Thursday, November 26, 2015


New and available now from Longhouse ~
Janine Pommy Vega
Visions, Tales & Lovesongs

288 pages
perfect bound 
packed with poems and photographs

Janine's full course album of photographs, travel journals, poems, facsimile notebooks of poems, childhood photographs, and family, Beat family, plus her unfinished
memoir of Jerusalem.


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mail order here:

 PO Box 2454
 West Brattleboro


"Generally speaking, of the so-called ‘Beat Generation’, it is the names and creativity of its male protagonists that are most familiar to us, and whose lives and works have been extensively documented, lionised, and mythologised.  But there were also, among this company of free-thinkers-and-livers, women too.  Lovers, wives and partners, surrogate mothers, and sisters, some of whom tried to keep hearth and home in some kind of order midst the turbulence of the wake created by the trajectories of the lives of those they loved. 

   Among the women who were part of, or associated with this group of poets, writers, painters, musicians, street-vagabond-drug addicts, outsiders and hobos, was an angel of the edge.  One who put herself out there where many an angel would have feared to have trod.  Her name was Janine Pommy Vega, who, as a very young woman became close friends with most of the prominent members of this older generation of ‘Beats’, who bedded her, initiated her into drugs, and more importantly tutored her in literature and thought, and a way of life that was a riposte to the stifling and meaningless materialism of the conventional bourgeois lives they were born into.

   Janine, or Janina in Polish, blossomed within this creative coterie, into a fine poet, writer, traveller, lover, sometimes-recluse, and quester for the truth of herself, in the form of love, both in the human realm among her many male muses, and in her search of the embrace of the Absolute or Divine.  The insistence of her ‘chosen’ path, that had actually chosen her, was the need for her to constantly travel to the edge; to put herself at risk; to test every sinew and thought in her enquiry into her own nature through the art of living and the craft of poetry.  In her pursuit of this knowledge, she travelled widely, both terrestrially around North and South America, Europe and Scandinavia, giving readings, writing, teaching, meditating and generally hanging-out; and into those deep hinterlands within her own consciousness.  All the while an enquirer, an observer, experiencing both realms with her intellectual, emotional and spiritual antennae ever-sensitive to the world around her – both the visible and the invisible.  Making home wherever her path took her, “…for home is a far place, and the place at hand.  I carry them with me, my home and my wanderings.”

   Here in this beautiful book – a tribute to Janine – designed and produced with the care and attention of ones who were intimate friends of hers, Bob and Susan Arnold at Longhouse Publishers, we find writings, papers, notebooks and photographs left after her death.  To read the contents and look at the photos, is like peering onto the desk and into the drawers of Janine’s own workspace.  Here is the poet’s temenos, with the evidence of the processes of her thinking, recalling, creating, adjusting and rewriting.   Occasionally with offcuts of her craft left lying about the place, marking her path – her heroic journeying towards catching a glimpse; a reflection; an echo of her true nature.

   Love was her vocation, both in her finite relationships with others, and finally in the infinite embrace of the Other.  Each dwelling within the learned recognition and acceptance of herself.  A beautiful woman poet who experienced that divine affliction – that ‘fine madness’ – the temptation to BE.  As she herself wrote; “…the woman Ferocious in her heart for love/And Poet, blessed with the necessity to go on seeking…”

Malcolm Ritchie
Arran Island, Scotland
author of ~ 
The Crows of Gravity 
( Longhouse 2016 )


Wednesday, November 25, 2015


K E I T H    W I L S O N


When writing of us, state
as your first premise
You will never understand us
otherwise, say that we

cherished war

   over peace and comfort
   over feeding the poor
   over our own health
   over love, even the act of it
   over religion, all of them, except
   perhaps certain forms of Buddhism

that we never failed to pass bills of war through our legislatures,
using the pressures of imminent invasion or disaster (potential)
abroad as absolution for not spending moneys on project which
might make us happy or even save us from clear and evident 
crises at home

Write of us that we spent millions educating the best of our
youth and then slaughtered them capturing some hill or swamp of
no value and bragged for several months about how well they
died following orders that were admittedly stupid, ill-conceived

Explain how the military virtues, best practiced by robots, are
most valued by us. You will never come to understand us unless
you realize, from the first, that we love killing and kill our own
youth, our own great men FIRST. Enemies can be forgiven,
their broken bodies mourned over, but our own are rarely spoken
of except in political speeches when we "honor" the dead and
encourage the living young to follow their example and be glori-
ously dead also

NOTE: Almost all religious training, in all our countries, dedi-
cates itself to preparing the people for war. Catholic, chaplains
rage against "peaceniks," forgetting Christ's title in the Church is
Prince of Peace; Baptists shout of the ungodly and the necessity
of ritual holy wars while preaching of the Ten Commandments
each Sunday; Mohammedans, Shintoists look forward to days of
bloody retribution while Jews march across the sands of Palestine
deserts, Rabbis urging them on. . . .


Will expose our children, our homes to murder and devastation
on the chance that we can murder or devastate FIRST and thus
gain honor. No scientist is respected whose inventions help man-
kind, for its own sake, but only when those discoveries also help
to destroy, or to heal soldiers, that they may destroy other men
and living things

                                                                                   Be aware that
Destiny has caught us up, our choices made subtly over the ages
have spun a web about us: it is unlikely we will escape, having
geared everything in our societies toward war and combat. It is
probably too late for us to survive in anything like our present


If you build us monuments let them all say that, as warning, as a
poison label on a bottle, that you may not ever repeat our follies,
feel our griefs.


K E I T H    W I L S O N

Keith was born in Clovis, New Mexico in 1927 and spent most of his life
in the southwest Rocky Mountains. He began his adult life as a career navy officer
and moved into a world and life of poetry, as a professor at New Mexico State University
and publishing more than twenty volumes of poetry over forty years. The poem above
has been drawn from his masterpiece Graves Registry


Tuesday, November 24, 2015

Monday, November 23, 2015



In these days,

When the winds wear no wedding rings,

Everything seems to be going away:

My sweet son filling his sails at a distant college,

My springtime friends on trail to the ultimate West,

And, even in central summer,

I feel the days shortening,

The stealthy lengthening of the night.

And so, in the imperial extension of the dark,

Against which, all my life, I opposed my body,

I long to pass from this anguish of passings

Into the calm of an indifferent joy . . . 

To enter October's frail canoe and drift down

Down with the bright leaves among the raucous wildfowl

On the narrowing autumn rivers where, in those longer nights,

Secretly, in the shallows or on reedy shorelines,

Ice is already forming.

T H O M A S    M C G R A TH
drawn from William Kitteridge's Western Anthology, a beauty

Thomas McGrath was born in 1916. He was workingclass,
a poet of the Western vernacular and landscape, a college
professor, a novelist, a political activist, an activist. In the last
years of his life he wrote some of his finest poetry ever. In this
present age skittish of socialists, McGrath was a co-founder long ago of the Ramshackle Socialist Victory Party. They sugarcoated nothing.

Friday, November 20, 2015


 Gala & René Char

 TO M.H.

                                          11 September, 1966


Back and forth goes Autumn, swifter than the gardener's rake.

Autumn does not overwhelm the heart, which needs the

branch and the branch's shadow.

translated by Mark Hutchinson


Seagull Books, 2015