique dwellings –
             didn’t yours have a sloping floor?
a commune, hell, just living together
not me but I observed –
doing farming, what’s new from California,
             New York, beads leather
             diets changing
             sweats, food stamps
                       Tarot, I Ching, peyote
poetry readings, photography, art even
            on basement walls, volleyball, most of all
            the music, live music groups
fire station concerts        4th of July
                      local real dancers
dancing, we got hitched up
had our own spring-fed swimming pool –
we did all kinds of things, handmade stuff
            up from the ground –
and everything turned over into the commerce
           of growth and we weathered, stayed
or some of us,
many were here anyway,
we were all new and yet long time here
as time robs of youth, the spirit stays
stays on year after year

festival after festival, dance after dance
plan after plan, job to job, place
                            to place within a place, this place
                of little places, we come and we go
in a village, and some died many died
and we’re living now families of families
changing growing up generations generating
and children from tiny to teen to adult
as different unwanted unneeded wars
come and go and we’re stuck here
with the gangster wealthy gone mad
as we weather another political storm
with still our integral spirit
singing the song of the Earth the Fathering Sun
the urgency of the local informed by
                               the local
it presses on to celebration do you hear
that music which is this music
the heart beat of memory in this circle of
                love and cooperation to get things done
the theater we had is the theater
                                    we are.
Have we been here we have been here
           you and me and many others
some came and left
many came and left, many stayed
           and here we are
we have been here and
           here we are.                                   /2019 11 26 from COMMONS, duende press 2020

                                            “If music be the food of love, play on;
                                             give me excess of it . . .”
                                                                   – William Shakespeare in Twelfth Night

Note: the header for this blog is from a photograph by Wayne. Many photographs by Wayne are in this album on Facebook of Thunderbird Bar pictures and comments. 

love to all, continuing, and to Wayne’s family and loved ones and friends . . . from Larry

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In a Small Town in New Mexico

Unknown singers, parsers of the present laying down words not to befuddle, but to clarify. We heard you, there, young, read by a friend in a small town where everyone gathered was interested. The words, phrases, cadences came like water from a spring brook, read by our old friend as you were there among us. The caught up surprises, the reading new meanings, concordances, a weaving for sure that must have fell from your mouth. Perhaps you were too young and unsure to read it out but our friend let it flow, just the conveyor of your words, as the transcendent levels spread out one after another, as something of nature one can experience in the fullest. When he finished, there was applause from all and congratulations even though a small town, with everyone present just who they are. That your father was such a well known poet we all knew, as something we studied, never quite being lifted off the ground, in fact, dulled as if read in a class by assignment.

I told you you’ve given us fresh thought, the power of youth inspired by your gift of natural flow and layers of freshness like deep breathing as clear as any new dawn to come. I left the group as we all felt he had regained us and pulled into new territories away from our stagnation.

Oh I hope he doesn’t touch a word, oh please don’t tamper with, ruin what is inspired. Thank you, I’m thinking here, roused from my dream, very early morning December 13th, 2020.

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Meredith Rice – A Child’s Alphabet – 1969

Meredith Rice was a painter and visionary, a friend since at least 1967. She lived from 1945 to 2012. See some of her work at 3 Dimensional Poetry. The painting there from her series during her struggles through cancer is illuminating. This beautiful hand written, drawn, assembled booklet, A Child’s Alphabet, Meredith did for the birth of our son Joel who was born in November of 1969. She sent the booklet through the mail to us General Delivery.

Presenting all I can in memory of Meredith Rice. An enlightening talent to us, to so many, as the pursuit to prevent cancer from taking more lives continues. Larry Goodell, Placitas, New Mexico Thank you, Meredith.

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Watercolor – Multi-American Series – November 2019

original, 2 sheets
variation using computer
variation using computer

Watercolor after a long time. I stopped these and painted sticks long before the show at Very Special Arts on North Fourth Street – where I did readings and showed some of the sticks (painted property markers) along with Jane Sprague works, Jim Burbank works, and Lenore Goodell works . . . an accumulative surprise. I may do more watercolors. 2 sheets side by side.

larry goodell / 7november2019 / placitas, new mexico / usa

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