Peter Kidd Interview Boston, MA November 27, 2014, by Richard Martin

Interview of Peter Kidd by Richard Martin is from Martin’s Goosebumps of Antimatter, forthcoming from Spuyten Duyvil, New York City, 2018.



Peter Kidd Interview

Boston, MA

November 27, 2014



Martin:          I’m here in my home in Boston with Peter Kidd – poet, landscape artist, novelist, and publisher of Igneus Press. It’s a day before Thanksgiving and raining. Welcome, Peter.


Kidd:               Thank you, it’s nice to be here as always.


Martin:            It’s great to have you back in Boston for a few days. I’m still trying to get into my head that you live in Texas now but things change. We could talk about the many things you have accomplished as a life-long New Hampshire resident and in Boston during over 60 years of living in the area before your move to Texas. But let’s start with Igneus Press. This is a signature and ongoing accomplishment of yours, a press that arose out of your work as poet and a keen mind for a new direction. Talk about Igneus. When did the press come on the scene?


Kidd:               Well, it got started in Cambridge in 1989-90 when we were all meeting at the Stone Soup Poetry Series at Charlie’s Tap on Green Street. And I looked around and I seemed to have a core group of friends (poets) – friends I had been involved with for many years, some with a book or chapbook out during the eighties, but now we were a little bit older – 15 years or so older than the young writers at Charlie’s Tap, and we were stumped at where to go with our new work. I ran a small business, a landscape design/build business and had small business skills so I leapt forward and said let’s do it ourselves – a press that is – rather than like an Old Yankee with hat in hand begging at the bank. So the idea and direction were born and Igneus came into being with a book by Wally Butts – W.E. Butts, our dear friend.


Martin:            And that was in 1990?


Kidd:               That’s the year it came out. So ’89 was probably the year we started conspiring and I remember Bill Kemmett was in the back of my car after a reading at Charlie’s when I started to go over the idea with Wally and he said: “No, this will never work.”


Martin:           Yeah, I sort of remember you saying at one point that Bill was opposed to the idea.


Kidd:               He was a skeptic. He said it couldn’t be done.


Martin:         And why did he think that?


Kidd:               Well, first of all he is the Prince of Sigh.


Martin:            Right, the Prince of Sigh.


Kidd:               In other words, how do you move the rock up from the bottom of a mountain to the top of a mountain?


Martin:            Yeah, the “Myth of Sisyphus.”


Kidd:               Yeah, yeah, the “Myth of Sisyphus.”  But Wally had a wonderful manuscript, and to my mind, it remains the best book he ever did.


Martin:           What was the manuscript titled?


Kidd:               The Required Dance, and so we started in. Wally would come out every weekend to my home in Bedford, NH, and we worked on it. We sifted through the poems and decided on a few tenets that made sense.  We wanted to be diverse and tuned to our concern for the human condition. We wanted to be a cooperative press and draw in a group of close friends who had had access to one another for 30 to 40 years. So that was the spirit Igneus grew out of, and out of that spirit it was launched with the publication of The Required Dance in 1990.


Artifact Insertion:


Why The Required Dance now…because this is its time and to wait any longer and it would be stillborn. Why W.E. Butts…because he’s like the first bite into an October apple. These poems are offered up in that mystical musical cadence of the neighborhood of the soul. They are warm, concrete, and incandescent. Whether they take place at a nursing home, at a church with his daughter, alongside a creek, or a corner store in Boston, they are always compassionate and incarnate two qualities difficult to come by in any age. To Butts, the world and its events are surreal enough and his poems are a wonderful sifting out of meaning. Butts has worked long and hard for such a complete book, and in turn, voice. The Required Dance is exciting for the world of poetry and the world at large because it represents a right direction for poetry, a poetry that is trustworthy and seeks to share its universe with the reader-listener.


Peter Kidd, Publisher, Igneus Press



The Balance


                                   For James De Crescentis


I am visiting someone in an apartment,

located around the corner

from a long row of broken-down tenements.

At either end of that block

is a liquor store.  We have little money

but, in celebration of my return

from New York City to Boston

we roll two dollars worth of pennies,

and go to one of the liquor stores to buy beer.

The gaunt, black cashier taps his jeweled,

long-nailed fingers on the counter suspiciously,

picks up a roll, balances it

in his slender palm and says,

“Man, there ain’t no fifty cent in here.”

He opens the roll, counts the pennies

and he’s right–forty-eight.

I envy this ability to know

the full measure of a thing by its weight,

no more–no less.

Between us, we have two pennies.

On the way back, I notice

a disheveled figure sprawled across the steps

of a boarded-up brick building.

I’m told he lives there, has for years.

He’s luckier than most.

People give him things, take care of him.

Later, we drink beer and talk

About women we thought loved us once.

I want to say something is terrible and wrong,

that there’s more to this evening

than our carefully measured desperation,

then realize, I am at peace

in a friend’s home.


W.E. Butts

from The Required Dance (Igneus Press, 1990)


Martin:        What came next after Wally’s Book?


Kidd:               Well, it wasn’t long after that I published Peter Laska. P.J. Laska is an excellent West Virginia poet whom I had known for a while. We entered into a project and then, all of a sudden, the Prince of Sigh wasn’t sighing anymore and wanted to do a book, too.


Martin:         And what was Kemmett’s first book titled?

Kidd:               Flesh of a New Moon is (was) an excellent book. So I took Kemmett’s manuscript and sent it to Laska, and Peter took the two books to Kinko’s and paid to have them typeset, and then sent me the hard copies, and I paid to print them. Then we started to get around with the books. Wally’s broke through right away in Boston. Sixty people came to the launch of it and I walked away with $400 in book sales.


Martin:           So Igneus started, more or less, in a bar in Cambridge via conversation among friends who were poets?  And it took off from there.


Kidd:              And with me saying: No whining! No whining! in poetry.


Martin:            Right. No Whining! Create your own thing…your own scene. And then three books came out from Butts, Laska, and Kemmett. I’m curious about the name, Igneus. How did you come up with that name?


Kidd:               Well, I first thought of Black Bear Press and searched out other presses and found some similar imprints, and so I went to the Bedford library and pulled out a Latin Dictionary. I started going through it and came to “igneus” which was spelled i-g-n-e-us; that which comes from fire. And I said: “oo!” that’s great and underneath igneus was  “igniculata” or sparks and I thought if I ever wanted to do a magazine or broadside I could use that term. Well, I loved the word and idea…you know passing through the initiation of fire and seeing what is carbonaceous…what is left after you go through that purification of fire…so that was the philosophical push…the metaphysical push….whatever.


Artifact Insertion


Peter Laska is an intensely sensitive man with a heart wider than the Interstate. His intelligence is a stringed instrument that cannot be outsmarted or ignored. And while West Virginia plays a major role in his works, it is by no means the alpha of his resources nor the omega of his vision. Through a combination of submission and compassion for the human condition, he offers us hope for a dignity and decency in this life, to me the major job requirement of a contemporary poet of stature.


Peter Kidd, Publisher Igneus Press


The Secular Humanist Phones Home


                        Warm tangos of sunlight

interrupt the telephone

on the mattress


the room smells of coffee

and cigarettes

before breakfast


I’m here on the Sabbath

looking at the text

of my worse regrets

both a father and a son

but not The Father

and The Son


past forty

I retain a belief in knowledge

as my true belief


I hear the pendulum


in the vestibule


I restate my position –

religion for the dead

socialism for the working class


this doesn’t mean

the alcoholic priest

is not a friend




Give me an outside line, please

maybe this time

I’ll be understood


P.J. Laska

from The Day The Eighties Began (Igneus Press, 1991)



“Bill Kemmett’s Flesh of a New Moon echoes voices of nature, be it mineral, vegetable, animal, or human kingdom. Kemmett’s precise, to the quick poems are more than oriental, for he is, in the deepest sense, a New Englander Boston born and Roxbury raised. His images evoke a strength that is confirmed by his understatement. I feel as though I know his backyard, and all the creatures that have passed through it, and have been captured on his pages. These poems are original, finely crafted, and each one contains a revelation shared with the reader.”


Peter Kidd, publisher of Igneus Press



Faith of Stone


                        The cave listens to the night

with a dark ear…

Drops of water echo

in an empty rhythm.


The rock within dissolves

a second at a time,

deeper and higher until

the sun pecks through eroding walls.


From the blinding sky

far back in the shadows

bats dream their upsidedown knowledge

into rocks.


The mountain has been informed.

The stones of the inner core

accept their fate:

know of the wind and rain.


