Joe Green was born in Coatesville, Pennsylvania, in 1948 and yet lives. As one can see from the picture of him as a young cowboy in this book he had big ears. He also attended St. Cecilia Catholic School back when attending Catholic schools was very, very strange. His poem about Sister Eucharista dangling a kid out a second-story window is true, although the Blessed Virgin Mary did not visit his mother so they could drink and watch the Perry Como Christmas Special together.
Joe got his ears fixed in the sixth grade. Things did not improve. He went to Bishop Shanahan Catholic High School in West Chester where, among other accomplishments, he was caught reading Nietzsche during a prayer retreat. He had concealed The Portable Nietzsche in a Lives of the Saints cover. This was in 1963 during the Cuban Missile Crises. Father Schneider caught Joe reading Friederich while taking a break from looking out the window to see if the Soviet Union had yet sent missiles to obliterate the school.
Joe graduated in 1966 and went to Marquette University. He lasted there for one year and was then kicked out because of his marijuana addiction—which he somehow overcame. Disgraced and branded, he slunk back home where he was accepted into Lincoln University in spite of the fact that he had smoked something someone said was marijuana but he suspected was electrical bananas as in the Donovan song . Lincoln is the United States’ first degree-granting historically black university. Joe went there on a minority student scholarship. Langston Hughes is another poet who attended this institution although, unlike Joe, he did NOT rack up over $150 in library fines.
Joe graduated just in time to be drafted. Somewhat reluctant to go off to Vietnam, Joe enlisted for another year and was sent to Monterey, California, to learn Russian at the Defense Language Institute. He did learn Russian and was then sent to Fort Huachuca, Arizona, to be a POW interrogator because he refused to sign up for another year. After graduating from there he was chosen to role-play as a Russian POW for Green Berets to interrogate. He was then sent to Fort Hood, Texas, to the 529th MI company (see his Army poems) where he taught English to brides of returning soldiers and was chosen to curate the Army’s collection of Bibles in foreign languages, including one in Hawaiian that mysteriously disappeared. He got out of the Army and went to California to begin his new adventure and ended up briefly selling vacuum cleaners door to door. He re-enlisted and went back to Fort Huachuca where, somehow, he ended up writing Army manuals. His first publication was not the epic poem about epic stuff he was thinking of writing but was “Nuclear, Biological and Chemical Warfare” in which soldiers were told—no matter what horror unfolded to—“continue the mission.”
Joe left the Army after seven years and got a job as a technical writer in Waco (Jerusalem by the Brazos) and then Dallas. Then he got a job at Control Data, Inc. where he helped design and write the first computer-based training ever. He also obtained access to Control Data’s “Plato” network of mainframe computers at universities and corporations and at once created a Poetry Newsgroup for persons to post poems, talk about poetry and for him to collaborate with Tim Smith (who lived in Carmel, California and had access to the network) on creating fake comic poets, comic poems and more. Connie, the love of his life, also had access to the system and was amused and saw through it all, so pretty soon Joe moved to Minnesota to be with her. Joe’s daughter from a previous marriage also moved up there. Joe flew out to California where he and Tim met, created the “Parapark Tapes,” together and began a collaboration and friendship which resulted in (among much else) the “Limerick Homer.” Joe married Connie in 1990 and their daughter Johanna was born! In Minnesota Joe got a job at Cray Research writing the user’s manual for the Cray YMP Supercomputer. Through this job, Joe got access to the USENET: a precursor to the internet and at once spent much of his time contributing to the books and poetry newsgroups. It was here that he met the Great Russian who would eventually publish him in the poetry annual, Fulcrum. Joe also founded the “O’Tooles,” This was a blissome group of blissome persons writing blissome this and thats. Joe wrote a story about meeting one of them called “Well Met in Minnesota,” which was a big hit … so much so that there was an article, “Bards of the Internet,” about it in Time Magazine. Joe was invited to be a featured speaker at the Third annual Conference on Computers, Freedom and Privacy in San Francisco in 1994 where he extemporized poems about J. Edgar Hoover to an audience of geeks and FBI agents, was told by the head of the Homicide Unit in NYC that he loved his performance, and where he was given a sequence of Star Trek sonnets that were quite good by a lady whose name he wishes he could remember.
