Harold Norse

BookHarold Norse

Harold Norse

Poet Maverick, Gay Laureate

Clemson University Press: Beat Studies


March 1st, 2022

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Who was Harold Norse? Despite publishing over a dozen volumes of poetry between the early 1950s and the new millennium, until now, the Brooklyn-born Norse has been relegated to a footnote in accounts of twentieth century literary history. Harold Norse: Poet Maverick, Gay Laureate is the first collection of essays devoted to this enigmatic poet and visual artist. As this volume explores, Norse, who developed his craft while living in Europe during the 1950s and 1960s, is an important figure in the development of mid-twentieth century poetics. During the 1950s and 1960s, Norse was a notable figure in the plethora of little poetry magazines published in the USA and Europe through to skirmishes with respectability and acceptance (Penguin and City Lights). Norse is a key figure in the development of the cut-up process made famous by his friend, William S. Burroughs. His correspondence with his mentor, the poet William Carlos Williams, captures his poetic shifts from formalism to the development of his Brooklyn idiom, while his gripping autobiography, Memoirs of a Bastard Angel, documents his transatlantic networks of writers and artists, among them James Baldwin, Allen Ginsberg, and Charles Bukowski. And after returning to the US in the late 1960s, Norse emerged as leading figure in Gay Liberation poetry.
List of contributors: Jan Herman, Erik Mortenson, A. Robert Lee, Fiona Paton, Daniel Kane, Steven Belletto, Estíbaliz Encarnación-Pinedo, Ronna C. Johnson, Kurt Hemmer, Chad Weidner, Benjamin J. Heal, Tate Swindell, Andrew McMillan, Douglas Field, Jay Jeff Jones, Todd Swindell, andJames Grauerholz.

'Harold Norse: Poet Maverick, Gay Laureate is a major contribution to long overdue consideration and scholarly focus of an important participant in Beat and Gay poetry.' – Todd Swindell

Author Information

A. Robert Lee retired as Professor in the English department at Nihon University, Tokyo, in 2011, having previously taught for three decades at the University of Kent, UK. He has held Visiting Professorships at Northwestern University, the University of Colorado, the University of New Mexico, and Berkeley. His more than 40 book publications include Multicultural American Literature: Comparative Black, Native, Latino/a and Asian American Fictions (2003), which won the American Book Award in 2004, and The Beats: Authorships, Legacies (2019). Douglas Field is senior lecturer in twentieth century American Literature at the University of Manchester. He is the author of two books on James Baldwin and the editor of two books by Jeff Nuttall. He is the co-founding editor of James Baldwin Review. His work has been published, amongst other places, in African American Review, English Literary History, and the Times Literary Supplement, where he is a regular contributor. He is writing a book on failure and the 1960s.

Table of Contents

Table of Contents
Section TitlePagePrice
Prologue: The Case for Harold Norse9
1 Harold Norse and the Perils of Literary Obscurity25
2 The Business of Poetry: Seeing and Hearing Harold Norse41
3 Seen from a Distance: The Individual Talent of Harold Norse57
4 Harold Norse’s Friends71
5 Finding Hermes in the Oil Stain: Norse's Early Work85
6 The Memory of the Bastard Angel: Autobiographical Writing in Harold Norse101
7 Harold Norse Under the Sign of William Carlos Williams113
8 Hidden History: Norse and Bukowski129
9 Turning the Blue Key: Harold Norse, William Burroughs, and the Infinite Early Cut-up143
10 Beat Hotel: Harold Norse and Cut-up157
11 Cut-ups and Cosmographs: Harold Norse at Work in the Beat Hotel171
12 Due Norse: On Forgetting and Remembering Harold Norse, and His Place in the Queer Canon183
13 Running with the Underdog: Harold Norse and the Mimeo Revolution197
14 From Bastard to Angel: Harold Norse as Mentor and Publisher in 1970s San Francisco213
Harold Norse: Timeline227