Sunday, 19 July 2015

Tony Towle

“Tony Towle is one of the best of the second generation New York School poets. Winner of an early Frank O’Hara Award. His work is very distinctive within the NY School range: urbane, hilariously ornate, selfconscious, lyrical, discursive, a sensibility that is both Romantic &, at times, neo-Augustan, Pop & high-brow, thoughtful & playful, rhapsodic & dry. A really terrific poet. That is to say, one of our favourites: preposterous & beautiful.”

With this verdict about Towle’s poetry, Ken Bolton is definitely not alone. Throughout the years, Towle has received fellowships from the National Endowment for the Arts, the New York State Council of the Arts, the Poets Foundation, and the Ingram Merrill Foundation, along with the aforementioned Frank O’Hara Award in 1970.

He is indeed a true New York poet. He was born in Manhattan in 1939 and has lived in the city most of his life. He started to write in the early 1960 and soon was established as a member of the “second generation” of New York poets after attending writing workshops with Kenneth Koch and Frank O’Hara. As Hoover points out in the anthology, Towle was – like many other New York poets – influenced by the French surrealists, yet:

“Towel’s poems reflect this interest more in their dreamlike rhetoric rather than in their discrete images. In this respect, as well as in its heightened diction and elegance of style, his work resembles that of John Ashberry.”

Towle has published more than a dozen volumes of poetry. He also wrote reviews for Art in America and Arts.

Links: (Ken Bolton’s Review of The History of the Invitation - New and Selected Poems 1963–2000)

My poem below takes its inspiration from the colour mix of Towle’s “Random (Re-arrangeable) Study for Views”. I chose to work through the colour names of the nail polishes in my drawer and build a poem from it.

~ - ~

Re-arrangeable in Moonlight

I honestly try Mint Bonbon
sharp and sweet and so adventurously Artful
taste like look Pretty Bang Bang
selfless Queen Victoria Street exits
I have these Satellite Dreams sometimes they upsetting
darkly Berry Potter & Plumbledore saint
Eve’s Mint Candy or apple on a stick
it’s those Night Out fascinations
when I draw Azure Amore
hush the Ocean my little night owl
the dark’s silent horizon Metal Flip wings disappear
she don’t Hip Queens Wear Blue Jeans
she don’t the Amaretto pearls
we just wait along Double Decker Red each time longing
I honestly try Free To Be
with the smoke rising from her Orango Bloom
billowing Beach Babe
time passes Passion For Fashion still
as it rolls down Cromwell Road heavy
raining Acid Drop motions slowly
like the Baker Street vendor the man who disappeared
into Midnight Sapphire changing colour
Soho Peacock feathers all over
the street corner in Deep Red dye
blue flash lid Total Action
she wouldn’t she wouldn’t Wicked
singalong Galaxy starlet
small along the winding of The Thames at 4am
a rip two inches long Lagoon Lace rivers we weren’t careful
tonight So Cool
outside Mayfair Mews urbanist landshape
two girls tuesday Midnight Rocker 
roll down lightly so It’s Hot to walk away

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