Friday, August 22, 2008

Leah Angstman: On Poet Ed Galing

(Ed Galing)

( Leah Angstman)

This is a statement from publisher Leah Angstman, who has and is publishing a series of poetry chapbooks of the work of 91 year-old small press legend Ed Galing. Leah is the founder of the “propaganda press” that is now located in the Somerville - Cambridge, Mass. axis. I have been friends with Ed Galing for years and I share many of these sentiments with Leah. Believe it or not I have never met Ed in the flesh, but I still consider him a good friend. Mark Pawlak, an editor for the “Hanging Loose Press” told me that this is not uncommon. He considered himself very close friends with a late West Coast poet even though they never actually met. Sometimes letters, emails and phone calls can cement a friendship. You might even be disappointed if you actually met the person. I don’t think that would be the case with Ed!



ed first sent me a sample manuscript back at the end of 2004 after getting my contact information from other poets in the small press, many of whom i was printing at the time and some of them local east coasters: joseph verrilli, b.z. niditch, the like. he sent me the manuscript right as i was packing all of my belongings in cardboard boxes to move from my then-apartment in detroit across the country to the beautiful pacific northwest. the manuscript landed in a box and made its way across the country, untouched and unread. i had become quite sick at the time with a temporary, but long and painful, illness, and i had to take a breather from the small press, although i never put the pen down, myself. there was a two-year hiatus of just living and breathing perfect mountain air, but the tug of the small press called me back, as it suddenly seemed that the writing world was missing some of its faces and words. in these years we lost diehl, egleton, spillane, williamson, koning, l'engle, sheldon. there were personal losses: mailer, paley, styron, and vonnegut. and there were poet losses: leonard nathan, vincent ferrini, william meredith, jane cooper, dmitri prigov, and the east coast's own sarah hannah and stanley kunitz. i started feeling like i needed to break back in and capture the words of the small press before even more fled.

so i pulled out the cardboard box of hidden and unloved manuscripts, dusted them off and gave them another look. in this box of treasures was one that seemed so genuine, so honest, that i almost couldn't touch it; this manuscript would later become what is today's confessions of a white hat, the first chapbook of ed galing's published by propaganda press. but just as surely as i'd set foot on the ground to reclaim my stake in the small press, the winds of change were making their way back across my life, and it was time to haul out those cardboard boxes and pack up my life again.

this time to the other coast, to breathe different ocean air amidst blunt people and tough attitudes, but to thrive among a culture- and history-rich small press and indie art scene in boston. and right at the turn of the new year, i dusted off that manuscript one more time to unveil the honest stories and words of ed galing. i needed to get them out to the world before we lost another one, to create a lasting place where the words of our past meet the people of our future.

ed's words are sincere, so very east coast, so very much a part of the surroundings and history of this place: the bluntness with no pretense or sugar coating. in casual conversation, i asked a fellow friend in a bar if he knew some underground poets, and of all the names i mentioned, he only knew one: ed galing. ed has a place here, among the pages of history books on this coast; he is a journalistic voice of a bygone era reminding us of how things change, yet how cyclic it all is, how swiftly the seasons move, yet how long we are grounded to this earth. he is a reminder of how we need to know ourselves, our race against the clock, our honesty with all that surrounds us. simply put: ed galing is the living testament of history to this country; and if we are to see ourselves into the future, then we must reach back and understand our past, know from whence we came, know how we all got here and where we're headed. ed will help you reach back and take that journey forward, and all i can do is bring him to you.

-leah angstman

1 comment:

Leah Angstman said...

but where is the statement? :)