back cover of “Oh, I’d Sing Alright” published 1970 by Albuquerque’s Grasshopper Press. Grasshopper Press was Pat Bolles who printed his books on his offset press, including Gene Frumkin’s book “The Rainbow Walker” in 1968. Pat Bolles’ Grasshopper Press grew out of Albuquerque’s first hip bookstore, The Yale Street Grasshopper, run by Phil & Susan Mayne . . . many of us read poetry in the back of that bookstore . . . that bookstore eventually transfigured into The Living Batch with new owners . . .Larry Goodell
A friend introduced me to Kell Robertson’s poetry
when I was a kid. I was thunderstruck. Sure, I had heard of Kell, even before I read his work. People used words like cowboy, underground, or outlaw to describe him. But that’s not the first impression I had of Kell’s poetry. I was amazed at how well he portrays the human condition. Kell writes about people I know, and his voice sent a flaming arrow straight to my soul.
Kell Robertson speaks my language–the voice of the working class, the strong, aching backbone of the world. Here is a poet who’s not a poser, a poet who truly knows what the word hardscrabble means. And it is beautiful, damnit. Not contrived or stereotypical. When I read Kell Robertson’s poetry, the pages in my hands sing.
You don’t have to be working class or a cowboy or a lover of campfires to appreciate Kell’s work. Anyone can love lines like these from his poem, Song:
A mad old man staggering down the road
mumbling to himself of bones and promises
of bells that ring in his heart at night
and corpses that actually sing to him
from beneath the rocks of silence.
I’m surely not a reviewer, because everything I try to say about the poetry of Kell Robertson comes out sounding like a high school groupie screaming in the front row. Freaking awesome poet are three words that instantly come to mind.
So, I’d better leave the reviewing to the professionals. Here’s a really good review by Todd Moore about Kell’s latest book, The Goofy Goddess On The Wall. The above passage from Song is from this book. Of course, you probably know that Todd Moore is also an excellent poet. Check out Todd’s review HERE. Outlaw poetry and free jazz network is a great site, so stick around there and read it all.
To order Kell’s book, send $5.00 to Iniquity Press/Vendetta Books, POB 54, Manasquan, NJ 08736. Dave Roskos is the editor and can tell you much more than I can. All I know is that I have read the book at least fifty times, and yes, the words still sing.
Kell is also one of my favorite musicians. Here’s a link to a video posted by hipbilly on Myspace Videos of Kell and Jason Ecklund playing and singing. I wish I had been there. Watch the video HERE. Check out Pathwise Press for more about Kell’s books. A sample of Kell’s poetry from The United States of Poetry (World of Poetry) site can be found HERE
Here’s a great Lummox Press Interview with Kell by RD “Raindog” Armstrong (also inspired by Todd Moore). After you read the interview, go to their home page and check out the awesome stuff going on there, too. Mike Good and the Blonde Boy Grunt & The Groans site also has more information about ordering Kell’s books and/or CD’s. Another very cool site. I’d also love to hear them play.
If I’m not crediting everyone correctly, please set me straight, and I’ll try to fix it. I don’t know what I’m doing three fourths of the time, especially here. I could go on and on about my admiration for Kell Robertson’s poetry. But it’s closing time now. So let’s just have one more round and one more song in his honor.– by Julie Buffaloe-Yoder | October 29, 2008