ABOUT THE AUTHOR

I grew up in Euclid, Ohio, a suburb east of Cleveland. My mother taught English at the high school, and my father was an accountant. Most of my youth was spent playing baseball and basketball on the playgrounds. Nights I stayed up late in the basement, reading everything from Bugs Bunny to Shakespeare.

After earning a B.A. from The College of Wooster in 1967, I moved to Manhattan, where I became a social worker, tending a caseload of Cuban Refugees. In 1968-69 I served in the Peace Corps in Paraguay, living with the campesinos on the jungle frontier near Brazil.

When I returned to New York, I worked at numerous jobs: English teacher to Hispanic immigrants, bartender, typist, mover, drywall man, painter. All the while I was working on a novel, writing poems and stories. In 1971 I had saved enough to live cheaply abroad for a year. I caught a freighter out of Brooklyn and landed in Casablanca ten days later.

Bumming around Morocco for a month was more than enough to convince me to move on; the whole country seemed stoned on kif or hashish. I found a place to stay with an old friend in Amatrice, Italy, in the Apennines, above Rome. There, I continued writing stories and poems.

In 1972 I entered CCNY's writing program, earning an M.A. in 1975. Successive year-long workshops, first with Anthony Burgess, then with Kurt Vonnegut, were the highlights of those years. Simultaneously, I had begun working part-time at McSorley's to support myself. Living above the old bar provided a unique opportunity to literally imbue myself with its life, past and present. This is reflected in the way THE McSORLEY POEMS is constructed: the artifacts, the characters, the family ghosts. They all speak, if you listen. And in the writing, this poet became a conduit for the voices that cry, shout, and whisper, some angry, some sad, others happy, all mingling and competing to be heard in McSorley’s.