Click here to buy.

"Larry Fagin is an extraordinary poet who, exercising his skills as both small-press editor and free-lance teacher, has transferred vast amounts of poetic knowledge, critical acumen, good humor and sympathetic insight to innumerable students and readers far and wide. The fact that he has performed diligently in these capacities for over 40 years with no sign of let-up but remains continually alert and ever-enlarging in personal scope is, in itself, staggering. There is no one comparable to him in cultural breadth or clarity of approach. He gets results." — Bill Berkson

"Like some of the best young poets now emerging, Fagin seems determined never to write the same poem twice. He does not appear interested in establishing a "voice" or staking out an area of poetic competence. Rather, he explores the possibilities of poetry as an activity, like the theater or a sport, where each act is a unique performance demanding nerve and guile. The poems that result are as lean and snappy as terriers, and just as much fun. Fagin is good medicine." — Peter Schjeldahl, Poetry Magazine

"His works are like those of Jack Spicer, in that they are above all completely serious. They are open to the point of self-revelation approaching enigma. By that I mean they are never confessional, being always the hoax-paradox which is truth. They are often a shambles, whose formal concerns are powerful, whose elegance is self-effacing, and whose conclusions however disastrous are always accepted. "You are lovely / I am lame." His poem, "Last Poem," is rich and beautiful, being funny, touching, and happily, typical. In fact, his best poems have the high stylist's trademark, that of always seeming typical. I don't know of any other New York poet who is truly an admirer of Spicer's work, not that it is disliked, but simply that it goes unread. Larry had the good fortune to come upon Spicer and his poetry before becoming a New Yorker. Nor do I know of anyone else with whom I have been able to really talk about poetry, my poetry, his poetry, anyone's poetry, in as complete and enjoyable a fashion as with Larry Fagin. He admires William Empson, and he has written a lovely, painful and funny poem "after" Robert Creeley. I like the way he sees poetry, and can say what he sees. It is inspiring. He is not an innovator, nor is he a formalist, but like every good American poet, he invents a form each time he writes a poem. His formalism is superior to that of more celebrated formalists, because he is not dry. His freshness and audacity are not due to thin manneristic effects but to the suprising satisfaction of elegance. "A balloon / is going up / filled with problems." I don't care to write criticism, as you can readily tell, but I do care to think about Larry and his writings. I would like to have a giant book of his poems to read instead of my head." — Ted Berrigan

"I think I talk with Larry Fagin more than any other poet I know. He is highly principled and argumentative, but unlike many poets, he is not conscious of his own seriousness, he is serious by nature. When I first met him in 1963 at the Spaghetti Factory in San Francisco, he shown like a jewel among the people he was with and I still have a clear picture of his big grin across the table. Like a good player-coach, he is both the person who directs and follows orders, most of them his own, and his instinct is only slightly less strong than his enthusiasm. His own poetry is vulnerable — careful and understated — but the innocence and introspection of someone who has "seen it" is there. A tough critic of himself (and occasionally others), he's a lyric poet at heart." — Lewis Warsh

Larry Fagin's books include Parade of the Caterpillars (Angel Hair, 1968); Twelve Poems (Angel Hair, 1972); Landscape, with George Schneeman (Angel Hair, 1972); Rhymes of a Jerk (Kulchur Foundation, 1974); Seven Poems (Big Sky, 1976); Poems Larry Fagin Drawings Richard Tuttle (Topia Press, 1977); I'll Be Seeing You: Selected Poems (Full Court Press, 1978); Stabs (Poltroon,1979); The List Poem (Teachers & Writers Collaborative, 1991); On the Pumice of Morons, with Clark Coolidge (The Figures, 1993); Dig & Delve, with Trevor Winkfield (Granary Books, 1999).

 

Poems by Larry Fagin


The Skeleton

The skeleton has his own
bathing suit

He enjoys swimming and being
in the world

The xylophones are playing
peacefully

The skeleton is dancing
on the beach

We respect his frugality, neatness
patience, tact

He's not just another
skinny person

 

Twelve Poems

A balloon
is going up
filled with problems.

When I think
of the thought
machines

I whistle
softly
to myself.

       *

Self

In my pale
face
is a grim

mask,
but I have
to laugh.

My arm
is a bone —
I

love
it
so.

       *

a red
tin pan
of tan
doom

       *

Gravity
pulls
me
down

so
hard
I
can

only
say
my
name.

       *

"When my head
goes too fast
I get out
and walk."

       *

The evil eye
is ridiculous,
but it exists.

       *

Personal

I'd like
to keep
myself

out
of this. . .
this. . .

whatever
you
call it.

       *

It's too easy
to say
yes,
now—

difficult
to think,
say,
now.

       *

I get
the idea
I can die
anytime,
then
I forget
it.

       *

When a tree falls
on your head,
it says yes
or no.

       *

I walk
you walk
we walk

through
each
other

into
our
selves

 

Landscape

The little white dog wags his tail
The red mill turns silently
The movie line is a mile long
The sleepyheads toy with their food
The Japanese gardener flies to pieces
Orange soda blows in the wind
A lettuce leaf floats by

 

Poem (Born to be Wild)

My father said, "Listen,
stupid" (he always
called me "Listen")

but I called my father
stupid—he slammed
on the brakes,

teaching me how
to drive
in Germany.