©1998 A.D. Sullivan
Doing New Jersey's Laundry
The Angry Man of North Jersey Poetry
Chapter and Verse
A Poetic Influence
This iron city has lost its grit
rail road turned to condos
and convenience parking
even the ancient Tuck Tape Factory
has tapered down
its bulging middle trimmed
for executive parking
Thirty years ago, the trainsAnd sometimes, standing here waiting for a bus,
from Newark spread main street in half
with squealing steel brakes and quaking asphalt,
leaving the scents of grease and sweating brakemen,
and perfumed silk ladies going on to downtown Paterson
I still smell them,
caught in the whisper of air
on a hot Summerís day,
to savor and sip
like fading wine.
Doing New Jersey's Laundry
For years, arrogant New Yorker writers looked down their noses at the piddling efforts of New Jersey as if Art and New Jersey were contradictory terms, not because art doesn't exist here, but because it seems to those effete snobs that we work at such a primitive level, it is beneath contempt, and well beyond the ability of an archaeologist to dig it up and needing a Rosetta stone to figure out what it means. Much of this could be said of the Aztecs before Cortez clomped through their culture with his heavy, hob-nailed boots. But for decades, New Jersey, to many people, has been a vague wasteland across the Hudson River with no sense of self worth, and even though Walt Whitman lived here, and Williams Carlos Williams practiced medicine here, it was New York that mattered and the New York poetry scene.
Some of this, of course, has changed with the Dodge Foundation poetry event every two years at Waterloo Village. Yet even then, people traveled to and from it via Route 80, crossing the George Washington Bridge for a single 90 minute ride. They saw little of New Jersey except for the oil tanks, sewage plants, graffiti and eventually, trees. Borders Books and Barnes and Noble have provided new venues for bad poetry throughout the state, but many of those who find themselves with an inkling of talent, eventually drag themselves over or under the Hudson to Manhattan.
Things were drastically different during a brief time in the 1970s, when the great circle of development worked its way out from places like Newark, Paterson and Passaic. A brief and wondrous flowering of art appeared here, something belatedly called New Jersey's Renaissance.
Joel Lewis, editor of an anthology of New Jersey poets called "Blue Stones and Salt Hay," said the area ranging from Paterson down to New Brunswick "resembles more a science fiction writer's imagined Martian industrial park than it does a zone of human habitation," calling it a "laboratory for the testing of the limits of intensified urban living."
"The toll extracted from the delicate natural and social ecologies is, in retrospect, too great a pieces for a few decades of prosperity and now is being paid back in abandoned factories and isolated blue-collar communities," he wrote in an essay on the New Jersey poetry scene.
But Joel didn't see the 1970s as a renaissance at all, but as the brief flowering of an original movement that vanished in the early 1980s, he said that while New Jersey had Williams Carlos Williams, no legitimate movement emerged from that great poet's presence here.
"The great flowering of poetry in North Jersey occurred more than a decade after Williams' death in 1963," Joel wrote. "Arising in the wake of the Vietnam anti-war movement, and encouraged by a handful of magazine editors, workshop teachers, and reading organizers, there was a sense of artistic community amongst the writers of our sodium vapor lamp towns and curbless suburbs. One of the participants of that era, Richard Quatrone, referred to this period as the New Jersey Poetry Renaissance in a 1986 issue of Scrap Paper Review (Feb, 1986, ed). Although his sentiment is accurate, his labeling of the years between 1976 and 1981 misses the point. Renaissance implies renewal and revival; there was never as much concerned poetic activity in New Jersey as there was during those heady years."
Although Joel Lewis mentions one of the early 1970s poetry institutions "Bottom of the Barrel," he was never there, and mis-located the place in posh North Haledon when it occupied a corner in Haledon that directly faced one of the worst neighborhoods in Paterson's northside. He also mentioned Paterson's "Bohemian Poetry Cafe," the Cabaret, near Fatman's on Hamilton Street, but fails to mention "Stop the World," on Main Street which began the revolution in 1968. Indeed he mentions "the Lyndurst Ladies" who evolved into "The Bergen Poets," yet failed to mention the nearly viable "Silk City Poets" that occupied many of the Main Street lofts during that period or the Chianci Street cafe where many of them read. Indeed, in admitting he gave only a partial list, he also left out his own influence on the landscape, about his magazine and the early reading series he conducted in several locations in Hoboken.