The mountain

is equal to the truth.


William Kemmett

from Flesh of a New Moon (Igneus Press, 1991)




Martin:          Earlier you mentioned being sensitive to the human condition as a tenet of the press…addressing it in diverse ways. Talk about your poetics at the time you brought out Wally’s book. What were your thoughts about American poetry at the time and has your poetics or outlook changed since then?


Kidd:               That’s a great question. In terms of Boston poetry, I was at loggerheads with many of the poets because they all thought the poem was a product of the mind, and I thought it was a product of the soul. And so the battle was on and waged. It came to a point where one poet, Rando, said I wasn’t even a poet but a social humanitarian. As for poetics, from the get-go, it was the study of the minimalist school. Start with the ability to focus your consciousness through a single image,  so a lot of my early poems were tiny little poems unto themselves. I will always love minimalist poetry…there is so little time for the epic poem…what with family and work…and I learned to get in and out of a poem. I probably beat minimalism to death…until I realized I could string these images together into stanzas, then skein out the stanzas into longer poems, and that has evolved to the point where right now, I’ve been actually going with a poem for 11 months and it’s probably around 140 pages with 117 poems considered part of it…which is quite a change for someone who started out with a single image.



Martin:           Let’s stay with the minimalist/image period of your work for a moment. Do you see your exploration of this style connected to and/or as an outgrowth of the strand of modernism called Imagism launched by Ezra Pound in 1912 through a poem written by Hilda Doolittle that he sent to Poetry Magazine.?


Kidd:              I am thinking Amy Irving began the magazine The Imagist, Pound and HD were certainly components of it. I think the modernist movement was most likely an attempt to morph the poem into a new set of language laws, overthrowing the Victorian laws of rhyme and meter. And, in fact, was effective, and led to other offshoots like Objectivism. I have always been drawn to HD, we share some similar metaphysics with her Rosicruceanism and my early immersion into the Grail and the story of Parsifal. I think of HD much like I think of Bach. They were clear examples of Hermetic initiation, spatial relationships. I am afraid I find myself in a minority in terms of Pound’s and Eliot’s contribution to American poetics. So much of the emerging poetry passed through Pound in that period prior to WW2 it would be useless to try and marginalize him. But I tend to think of both he and Eliot as Neo-Classicals. I tend to favor the Whitmanic stream of American poetry, poets like Hart Crane and W.C. Williams. Not just the furthering of the American voice, but the act of reaching up into the cosmos and bringing down the divine into the human. My minimalism grew out of a humility and consecration of a single simple impression or observation being highlighted. It was born of wonder of how less can be more. It was born out of a sense of the surrounding multiplicity and the question of can a single image stand alone in its midst? As my minimalism grew into longer poems, there was always this sense of layers and negative space, which better reflected how the human mind and soul work, on many different levels simultaneously. Certainly I am aware of how linear time works, but my perception is it does not relate much to the subconscious and the unconscious, both enormous sources of poetry and awareness. Also, I’m sure my minimalism was a response to the growing masses of workshop poetry and writing programs which hyper focus on the construction of a poem, the craft. I learned as a landscape designer long ago, the only kind of craft that interests me is learned through constant repetition of just writing and using one’s ear to refine. I must confess I am drawn to more experimental poetry.  


Artifact Insertion


                        The Quarry



this time of year

everything is slippery

and the stone is brittle

the equipment breaks down

driving the costs



Peter Kidd

from Bear Stew (Igneus Press, 1996)




Walt’s Kid(d)


and yes it was

an immaculate conception

perhaps the only thing

in my life

that is immaculate


when I see people hold hands

sparks fly from their fingers

in sandals toes visibly curl


I’m registered with the government

as a solar powered

generation plant


the NSA leaves me alone

after putting 3 agents

into the mental ward


liberty is hard work


last week

I reduced the macrocosm

and the microcosm into a whole


even my truths and conclusions

have a tendency

to evolve in dynamic fashion


my father taught me a trick

how to catch Blake’s Tiger

by the tail


if you find me lacking

in metaphor

it’s on purpose

my only narrative


this instant


there is no need for a decoder ring


I pay alimony

to 12 harlots

on a handshake


my mission is to alienate

most poets

for their lack of simplicity


screw your vocabulary

learn to dwell

inside your words


is it true your beta-alpha


upside down


whole grains

you say

whole souls

I reply


my father changed head wound bandages

and still had the clarity

to celebrate life


are you displeased

when you buy

the wrong floss


Dr Williams

my cousin

married Floss

there is a stream

in American Literature

where a handful or two

have taken



we all meet there


unappointed times

to discuss the alchemical formula

of conjoining soul with body.




Peter Kidd

from Human Condition (poem in progress)


Martin:           Definitely, moving from a single image to an epic charts the change in your work. Now we have a number of plates in the air: the start of Igneus, the first poets to be published by the press, Igneus as a cooperative press, and your poetics over time. But now I want to veer back to an earlier statement you made and that is the distinction you made between a poem coming from the mind and a poem arising from the soul. What do you mean when you say “soul?” What is “soul” to you?


Kidd:               At the concrete level, the soul is memory and the inner and emotional world. On the metaphysical level, it is passion and involved with feeling. But I always had a sense that the a priori for me was this inner welling up of enormous feeling, which is not to say that I play down the role of the mind. However, I didn’t think the mind was the source or the point of origin for the poem. I consider the mind the “tool” to construct and shape the initial push.


Martin:            Is feeling something broader or more inclusive than emotion?


Kidd:               I don’t think there is a whole lot of difference. Feeling is a word we’ve brought closer to the pavement than emotion. It’s less psychological…more humane. It is something you can talk to children about, and they’ll understand what you’re talking about. And I think a big key is that it (feeling) embraces empathy…something that leads to a relationship outside of yourself as well as to yourself.


Martin:            For you, does the soul or your soul exist prior to existence. Is there a Peter Kidd prior to Peter Kidd? Is there a Peter Kidd soul after Peter Kidd. What are we talking about here?


Kidd:               Well, I’ll come out of the closet. You know, I’ve always thought I was one of the 12 Bodhisattvas around Vishnu at the Mother Lodge, and I’m still up to that. I don’t think there is anywhere else to go. I’m reaching up and grabbing the divine cosmos and dragging it down. I’m not a transcendentalist. I’m an incarnationist.


Martin:            Also re-incarnationist. I remember that walk we took through a mosquito patch in the woods when you defined your position in life. Remember?


Kidd:               The walk in which you worried your head would grow in size like a beach ball?


Martin:            Yes, the inflatable head stroll through a corridor of pines and into the vortex of mosquitoes…until we reached a country road and you took a toke on your…


Kidd:               Herbal experiment.


Martin:           Yes.  Herbal experiment and you confided to me that you had made a conscious decision to go through your present incarnation medicated to ensure you would return again. Is this part of your idea and sense of soul?


Kidd:               Absolutely! I consciously like to leave a little unfinished business, particularly with those I love dearly, you know.


Martin:            So the Wheel of Birth and Death is a good thing for you?


Kidd:               Yeah, yeah.


Martin:            You’re not trying to get off of it?


Kidd:               Yeah, and Bill Kemmett would say, I’m an evil person – not only because I want to come back, but because I want to bring all you guys back with me by leaving unresolved issues.


Artifact Insertion





Mind pervades everything is a sentence with clout

Uncertainty is a principle

Cogito ergo sum and the double helix

remain hot news items

We polished off a bottle of Pouilly Fuisse

enjoying the play of mythical children from frosted steps

Are butterflies reincarnated philosophers

Do trees deny the wheel of birth and death

What’s your present velocity and location

I’ve shot pool like David Hume

(Send the paparazzi to the front(s)

Send the presidents the monarchs the dictators

The millionaires and the religious leaders too)

It’s more than getting one’s paperwork in order

or forging the moon’s blood work

to obtain the Mind’s birth certificate

Great history shakes with the awareness of what has been lost

Pure reflection did explode

See Internet  See Spot run

Through equations and livid insights

we encode multiple oblivions

Before it started to thunder

we collected raindrops in pearl pails

There were ghost planes in the sky/homeless soldiers

When consciousness slips on a noose of flowers

eye is not so bad or mad a witness


Richard Martin

(House Organ #77)


Martin:          Well, I understand that and thanks for that country stroll because I grew up with the Catholic version of soul – immaterial and judged up or down by actions and behavior during one’s life. Up or down in terms of heaven, purgatory, or eternal damnation in hell. Not everyone gets to merge with Oneness. There’s no room for coming back for a second try. Maybe get right this time.


