i was thinkin how in the underground poetry press, there are 6 DEGREES OF CHARLES POTTS. like Kevin Bacon, one can trace any workin-hard for no money poet back, within 6, and surely, many less degrees than that.
i came across him in a used bookstore when i was 18 yrs old. his memoir was in the fiction section for $5. VALGA KRUSA THE YELLOW CHRIST had an author's photo on the back of a deranged hippy, and i thot the photo alone was worth the price.
VALGA KRUSA tells the story of Charles working away as a poet and publisher, leading up to a COSMEP in late 1960s Berkeley, CA which he had a lot to do with putting on, as his mind cleverly cracked itself in a hilarious, if heart-breakingly, and at times scary manner...complete with poems and a strong message: beware those who toil on book covers, peddle to bookstores, care about things like truth and beauty. mainly, beware if you so choose to live your little poets life.
some years after reading the book, i worked at the same bookstore i found it in, and who should come to Cleveland for a reading, but Potts himself. i was shocked the man was still alive, and tickled to find he was still writing.
jump 14 yrs and here we are. --Bree
Effits: What wld you tell a would-be reader of your latest manuscript, PILGRIM & MARTEL (Least Bittern Books 2015)?
Potts: PILGRIM & MARTEL is a set of Siamese twins I found on my hard drive, conjoined at the hip by their shared rational exuberance for satirizing theology. Pilgrim is a set of standup routines using the American trope of the same name. Martel is in the form of a play, historical transmogrification of the Frankish king, Charlemagne’s grandfather, as he defeated the Moslem armies of Abdul Al Ramon, the governor of Cordoba, in 732. Much fun both texts, smooth reading with a vengeance. Make that revengeance, as there will be no human progress until the race sheds its pathetic propensity for theological fantasies, ie transmigration of souls, virgin births, reincarnations, etc. My belief is stronger than yours.
Effits:What is up your sleeve currently?
Potts: both arms.
Effits: What wld u say about the poetry festivals and events that go on today, versus what was happening in the late 1960s?
Potts: Well, as my old friend and great poet John Oliver Simon said in cement on Adison Avenue in Berkeley, the Poet’s Commune of 1968 is as good as it gets. I’ve been to a lot of great readings subsequently, in Washington state with Burning Word and Bumbershoot, in Texas with the Charles Potts Magic Windmill Band, in Colorado with Lithic Press recently, and all over, Cleveland, Northampton, MA. I think we may have been too idealistic in the 60s, ie the whole thing collapsed, the wars go on, etc. People are either more realistic or more cynical, and why not be both?
Effits: Aside from it being futile, what wld you tell a young publisher of indy poetry?
Potts: Carry on. Publish literature, that is writing so well written it cries out to be read over and over again. Get it as widely distributed as your methods and money will permit. Art enobles chimpanzees with a gene for speech, that would be us.
Effits: Of all of your work, which would you choose to give to a NON-POET? To Undy, these are the ones to really reach--i am not sure if you agree?
Potts: My non-poet friends here in Walla Walla like anything well done, as observed by their respect for and purchases of poets as diverse as klipschutz and Karen Waring Sykes. The question itself is a tuff one. I am always most interested in the most recent, ie The Source (Green Panda Press 2014), the aforementioned Pilgrim andMartel (Least Bittern Books 2015), and the forthcoming Coyote Highway. The most ambitious work I ever produced is the two part series, once called The Chill at Appomattox or as published How the South Finally Won the Civil War: and Controls the Political Future of the United States. It is political and economic geography as collage. Looks like prose is in fact an anti-columbiad poem. Its companion piece, an original work in Linguistic Geography, Across the North Pacific, will be news for a long time. For a quick breezy read, I still hanker after Nature Lovers, composed in a flash in 1989. And of course anybody who bothers to read it loves Valga Krusa.