Friday, March 14, 2014


Bill Knott
(1940 b. Carson City. MI. ~ 2014) 

There's a photograph of Charles Olson akin to this one of Bill Knott — nearly the same glasses, leaning into his step, hulk of torso, glasses case in the shirt pocket, and the eyes searching ahead. It's just a similarity I noticed as I started to write a few words about this poet's passing.

As I wrote to J.D. earlier today, it's a shame about the passing of Bill Knott, a poet I started to read at age 15 when I discovered his poems on my lonesome. That lonesome period took on authors that were my very best friends, for life, whether they knew it or not.

So many decades later Knott started to send me his earliest self-published books with strict orders to "just give them away!" Which was like instructing P.T. Barnum about a chair and a whip and a lion, I had to laugh. But he made a fool of himself as he barked further orders and then calmed down as he did his homework, read the Birdhouse, and then my appreciation to him on said blog, shut his mouth and put the Birdhouse as a link onto his own feisty blog that I will miss. 

 Bill Knott was a brilliant young poet as we all well know. Robert Bly knew, too. Published him in his Sixties and Seventies journals. And the poet's oeuvre always stayed at least invigorating, while the Knott-man appeared a wee bit troubled, and probably for good reason.  There were few first books that really blew the tops of the heads off of us youngsters like Knott's The Naomi Poems: Corpse and Beans. Eerie, resonant, concise, playful, dark with laughter all at once. That's pretty much magic.

[ BA ]

Some Books by Bill Knott


    The Naomi Poems: Book One: Corpse and Beans (1968), Follett, 
(under the pseudonym    'St. Geraud')
    Aurealism: A Study (1969), Salt Mound Press (chapbook)
    Auto-Necrophilia; Book 2 (1971), Big Table
    Nights of Naomi (1972), Big Table (chapbook)
    Love Poems to Myself (1974), Barn Dream Press, Boston (chapbook)
    Rome in Rome (1976), Release Press
    Selected and Collected Poems (1977), SUN
    Becos (1983), Random House
    Outremer (1989), University of Iowa Press
    Poems 1963-1988 (1989), University of Pittsburgh Press
    Collected Political Poems 1965-1993 (1993) Self-published chapbook
    Sixty Poems of Love and Homage (1994) Self-published chapbook
    The Quicken Tree (1995), Boa Editions
    Laugh at the End of the World: Collected Comic Poems 1969-1999 (2000), Boa Editions
    The Unsubscriber (2004), Farrar, Straus and Giroux
    Stigmata Errata Etcetera (2007), Saturnalia Books