Kidd:               Which is crazy. Christianity doesn’t comprehend the power of grace, which is one of its tenets. The power of grace – I like that better than karma (the eastern notion of karma) – the idea, if you make a mistake you just own it and you can have a fresh start with people…you know…just don’t let the lower ego build a fort around your mistakes. Own them…laugh…and move on.


Martin:         Say you’re sorry.


Kidd:               Yeah, say you’re sorry. I’m human. What I find as I get older is that imperfections are what are so artistic and lasting. The imperfections of people and things. Total perfection is auto-mechanical. I like the human quality …that we’re all leaking a little bit out of our eyes.


Martin:         OK…with our imperfections let’s get back to poetry and poetics.

Poetry appears to be in many camps today…the big one, as Charles Bernstein calls it, Official Verse Culture, which includes poetry sanctioned by the American Academy of Poets or as Joel Dailey says, the American Academy of Armchairs and the various awards linked to “official” poetry – a poetry that more than likely includes many MFA programs and what they’re preaching to students, and the rest of the scene, from poets clustered in magazines like Fell Swoop or in the Igneus catalog…the perpetual underground of the unnoticed. Exclusivity bubbles through the veins of American poetry.


Kidd:               Yeah, I think it is healthy that you mention that.  Frankly, I think every type or manifestation of poetry out there  – regional poetry, schools of writing – Black Mountain, Beat, Language, MFA etc…on and on… create and generate quality work regardless of the type, mediocre work regardless of the type and crap.  It’s my experience when a press or magazine centers on a region, school, or type of poetry exclusively, they go dry very quickly. They don’t attain longevity because they’re not involved in the evolution of the poetic and that’s a great mistake. Again, the reason you might not get into Igneus is that you’re not diverse enough.


Martin:            So how many poets have been published by Igneus…how many books are available?


Kidd:               I’ve published 58 books since 1990…58 in 25 years.


Martin:            And those 58 books reflect your vision of poetic diversity?


Kidd:               Because I made my living as a landscape artist and designer, I’ve always thought of Igneus Press as a landscape – one that includes all kinds of elements and components with specific elements compositionally arranged in sequence or juxtaposition with other specific elements or components like a visual artist would do. As a landscaper, I collect my materials, get them to the site and place them into a landscape composition. Igneus is a poetic landscape from the seventies until now and some 40 years later the landscape is growing in complexity into new and exciting dimensions…one with more layering…layering on layers…exploding the genre…crossing boundaries. More than just ekphrasis…but poets and poems crossing into and breeding with other art forms and bringing enrichment to each. So I think we’re just starting to hit our stride. My feeling early on was that people who were constructing poems… a lot of them came from workshops and MFA programs…there was an essential sameness to them…a flatness…and honestly those programs are no different than many academic programs…To become a professional, in this case a professional poet, is humiliating to the poet and the process. You have to become a Genghis Khan shit sniffer to get through and who wants to become that, especially when pabulum is the result…the sophisticated end of the oligarchy, you know.


Martin:            Speaking of oligarchy….I find it interesting that when one thinks about postmodern writing, writing since 1945…writing we’ve come to associate with Black Mountain poets, the Beats, Language poets, etc. …who were all outsiders to the university to begin with, then eventually a number of poets from the outside settled into the university and Academia.


Kidd:               They gradually got usurped.


Martin:            Yeah…so the chunks of poetry outside the university walls…Igneus…Fell Swoop….etc.


Kidd:               Archetypical chunks.


Martin:            Yes, these archetypical chunks floating around like air masses in the body poetic…address if you would their direction… what about our generation of poets, who quite frankly, very few have been read or are known about…where are we headed?


Kidd:               Look, we have an understanding that our greater commitment is to the poetic itself. Inclusive of that is our times, the surrounding politics, changes in time and metaphysics, changes in the nuts and bolts of the publication world…changes  the electronic and technological age has brought us that have made things more doable. We’re not dependent on some small formula.  It’s always been my opinion that people who are studying or trying to be canonized – reading or taking off on what it took to be postmodern – will blow it completely. Evolution is evolution…So we change, time changes, the poetic changes and so will the criteria of what has substance. I don’t think you can work off the recipe for being a well-rounded, respected postmodern. It won’t be applicable…you’re going to have to have the computer and technology involved.


Martin:            So, it’s being present in one’s time and open to new forms of expression and exploration.


Kidd:              Yes, and what is unique is being in your own time, which I think is absolutely right, and to get to that point in ourselves where we are secure enough to move on…and like you were saying…why is it so many people we like are somewhat, in a traditional sense, obscure. But we’re not obscure to each other. We were fortunate, and we constellated with 4, 5, 6, 7 core poets that we have had 40-year relationships with and great accessibility to one another.  I think that, in and of itself, is unique. Within that primary constellation, each of us have other constellations and those constellations have come together (in some manner) to form a truly diverse constellation. We kind of know who swam against the current, kicked ass, became experimental and innovative. We don’t feel responsible to 200 year old language laws. That’s not our ilk. We want to play with things. See what the potentiality of language can be. How can we cross pollinate with music…How we can cross-pollinate with painting.


Artifact Insertion:





Brief through the simple

Confusion: transition

To river of thought


You know what Pound said

About this type of figure

Of speech: Don’t do it


River is a natural object –

Thought an abstract one

Both have origins



When put together

Collision of worlds



Vortex waterfall



Rules then

For composition:

Who needs them


Richard Martin

(published in Chronogram)


Martin:            Let’s talk about one Igneus poet who swam against the current for a lifetime, a poet Igneus has published a number of times, Vincent Ferrini.


Kidd:               The old man.


Martin:            Let’s talk about the old man. I can’t claim to know his work like you. How did you meet him?


Kidd:               Yeah, it was a great experience for me to know him. I have had two major older generational poets in my life. Neither were mentors – they were peers and recognized that…as I recognized that…One was Bob Kaufman. the old Beat poet, and the other was Vincent Ferrini, who was part of that daemon with Charles Olson and the whole Gloucester scene. I first met the old man at the Boston Center for the Arts. I was sitting with a 100 people or so and this little bitty guy with a head full of white hair and wide brimmed black hat, plus 5 inches of manuscripts steps to the podium on the stage. And he plunks the manuscripts down on the podium and looks up at the audience and says: “I’ve got enough material here to blow the roof off this building!” He gave a fantastic reading. I loved it. Afterward I started to walk on the stage to talk with him and he pointed his finger at me, wrote down his address and said: “Write me.” So Vincent and I started our correspondence and there exist hundreds of letters between us – These letters can found in my archives at Kent State and in his archives at the Cape Ann Museum. They cover a 30-year relationship. He was just a big brother and good guy. He ruffled everyone he had ever met in his life. He was the ultimate “shoot yourself in the foot” poet. He pissed off the postmoderns. He pissed off the moderns. I mean he’d write to Clayton Eshleman and misspell his name. Ferrini was the ultimate…well you met him. I took you to meet him and you know what happened.


Artifact Insertion:




                        We are not attuned to perceive certain


wave lengths of sound & sight


too low or too bright for



the daily






the music in everything




the resurrection


of the known, the unknowing, & the knower



Vincent Ferrini

from MAGDALENE SILENCES (Igneus Press, 1992)



The First Intimation


Where is the Heart –

forgotten in a place

before you were born

& it is the closest to you

the beat of your primal bonding

asking you to get in touch with

& stay there

It is the only voice that can save you

if you obey its rhythms

it will heal you

Forget everything that ever happened to you

dive into the heart’s holy water

& let its love for you breathe

give up everything

that is not in tune

with the art of your heart

which is so deep inside

you –


who you are and where you are

drink from your heart’s well-water

it is where miracles come from

& the cadence of perfect Being


Vincent Ferrini

from THE MAGI IMAGE (Igneus Press, 1995)


Martin:           Ok, let’s talk about that meeting for a second. It was the day I earned an unexpected Ph.D.


Kidd:               That’s right. Ferrini broke his recipe. He was committed to awarding only 12 Ph.Ds. But after we drove to his place and spent the day with him, he decided to break his paradigm and awarded you the 13th Ph.D.


Martin:            It was a great honor…but I’m a little fuzzy on the events that led up to it.


Kidd:               It had a lot to do with your discussion of Blake with him.


Martin:          Oh, yeah, now I remember. We both loved Blake, but I wasn’t too high on the Blessed Virgin, which came into the discussion somehow…More or less I saw Blake grounded in the transcendence of being here, bringing the contraries together through Imagination. I didn’t need an eternal zone. We’re in it. Or something like that. Anyway, we went back and forth and started quoting from “The Marriage of Heaven and Hell”.


