The End Is the Beginning: Elegy for the Carnivorous Saint

The 1940s was the slick era of American Lit, typified by The New Yorker and its house critic, Edmund Wilson, who championed writers whose work was polished, Eliotified, and without a comma out of place. Overlooked by mainstream critics was a lively underground of writers and poets whose publishing house was a mimeograph machine and whose platform was the local coffee house. This generation of writers included Paul Goodman, Milt Klonsky, and Harold Norse (1916-2009). Born in Brooklyn, Norse was raised by a single mother who worked in a factory. His early poetry was marked by strong homoerotic themes. In 1953, he left America and lived in Paris where he became associated with William Burroughs and other members of the Beat Movement. After moving to San Francisco in the 1970s, he lived out his life writing poems in the lonely rooming houses of that city. "I want to shed light on what I am," he told editor Todd Swindell, "which is a gay man on the fringes of society." Swindell, a scholar of Norse and Beat writers, has collected poems and other tributes to Norse by Gerard Malanga, Neeli Cherkovski, Ira Cohen, among others. American Legends Publishing, 33 pg. Illustrated, $1.00