Renaissance or not, it was particularly vibrant towards its end in 1979-80, then died a quick death after the election of Ronald Reagan, as if he had hatched some secret plot to keep New Jersey from recognition and keep New Jersey culturally isolated. The Paterson Arts Council crumbled, and for a time, so did the Great Falls Festival, revived later in a more insidious form when Maria Gillian, the empress of Paterson poetry began to take control over the arts in New Jersey, forming a questionable alliances with Barnes & Noble to control reading series from Edgewater to West Paterson.
Later, we learned that New Jersey, and in particular, Paterson, suffered a Republican sucker punch, falling into a political ploy that had the Republicans feeding Paterson oodles of SETA funds in order to make the Republican Mayor Pat Krammer look good. Reagan, who was a rebel in the Republican Party, cut off those funds, killing many of the cultural events they inspired.
The Great Falls Development Foundation that brought in such nationally known figures as the former Paterson native, Allan Ginsberg, succumbed to corruption and eventually let many of the historic buildings fall into flame and junkies.
The rise in the Capital Theater in Passaic also contributed to the slaughter of the art movement, as organizers saw small venues like the Bottom of the Barrel as a threat to their business. Through the use of attorneys and dubious legal actions, the Capital Theater and its rock and roll monopoly over north jersey forced the closing of many venues that provided live music and poetry.
But in 1979, many of us believed in the New Jersey Renaissance, with poets and poetry groups cropping up everywhere, without the benefit of a Bill Moyers PBS-TV series to make it popular. Some of the more hearty endeavors held on to the mid-1980s out of pure stubbornness, others faded quickly, while still others converted to new venues, taking on teaching jobs, or social work in an effort to maintain their contact with the institutions like Passaic County Community College, waiting for that moment when conditions would allow them to reemerge.
Richard Quatrone, who Joel Lewis once dubbed as "The Angry Man of North Jersey Poetry," seemed most stubborn in his resistance to change, holding on to his reading series at the Passaic Library and his publication, The Passaic Review, until very late in the 1980s, when he gave up his job as an English teacher in Passaic High School, and set out to become a playwright. He later taught at the Rutherford Adult School.
Scrap Paper Review interviewed him in 1986, just before his great flight, and asked about how he became one of the instrumental people of the 1970s poetry Renaissance. Quantrone did not always have a friendly relationship with us. During a 1980 poetry reading at the Passaic Library, Quatrone threw out one of SPR's editors, Michael Alexander. Joel Lewis, in a parody of open readings, recorded the event.
"We're back at the Forstman Library and we see Richard Quatrone throw out Michael Alexander from the open reading for the crime of wearing spiky hair & sticking out his tongue while Rich's mother was in the room. DON'T EVEN COME BACK TO PASSAIC AGAIN, (Quatrone shouts) at the miscreant Alexander. Al (A.D.) Sullivan follows behind in a gesture of solidarity (Also that the pair came in Al's 1968 Rambler) Al and Mike are part of the William Paterson College crew that show up periodically at local gatherings and sometimes hold readings at the school's art building. They are retired to EATS-U-WANTS, a punk restaurant in very un-cool Passaic, run by two ex-WPCers. Over Nehis & onion rings, Mike proceeds to critique the latest issue of Passaic Review & declares it worthless EXCEPT FOR ONE OR TWO LINES."
Unfortunately, Joel got many of the details wrong.
I was a regular at the Passaic Readings since 1978 when I moved back to Passaic. I also never owned a Rambler, of any year. I owned a 1961 Chevy Impala, a 1964, Ford Falcon, a 1968 Ford Farelane, a 1969 GTO, but I was likely driving a 1976 Ford Pinto at the time of that reading. Michael did stick his tongue out at Rich's mother, but only because Rich's mother sat in the front row glaring at him when he got up to read, obviously disapproving of Michael's punk appearance. She nearly had cardiac arrest when he did it, causing such a ruckus that Rich ran up and demanded Mike leave. Mike left screaming obscenities.
