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  Kenward Elmslie
Kenward Elmslie's
Kenward Elmslie
many poetry books include Circus Nerves, Agenda Melt, Routine Disruptions: Selected Poems & Lyrics, and Motor Disturbance, which won a Frank O'Hara award. He has written the librettos of six operas, including Lizzie Borden, and the book and lyrics for the Broadway musical The Grass Harp. He has written a novel, the Orchid Stories; a play, City Junket, produced off-Broadway with sets and costumes by Red Grooms; Bimbo Dirt, a whodunit spoof with visuals by Ken Tisa, and Bare Bones, a memoir of his years with Joe Brainard. In February, 2005, LibrettoLand, an intimate revue of his writings for the page and state is scheduled to open at the York Theatre,(NYC) with a cast of four, featuring Elmslie.

'From the high art hi-jinks of Pavilion (1961) through the melancholy, AIDS-tinged Postcards on Parade: a Musical Play (1993), Kenward Elmslie has led an extraordinarily diverse and rich writing career. No one can say ahead of time exactly what Elmslie will be doing on such and such a date, but he is a master showman and has promised he won't let us down. Come and bring your children, so that one day they may be able to tell their own children, "I saw Kenward Elmslie," as one who might say, "I saw Marlene Dietrich," or "I saw Dylan Thomas." On second thought, you might leave the children at home after all and just enjoy yourself for once. Poet, novelist, librettist and "performance artist," Kenward Elmslie is one of the unforgettable writers of our time."It is as though Burroughs' permanent apocalypse were being observed by someone else: not a closet Savonarola, but someone motivated by the humor, sensuality, and joie de vivre of an O'Hara... The world may be an industrial swamp, but Elmslie's dazzling one-step ahead induction of it is a cause for rejoicing and even joy.'
John Ashbery

No Liquour in the House



Kenward Elmslie
I.
Lizzie Murder Music included,
cue accident. Loose teeth

(long run) affordable.
Affable Ishy, handsome rambler.

Despite familial dread (plot)
stuck with bus & burb Macheath.

Prissy? He clarifies butter!
Death Breath time scrambler.

2.
Proffers cold Dutch lips.
Yet another kiss from Youth Hell.

Need my zzzzzs, so nibble mesclun,
wolf Cherry Garcia.

Arrogant prick! I mutter-mutter
hot threat. Move O-U-T. Hotel.

Rewrites? Quel horreur!
Gee, I once went to a Dr. Swee. A-

3.
squat, Jack Beeson, as if homeless, snacked,
seersucker impeccable, on the sidewalk,

pre-gig. Coffee-cig truce. Philip Roth
(breakthrough—civilized discourse)

now a recluse. Helen of Troy
sashay is how I'd walk

through killing fields, back to
boyhood. Blue Nile source.


from Agenda Melt, (Adventures in Poetry, 2004)


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