Kidd:               And don’t forget Ferrini’s self-portrait of himself as Christ decked with grape leaves and his own little laureate thing hanging in his bathroom – how that enflamed the conversation. You got him going. Remember, he started pounding on his desk with great emphasis and as a result shattered his eyeglasses.


Martin:            Yes, it was all a matter of timing and coincidence. His glasses were on top of a Time Magazine and on the cover was a picture of Jesus. We went back forth over the energy of eternal delight…following the crooked path… and were at loggerheads on some issues. At the point of his glasses shattering, and his angry rising, he looked at me and said: “You’ve just earned my 13th Ph.D.”


Kidd:               Yeah, he said to me sometime afterwards: “What about this guy, Martin?”

We had a ball other than the 2 ½ hours it took for us to have his glasses repaired.


Martin:            Great fun. And he is another example, like yourself, of a poet owning his own independent business and/or raising a family, and going through all the ups and downs, and still persisted with pushing the poetic envelope. He owned a frame shop, didn’t’ he?


Kidd:               He was a framer who carved driftwood and built frames from them.


Martin:            And again, you owned and operated a landscaping business for 30 years, garnered a number of awards for your business, plus raised 4 kids, and in between published 58 books. I think of Dailey in New Orleans in the same boat of responsibilities and editing and publishing Fell Swoop: The All Bohemian Revue for the last 31 years.


Kidd:               And Rich Blevins is a professor and poet.


Martin:            And until recently I was a principal in the Boston Public Schools – the energy of the day job.


Kidd:               And we all knew to keep them. The reality is you don’t want to put pressure on your poetry to provide dollars. It’s a high art and should be left that way.


Martin:            It’s an art of acceptance…of readiness to receive.


Kidd:               Absolutely, you have to be ready to climb right up on the cross, spread your arms and cross your legs, in case there are not enough nails, you do what I call the C-R-U-C-I-F-I-C-T-I-O-N.


Martin:            We’ll close on that. Thanks, Pete.


Kidd:               You’re welcome.



See: and Online Bookstore/Igneus Press at for publishing history and books for sale.



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Igneus Press Announces its Re-New Release of Academia Nuts, by William Bland (55 pp., 2016)

It was ironic, being boiled alive by foreign academia, in Chinese grad school, and here was my Dad giving me this book to typeset for Igneus, poking fun at academia.  I secretly enjoyed the subversion, and Academia Nuts was published in 2016. The books opens with this poem, which I’ll engage with briefly to illustrate how helpful a steady diet of Academia Nuts can be for budding academics. Let’s bathe ourself in sound! Make meaning of it later…


I swim with dogs.

Buoyant at the same level over deep water,
I glance into their eyes with an intimacy only possible amid waves.

Their hair and mine, both lighter than earth’s blood,
could be a raft upon which we might heavenly-rest, protected.

The fate of forms paradoxically carries us to not here,
and, grasping whatever veins are nearby, I say;
“I love the moment,
at a standstill past the eye,
where the how of reaching is irrelevant
to the full-body pleasure(s) of perspective(s).”


Had I not holed myself in a cement tenement for an entire summer chasing down digital shreds of 3rd century Chinese Daoist manuscripts, looking for just these traces of philosophic fold? See ‘at a standstill’, but ‘past’, not seen but ‘eye’.  The poet/composer toggles between count/non-count, single/plural, dually struck notes.


Crooked boomerangs, askew,
are like limbs, but, unlike the shank of the thigh,
contain no self-impulsive desperations,
neither fluid nor osmotic.

Floating! – the conceptual globe –
reproduction – majestic!


My mind and hands were engaged in typographical minutae. A long book to typeset, every type space, period, ellepsis, hyphen, space before and/or after hyphen, line break, single and double line space, word length, consonant and vowel raciocination, all composed a love-laced musico-poetic algorithm. Syntax as musical system.


Dripping in pathos, Academia Nuts instills in its reader a sense of urgency, lays out a way to heal what has been ripped a part of Word.


Hands pause …. paws hand flaccid cones
to graceless sheens… and everywhere nothing is looking,
except as a flaw.




Outside may be the Grand Vile…
served as supper’s main coarse course cours coeurs coerced…

but exactly here-now, by a lake or a sea-stream,
affection can never drown when served as a wet dessert.


These playful morphing sound corpuscles…flagrant worship of the human heart.


My only regret is that immediately upon publication of Academia Nuts, I headed into the final throes of my dissertation, which was like being ravaged by a disease, then moving back from China to California. A year later, I wake up to the reality that this magnificent book has yet to be formally released by Igneus Press. Until now. I hope that William Bland can forgive us this delay in getting his word out.


We hope that you enjoy this book, available here for purchase in Igneus Press’ online bookstore.

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Benefit for the Poetry Society of New Hampshire’s Walter Butt’s Laureate Fund

The roots of Igneus Press are struck through the Granite State of New Hampshire, having operated out of Bedford, New Hampshire for over two decades since its first publication, The Required Dance, by W. E. Butts in 1990. Igneus Press publisher, Peter Kidd and W.E. Butts were very close. We are honored to present information about the Benefit for the Poetry Society of New Hampshire’s Walter Butt’s Laureate Fund. S. Stephanie will be reading a poem by W.E. Butt’s, in honor of the man and his contribution to American poetry. Collectors editions of The Required Dance and A Season of Crows by W.E. Butts can be found on

Laureates Three Quatre poster

We hope that this benefit raises awareness of both W.E. Butt’s role in New Hampshire, New England and American poetry. We also hope readers continue to support small independent presses working quietly and selflessly between the seams and cracks of American belles-lettres, bringing the work of poets such as W.E. Butt’s into the palm of our hands.

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Igneus Press Announces Our Latest Release: Seasons in the Ravine: a Suite of Poems, by P.J. Laska


We’d like to announce our latest 2017 Igneus Press release. Seasons in the Ravine: a Suite of Poems, by P.J. Laska sees the poet return to the region of his heart-land, bringing American Appalachian poetry with his word-worn hands to our most honed attention. Made readily available to the proletariat as well as the 1% (it’s a free country after all) at $5.00, we hope that you enjoy this careful meditation on how places travel between our thought and mind’s tongue, bringing us in a nano-second from within swirling leaves of a China tea cup back to the glistening cold of snowed-in pinecone within an Appalachian ravine.

Dr. Edwina Pendarvis, poet and Emeritus Professor of Education at Marshall University Huntington writes: “Seasons in the Ravine adds to the assembly of classical Chinese and Japanese imagery adopted, adapted, and elaborated by contemporary American poets, like Gary Snyder and–some would argue by Appalachian poets especially compellingly. A master of the poetic conventions assoicated with this body of work, Laska uses and refuses the conventions with ease. His pastoral log cabin is set in the middle of town, and he writes from a ravine, rather than the romantic heights of a mountain. His landscape is up-close, filled with leaves, trees, wind, sun, and rain, along with the clutter of trash tossed over the hillside. Punctuating his own passages with ‘wall poems’ by Basho and others, Laska critiques and, in a sense, overcomes the dualism of ugliness and beauty, encouraging us to love them fully, enjoying and protesting, no matter how heavy the odds.”


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“The Poet As Comedian: Contextualizing Dick Martin’s boink!”

(This review by Richard Blevins of Richard Martin’s 2009 boink! (Lavender Ink Press, 260 pages) was originally published in House Organ, Number 90, Spring 2015)


“He created his own Kool Aid reality and was able to illuminate himself by it.”