Now don't mistake me. No one on this end of the keyboard ever said the Passaic Review was the New Yorker, nor that the poet/editor Rich Quatrone should be called the next Shakespeare. Neither lasted long enough for Bill Moyers to rescue. But he did make his mark on that earlier generation of poets, and played his part in the history of New Jersey poetry -- perhaps, in the end, as important a role as Joel Lewis', though Quatrone never managed to get his poetry into "Blue Stones and Salt Hay," the definitive work on who's who in New Jersey poetry, never made it in, despite the fact that several less qualified poets did.
The Angry Man of North Jersey Poetry
As leader of the Passaic City Poets, editor of Crab Grass, and co-editor of the Passaic Review, Richard Quatrone can claim at least part credit for the ill-fated 70s revival of poetry in New Jersey.
"I took my identity as a poet in 1976," Quatrone said, defining the roots of his magazine and himself. "I'd been writing poetry a long time, but never had the audacity to call myself a poet. I began to look for other poets. My brother (Bob) taught at Fairleigh Dickinson and I used to go to LUNCH meetings, and began to see where I stood."
LUNCH was the literary magazine out of the Rutherford Campus of Fairleigh Dickinson, started by Bob Quatrone and poet Laura Boss.
Out of this personal and artistic appraisal rose the first hints of a Passaic literary movement, matching the many others then on the rise throughout Northern New Jersey: the Silk City Poets, the Bergen Poets, as well as numerous individual efforts which never received a formal name.
"I started what used to be called the Passaic City Poets (1977-79) and the magazine, the Passaic Review, came as an outgrowth of that," Quatrone said. "We used to do readings, workshops and contests. But after a while people began to go in their own directions and the magazine remained."
It began with the idea of wanting to get published.
"The poets who had been in the workshop felt we needed to do something as a workshop to show the result of all our labor," Quatrone said.
The first issue featured Allen Ginsberg.
"We have Ginsberg in the issue several times," Quatrone said. "He gave us some great poetry. He even footnoted us in his new book (1986)."
Quatrone approached Ginsberg at the 1979 Great Falls Festival in Paterson and asked for the submission.
"I think he gave us something with worth and meaning," he said, "because he was taken by the fact that it was the Passaic Review and I think he had a commitment to Passaic and the Passaic River."
Later, Quatrone got David Ignotow, another well-established writer, to submit as well.
"But the real value," Quatrone insisted, "was in publishing good poets that were unknown."
While he admits the Passaic Review never became the magazine he hoped it would become -- "too establishment" as he puts it -- he looks back fondly on it. He would have preferred "keeping to the nitty gritty kind of poetry."
"What happens is that I got poetry from all over the Goddamn place, every Goddamn academic poetry in the world sent me poetry. We were overwhelmed. Only about one in twenty was any good."
He called it "cocktail poetry."
Although his magazine still thrives (1986) in its own right, Quatrone in some ways has transcended it, moving onto more personal expression of art, most recently entering the field of playwriting with a vigorous and positive energy.
He says he is often encouraged by his brother's example, and entered Rutgers University in 1965 with the idea of following his brother more closely.
College, he said, looked "like a nice typical American situation -- eight straight semesters living on campus," but something that gave him the "sense of structure" lacking in his early life. His family moved around from Jersey City to Lyndherst, then around Lyndherst eight times.
"We were like gypsies," he said.
But it was his father Quatrone spoke most often about when recalling his early years.
"He was a factory worker, worked at Otiz Elevator, a real independent type," Quatrone said, noting that his father loved baseball more than anything else. "He even tried out for the Yankees once, playing semi-pro ball around the Jersey City area."
When his father died, Quatrone said he found numerous journal entries and little poems in the man's room, things that he still have not worked up courage to study in detail, but knows they are important.
