Kurt Brown — A Photo Tribute

Editor's Note

It is with enormous heart that The Cortland Review celebrates National Poetry Month and the life and work of Kurt Brown, whom we all miss, the beautiful posthumously-published I've Come This Far To Say Hello: Poems Selected and New, and the friends who made that volume possible. Kurt, it turns out, was everybody's friend. Endearing, warm, funny, charming, curious, empathetic, imaginative, big-hearted, and compassionate are just a few of the adjectives in the letters from his friends, the contributors to this feature: Laure-Anne Bosselaar, Lee Briccetti, Wyn Cooper, Stephen Dunn, Richard Garcia, Janlori Goldman, Andrey Gritsman, Kamiko Hahn, Steve Huff, Meg Kearney, Eugenia Leigh, Thomas Lux, Laura McCullough, Christopher Merrill, Kamilah Aisha Moon, Martha Rhodes, David Rothman, Harold Schechter, Charles Simic, Tree Swenson, Charles Harper Webb and Marty Williams. Each one of them has offered us a favorite Kurt Brown poem with a personal note about their choice. We accompany the poems with a slideshow reminiscent of Kurt's life--a favorite song of his running alongside--excerpts from his "Notebook," and an essay "Kurt Brown: An Appreciation," by David Rigsbee.

Please note that for the first time in The Cortland Review's seventeen years, all the pages in this feature are silent. We loved and miss Kurt Brown, and it's his voice that we hope resonates here. Celebrate with us the genius and the heart of our kind, good friend.

Within the excerpts of Kurt's "Notebook," his personal journal, are photos of Soot, his cat, who apparently enjoys his work as much as we do. Kurt, Laure-Anne tells us, would "take an uncomfortable dining room chair to watch Rachel Maddow rather than wake Soot, sleeping on the couch."

And these few more bits about Kurt from Laure-Anne:

"He loved good food, and good wines-and, the last 3 years of his life, was in love with a tiny orchard in our back yard in which trees were squeezed and yet gave beautiful harvests. His favorite trees were an old persimmon tree and a sickly-looking but prolific avocado. It was lovely seeing him photograph the fruit from the lemon, peach, plum and tangerine trees to email to his friends. He'd pack "care packages" of them to ship to our friends in the East."

"Kurt was an unhappy fellow if he could not read at least 4 hours a day."

"He always had a collection of CD's in his car and would bellow-and I mean bellow and off tune, in a deep voice-along with Dylan and Mark Knoepfler or folk singers."

"When a new poetry book came out, either by a friend or even by a poet he admired but didn't know personally, he'd do The Happy Dance with me to celebrate it."

"He loved his stepdaughter Maelle (aka"Pook"), and his stepson Mathieu, Mathieu's wife Sara and their son Tibo. He was looking forward to teaching Tibo how to fish and write poems."

"He loved the Provence, especially the small village of Vauvernargues, near Aix-en-Provence. He loved Antwerp, in Belgium. He loved Duvel Beer and a Gray Goose Vodka, straight up, with a twist."

"He loved his white Panama hat. He loved blue linen shirts. He loved his friends most of all."

...and we loved him.

We thank Laure-Anne Bosselaar, Kurt's wife, for all her help; Laure-Anne and Steve Huff and every contributor who helped make I've Come This Far To Say Hello possible; each of these of Kurt's friends who loved his poems and leave here some reason why; his publishers who believed in his work; and Guy Shahar, TCR founder and Editor Emeritus, David Moody and Rick Tracy, TCR staffers, whose technical talents got all this love on the page and onto your computer screen.

Ginger Murchison

Kurt Brown

Kurt Brown

Kurt Brown wrote six books of poems: Return of the Prodigals (Four Way Books, 1999), More Things In Heaven and Earth (Four Way Books, 2002), Fables From The Ark (WordTech, 2003), Future Ship (Red Hen Press, 2007), No Other Paradise (Red Hen Press, 2010) and Time-Bound (Tiger Bark Press, 2012). The last in 2014, his posthumously published I've Come This Far To Say Hello: Poems Selected and New, is from Tiger Bark Press.

He was the author of six chapbooks: The Lance & Rita Poems, which won the Sound Post Press competition in Columbia, Missouri (1994); Recension of the Biblical Watchdog, which won the Anamnesis Poetry Chapbook Competition (1997); A Voice in the Garden: Poems of Sandor Tádjèk, published by Beyond Baroque Literary Arts Center (1998); Mammal News (Pudding House Press, 2000); Fables from the Ark, which won the Woodland Press Poetry Chapbook Competition (2002), and Sincerest Flatteries: A Little Book of Imitations, published by Tupelo Press in the Masters' Series (2007).

He was editor of three annuals: The True Subject (Graywolf Press) and Writing It Down For James and Facing The Lion (both from Beacon Press). He edited the anthologies Drive They Said: Poems About Americans and Their Cars (1994), Verse & Universe: Poems about Science and Mathematics, and co-edited with Laure-Anne Bosselaar, his wife, Night Out: Poems About Hotels, Motels, Restaurants & Bars (1997).

He was editor of The Measured Word: On Poetry & Science (University of Georgia Press, 2001), co-editor of the tribute anthology for the late William Matthews, Blues for Bill (University of Akron Press, 2006) Conversation Pieces: Poems that Talk to Other Poems (2007) and, with Harold Schechter, the anthology, Killer Verse: Poems about Murder & Mayhem, (2011) both from Alfred A. Knopf 's Everyman's Library Series.

Lost Sheep: A Portrait of Aspen in the '70s, a memoir describing the town during a crucial period in its history, was published by Conundrum Press in 2012; and Eating Our Words: Poets Share Their Favorite Recipes is due out from Tupelo Press in 2015.

A book of translations with his wife Laure-Anne Bosselaar, entitled The Plural of Happiness: Selected Poems of Herman de Coninck, was published in the Field Translation Series in 2006.

He taught poetry workshops and craft classes at Sarah Lawrence College in Bronxville, New York and was a recent McEver Visiting Chair in Writing at Georgia Institute of Technology in Atlanta, Georgia, as well as a visiting writer at Westminster College in Salt Lake City, Utah.

He was an editor for the online journal MEAD: The Magazine of Literature and Libations.


Thomas Lux

Thomas Lux
At the Blue Gates


Stephen Dunn

Stephen Dunn
On Kurt Brown...


Charles Simic

Charles Simic