Meet Herbert Morris, A Poet And An Enigma

Discussion in 'Evolution of Language' started by Joe Riley, Oct 7, 2018.

  1. Joe Riley

    Joe Riley Veteran Member
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    While looking through my Lincoln files, this morning, I found a poem "Lincoln's Hat" written by Herbert Morris. I wanted to see what he looked like, but have been unable to find a picture of him. I'd like you to meet him....and if you can, find a photo of him.;)



    "Poet Herbert Morris (1928–2001) was educated at Brooklyn College. He published six collections of poetry during his lifetime: Nine Iridescent Figures on a Vase (1978), Peru (1983), Afghanistan (1984), Dream Palace (1986), The Little Voices of the Pears (1989), and What Was Lost (2000)."

    "His blank verse poetry uses extended dramatic monologue or meditation and is both expansive and dense. Poet Anthony Hecht noted that Morris wrote “with the precise qualifications of Henry James, and conveys the muted but implicit drama of Edward Hopper.” Morris was the recipient of both a Lannan Literary Fellowship for Poetry and a Lannan Literary Award for Poetry. He died in 2001."

    Ultimate poem by Herbert Morris

     
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  2. Joe Riley

    Joe Riley Veteran Member
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  3. Nancy Hart

    Nancy Hart Very Well-Known Member
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    A reply by Steve Rubenstein, to this blog claims he is the nephew of Mr. Morris. Rubenstein has an online bookstore. Maybe you could ask him for a photo.
     
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  4. Joe Riley

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    Under All This Noise: On Reclusion, Writing, and Social Media
    Peter Orner

    I take solace in the example of writers who, in spite of all trends, have gone another direction. On my desk, right now,I have a book of poetry by a man named Herbert Morris. Aside from his six books, the fact that he attended Brooklyn College, and the date of his birth (1928) and death (2001), almost nothing, as far as I can tell, is publicly known about him. The man clearly wanted it this way.

    It took me three dictionaries to track down the word ekphrases. A gorgeous word, it means a concentrated description of an object, often artwork. Apt as it applies to Morris whose poems are all about paying attention – truly seeing.

    I may have found my recluse, minus any fame, in this dark stranger. I only have his poems, not his personality, but they are exactly what I need. For me it takes great concentration to read What Was Lost, and thus, I slow way, way down as I follow the tangled, meandering thoughts of his intensely lonely characters. Morris may be a poet, but he is also, to my mind, among the most hypnotic fiction writers in contemporary literature. I fall into a Morris poem the way I do into a Sebald novel. It is a whole immersion into the intensity of a moment.

    On the jacket of What Was Lost, his last book, published in 2000, there is no author photo, no biographical information, and no acknowledgements. Richard Howard deepens the mystery with a quote: “Always the dark stranger at Poetry’s feast of lights, Herbert Morris has returned to haunt the banquet with these fifteen notional ekphrases, surely the most generous creations American culture has produced since Morris’s own Little Voices of the Pears.”

    Morris writes of other people, sometimes well-known people, such as Henry James or James Joyce, in moments of profound isolation. One utterly breathtaking poem “History, Weather, Loss, the Children, Georgia” is about a photograph taken of Franklin and Eleanor Roosevelt as they sit in a car before a group of schoolchildren. The photo was snapped just before the children began to serenade the president. The poem begins slowly, exquisitely, as Morris constructs the scene through the smallest of details about the children. They’ve been rehearsing all week for this occasion. Their mouths are poised, frozen forever in little O’s. Even the threads of their clothes receive attention. As does the hand printed banner, Welcome Mister President. Only toward the very last lines does the poem zero in on Franklin and Eleanor themselves. These two icons may be long dead, as is this haunted moment in Warm Springs, Georgia in 1938. And yet, and this is where the poem aches, Franklin and Eleanor are not historical props but rather two vulnerable human beings sitting together — apart — in the back of an open car. The poem delicately, yet vehemently, chastises Franklin for “his wholly crucial failure” to do something pretty simple and that’s touch
     
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  5. Joe Riley

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  6. Joe Riley

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  7. Joe Riley

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