After years of neglect, 2021 was an auspicious year for the work of N. H(Norman) Pritchard II, with the long-awaited reprinting of his two published volumes, The Matrix: Poems1960–1970 and EECCHHOOEES by Ugly Duckling Presse/Primary Information and DABA Press respectively. In July, Jacket2 published a 1978 interview with Pritchard conducted by Judd Tully, providing an acute insight into Pritchard’s philosophy, and a far more detailed biographical picture than has been previously available. Nonetheless, there are still many gaps to fill in. In particular, Pritchard’s extensive writings and visual artworks remain unpublished. The following note provides a brief outline of these writings based on available evidence in the hope of contributing to our ongoing sense of Pritchard’s legacy. A forthcoming article will expand on some of this in more detail.
Judd Tully interviewed N. H. (Norman) Pritchard on Sept. 11, 1978. The ninety-minute conversation is informative and engrossing, offering more information about Pritchard than has been previously available. Pritchard was a poet in the CETA / Cultural Council Foundation Artists Project in New York and Tully, a CETA writer, interviewed him as part of the program. PennSound is happy to make this recording, made as part of the Artists Project, available, thanks to Tully and to Molly Garfinkel of CityLore. Records of Pritchard's CETA assigments are here. For upated information on Pritchard's manuscripts, see David Grundy's report.
Norman Pritchard may have been the most formally innovative visual poet in New York City in the late 1960s and early ’70s, and yet he largely vanished from the literary scene after publishing two exceptional books, and did not publish at all for the last two decades of his life.
My note on N. H. Pritchard was originally published inDark Horses: Poets on Lost Poems, ed. Joy Katz and Kevin Prufer (University of Illinois Press, 2004), along with a poem by Pritchard. Eclipse has now added to its full-text versions of both of Pritchard’s books a selection of his periodical and anthology publications. These are also linked at the EPC Digital Library. It is good to see so much more attention to Pritchard’s work than was the case a decade ago. So much of the poetry that captures today’s attention is, to use of phrase of Pritchard, quoted by Ishmael Reed, “tangential to thought.” His is not. (2014)