When Quatrone graduated Rutgers in 1969, poetry and the Passaic Review were not things he foresaw as in his future. While he fit into the flower power generation of the time, he did not have a strong political stand.
"I moved to New York City where I sold flowers on the street," he said. "I met a guy there and the next thing I knew I was getting an interview in the Madison Avenue Pub over beers and hamburgers for a job teaching English at the Kelly School -- a boy's school on 83rd Street in Manhattan. A year after that the biggest change of my life took place -- the Summer of 1970. I could say that I was walking one day and stepped off the edge of the earth."
That was the summer of Kent State and the Cambodia bombing. But for Quatrone it was a summer of confusion.
"I didn't know what was happening, who I was, what I wanted to do, what I was doing," he said. "A slight identity crisis. I think 1970 was what made me a writer, even if I didn't realize it at the time. I became a writer to heal my life, to make sense out of my own life."
Quatrone remembered hearing Abbie Hoffman speak at Columbia, but never took a part of the movement going on at the time.
"I think the extreme changes that were going on in the culture -- which were going on even more in New York City -- were a major part of my own chaos. I seriously stopped functioning," Quatrone said.
Then, Quatrone left New York City and -- like Walt Whitman -- began to wander around New Jersey again, living in strange places, meeting with strange people. He had no money, no future, only confusion.
"I used to write journal entries just to try and make sense of my life," he said. "I was really falling apart and yet at the same time, I was coming together for the first time in my life."
In 1971, while he was working in the Rutgers Newark bookstore, he began substitute teaching in Newark schools.
"I used to take a lot of ribbing about being a stock clerk," he said. "I had a degree from Rutgers New Brunswick."
Eventually, he found himself teaching at a children's shelter in Paramus, and began the arduous task of becoming a certified teacher for high school.
"When I was in high school I knew high school teachers were jerks," he said. "I didn't want to become one of them."
But his wife and co-editor, Lorraine, told him he was always in a class room anyway and that he should just go and do it and get it over with.
In 1975 he began substituting for classes in Passaic, and became a full time English Teacher in 1976, and over the next few years, set up the reading series and the publication, making his mark in the history of New Jersey poetry.
All features fade after time
the buried and the statue
wearing away with the same
The mind loses details
the clarity of a broke nose
lost in the transition
I remember details of Alice
see photographs, hear even
sometimes, her voice
But pieces are constantly
falling from her or wearing away
till only the stone remains
even that fades
Chapter and Verse
Long before Joel Lewis came to Hoboken, he had been dubbed the poet laureate of Hudson County. Even during the years at William Paterson College, rumors of his local touch floated among the literati, often as a subject of abuse. Who did Joel Lewis think he was: William Carlos Williams? In the smug literary world of the early 1980s, it wasn't fashionable to write about such mundane things as the Hoboken ferry or wandering around North Bergen, Weehawken or Jersey City.
Yet Lewis had the fortitude to maintain his standards, to build the first significant literary map of New Jersey since Williams, Allen Ginsberg and Jack Kerouac. Lewis seemed to understand something important about the function of poetry that many of his contemporaries only later learned, that in order for people to like poetry it must have some relevance to their lives.
Many of the literary elite of that time have finally come around to Lewis's thinking, and yet few have managed to paint better pictures of a changing Hoboken and Hudson County than Lewis has. In a way, Lewis's poetry has drawn on his experiences growing up here as a comparison to what this part of the state has become.
Although Lewis is a Hoboken resident, his reputation has always been greater outside Hudson County, where he is accepted as one of the premier New Jersey poets. "Bluestones and Salt Hay," an anthology of New Jersey poets he edited for Rutgers University Press in 1990 is considered by many in the literary field as the work which best defines contemporary New Jersey poetry.
But Lewis's House Rent Boogie and Palookas of the Ozone are books that define him, and in them, Lewis has managed to convey what it means to grow up and live here along the south edge of the Palisades.
