A poetry reading in celebration of a new selected edition of the acclaimed Beat poet and former Sonoma County resident Harold Norse will be held at Copperfield’s Petaluma bookstore on Saturday, May 9th at 1:30 PM. Joining the book’s editor and Sebastopol resident Todd Swindell will be renowned San Francisco poets Neeli Cherkovski and A.D. Winans.
I Am Going to Fly Through Glass: The Selected Poems of Harold Norse is the first posthumous publication of poetry by Norse who died in San Francisco in 2009 at the age of 92. Published by Talisman House, the book also features eleven photographs of the acclaimed poet by his friends Paul Bowles, Gerard Malanga and Allen Ginsberg.
The New York Times noted in his obituary that Norse “broke new ground beginning in the 1950s by exploring gay identity and sexuality in a distinctly American idiom relying on plain language and direct imagery.”
Born in Brooklyn in 1916, Norse developed his poetic skill amongst the Bohemian milieu of 1940s Greenwich Village where his friends included James Baldwin, Tennessee Williams and Dylan Thomas. Norse left America during the Cold War years, traveling for fifteen years across Europe and North Africa. During that time he collaborated in Paris with William Burroughs at the Beat Hotel and mentored the young Canadian folk singer Leonard Cohen on the Greek island of Hydra.
Norse lived in Monte Rio during the early 1980s in a house which he purchased from his friend the surrealist poet and acclaimed commentator Andrei Codrescu. During that time, Norse wrote a number of poems, which feature the Russian River as a backdrop. Several of these poems are included in the selected edition.
Neeli Cherkovski, known as one of America’s finest lyric poets, has been an active participant in the West Coast literary since he began publishing poetry as a Los Angeles teenager in the early 1960s. In addition to his poetry, Neeli has written acclaimed biographies of Charles Bukowski and Lawrence Ferlinghetti. His most recent book, The Crow and I, was published last month by R.L. Crow publications.
San Francisco born poet A.D. Winans has been in the publishing industry for over five decades. He was the founder of Second Coming Press, which published a 1973 special issue on Charles Bukowski that included Norse’s poem “The Worst Thing You Can Say to Him is I Love You.” His latest book, Dead Lions, was published last year by Punk Hostage Press.
Since Norse’s death, Swindell has helped keep the poet’s words alive by maintaining a website, HaroldNorse.com, dedicated to his work as well as working on documentary about his celebrated life.