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  December 2007
Columns
volume 5 number 3
 
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Mike the Poet
The Tip of the Iceberg
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Marie Lecrivain
Kalamity J's Mother's Urn, Memoir Dust
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Marie Lecrivain
David Mclean's a hunger for mourning
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Theresa Antonia
Harry E. Northup's Red Snow Fence
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Jack G. Bowman
Jan M. Steckel's Underwater Hospital
  a personal history of rock 'n' roll
G. Murray Thomas
Drugs And Rock 'N' Roll
 
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Theresa Antonia December 2007
   

 

Harry E. Northup's Red Snow Fence

Harry E. Northup’s newest collection of poems is called Red Snow Fence by Cahuenga Press, operated by fellow poet-members James Cushing, Phoebe MacAdams, and Holly Prado Northup.
    Red Snow Fence looked like it would be a delight to read from cover to cover, and so I did, one day during the summer because, quite simply, I just could not put it down.
    In the Los Angeles poetry community Harry Northup is known as an actor, often serving under of one of his favorite directors- Martin Scorsese. Northup has been in 37 films to date including The Manchurian Candidate, The Silence of the Lambs, Taxi Driver, Alice Doesn’t Live Here Anymore, and New York, New York. He has also appeared on television, 43 different shows, but my personal favorite is (think early 80’s evening soap opera… give up?) Knott’s Landing in a recurring role!
    I believe he does his best work as a poet. Soft, emotional, and real, Northup the poet talks about things dear to my own heart: his love for his wife, a wonderful poet in her own right, family, finding yourself, losing yourself (even after years of looking), acting and cats.
    The book is divided into five major sections, each spanning a different time period. In “Grave Marker: 10-5-02 through 2-5-03,” he talks about the various parts of his life and what is to come in the subsequent parts of his book; his upbringing delivering the Rocky Mountain News in “jobs”; acting and working with Scorsese in “his first six”; his wife Holly in “friday in ojai”; and his family in “nov. 12, 2002”, especially the part about his mom:

    mother always put her family ahead of herself,
    she let her teeth go


    He continues with a poem about one of their cats in “to catch her sleep,” where he recalls the time she broke her leg and:

    she moved quickly towards freedom,
    dragging her leg like frankenstein.


    In the section “A Country Away: 12-25-02 to 7-9-03,” one of my favorite poems, “today,” was written for his wife. He recounts a trip to the Farmer’s Market on Holly’s birthday and concludes:

    our home; woman sleeping in bed
    3 cats sleep on newly restored couch
    1 female by my side
    heat on, quiet, almost midnight
    a thousand reasons to hold her hand
    as we walk on grand


    In the section “The Night Has Always Been A Friend: 7-20-03 to 11-26-03,” Northup covers movies in which he appeared, trips to New York for film productions, his father, family, and cats, and not being able to sleep at night. Northup shares insights about all sorts of people in his life and how he encountered each one: from meeting his first wife to meeting Holly, actors, baseball stars, working on The Manchurian Candidate and going to and coming back from jobs. I particularly enjoyed the poem “Meetings,” which describes Northup’s meeting Allen Ginsberg. In “Meetings” he describes sharing a cab with Ginsberg to St. Mark’s Place after his acting class. In the cab, he and Ginsberg discuss poetry.
    Northup meets Ginsberg again on the Sunset Strip while working as a waiter and Ginsberg asks:

    Are things beginning to break for you?

    (Note: Ginsberg was with Timothy Leary at the time.)

    The collection's title poem “Red Snow Fence: 12-31-03 to 7-27-04,” sums up the childhood experiences that shaped him

    …nebraska, where dirt roads, farms, small
    towns, boyhood friends, libraries, base-
    ball diamonds, wheat fields, hide-outs,
    fences, bikes, theft, snow, hot summers,
    pepsies & peanuts, fried chicken, roast
    beef, Sunday mid-day dinners, flags,
    log cabin, silver dollar, brownson
   tavern, kids, greenlee’s pip’s …”
    to
    ...carl crouse telling us
    to write our speeches ‘clear, consise
    & to the point’
    where I wrote 3 ‘I speak for democracy’
    speeches & won all 3 high school
    contests, 10th–12th grades
    where I played baseball in the snow
    outside on a dirt court
    where I played basketball & baseball
    team for s.h.s.
    where I won & lost& dreamed of playing
    In the major leagues
    where I loved pretty small town girls


    In the final section, “Recluse: 4-12-05 to 9-27-05,” Northup ends with some beautiful images in the poem “circle of flame on water”:

    Earth, the river has fallen,
    Golden wings- white blaze
    Man on horse, all white, arrows
    Stuck in his shield- light down…

    Buildings, an arrow up, a large
    Golden circle, white arrows up, rows,
    Rows- face with helmet-fires of
    Shadows resounding , tree & figure
    Golden pipes, fire & cow, single flame


    Say good night Harry..."
    (Good night Harry...")
    Pleasant dreams.

(Red Snow Fence, Harry E. Northup, copyright 2006 Cahuenga Press, 304 pp., $15.00, ISBN 978-0-9715519-5-4)

copyright 2007 Theresa Antonia

   


Theresa Antonia


author's bio

    Theresa Antonia is Italian. To prove this, she keeps a photo in her purse of her grandfather in his wife beater t-shirt, cigar in his mouth, a jug of wine on the table his "friends" are sitting around in the basement, a bare bulb dangling overhead.
    She's also an internationally published poet, grant recipient, artist in residence, and freelance photographer with a master's degree in psychology.
    She's performed her one woman show at Beyond Baroque, and all over L.A. Published in numerous anthologies, and special edition chapbooks, she's a contributing editor for poeticdiversity, a co-director and editor for the Valley Contemporary Poets, is known for writing in a narrative prose style, and is still finishing her documentary on creativity, To contact: tc_art@hotmail.com.

tc_art@hotmail.com