Many of the poems he's written about this place have been published throughout the country in small presses and various anthologies, and over the years Lewis has received gradual accolades from local and national literary societies. In 1990, his manuscript won a prestigious Ed Berrigan award, resulting in the publication of "House Rent Boogie." In New Jersey his efforts have gotten him a grant from the New Jersey Council on the Arts.
Although he has received degrees from William Paterson College and the City College of New York, Lewis cites his study with Allen Ginsberg at Naropa in Boulder, Colorado, as one of the most significant moments in his literary life.
Lewis says his writing is about the experience of experience, about the sense of being around.
"It is about walking around the town, about little things like a friend losing his jacket at the Brass Rail, about the interior things that are the experience, anything from Carlo's bakery to a description of City Hall," says Lewis. "Even seemingly mundane experiences have their value. There is a fabulousness about everything.
"I consider myself a political person," he adds, "not in the civic sense but the greater political sense, living in an era of late capitalism. I want people 150 or 200 years from now to understand what it is like to have lived in Hoboken during this period of change."
What many people in the new literary scene now re-emerging in Hoboken, is that Lewis reintroduced poetry to Hoboken after a long, long hiatus. While Alan Ginsberg, Jack Kerouac and Hershel Silverman used to make regular visits to Hoboken's Clam Broth House during the early 1950s, the real literary scene here did not start until the late 1970s.
During that period northern New Jersey underwent a renaissance thanks to federal CETA money. In Paterson, the Silk City Poets formed. In Passaic, another literary group formed around its library. The Bergen Poets solidified the scene from Fort Lee to Fairlawn. Here in Hudson County, Lewis began readings at Lady Jane's Cafe -- which was then in North Bergen. Later, he and other Hudson County poets started regular readings at the now defunct Beat 'n Path on Washington Street in Hoboken.
"That was the summer of 1979," Lewis says. "At the time it was a homey sign in Hoboken's new community. John Vitell owned the place. He had a back room. We said if we could hold readings we might bring in some customers on his slow nights. And it worked."
Some of the biggest names in contemporary poetry came: Amiri Baraka, Joseph Ceravalo, Max Greenberg, Ted Berrigan, Alice Notley and Jim Brody as well as many local poets.
"We wanted to match up local poets with some of the better named poets," Lewis says. "This was a learning experience. It was a chance for local poets to associate with people who had made a name for themselves."
In these early years, the poets would wander over to the Brass Rail where they would discuss their art over a few glasses of beer. "That was when the place was still an old guy's bar," says Lewis. "We used to hang out there."
Audiences were pretty large. Many writers, active in the New York literary scene, lived in Hoboken because it was cheap. This was all before the real estate boom, when artists could actually afford to live here.
"A lot of the writers lived in basements for a $100 a month rent," Lewis recalls. "I knew one writer whose rent was $55. His landlord hadn't raised the rent since World War II."
By the 1980s, the mantle of local poetry passed onto others. The poetry moved up to Maxwell's where it continued for another 10 or 11 years. Recently, Maxwell's revived its regular reading series, although it plays second fiddle to the music scene.
Lewis also ran a poetry series at the Unicorn Bookstore in 1982 -- where the Caffe Roma is today. This was a precursor to the Barnes and Noble concept, where bookstore, cafe, and art gallery were combined.
"We always introduced local people to the best writers," Lewis says. "It helped make that scene work."
New York people flocked here, taking advantage of the 30-cent PATH fare.
"Ted Berrigan said at the time that if you wanted to see what New York looked like in the 1950s, you should come to Hoboken," Lewis says. "All that, of course, changed when Hoboken started to convert into what it is now."
But the early poetry scene here, Lewis says, drew attention. During the changeover, numerous profiles were done on the readings, people came and filmed the readings.
"We got a lot of attention," he says. "They wanted to show that Hoboken still had culture. Yet development put the kibosh on the cultural scene. Even with the artists' tours it's not the same. Many of the writers here now are not as serious the group of people we had ten years ago. The poetry scene has not come together the way as it should have.
One big difference is the approach to art. The younger crowd is more interested in their own work, looking to get heard and publish, but not to listen to what others are doing, Lewis says.