Trout Fishing in America

On his fiftieth birthday in the final year of the millennium, inspired by a belated reading of Richard Brautigan’s Trout Fishing In America, Dick Martin realized his plan of fifty days of writing which he would publish as boink!, splendidly unaware he had initiated his “antimemoir” on the mutual birthdate of Tex Avery and Jackie Gleason, while sharing his own birthday with Ducky Nash, the voice of Donald Duck.  If reading Brautigan’s novel for the first time in 1999 was unfashionably late in its afterlife, an overdue book truly and a fact most of us would omit from the conversation about books we’ve meant to read, it was no problem for the maladjusted memoirist.  I am myself writing a decade too late for a proper book review of boink!, my roundabout way of coming to terms with the problems and rewards it poses for a reader of poetry, and humor, and humorous poetry–unless, that is, like the late Thomas Bernhard, the reader is humorless and has abandoned poetry or, like Jackie and Tex, one has a genius for comedy and has passed on–, having been boink’d again by re-reading Dick Martin’s classic memoir. (1)

Texts that make us laugh, to wildly paraphrase the Freud of Jokes and Their Relation to the Unconscious (1905), are problematical to think about.  The master’s English-speaking lackey Ernest Jones tells us that Jokes and Three Essays on the Theory of Sexuality were written on adjoining tables, Freud going from one manuscript to the other when a thought struck. (2)  If the father of psychoanalysis had known what we know—that he was not a scientist but, in fact, one of the seminal creative writers of the end of the nineteenth century and, with the lesser poet Benjamin Blood, a pioneer of drug lit—he might have written his two books as one grand collage of sex jokes.   Dick Martin, publishing boink! on the centennial of the publication of Freud’s doubleheader, was free, in the way that Brautigan before him was liberated by collage technique, to carve memoir and comedic poetry with a pen knife into his assigned school desk whenever he thought the teacher wasn’t looking.  Martin invites us to recall that essential part of ourselves we mostly thought we’d left behind to childhood play by virtue of what Freud calls “the rediscovery of something familiar” in jokes.

Although the influence of Trout Fishing never reaches the level of voice in boink!—Martin’s manic wise-cracker cannot be confused for the disengaged narrator from North Beach—Dick Martin’s gaggle of chapters does resemble the collage structure that worked so famously in Brautigan’s novel.  The forty-seven sections of Trout Fishing (which include, but are not limited to, the narrator’s memoir of childhood, a cookbook, information on John Dillinger, the narrator’s trout fishing trips, news from North Beach, an autopsy report, letters, book cover information, and so-called footnotes, all abandoned in an open-ended ending) are comparable to boink!’s chapters (which include, but are not limited by, remembrances of things childhood, query letters to publishers, newspaper articles, a diploma from a radio and television broadcasting school, the list of readers Dick hosted for the Big Horror Poetry Series in Binghamton from 1983 to 1996, ads for books of poems, reviews of books of poems, an interview with the poet, Dick’s accounts of various visits to medical doctors and surgeons, the Martin family tree, maps, Dick’s astrological chart, a Joel Daily discography, a bibliography of books published by Peter Kidd for Igneus Press, “chunks” of a novel, and often hilarious footnotes, the ending open-ended).  Part of the fun is culling all the good poems from the footnotes, such as:


Remember how perfect the ladder

lay against the moon


Beanstalk and all in our heads

we climbed

out of time

out of space

out of anything to say


We went up and up

into the yellow darkness[.]


And the prose footnotes are as funny as Jack Spicer’s.  The best poems are two long ones, “How I Became an Elementary School Teacher” and “White Man Appears on Southern California Beach,” reprinted here in appendices.  A play by “Duck Martian” will give the uninitiated some general idea of Dick Martin performing his poems. (3)  Martin sustains his book of pixels and bits like Hans, in the fairy tale, who makes the princess laugh (and gains half the kingdom in so doing) at the line of people sticking to him; we stay glued, wanting to know what he’ll say, or do, next.

But the problem with boink! is, it’s seriously funny.  “What looks like a surrealist writing his will and sounds like an irrepressible stand-up comedian is, actually,” observed the late Guy Davenport, “fresh, green, recognizably original poetry.”  We might expect one of the most prominent critics of our era to recognize Dick Martin’s poems, but–and herein’s the historic problem–, there is no tradition in our reading for funny poetry (a condition necessitating the “is, actually”).  If Dick Martin is “a surrealist writing his will,” then his is an American surrealism, the realm of Dock Ellis’ no-hit game on acid, a work of art and zaniness critiqued telepathically from Arizona by the cryogenic head of Ted Williams.  “Surrealism will be around for a long time,” Martin surmises in boink!.  “It’s part of the brain.”  He is the author of the pure surreal line “A beautiful and incomplete guy, he walked into a disaster of plates,” which by definition could lead to no additional sentences in his paragraph.  Boink!  Rightfully adverse to silly verse, Ogden Nash, Joyce Kilmer, Gelett Burgess, Robert Service, the e.e. cummings of “buffalo bill defunct” and “In Just-/spring,” and defender of the faith Hilaire Belloc, are no help to readers of Dick Martin.  Among those writers in Andre Breton’s eclectic Anthology of Black Humor (1936), Martin is surely closest in spirit to Christian Dietrich Grabbe (d. 1836).  Heine, who quarreled with the playwright, dubbed Grabbe “a drunken Shakespeare,” and the anti-literate Nazis were told they loved him; but who in America has read Grabbe’s plays or Breton’s book?  The repeat offender Louis Untermeyer’s A Treasury of Humor (1946) was the mainstream anthology to Breton’s underground stream.  However, the household-name cutups of the previous turn of the century are no help to those of us who read Dick Martin.  Perhaps, the Joyce of the Wake or John Lennon’s two little books of poems sounding like Joyce via Edward Lear nudge us toward making sense of the nonsense verse of the unforgettable Lear and Lewis Carroll, but Martin was not born with a runsible spoon in his mouth.  Our very own Crispin laments the linguistic dilemma in boink!:


Words are too heavy.

They’ve grown fat

with centuries and mouths.


Any one of them

could flatten us

into a railroad penny


Go ahead

lie down on their tracks

and see what I mean[.]


Neither does Martin’s delivery seem to owe debts to the more recent “occasional” poems of joel oppenheimer, Jonathan Williams, Anselm Hollo, or Bill Shields, although I shelve my copy of boink! in an unalphabetized place of honor beside their books, Dorothy Parker’s traditioinal-verse quips stuck in sideways.  There is a striking physical resemblance between Dick Martin and the Jorg Kolbe black and white photograph of Bertholt Brecht (German Federal Archive, 1954).

Edward Dorn was tasked by his teacher Olson’s obsession with his teacher Pound’s Cantos to write a poem containing history, which he subverted by humor (“Entrapment is this society’s sole activity–& only laughter can blow it to rags.”).  Gunslinger, the historical poem containing humor Dorn invented, may be the closest predecessor to boink!  Dealing cards at Slinger’s table, Dick Martin proposes “Television is the olive in the martini of chain reaction,” a line Dorn would have traded on.  By comparison, the emergent distraction of funny cowboy poems is merely another noisy fight down the bar.  Martin’s brand of humor, like the late master’s, is determinedly social.   Only the clinically mad tell jokes to themselves, and even then Artaud kept on writing for the stage.  As neurotically self-absorbed as boink!’s speaker is, Dick Martin is paradoxically one of our unblinking social critics—and part of the power of his book derives from his relentless re-estimations of his fate as a plastic card-carrying member of the popular culture it has taken a century for late capitalism to manifest.  The title he chose for the book, and its cover, are a well-aimed shot to the noggin of the slapstick comic as well as an impudent shout (“Boink!”) from the Pop Art balloons of Roy Lichtenstein and cheap imitators.  When I read that sour-faced old Baudelaire, in his study of laughter, posits the comic as being “visibly double” (showing both its art and its moral) and, at the same time, “transparent” (written in accessible language), I immediately thought of Dick Martin.  A poetry written at the table of our impulse to make people laugh, and a poetry written at the table of the compulsion to write poems, startles when they become transparent in one volume, boink!.  Conversely, and to the detriment of a talent like Martin’s, a readership as vast as Amazon may be too lazy to go between two tables, content to know a memoir is a memoir, humor is humor, and I don’t buy books of poetry anyway.  I have witnessed Dick Martin, in response to the academic equivalent of this audience, climb the nearest table at a poetry conference in New Hampshire and shout—“But how about me?”  Everything in the auditorium clarified.  If comedic poetry has the power to strip the bride of literary culture, Dick Martin’s work is a reminder that we inmates are allowed to use only Swintec Clear Cabinet typewriters made of see-through plastic (the new transparency is self-censoring) for sending messages outside.

In boink!, Martin practices most of the types of jokes that Freud classifies and today’s humor theorists, such as Jerry Aline Flieger and John Morreall, start from.  He is capable of composing loving vignettes of his late father, and sweet poems about the kind of “Love that makes the divorce lawyers go away.”  George Meredith, the earlier expert on modern love, observed in his essay on comedy that “The reasonings at which we laugh are those we know to be false, but which we might accept as true were we to hear them in a dream.”  Here’s a virtuoso passage of the dreamy poet joke, another type:


In heat, we headed for San Francisco with enough coin to get a room at the YMCA. The Y was gay and I nearly tumbled out the window in our fourteen-story room finishing Hesse’s Narcissus and Goldmund. I was a period piece without even knowing it. Blissful ignorance. On the run in America and a Hesse fanatic. Horny, too. Digging Goldmund’s escapades into sensuality, after the anti-body, repressive days of Roman Catholicism. Yet the monk, Narcissus, was part of me too. I had done time in a seminary before breaking out into being a dropout in New York’s public university system.  The holy man motif is a basic archetype in young men. And for me, the dialectic of spirit/body was still unresolved and out of whack at the time. Star date: the “Summer of Love” and I remained a virgin.  (“Oh, behave, baby!”).

