In the Hub of the Fiery Force: Collected Poems 1934-2003

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9781560255208: In the Hub of the Fiery Force: Collected Poems 1934-2003
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An acolyte of Whitman and Hart Crane, and companion and correspondent of W. H. Auden, Tennessee Williams, Charles Bukowski, Allen Ginsberg, Dylan Thomas, and James Baldwin, Norse has never received his due as one of America’s most innovative yet accessible poets. William Carlos Williams called Norse “the best poet of your generation” and pushed Norse toward his groundbreaking work in “the American idiom.” Norse was also of the generation that challenged taboo subject matter in American poetry; his poems of gay love have been recognized as among the first and best of their kind. Norse’s novella Beat Hotel described life with Allen Ginsberg, William Burroughs, and Gregory Corso in a run-down Parisian hotel. This retrospective, I Am In the Hub of the Fiery Force, is a collection of almost seventy years of his poetry, much of it previously unpublished, all of it unavailable. It will be recognized as the culmination of one of America’s most vital lives in modern poetry.

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Born a decade before Allen Ginsberg, Norse is much like him: a world traveler, knowledgeable about eastern religions, politically radical, a disciple of Whitman, forthrightly gay and rather a chicken hawk (that is, with a preference for quite young men), given to writing about himself with utter candor. But unlike Ginsberg, he writes straightforwardly. He may often drop punctuation and capitalization, but he doesn't delete articles and make his poems look like do-it-yourself shorthand dictation. Despite his self-centeredness, he isn't self-important or given to portentous prophesying with verbiage copped from Hindu and Buddhist rituals, which he knows but integrates into a genuinely winning poetic personality. Norse actually lived in the cities he writes about, not crashing with well-known names as Ginsberg did but staying in cheap hotels awash with bohemians, addicts, and petty crooks. He still isn't a millionaire, probably never will be, and the networks never call him. But in all his many poetic manners--rhymed or (mostly) not, in verse or prose--he is probably the best, most readable American gay poet. Ray Olson
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"He took risks long before the postwar 'contemporaries.' He was beat before the Beats, hip before the hippies, and out of the closet long before gay liberation . . . . I think of Rexroth, Patchen, and Bukowski at their freest. Like them Norse is not classifiable."

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