"It's hard to develop community if you don't care about other people's work," he says. "You have to care about the art form and helping it survive."
Lewis does not make a living writing poetry. In today's society such an arrangement is rare. But he calls himself a "working writer," one who has published poetry, reviews and other forms of narrative regularly since the late 1970s. But he is a social worker by trade, part of a modern tradition of men like William Carlos Williams, who must work at one trade while keeping up his career as a writer. Yet, he says, it takes the strain off his art.
"A painter has to start making money right away just to cover the cost of materials and a studio," Lewis says. "And any musician with a full-time day job is hardly taken seriously, especially in the jazz world. But a writer can work a job and still work as a writer if he has self-discipline."
He says what makes it difficult to be a creative person in the 1990s is finding the inner resources from which to draw.
"I'm not just talking about making a living as an artist," Lewis says. "But so many people are career-minded today that they don't take time to learn anything that might bring them joy later. For a while, they leap into their careers, then later, after they've settled into their jobs, they find there is something missing in their lives. They never bothered to learn about other things like poetry when they were in school. So they go from one fad to other, expecting to fill that emptiness. Most people don't understand that you have to cultivate culture inside yourself, learning things when you're young that you can draw on later like poetry, music or art."
This is a big part of his writing, a cultivation of that other side of life inside himself.
"I go out and work with families as a social worker," he says. "Then, when I'm home I can draw on this other side. I share this side with friends from all over the country. I write letters. I share my poetry and discuss other interests and read and discuss other people's work."
He says one of the most dangerous messages in modern culture is the demand for conformity and careerism.
"I'm often reluctant to identify myself as a writer because I'm not taken seriously," he says. "People question how I can be interested in something where I don't make any money. Things without that kind of money value are seen as suspect <197> `Why are you doing this?' "
for Isabella Drew (who knows rock)
by Kenneth Lumpkin
from "Song of Ramapough"
June 13, 1984
or the range of
from Pompton Lakes
on up through
becoming the orangburgs
or what man calls
being as high once
as the Grand Tetons
in Cambrian times,
some 2000 million years ago
and this rock being
the watershed and glacial rock
sculpted down to
what we now
and do walk upon
or what we put
and the setting sun
is this rock
A Poetic Influence
From the poet Laura Boss' condo in the Galaxy building in Guttenburg, you can see the ships come in, from the grand old lady, the Queen Elizabeth II to the host of more modern cruise ships that make the Hudson River the cruise liner capital of the world. These ships and the view of the river are part of the reason Boss has lived here since 1982. Like many writers, she has deliberately sought out an environment that allows her to create -- although unlike many of the other poets from Paterson with whom she had associated, she has adopted the Hudson River as her source of inspiration.
"I like to write a lot about the Hudson River and New York," Boss said. "It is a wonderful place and I get to see more of New York City, and the river from here in Guttenberg than most people in New York get to see."
>From this high up in the tower, the river looks pristine, and the boats that sail up it, glisten in the sun. Seeing the great luxury liners brings back memories, too. Although Boss is barely reaching middle age, she recalls a time when she traveled extensively, visiting more than 50 countries -- much of which has also been a source of inspiration for her writing. And yet, Boss writes a very unpretentious poetry, something that documents what she sees rather than plays effete literary games.
"I've always written what I've seen," Boss said, preferring narrative poetry -- which tells a story -- to the more figurative language games some poetry involves.
Boss might write a poem about a candy store lady that lived with her when she was young, or about the river. Yet the real reason she became a poet was to preserve some of the stories she heard during her life.
And as America undergoes a poetry renaissance, Boss has her place in its history, as one of the foundations of the contemporary New Jersey poetry scene. She has won recognition on the metropolitan scene, has met and claims as friends some of the most important poets of our generation, and she has put out one of the two longest running literary magazines in New Jersey.
