Jerrold Levy and Richard Negro - 'Poems by Gerard Legro' was meant to be a critique of the ‘obscurity’ of modernist poetry from two disaffected teens in post-war America who were desperate to fight back against aesthetic and moral codes of maturity, propriety, and sophistication
Jerrold Levy and Richard Negro, Poems by Gerard Legro, BookThug, 2016.
In the spring and summer of 1949, Jerrold Levy and Richard Negro—two teenage pranksters with the right mix of bad attitude and artistic ingenuity—composed, circulated, and performed a collection of poems on the campus of Black Mountain College, an experimental school located just outside Asheville, North Carolina.
Now, BookThug is bringing this previously unpublished work to light for the first time in Poems by Gerard Legro, edited with annotations by noted Canadian poet and scholar Alessandro Porco.
Porco’s insightful work (including a critical introduction, explanatory notes, and rare photographs sourced from archival documents and historical materials) offers an enlightening exploration of a side of the Black Mountain College canon that’s rarely seen. Rich with aleatory compositional methods and found materials, and replete with scatological puns, doggerel rhymes, and surreal imagery, Poems by Gerard Legro was meant to be a critique of the ‘obscurity’ of modernist poetry from two disaffected teens in post-war America who were desperate to fight back against aesthetic and moral codes of maturity, propriety, and sophistication.
This unique and timely addition to the canon of Black Mountain College will appeal to poetry and art enthusiasts and students—especially those interested in twentieth-century American poetry and literature, the work of Black Mountain College scholars, and major art figures like Salvador Dali, Frida Khalo, Julien Levy, Ilya Bolotowsky, Herbert Bayer, and Josef Albers.
“Beautiful Gerard Legro is alive. At Black Mountain College two students rebelled against their teachers, Josef Albers and Charles Olson, to create a mythic figure—part hoax, part avatar of disenchanted youth—who is entirely their own.… These poems are a vital addition to the history of the extraordinary educational experiment that was Black Mountain.”—Kaplan Harris
“The literary history of Black Mountain College has received a useful amplification and illumination in the form of Poems by Gerard Legro…. Through his detailed and insightful introduction, and in his careful annotation of both the poems and the circumstances of their composition and (non-)dissemination, Alessandro Porco equips the contemporary reader not just to get the joke(s), but also to appreciate the significance of a fascinating project, equal parts homage and satire, that has too long languished in archival storage. A valuable recovery.”—Steve Evans