So as I crossed the room reading Hesse, I tripped on throw rug and split head first for the big wide-opened window on the far side of the room. Chance had me catch a knee on the window sill and my freefall to the concrete below was canceled, a potential freefall from 14 stories up. Still my body got far enough out of the window for the woman in the tenement across from us to yell: “DON’T JUMP!”

O those hazy lazy days of summer.


To dwell overlong on the poetic achievement of all this funny business risks spoiling the occasion of art, the viewer becoming conscious of Harold Lloyd’s prosthetic hand and neglecting to follow the movie, or thinking about Edward Lear’s big nose (and, wow, Freud’s lit cigar!) when you read “The Dong with a Luminous Nose” to the grandkiddies.  To spare me from trying to unscramble the sentence I’ve just written…When we read Keats extending his hand in the poem, we boink on Lloyd’s gloved hand, only to wake up shaking–Dick Martin’s hand, “Friends!”…, I’ll give the memoirist the flood light for the last laugh, and return to my seat in the dark to enjoy.


“Customary Strangers”


I was reading poems about his mother

when the tractor-trailer burst into the yard

and crushed my hosta plants.

His mom could shoot a mean game of pool:

always wore a red party dress (décolleté)

when sinking the eight in the side

and thinking of the Sunday pot roast.

I knew the trucker had been drinking

in a small town with a single bar

run by a man with a bullet

lodged in his jaw

who kept a python in a shed

with a John Deere mowing tractor

and mementos from the days

his son played with toy explosives

before joining the army

to destroy bridges of bad ideology

springing up in the world

like fleurs du mal.


The trucker insisted there was a road

inside my house

and if I consented to hop in his truck

he’d let me shoot holes

in deer crossing signs

as he roared down my living room

blowing retreads and tripping

alarms in the canvases

of two twentieth century masters

I’d stolen while drunk on wine

from a rich girlfriend.

I felt no remorse about the theft

suspecting from my days in the factory

I had missed a turn or two

and with a hatred for customary strangers

maps or the desire to go back

probably had detoured onto a path

littered with failed campaigns

and remnants of escape.

Things beyond the ken of poems

doused with twilight

and pinned on the backs of human targets.

When the trucker yanked on his horn

it was my chance to find out.


Rich Blevins

September, 2014




(1) A pdf version of boink! is available free from the publisher at <>.

(2) As I worked on this essay, I became acutely aware of a surprising number of jokes about two tables.  Two examples will suffice here:

–A man walks up to two tables in a bar and asks them:  “May I join you?”

–Two tables walk into a bar.  The first one says, “I’ll get this round.”  His friend replies, “Okay, next drinks are on me.”

It is our good fortune that “Pieces of Furniture,” a play by the Athenian comic poet Plato Comicus (d. 416 BC), survives only as a title, or there would be even more jokes about tables dating back centuries before the bad joke of Greek Revival furniture you couldn’t sit on which my grandmother bought at a good price.

(3) Duck Martian is one of the pseudonyms this latter-day Pessoa publishes under; see also Ant McGoogle, Al Pants, and others.  No relation to Clarence “Ducky” Nash (see my essay’s opening paragraph).


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A note from the publisher

Concerning our store front. We are taking final steps to automate Igneus Press’ online storefront. We are weighing every book, counting every volume of back inventory, updating images, figuring out shipping, and all while sending our latest release, Academia Nuts by William Bland, to press.

Thank you for your patience. We are happy to announce that you will be able to buy books though our online store by May of this year. In the meantime, if there are any book orders which are pressing, please send a check or money order (plus $3.50 shipping) to:

Peter Kidd, Publisher

1301 8th Ave

Canyon, TX  79015

Thanks again for your patience! We’re family operated so we’ve got lots of Kidds running around.

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Visiting White Noise Temple 《拜访白噪音寺》, by Sophia Kidd

It’s monday. Next week this time on that plane, I will see more than sky. Traveling through space, like analyzing a chessboard, one’s role diminishes the game. It’s really good to have this time with my father, Peter Kidd, to have flown from Sichuan province, in China’s southwest, to Texas via Seattle, to bang out a few weeks on Igneus Press. Main goals: print Bill Bland’s new book, open online bookstore and develop close contact list with authors by which to know their textual voice, i.e. poems.

My dad’s in the other room flipping between apps and online windows. French doors between us one leaf open. Coffeemaker gurgles all morning, a wind kicks up. My provisional desk faces south, in proper Chinese literati fengshui.[i] Pink lace curtains are tied before me with ribbon, their bulk uneven. Right one leans lazy left, right one twitters in wind of a cracked open window. Outside, a white and green macramé totem hangs high on the front porch, a gift from Bob Paquin, stone mason who built Dad’s walls for 20 years.

William Bland just signed off on final proofs for Academia Nuts. I sent final layout and now chase down the printer, a kind and slightly strung out man working at the UPS store, which seems to unfortunately have a stranglehold on printing services in and around Amarillo, TX.

Now we turn our attention towards Igneus’ online bookstore, paying special attention to inventory. 2016 is turning out for Igneus, as did 2015, with new releases including What the News Seemed to Say, poems by S. StephaniePounding the Door Into Gray, by James De Crescentis, and Beryllium Diary, poems by Nancy Jean Hill. In the first quarter of 2016, we are putting out two books: Morning in America: A Poetic Assemblage from the Long Decade, by P.J. Laska, and Academia Nuts, poems by composer and poet, William Bland.

We want to move books. Why? Because we want to spread the word, we want capital for the next book. My father and I are enflamed, totally jazzed to transition the press into its next 50 years. My watch. Today I filled twelve large and rugged brand new plastic bins with 25 years of Igneus Press’ inventory. I carefully took stock of every book and labelled the tops and sides of bins with the names of authors within. Butts and Kemmett rest together in one. Dorbin and Ferrini in another. Still others contain plumes of seven or eight small runs. Best of all, two bins contain ten of every book published by Igneus since W.E. Butts’ Required Dance came out in Aug 1990. These are the “quick inventory” boxes, to make it easy for Dad to go out back to the castle and fill orders. The plan is he’ll handle shipping. The castle is a dusty old barn. It has its charms, but no fresh air. Tonight it wasn’t so bad, slant under a Texan sunset blaze.

I’ve spent the past three afternoons in there, emptying old boxes of books, books fused in some instances to the gravel and dirt floor beneath. Cockroaches, mold, but NO BLACK WIDOWS, an important detail. After all the books were sorted, it took an hour to break down cardboard boxes, some decades old, others a month recent. All with a kitchen knife on the lawn, beneath a setting sun sky.

So why “White Noise Temple”? Well for one thing I need a temple right now in my life. I’m losing control. But temples aren’t always easy.  In particular, my Dad, the abbot, is also progenitor of a vision of television as hewer of “diamond mind”. His t.v. flickers and mumbles 24 hours a day, runs logs of elemental phrases. Kardashian and genre-inflicting machines rinse morning air with sound. White noise. Working undercover as a Confucian, but being daughter-of-a-Daoist, I paint atmospheres in neon parameters, needing things a certain way, as if there were ideal conditions for enlightenment.

Plus I’ve put down my work. Here with my dad these past three weeks in Canyon, we work on the press. My dissertation on medieval Chinese classics, freelance translation and writing;  on mid and back burner. I’ve stepped outside myself, broken routine, protocol, regime…Dad comes first. Maybe I’ll come first tomorrow. In the meantime, a universe of image, paint-begging-moments. Wirld curling churns.

Two-thirds of my life, Igneus Press. Growing up, poetry, gardens, my dad. Dead dogs and tragedies, loss of love and humid weather. Always writing alongside life, always letters there in the background, some sort of white noise or winsome narrative. Stone Soup poetry readings in Cambridge, visits to Bedford, New Hampshire from Wally Butts, Bill Kemmett, Bob Synyder, Pete Laska. Visits to Dick Martin’s in West Roxbury, Deac over, too. Other times in Portsmouth at Wally’s house, with Steph. Those were, actually, the days. I remember cognac and private readings with poets. Rolling rock and Newports were Wally’s thing. Bob Synder asking some poor woman at the kitchen table, “You aren’t a Christian, are you?”, she answers humbly, “I am, though”, and he shoots back, “What a drag!”. As a fifteen year old, that sort of interaction sensitized me.