Along with being the founder and editor of Lips magazine, Boss was the sole representative of the United state in the 1987 Annual International Struga Poetry Readings in Macedonia Her awards for poetry includes a 1994 first prize in Poetry Society of Americaís Gordon Barber Poetry contest, an American Literary Translators Award, two New Jersey State Council on the Arts fellowships. Her books include Stripping from Chanty Press, On the Edge of the Hudson from Cross-Cultural Communications, which recently went into a second printing and bilingual editions, Reports from the Front. She has been included in several recent anthologies including Unsettling America, from Viking Press. Her poetry has also recently appeared in the New York Times.
Unlike many of the more avant-garde artists, Boss went through the rituals of middle class life. Although she was an English major as an undergraduate, she delayed obtaining her masters, marrying at 19, bearing her first child at 21. She lived the suburban life in North Caldwell, always struggling with the idea that she would eventfully get back to school. Eventually, she attended Fairleigh Dickinson University in Rutherford, and was immediately struck by the historic significance. Williams Carlos Williams had lived and worked in Rutherford (and someone she later met). What is more important, she began to win poetry contests and began to understand she had talent as a poet.
"I became much more serious as a poet," she said.
She also taught as an adjunct at the college, she became more deeply involved with the poetry scene in New Jersey and New York. She became the editor for a prestigious college literary magazine called Lunch, which directly inspired her to put out her own publication.
While she loved working on Lunch magazine, she also had an idea she wanted the publication to take, something that often conflicted with her co-editor.
"What I thought was absolutely wonderful, he didn't particular like, and what he really got excited about, I didn't see as wonderful. What I liked he hated."
So Boss decided to put out her own magazine, and -- unlike other long-surviving publications of its kind -- she funded it herself, hoping she could sell enough copy to make the magazine self sufficient. Over the early years, she watched many of the other publications fold, many of them too dependent on grants which vanished in the early 1980s.
While she had a long list of well-known poets in lips, many of these writers were unknowns when lips discovered them. She likes finding new voices and publishing talented writers never before published. Some of these writers come from New Jersey, many come from around the world, and Lips, over the last decade has become accepted in university libraries across the nation.
Boss has taken poetry on as a mission, teaching it in workshops, touring colleges, even bringing it to high schools and grammar schools throughout the area. She says likes letting people in on the workings of poetic mind, and has traveled extensively through schools in Bergen County over the last few years.
In some ways, Boss bridges generations of poets, introducing herself to the up and coming generation of poets, while maintaining her connection with the poetic past. One dear friend of hers is Gregory Corso, but she has been associated with other big names of the Beat generation, including Allen Ginsberg. She met Ginsberg in Paterson in the early 1980s and was intrigued by his generosity and his wisdom.
"He is a very wise man, and very loyal and kind to his friends," she said. "But he is not afraid to say what he thinks."
And in some ways, he and others have become an example of what she wants to do with her life.
"I don't know how I'm doing it, but I'm making a living as a poet, and that's something special," she said.
Boss has a long association with Hudson County, even though many of her activities are centered out of Passaic County Community College in Paterson, and stretch across the northern part of the state. She has read her poetry at Stevens Institute of Technology, and was one of the early poets from the old Beat n' Path on Washington Street in Hoboken. For many, Boss has become an institution in poetry, helping to run some of the more important reading series across Northern Jersey. She and Maria Gillian run a series at the Great Falls Festival in Paterson, at the West Paterson Barnes & Nobles on the first Thursday of every month, the Paramus North Barnes and Nobles on the first Wednesday of the month, and most recently have been asked to run the series at the Edgewater Barnes & Nobels on the third Friday of every month.
It took them two years to rebuild the bridge
between here and Garfield,
the roadway ripped up to its ribs,
rusting steel with nothing but brown surging water beneath,
our side bequeathed the rats and roaches and junk cars,
with factories spewing green liquid down
nto the water from concrete pipes,
while dead fish float at the bridge's feet,
low water showing its roots like rotting teeth
a few web-backed carp struggling at the foot of reeds,
scavenging the remains of their brethren,
bones of both rising with the morning froth
as barefooted children wade across in their rush to school.
c/o A.D. Sullivan
271 Terrace Avenue
Jersey City, NJ 07307