Sunday, February 5, 2017

Preserving the past: Centrum in the early 1980s (photo)

In the process of using old Facebook Memories to flush out the gaps in my blog, I discovered that I had met Meridel LeSueur, not in 1981, but according to the Centrum site, it was 1980. I will need to readjust many (undated) poem dates...

Not only that, as I attempted to fill in the gaps on this timeline, I discovered that I've been misspelling Meridel's last name for decades. It's LeSueur, not LeSeuer!!! Got that. Awg, egg on face. Blame it on dyslexia. (True—I had a hard time unraveling it—even now, when I knew it was wrong and I had to resort to a snapshot of her name to keep it right in my head.)

As to fluffing out this blog, the trouble is, my Facebook Memories only date back to 2007. So it doesn't help flush out those impoverished writing years. I'm still sorting old papers, so more work is coming, but the bulk of the poetry has been scanned and posted (a huge task). Now it's come down to transcribing old journal entries. (Not the highest on my priorities list, of sorting all my old papers, filing them, and eventually dispatching them.)

The year 1980 is particularly dicey in that I didn't seem to keep a proper journal. Napkins, paper place-mats and menus were pressed into service, along with carbon paper separator tissue, as well as the backs of old posters and poem revisions—an odd sleuthy way to date my many undated old poems.
So, I must've gone to Centrum three times. I know we were personae non gratae for crashing the gates of the kingdom when Meridel was there. Mary Jane Bangs in particular had it out for me. She actually chased me out of a reading, screaming bloody murder, the only thing missing in that lunatic chase, was a cleaver in her hand. No matter that it was free and open to the public. Luckily she never knew my name. The nerve. Crashing  a poetry reading/reception like that. I was an alley cat, hungry for poetry. Perhaps the free wine and hors d'oeuvres were involved as well. 

Jim Heynen, one of the other Centrum coordinators, apologized to me later. He didn't mind that I was there as a freeloader. Jim read a screamer of a poem about someone using false teeth to make the scallops on a pie crust, and David Lee read from The Porcine Legacy. Worth the gate crashing entrance fee.

Writing at Centrum

1980 (I went to this one; I remember meeting Lisel Mueller, and Bill Knott as well as Donald Hall; I think this is the year I met Bill Root and Pan Uschek, and Rusty North.)

FACULTY: Galway Kinnell, Meridel LeSueur, Richard Shelton, Ann Standork, James Bertolino, Madeline DeFrees, Donald Hall, Sam Hamill, Bill Ransom, Lisel Mueller, Bill Knot.

1981 (I'm pretty certain I went to this one too as I have a journal entry on Jack Cady; and I spent time with Tree Swenson and Kathleene over at Copper Canyon Press. Kathleene West (what was her last name back then. I found out that Linnerson was her maiden name, she said she was always reinventing herself. Anyway, she got me to apply to teach poetry to kids in Montana.)

FACULTY: Margaret Atwood, Robert Haas, William Matthews, Sam Hamill, Tree Swenson, Leslie Marmon Silko, William Stafford, Jack Cady, Jane Yolen.
1982  (I know that I went to this one too, I remember singing and drinking with Tess and Ray (note to self: don't try to keep up with them drinking); I fell in love with Thomas McGrath. I remember his imaginary letters, and something about coal mines.)

FACULTY: Olga Broumas, Henry Carlile, Sandra McPherson, Carolyn Forché, Tess Gallagher, Sam Hamill, Paul Hansen, Jim Heynen, Thomas McGrath, Richard Shelton, James Laughlin, Raymond Carver, Gordon Lish.

This photo engendered an interesting conversation on June, 2013, which was worth preserving in situ.
Facebook conversation (photo) Lyle Daggett & me on Bukowski, Black Sparrow Press, Doubiago

And another much shorter version of this post was filed July 10, 1980, for continuity's sake.
Port Townsend Poetry Conference 1980 (photo)

Tess Gallagher, Sam Hamill, Galway Kinnell at Port Townsend Poetry Conference, Fort Worden, WA, ca. 1981. I think it was after Louise Glück reading. Ray Carver was off to the left, out of the frame, heaad bent, lighting a cigarette.