Working with my father these past seven years to take on the press, after he’s gone from earth, which Praise the Dao, will be eternities from now, I am heartened. Dialoguing with Igneus writers, on the phone and online, touching base, I know I am never alone. We are never alone. Not with sadness or pain. Nor with sunshine and gain.

We hope to have the online store open within the week, with Bland’s book online for purchase within the month. We also hope you’ll read our Blog and leave comments. Let’s talk about poetry.

[i]Fengshui 风水, is the art of geomancy. Literati were, in China, a mostly aristocratic class of intellectuals and artists. Literati would be sensitive to fengshui norms which (1) believed a desk should never have its back to an entrance, and (2) should face south, emulating Chinese emperors on the throne,  who being incarnations of the sun, always faced south. I bring a Chinese mind this this experience here. Igneus has a certain Chinese influence, among others. Consider, Pete Laska’s mention of ancient Greek materialism in “History and Memory” assemblage of Morning in America (Igneus, 2016) reminds me of Zhang Heng (78-139 c.e.) and Wang Chong(27-97 ce). The former is an eastern Han northern literati, astronomer, geographer, mathematician, scientist and inventor; the latter an eastern Han southern literati and philosopher who wrote the bible of ancient Chinese materialism. Also see: PJLaska’s New Publication The Original Wisdom of the Dao De Jing by P. J. Laska (Eccsbooks, 2012), a daring vote for afterlife right here and now on earth, as ourselves. But I digress.


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A Few Words for Ken Warren, by Peter Kidd

American Poetry suffered a huge loss this past month when Ken Warren gave up the sheath. His publication House Organ, to my discerning eye, has become the most relevant venue always filled with an eclectic mix of well known poets, as well as unknown poets, and jesters. I first met Ken in Gloucester, Massachusetts, during the city’s holding of a “Charles Olson Festival” commemorating the poet who put Gloucester onto the map of American Poetry. There was to be a panel presentation and discussion in an amiably large hall near the library. On the panel were Robert Creeley, Vincent Ferrini, Hattie Jones, Ed Sanders and perhaps another person or two who I can’t recall. The audience was filled with a crowd of townspeople and a plethora of Northeast Corridor poets. In the course of the day I ran into at least 15 poets I had known or read with over the years. The main library near the discussion hall put on a presentation before the panel came together. It was a festival day in Gloucester, one of many I have enjoyed over the years. Those include Know Fish Ball, Ferrini’s 80th birthday party, and more recently a Ferrini day: meal and dance celebrating what would have been Ferrini’s 100th Birthday. He died in 2007.

I took along my neighbor, Harry Meizner, to the Olson Festival where I first met Ken. Meizner had been a student of Olson’s at SUNY Buffalo. Once on the grounds of the festival we took off in different directions after making plans to meet back at this spot. When we came back together, Harry was talking nonstop to this fellow, Ken Warren. Brief introductions, then we took off together to find a small restaurant. It turned out to be a one-of-a kind meal where friends were made. Ken already knew me by name via my being Publisher of Igneus Press. Igneus published most of Ferrini’s books beginning in 1990 and ending in 2001. Ken was an avid fan of most things Ferrini or Olson. He had yet to begin his magazine. Destiny dictated that he first edit and publish, along with Fred Whitehead, a selected book of Ferrini’s poems, The Whole Song. Consequently, Ken and I exchanged addresses and telephone numbers and kept in touch for the ensuing years.

The panel was wonderful, animated and informative. The members all knew one another over the years, so it was not uncommon for one of them to trigger the memories and synapses of one another as they went along. The audience was infected enough by the dialogue that they joined in, too. There were many close friends in this bunch. People like Peter Anastas, Elizabeth McKim and myself.

I fondly recall smoking a joint at intermission with Ed Sanders and Steve Luttrell from Portland, Maine. Steve was and is one of the founders of Café Review, another fine small press magazine and reading venue. Igneus poets had read as guests of the Café Review two or three times, bringing Bill Kemmett, W.E. Butts, Ferrini, P.J. Laska, Rich Blevins, Bob Snyder and myself, just to mention a few.

Fast Forward to 2000, I had driven my pickup truck to Cleveland for a visit with poet P.J. Laska, a longtime friend and collaborator. His wife, Warene, was the Chief Dietician at the two VA Hospitals in Cleveland. During my time with Laska, we made contact with Ken Warren and met up at Bob Podgurski’s house for an afternoon of pulling the poetic taffy. I recall that House Organ was underway. This time with Ken was rewarding. By now I had read some of his essays on Olson. I learned early on during these readings that Ken was truly an emerging scholar. He worked as a librarian which gave him the disciplines of researching, cross referencing and trying to tie some of the knots off that make up American Poetry.

Gradually, his simple little zine (made by folding an 8.5” x 11” paper lengthwise then using stapling as the binding) came to be as unpretentious as Ken was so it took very little time for the magazine to gain a following. I know I shared it with every poet I took seriously, including Rich Blevins and Richard Martin. Diversity is the first thing that comes to mind when I attempt to describe Ken’s impacting magazine. Intelligence and a sharp, poetic ear both make up the backbone, so it attracted poets from both coasts as contributors to a small zine originated in a small Ohio town.

I liked House Organ immediately. It included work from poets I knew as a young man, in San Francisco, like Jack Hirschman, as well as Martha King in NYC doing her wonderful little zine Giants Play In the Drizzle. Ken began to write essays on Olson’s relationship with the Grail. My father in law, Trevor Ravenscroft had written a book, Spear of Destiny which Ken had read. One summer Ken had called me up on his almost annual trip to Gloucester, he was with Vincent and wanted to drive up to New Hampshire to talk about the Grail. As much as I wished I could, the timing was bad, I was in midst of a divorce and my house was a war zone. But I began to respond to his essays, once or twice with poems, another time in a letter, where I informed him that Olson would be involved in the Gawain stream, too sentient to actually witness the Grail. As to Ferrini I suggested to Ken that he read or reread Wolfram Von Eschenbach’s Parsival, and study the character of Guernamantz, the man who educates the youthful Parsival “not to ask too many question.”

I last saw Ken in Gloucester the day of the 100th Birthday Anniversary of Vincent Ferrini being held at Cape Ann Museum, which holds the personal papers of Ferrini. It was the Summer of 2013. There was also a dinner dance, but in the afternoon there was a panel comprised of Peter Anastas, Elizabeth McKim, Ken Warren, Fred Whitehead, myself and a couple youngish scholars. I sat between Elizabeth and Ken on stage. I had to chuckle at the idea of fields of scholarship existing around older friends. In this information age scholarship seems to have eaten all the meat off the bones of the past, having moved on to devouring my own generation and its overlaps. I was the first in the room, had the hall all to myself. There was a piano on the stage, I sat down and played my one small melody. In a short while people made their way into the hall, downstairs at the Museum. Ken walked into the room with Fred Whitehead. I gave Ken a hug and handshake. It was genuinely good to see him. We went upstairs and out into a nicely landscaped brick courtyard. I sat and lit a cigarette while Ken grilled me about some Grail information, as well as my father-in-law’s book. It was fun. We both exchanged life information. He was retired, had moved back to his native New York. He seemed to be very active in his new life. Recently divorced as was I at 60, we compared notes and then talked about the Old Man, Ferrini, who had generously made himself available to our generations, actually 5 half generations that I know of, including my daughter, Sophia, who had become pals with Vincent toward the end of his life.

It happened that I had recently sent Ken a review I wrote on a recent Laska book, Night & Day. One of my big squawks over the years as the publisher of Igneus Press, and also as a reviewer has been how long it takes a book of poems to attract a reviewer then get written and submitted to a mag or journal, honestly 18 months is speed setting, two years is more realistic. This lag essentially guarantees the review, once in print, serves little help in marketing a book. By the time most reviews see print the wave of the new book has broken onto the shore. I sent Ken my review on Laska’s wonderful collection of poems and in less than two weeks I received a copy of House Organ with the Laska review in print, even before the usual note of acceptance arrived , thanking me for the submission.

