September 27, 1973

The Irby family in Denmark, 1974.

27 Sep 73[1]
[Copenhagen, Denmark]

ED —
            Slow getting around to writing, getting settled at last, classes starting etc. Got a good apt finally, after 2 wks of searching, having things slip through my fingers, etc — its a hard place to find housing in, much less being able to afford it — but this place, in Christianshavn, the “bohemian” or “hippie” part of town, an area of cold buildings and canals & the remains of the 17th cent. fortifications and moat, certainly works out very well, with dishes, coffee grinder, utensils etc already in it — at 1000 Kr per month, with the dollar abt 5.7 Kr these days /  The classes don’t amt to much in the way of attendance: 2 in one class 1 (today at any rate) in the other — one Dane, one American, one Canadian! So the year’s my own really to use as I want // […] ANYHOW the days go by glorious & sunny, only a little of the usual Danish rains so far. I want to get the book ms. together for Moritz[2] but also wonder with his marriage split-up what chance there is of him getting anything out for some time to come. Have you got any ideas of other places/people/outfits might be interested — some collection of my stuff 68–72 or thereabouts —? // The trip over on the France was luxuriously a bore, the food good (but not great — the fish, for one thing, was frozen cardboard, no amt of sauce cd disguise —), copious, as was the table wine — drinks in the bar as expensive as NY, except Amer Picon, which I drank up all of their supply of — except for eating, I mostly slept & read Oliver Onions[3] ghost stories, talked with the Hellmans & smoked up the rest of my grass, fearing the customs which in fact did not materialize at all, nothing, neither in Germany nor Denmark. So far the only dope Ive gotten here has been so weak as to be pure fragrance of imagination of better times past fondly remembered, but hope springs eternal // How’s wid y’all? Bialy’s last letter suggested you were living in Riverside, verdad?[4] At any rate Im writing you there as best. /  Did you ever get the piece off to Alpert?[5] If not Id be mildly curious to see it myself, if you cd zip along a xerox //  Have almost 2 wks off the middle of Oct thinking of going with Ruth[6] somewhere warm and “exotic” like Crete, if all the tours aren’t booked up as they tend to be months in advance — have thought also of London but realize I don’t know anyone there except Michael Hamburger[7] and him only slightly — then there’s Jonathan Williams[8] up in Yorkshire […]. The way travel agencies are here, and the way expenses are living here, its really cheaper to travel than stay at home, as long as you take one of these Danes-en masse-lie in the sun and drink-nothing else kinds of sashays. //  Otherwise I haven’t been travelling much so far, only got paid yesterday, for one thing — have slipped over to Sweden on the ferries 3 times, twice to watch birds with a birdfreak friend, once with Ruth to see Carl F. Hill’s extraordinary drawings in the Malmö museum (1849–1911, painted in France, went crazy c. 1878, mad the rest of his life, put away in Lund, his birthplace — the drawings from his years of madness are among the most impressive things I’ve seen in years, crazily prefiguring all sorts of later developments, but a world of their own, regardless of such comparisons). //  Anyhow, things go on comfortably, & certainly Copenhagen is a very lovely city to be in, the pace of existence much less frantic here than US (it is also as you might guess a pretty expensive place to live, too), & the people, if a bit bland, very agreeable. And the pay is good.
                                                                                  / Hope all goes well w/ you — let me hear from you




1. Irby to Dorn, 27 September 1973, box 13, folder 137, Edward Dorn Papers, Archives and Special Collections at the Thomas J. Dodd Research Center, University of Connecticut Libraries.

2. John Moritz (1946–2007), poet, student of Dorn’s at the University of Kansas, founder of Lawrence, Kansas–based Tansy Press and magazine, which published six of Irby’s books. See endnote 3 (“February 12, 1971”).

3. Oliver Onion (1873–1961), British novelist.

4. Dorn was regent’s lecturer at University of California, Riverside, 1973–1974.

5. Barry Alpert, founder of Vort, which printed nine issues between 1972 and 1976. Vort 1 featured Dorn and Tom Raworth, and Vort 3 featured Irby and David Bromage.

6. Ruth Palmer, a friend originally from Berkeley, living in Copenhagen with her young son, Tad, and working as a nurse.

7. Michael Hamburger (1924–2007), British translator, poet, and critic.

8. Jonathan Williams (1929–2008), American poet, essayist, publisher, photographer, and founder of Jargon Press.