Joe then was accepted into the English PhD program at the University of Minnesota. He thought he would be a professor. Ha! He loved it there though and loved his teachers: Chester Anderson, the editor of “Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man,” a great Joyce scholar; Tom Clayton, a very great Shakespearean scholar who would oversee the dissertation Joe would never complete; and the guy who was hired in the Sixties, somehow got tenure after publishing a paper on Keats, then, happily, never published anything else. Joe also met Stuart Reike there, who was a student in a class he taught and is a damn fine poet and musician who composed a song about Joe and the devil and, maybe, Robert Johnson.
Joe returned to work as a technical writer after passing his oral exams and insisting (and carrying it off) that there were hidden depths in Titus Andronicus. Joe had to study The Faerie Queene in depth to pass the exam and sometimes still shows symptoms. Then, in 2002, after renewing contacts with the editors of Fulcrum, he began to be published. His poems appear in every issue of Fulcrum and in one issue of Rattapallax No. 12 (as detailed in the Acknowledgements to this book). He also had three books published by Owl Oak Press: The Diamond at the End of Time (Owl Oak Press, 2006), The Dark Bark: Poetry and Songs of Rin Tin Tin (Owl Oak Press, 2006), The Limerick Homer (Owl Oak Press, 2008).
In August 2012 he began to write his novel The Chains of the Sea (search for it on Amazon! Please!) and finished all 752 pages by November 6, 2012. The novel recounts the quest of “The Visionary Company” to find “The Diamond at the End of Time” and reach God who has not been paying attention. One review says: “Oh my, step aside Samael for Joe Green shall ride on through. With a psychedelic mix of literature culture, music, pop art and motor drama weirdness Joe Green creates a dynamic and engaging fantasy world full of Eliot’s cats, dead poets, ray guns and a whole heap besides. There are no illegal substances required with this book as the lines themselves will hypnotize you, spellbind and daze you into an alter-reality, another dimension, well, several all at once with eyes focused on a ragged troupe of disparate travelers through time and space, immortal one feels as they discuss the lengthy and tangled web in which they exist, Godot with a large cast awaiting the final outcome, a mystery to all.”
Since then Joe has written some other poems that will appear in the newest edition of Fulcrum in 2015. Joe hopes he can get his mojo back.
Joe would also like to mention that he saw W. H. Auden read at Marquette in 1966 to a small group in the student union, and Joe still hasn’t gotten over his luck, and that he also saw Allen Ginsberg read at the University of Wisconsin–Milwaukee after students marched there with the Ginz because he was denied a chance to read at Marquette because he was a homosexual—unlike, one supposes, Mr. Auden. A strange world! Also please read Joe’s poem about Joe’s beloved Uncle Joe meeting Auden.
Praise for Joe Green
“I love Joe Green’s poetry very much, because it makes me laugh,
and because it is sad, and because he is a master of its form and its
forms.” —Silke-Maria Weineck, Chair of the Department of Comparative Literature, University of Michigan
“I have known the poetry of Joe Green for more than a decade, since
the early days of Fulcrum. And I say, with the fiercest of convictions,
that Joe Green is not only one of the tiniest number of poets in our
time who are authentic and really matter, but that he is one of the very
few contemporary poets who have meant the most to me. Humble
to a fault in promoting his own work, this long-needed Selected
Poems should finally put Joe on the map where he belongs—as a
master of craft and invention, a purveyor of tradition and sensibility
and right wonder, an influence upon countless younger poets, and
one of our own very few real contemporary classics. May this book
flourish widely among poetry lovers everywhere. It is certainly high
time.” —Ben Mazer
“Is there a single contemporary poet who can match Joe Green
for comic invention? His poems have more in common with the
wide-ranging madness of Voltaire’s Candide or Nathanael West’s
Miss Lonelyhearts than anything on your poetry shelves. And like
those masterpieces of dark comedy, Green’s poems have a core that
is humane and generous, reading him as restorative as spending
time in the sun.” —John Hennessy (author of two collections,
Coney Island Pilgrims (2013, Ashland Poetry Press) and Bridge
and Tunnel (2007, Turning Point Books). He teaches at the
University of Massachusetts and serves as poetry editor for The
“Joe Green’s poems have lit up journals such as Fulcrum for many
years, with their surprising turns—alternately allusive, absurd, and
personally moving—but always the poems you turn to first because
of the pleasure they deliver.” —David Latane (Professor of
English, Virginia Commonwealth University)
Alive as he could be
That’s not just any Selected Poems
It’s THE Sixties Anthology
Here are the lyrical ballads from the Apocalypse we call the Sixties
A definitive mythology of the Sixties
And then some ...
Robert Frost Foundation)