Tom Weatherly

'never muted heart'

Tom Weatherly's trespass

Maumau American Cantos, Tom Weatherly’s first collection of poetry, possesses one of the best titles for a book of any decade of the twentieth century, and perhaps even for the century as a whole. Yet, three years after his death, his work remains almost completely ignored. In this essay, primarily via readings of poems from the Maumau Cantos, I will hope to show why such neglect is borderline criminal.

Maumau American Cantos, Tom Weatherly’s first collection of poetry, possesses one of the best titles for a book of any decade of the twentieth century, and perhaps even for the century as a whole. Yet, three years after his death, his work remains almost completely ignored. In this essay, primarily via readings of poems from the Maumau Cantos, I will hope to show why such neglect is borderline criminal.[1]

Poem and reminiscence

Post-it note of poem with doodle by Tom Weatherly, circa 1980s.

This time you were a man
Akua Lezli Hope
for TEW II

Essay with Tom Weatherly in it

Cover of ‘Lip’ no. 1 (1971, left) by Sam Amico.

Note: This essay appeared in the first issue of Lip magazine (1971), published by Middle Earth Books and guest edited by Victor Bockris. Other contributors included Gerard Malanga, Patti Smith, Tom Pickard, Aram Saroyan, Tom Clark, Andrew Wylie, Tom Raworth, and John Wieners.

Reminiscence

On Tom Weatherly, October 2014

Left: Tom Weatherly, ‘Thumbprint,’ 1971; right: John Ashbery, ‘Self-Portrait in a Convex Mirror,’ 1977.

Tom Weatherly’s poetry seamlessly combines jazz-inflected improvisational tendencies and the cool minimalism of Pound and H.D. How can this be? Well, you had to know Tom to know the answer. He was always relaxed and funny in person, but you were somehow given to understand that this attitude was formed by darker and more serious forces. You always wanted to spend more time with him because of the ease with which it passed. I remember how disappointed I felt when I learned he had moved back to the south, and regretted not having seen him oftener than I did.

Reminiscence

On Tom Weatherly and Kenneth Bluford, 1972

Note: What follows is a reminiscence of a reading in celebration of the journal Lip, of which Tom Weatherly and Kenneth Bluford were a part, on Sunday, November 19, 1972. — David Grundy

Email to Jerome Rothenberg

NoteThis text is excerpted from an email sent to Jerome Rothenberg in January 2011. — David Grundy 

Uncollected later poems (2009–2014)

Weatherly’s 2011 New Year’s card.

I want to know every thing about the universe. I get a little pissed when I realize won’t live long enough, even a thousand years not enough time. I will learn what I can. — Tom Weatherly on Facebook 

Excerpts from 'short history of the saxophone'

Victor Bockris: Why do you think so many young poets are writing short poems now?

Tom Weatherly: Imitating God.

Victor Bockris: Well, if we’re imitating God, why did poets used to write longer poems? 

Weatherly: God in his old age is more succinct. 
Weatherly interviewed by Victor Bockris in 1974

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