From Facebook (May 2010). It takes a village just to remember the past. I thought the thread was worth saving—even if it is a little out of context.

Sharon Doubiago I have a "short" story of this conference that no one wants to publish.Thank you for the photos.
Pam Uschuk I remember. I was there, living across the hall from you, Sharon. I was studying with Kinnell. What a great conference. Remember Meridel Le Seuer and how we followed her around like puppies?

Sharon Doubiago I find it hard to remember Louis Gluck in PT??? She was my neighbor in 1972-74 in Plainfield Vt, and had serious impact on me! So I'm sure I'd remember.
Anyway, maybe the story I've written is of the 1982 conference. It's entitled "Fornography." Margaret Atwood, Ray Carver, Gordon Lish, Leslie Marmon Silko. Tess, and I'll have to open that story for the rest.
Great great, important photos, Maureen. Thank you.

Pam Uschuk Louis Gluck wasn't in PT that summer of 1981. I'm pretty sure of it. Richard Hugo was there, also Richard Shelton, Ann Stanford, Sam Hammill & others.

Sharon Doubiago Pam, we were living in that same Victorian in Port Townsend, summer of 1980, yes, Meridel LeSueur, and...?? By the end of the conference I was a full time resident of that place and bartending at the Sea Galley.. So, in 1981, 1982, 1983, 1983, maybe onto 1985 I was at all the Centrum Conferences. I remember yes, Bill on the stage in all white reading Coot, reading of a man who was the father of my son's firs tgreat love, reading of driving across the coutnry, and Olga, oh wow! How is Galway these days? Anybody know?

Pam Uschuk I'm a little worried about Galway. He and I have corresponded for decades now, and he didn't answer my last two letters, so I haven't heard from him in months.

I remember Bill reading Coot poems, too, and you bartending at the Sea Galley! 
And, your small apartment, your bedroom ceiling plastered with maps!
and trading poems. Good days. Maureen, did we meet in PT?

Maureen Hurley OMG, ca. 1982, I just remembered I was staying above the Sea Galley, with a juggler from the Pickle Family Corcus—what was his name, Sharon? having nightmares about a woman named Jasmina—never did figure out what that was about.

Yes, I was with Sharon, I remember sleeping in that Victorian.
Having coffee with you & Bill in the morning. The light in that room was fantastic.

Pam Uschuk Wow, what an idiot I am for not remembering this sooner. Now, I see us there. Where do you live now?

Maureen Hurley This was a misplaced print—if I ever find the rest of the negatives, I'm sure I have photos of you too. I remember Richard Hugo.
I wrote about Rusty North—missing an arm?

Pam Uschuk We had huge windows, and Bill wrote "Night Letter to the Mujihadeen" in that big kitchen/living room.

Maureen Hurley Yes they let the entire sky in.

Pam Uschuk Yes, definitely remember her! Yes, I loved that place, but the bathroom was small, dark, moldy & scary. I wrote so many poems there. It's a wonder the whole building didn't levitate with Sharon, you, me & Bill writing there!

Maureen Hurley Oakland, after a 20-year stint in Forestville. Rusty made qquite an impression on me. Do you recognize Leonard Cirino in the other photos. Leonard, Tobey Kaplan, Susan Abbott? and me—we all rode shotgun in Roses with the white Alsation, Moonbeam. It was an EPIC road trip. We descended upon Port Townsend and Laura? Jane Bangs was beside herself trying to keep us out but Meridel sayi The California Poets stay! And that's how it all began. Hardcountry.
Carol? Not Laura? Jim Heynen, Porcine Legacies...

Pam Uschuk Yes, I remember Jim Heyen's wife (was it Jane or Mary Jane Bangs?). Some pumpkin. How could I ever forget Leonard Cirino? I have go look at all the photos. I absolutely loved Meridel--she was unselfish, she was real, she was brilliant and she didn't put on airs.
Yes, that's it. Carol Jane Bangs. We just saw Heynen at AWP. He's married to a journalist (Sally) now, and he lives in Minnesota! Carol Jane took Flamenco lessons, and we were all shocked because she seemed so cold. But, she could dance!
She didn't love me either. Jim Heynen, on the other hand, was great fun.

