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Harold Norse

Poet Maverick, Gay Laureate

Edited by A. Robert Lee and Douglas Field

Despite publishing more than a dozen volumes of poetry between the early 1950s and the new millennium, the reputation of Harold Norse has remained on the periphery of literary history. Harold Norse: Poet Maverick, Gay Laureate is the first collection of essays devoted to this enigmatic poet and visual artist. Raised in Brooklyn, Norse developed his craft while living in Europe during the 1950s and 1960s and is best known for his associations with the American Beats. A prolific and well-regarded poet in his own right, Norse later became a key figure in Gay Liberation poetry. This volume brings together an international team of scholars to restore Norse to his proper place in literary history: as an important figure in the development of mid-twentieth century poetics.

“Harold Norse occupies a distinctive crossroads among American gay poets. The subtitle of this collection of fourteen essays states the situation clearly: Norse’s position in the history of poetry is a different thing than his position in the history of gay social and literary space.”
—The Gay & Lesbian Review/Worldwide

Prologue: The Case for Harold Norse | Jan Herman
Introduction | A. Robert Lee and Douglas Field
1 Harold Norse and the Perils of Literary Obscurity | Erik Mortenson
2 The Business of Poetry: Seeing and Hearing Harold Norse | A. Robert Lee
3 Seen from A Distance: The Individual Talent of Harold Norse | Fiona Paton
4 Harold Norse’s Friends | Daniel Kane
5 Finding Hermes in the Old Stain: Norse’s Early Work | Steven Belletto
6 The Memory of the Bastard Angel: Autobiographical Writing in Harold Norse | Estíbaliz Encarnación-Pinedo
7 Harold Norse Under the Sign of William Carlos Williams | Ronna C. Johnson
8 Hidden History: Norse and Bukowski | Kurt Hemmer
9 Turning the Blue Key: Harold Norse, William Burroughs, and the Infinite Early Cut-up | Chad Weidner
10 Chance in the Void: Cutting up Harold Norse’s Beat Hotel | Benjamin J. Heal
11 Cut-ups and Comosgraphs: Harold Norse at Work in the Beat Hotel | Tate Swindell
12 Due Norse: On Forgetting and Remembering Harold Norse, and His Place in the Queer Canon | Andrew McMillan
13 Running with the Underdog: Harold Norse and the Mimeo Revolution | Douglas Field and Jay Jeff Jones
14 From Bastard to Angel: Harold Norse as Mentor and Publisher in 1970s San Francisco | Todd Swindell
Harold Norse: Timeline | Todd Swindell
Afterword | James Grauerholz

About the Editors

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.

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Pages: 304 pages

Published: February 2022


ISBN: 978-1-63804-016-3

ISBN: 978-1-63804-017-0




Beat Studies Series