Happy Solstice, Lenny Durso!

Thursday, December 21, 2013

On the shortest day of 2023, I am thinking of a friend who lives in Turkey. Lenny Durso is one of the most valiant writers I have ever met, and he deserves to be far better known. Over forty years ago, he was the proprietor of a bookstore in Santa Monica that didn’t shy away away from displaying the work of contemporary poets. After the store folded, he moved back to NYC, and then eventually settled in Turkey, where he administered several ESL programs.On the dedication page of HIDDEN PROOFS, you’ll find “To Lenny Durso & all the poets I published.”

He has a website that features his recent preferences in poetry and it’s a list that young poets could learn quite a lot from. Poems by the following poets appear in leonarddurso.com:

Su Tung-p’o
Ray Di Palma
Orhan Veli Kanik
Anna Akhmatova
Edna St. Vincent Millay
Gu Cheng
Iktay Rifat
Wendell Berry
Wakayama Bokusui
Paul Eludard
Cemal Sureya
Tess Gallagher
Kim Ku-yong
Po Chu-i
Hwang Jini
Kil Jae
Lu Yu
Hsu Kan
Li Ch’in-chao
Mark Strand
Mina Loy
Louise Gluck
Amy Lowell
Louise Erdrich
Wang Wei

It’s the kind of list that makes any selection of five names unwieldy as an indicator of whom Lenny might choose as a follow-up.If you said to yourself, “Well, Lenny likes Mark Strand, Louise Gluck, Louise Erdrich, Tess Gallagher, and Amy Lowell, there’s not chance you would spontaneously say, “Oh, yeah, I bet Ray Di Palma is waiting on deck.” Or if you named Anna Akhmatova, Paul Eluard, Edna St. Vincent Millay, Mina Loy, and Wendell Berry, would you immediately anticipate Gu Cheng, whose “Farewell” poem is heartbreakingly poignant?

Happy Solstice, Lenny! And thank you for continuing to inspire me.

Comments are closed.