Maureen Hurley We were poetas non gratis as far as Carol Jane Bangs was concerned. Her eyes were pure venom. Meridel's daughter Deborah and I were neighbors for years in Forestville.
Yeah, he was a kick, he made me laugh...

Pam Uschuk Me, too. Bangs just gave me stink eye.

Maureen Hurley Leonard—that's where we come back to Galway...Leonard had just torn his eye out, and i had to do a sit seva with him, but I had Galway coming in to Sonoma State to do a reading that afternoon...I came back to set up the reading, shaken to the core,afraid of losing my own sanity in the process—and Galway was amazing, he just held onto me and held me up through it all, as I cried and wretched and cried again...I think I was so shaken I introduced Galway as God at the reading. The audience laughed. I was mortified. 

Carol Jane Bangs gave the best stink-eye in three states!

Pam Uschuk Yes, I remember when Leonard ripped out his eye. He kept threatening to do the same to his remaining eye.
It was crazy, and I was shaken as well, Maureen. I remember Leonard sitting in our kitchen, and Bill trying to talk him out of blinding himself. It was terrible.
 Galway was always kind to me. He was the first person to really encourage my poetry. I will never stop feeling grateful to him.

Maureen Hurley Sharon mentioned a story about that conference—I'd love to see it—I think I was Lacy Murphy in it. Must've been circa '82—I remember sitting in the window of the Sea Galley with Bill Bradd—everybody talking poetry. I was a fly on heaven's wall.

Sharon Doubiago Guess what I just found! I'm going through all the photos, trying to find the essential ones for volume 2. There we are Maureen, not even taken by you.
But you, me, Leonard, toby and is that her name, Susan Anderson? on the deck on my parents Florence/Suislaw River home. taken by my mother. It's going in the book! Such an awesome moment!

D.J. Hamilton? I almost remember your nightmares of Jasmina, yes!

Oh, that you remember that room plastered in maps. that was so awesome, so signalling, the universe to me, I the world'sgreatest map lover, ended up in such a room. I never knew the story, but obviously, some fisher.'s. They were all nautical. Summer 1980. You and Bill, after lovemaking--I know I'm always teasing about this but it was impossible not to overhear, the thin wall between us, and it was so beautiful, though I tried so hard not to hear-- would go down in the afternoon, on the side yard of that Victorian, which was right beneath my second floor window, and spread out your quilt, and sunbathe in very skimpy clothing, and read and write. I was so envious, so hurting, so in need of love. You guys restored my faith. and here you are all these years later, still a couple. You sitting on Bill's lap at that last dance at AWP, too wonderful.

Yes, Richard Hugo and Richard Shelton and Ann Stanford, yes, and always Sam. I never really knew Hugo but I remember a party at Jim Heynen's and Mary Jane Bang's, he being in the back corner of the kitchen table, laughing, drinking, bonvivant, but I think we (I) knew even then that he was sick. 

My memoir piece, Fornorgraphy,of the 1982? (I just remembered, I'm editing the final copy of Hard Country which came out at the end of 82), conference is long, 40 some pages, probably could be cut some, but now much, (all those folks, details, etc. who'd want to get rid of them?) if you know of any pub that does long memoir pieces....

There's a paragraph of Tess Gallagher standing on the steps of the PT post office protesting the draft, handing out flyers, taking signatures, in The Book of Seeing with One's Own Eyes, saying how her ex was a vet. Wow, and then came Ray!

Maureen Hurley I remember singing Irish songs at the pub with Tess and Ray Carver...his big dangling smile.

Pam Uschuk Oh, Sharon, what a lovely, poignant memory of Bill & I & the thin walls. I was so in love, with Bill, with poetry, with truth, with maps! And, I was glad to have you as a housemate & friend. I admired you, your poetry, your mind, your beauty. You were a man magnet, Sharon. Every man I knew was in love with you and held you up as the ideal, and, ironically, you were alone. Life, strange & secretive and passionate life.

Jane Blue I was there in 1978. Carolyn Forché, Stanley Kunitz, Diane Wakowski, I can't remember who else.

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