The Penny Poet of Portsmouth

From New York to London, I read The Penny Poet of Portsmouth by Katherine Towler.  I swam in it.  I am in the water of it; it’s a writer’s book.  You follow her into her new home in Portsmouth, New Hampshire, to getting to know a poet there Robert Dunn, a man who lived very simply and focused on writing.  She wanted to fit in and have time alone.  It’s a book about being a writer, striving for time, understanding place, understanding how hard it is to be a woman writer.  It’s a story about the relationship between a penniless poet and a novelist.  The poet lives for writing, not for stuff or readings or reviews.  Towler is so honest, about the ways she can find compassion and the ways she closes in on herself.  She loves this poet to the best of her ability.  She tells about reading at River Run Bookstore, a bookstore I’ve read in as well.  I’m going to keep thinking about this book and the way it invites you to slow down and be with the writer’s life.  Dunn reminds of Bob Kaufman.


Robert Dunn, “Paradise in a Restless Mind”

Every waking moment with lack of sleep,
a restless mind is a path I weave.
For each day this head creates,
inspirational music of ideas that permeate.
Riddled of notions overactive with intellect,
I dare not cease this paradise of reflect.
Knowledge is key and the gears they turn,
continuing on without deviation does each reason burn.
As day turns to night with conceptions of truth,
anxious is the body a substance so new.
Exhausted to reality and whithered of devotion,
mentally I find heaven in capacity full of emotion.
Charging through each night chasing every thought,
I am only satisfied when each logic is written and caught.


Walking Parker Home


Sweet beats of jazz impaled on slivers of wind

Kansas Black Morning/ First Horn Eyes/

Historical sound pictures on New Bird wings

People shouts/ boy alto dreams/ Tomorrow’s

Gold belled pipe of stops and future Blues Times

Lurking Hawkins/ shadows of Lester/ realization

Bronze fingers—brain extensions seeking trapped sounds

Ghetto thoughts/ bandstand courage/ solo flight

Nerve-wracked suspicions of newer songs and doubts

New York alter city/ black tears/ secret disciples

Hammer horn pounding soul marks on unswinging gates

Culture gods/ mob sounds/ visions of spikes

Panic excursions to tribal Jazz wombs and transfusions

Heroin nights of birth/ and soaring/ over boppy new ground.

Smothered rage covering pyramids of notes spontaneously exploding

Cool revelations/ shrill hopes/ beauty speared into greedy ears

Birdland nights on bop mountains, windy saxophone revolutions.

Dayrooms of junk/ and melting walls and circling vultures/

Money cancer/ remembered pain/ terror flights/

Death and indestructible existence


In that Jazz corner of life

Wrapped in a mist of sound

His legacy, our Jazz-tinted dawn

Wailing his triumphs of oddly begotten dreams

Inviting the nerveless to feel once more

That fierce dying of humans consumed

In raging fires of Love.

Published in: on March 11, 2017 at 4:07 pm  Leave a Comment  

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