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About the Poems

Being around people writing is a gift, and for me, it was often an inspiration and guide to what I wrote myself.  In high school I wrote short fictions, mostly trying to write like Donald Barthelme.  When I went to the University of Chicago in 1971, I was fortunate to meet Steve Levine and Simon Schuchat, who were poets, and I was able to write poems, too.  Simon introduced us to Ted Berrigan, who taught at Northeastern Illinois University in those days.  We also met all the poets of Chicago -- Alice Notley, Art Lange, Rose Lesniak, Arnie Aprill, Paul Hoover, Maxine Chernoff.  So many people, each distinctive in his or her own way.  I had an infrequently produced mimeo magazine through those years -- "In The Light".  Through Simon again I met Allan and Cinda Kornblum of the Toothpaste Press in Iowa City and West Branch and all the Actualist poets that came out of the University of Iowa -- Darrell Grey, Steve Toth, Dave Morice, John Sjoberg, Chuck Miller.  In 1976 my collaborator Steve Levine apprenticed at Toothpaste Press and printed our collaboration "Three Numbers".  Later that year I apprenticed with Allan and he published my collection "Reasons for the Sky" in 1979.  In Iowa City in 1976 and 1977 I was privileged to know the great poet from Detroit and Colorado, Walter Hall.  Steve went to New York and I visited him and his friends there -- Gary Lenhart, Michael Scholnick, Greg Masters.  When I moved on to Dallas in 1982 I wrote George Butterick to get some issues of his magazine "Olson".  When I asked him what I should pay him, he said "take Gerald Burns out to dinner".  And that is how I met Gerald, whose great, long-lined poems were different from anything anyone I knew had written before, filled as they were with his knowledge and viewpoint.  Gerald's friend, J.R. Compton, has put together a page about Gerald, with some of his writings and drawings.  


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