In ending I shall say that we are all the poorer for Ken Warren’s passing, both the loss of Ken as a scholar and a thinker, and the loss of his editorial intelligence as practiced in his capacity as the beneficial force behind House Organ. I know I shall miss him as a man and ally. I suspect there are many who’ll miss Ken and his devotion to American Poetry.

Peter Kidd

Igneus Press

Canyon, Texas

*For other recent tributes to Ken Warren, see also Peter Anastas’ thoughtful piece, as well as Poetry Foundation’s homage to Warren and his great small press periodical, House Organ.

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Poetry as Living Theater, by Richard Martin

Becoming a member of the Igneus family of poets and writers was an unexpected piece of good fortune, which led to unpredictable experiences (more on those later, such as being awarded the 13th PHD bestowed by Vincent Ferrini). First, however, there was my encounter with Peter Kidd – founder and publisher of Igneus Press, poet, writer, landscape architect, father, and good-guy polymath.

I met Peter at the beginning of the 1990’s at the end of the bar at Charlie’s Tap in Cambridge, MA. Fellow poet and friend, Wally Butts, introduced me to him. It was one of those moments in which the poems I have written behaved like a seeing-eye dog, leading me to the right place, right time, and right person – poems that have kept me in the cellar or in a turret when not at work or raising a family – poems that have shielded me from schools and the politics of poetry – poems generated in the playground of the mind and in the streets of my hometown – poems bent on the destiny of connection.

Peter was a big guy (still is), with a big laugh and heart, and, man, could he bend the ear.
In between the poets on stage at Charlie’s Tap, Peter, as I recall, shared his thoughts on the living theater of poetry –poetry that could live inside books and leap right out of them – take up residence in one’s life and change it for the better. Poetry fed by the willingness and the drive to let, as Whitman noted, creeds and schools to fall into abeyance – poetry of blood, marrow, and place, bursting with authentic roles for its creators and audience that challenged the humdrum numbing world of conformity and mentor-driven verse. MFA programs were spreading like crab grass over the leaves of grass. Peter had an antidote in mind – the antidote of fire. I didn’t fail to notice the spiritual and physical resemblance Mr. Kidd shared with Whitman during my first encounter with him as the following poem attests:

At the Intersection of a Barroom Conversation

for Peter Kidd

I’m not crazy
People talk
The television is on
And everyone knows
Where you are

It’s about location
You’ve seen the maps –
Conversation among stars
This is the spot where you wave
To the Celebration Parade

Why just the other day
I met the love child of Walt Whitman
He bopped me on the head
And went to the store
For Dr. Pepper

This had to be a diversion
A way of taking a topic
And making it the main topic
What we call in the trade
A cosmic usurpation

There are moments of growth
In language
When the god of meaning
Comes home to narrative
And smiles like Santa Claus

During those first moments at Charlie’s Tap, I took it all in – the scene and series Jack Powers had created and the scene and books Peter would create by launching the press with the publication of Wally’s book, The Required Dance and Bill Kemment’s book, Flesh of a New Moon (a good-looking man who thought I, a handsome man, had the eyes of bigamist), and much later a couple of chapbooks of mine: Negation of Beautiful Words (1996) and Strip Meditation (2009). It wasn’t hard for me to relate to the motley crew of new poets. In 1982, I founded the Big Horror Poetry Series in Binghamton and with the support of the Binghamton Community Poets kept it going through 1996 (more on the series later). It wasn’t long before the “Horror,” Igneus, and Stone Soup poets got together not only in Boston but also in Binghamton to share what they had.

It was all about natural and spontaneous hook-ups in the eighties, nineties, and now, right into the 21st century. In addition to Igneus Press, the “Big Horror,” and Stone Soup, the great magazine, Fell Swoop: The All Bohemian Review, started by the legendary and reclusive poet, XJ Dailey (New Orleans), and Bottom Fish Press, established by the incredible artist and de facto mayor of Binghamton, Tom Haines, were on the stage of here and now, each with their own cast of characters and roles to play (more on them later).

For now: Igneus Press is hot. Igneus Press is connected. Why not buy a book.

Richard Martin
April, 2014

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With Vincent Ferrini in Boston: a Conversation, by P.J. Laska

by P.J. Laska

[ SCENE ONE: A mom and pop Chinese restaurant next to the Combat Zone. Mom and Pop are at the next table folding won-tons. Mom has a bad eye. She brings hot tea in a glass that scalds your fingers.]

PJL–This looks like a place I dreamed once. I went for a walk, the sidewalks heaved up. I looked inside. The sign said Narragansett Lager Beer.
VF—Dreams are where it starts. Yeats said that’s where you find the folk ghost.
PJL–I can’t read Yeats. Why are all the great Modernist poets reactionaries?
VF—It’s the language that gets them. They FORGET poetry comes before the poem. The poem is an ARTIFACT, for crissake.
PJL–Listen to this: “What remains with me is the individualist and careerist atmosphere of the old literary world.” Mayakovsky wrote that sixty years ago.
VF—Yeah, bloodless, the literary mode. But there’s no separation. EVERYTHING IS CONNECTED! The isolatos don’t see it, the commissars don’t see it. This conference they want me to go to, I don’t know–the ego demands smoke up the atmosphere.
PJL–Theory, you mean?
VF—Yeah, theory. You have to let go of it at some point and do it. The more you get into your own art, in your own place–that’s where it’s at! You walk where you live, accurately, and it makes things happen. Listen, the strength is in the particular. The general perspective is useless.
PJL–Except for what isn’t there–the unrealities. Anyway, the poem has to more from the particular, doesn’t it, to some common element.
VF—I think we’re missing each other.
PJL–Maybe we’re on different trains, going in the same direction. Localism isn’t the only workable poetics.
VF—Look, we’re split selves, the head from the heart, and the community flounders, the worst are in control. Where are the poets? Isolated, in most cases, disconnected. And the Church–it’s the same with them. Worse. Their insensitivity to the spontaneous just amazes me. The Daily Worker rejected me back them because I was “too local.” Ferlinghetti rejected Know Fish because it was “too local.” But where does revolution take place? First in daily struggle. Now this conference, I don’t look forward to it because I’ll have to confront the same deadly mentality I did in the Thirties and Forties. Power…Divide and Conquer…. But, I’ll go…there will be a few people.

[SCENE TWO: A Walking Tour. I don’t know Boston. Ferrini is giving me a tour]

PJL–I spent part of a summer in here when I was in grad school. The women wore bell bottom jeans with LOVE patches sewn on them. I still remember the inscription in stone at the museum: Es Ist der Geist / Der Sich den Korper Baut.
VF—The poem united with the act.
VF—The poet heals with an image of the whole man.
PJL–Sounds shamanistic.
VF–Olson said that. His concern was World Medicine, not literature.
PJL–So, what does it mean, that there’s more to being a poet than writing poems?
VF—Now you’re catchin’ on. A poet’s nothing apart from people, apart from place.
PJL–You were close to Olson?
VF—The head and the heart. Shem and Shaun of the same mother. Olson was half Irish. All my wives have been Irish. He was a powerful person, on the scale of Yeats.
PJL–He wanted the whole whale–so why didn’t he write novels?
VF–The whole is in the part, in the local.
PJL–But Olson’s poetics is quirky. He thought you could make the leap by adding more content. Let the camera roll and get something essential. It might work, but if you end up with coherent form, it’s a happy accident.
VF—He succeeded sometimes. Like in “As the Dead Prey Upon Us,” where his dead mother’s mixed in with his falling under his car and a fight with his neighbor.
PJL–The past comes back–that’s real. But so much is idiopathic detail, not difference that makes a difference.
VF–”Moonset Glouchester.” There’s another.
PJL–What holds it together?
VF—Place–and his mother.
PJL--Can place hold it together? I don’t see it. He goes to the other extreme– random selection. The only thing holding it together is the ego that pushes it.
VF—The fuckin’ ego got in his way.
PJL–You mean he makes it an absolute?
VF—That was his pit! Any absolute has to have at least two people. That’s why it works when his mother is there.
PJL–Love, hate, friendship?
VF–He had a great capacity for love and hate.

[On a street near the Library we pass some old row houses dating back to 1830. There are vegetable gardens in vacant lots]

VF—The fact is the Earth. Don’t write with an eye on the Library. There’re concerned with getting in the libraries, and there’re won’t be any fuckin’ libraries.
[We continue on to the concrete plaza in front of the Library]
VF—Here, see this fuckin’ plaque. Kalil Gibran! His nephew the architect put it here. Do you believe that! He made some fuckin’ donation to the City. John Wheelwright was killed by a car just a few blocks from here. Where’s his plaque?


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