I've started to compile
a bibliography of my published writings
over the years, primarily for my own reference.
Because that may lead you to other work
of mine, I'll post it here as it evolves.
It, too, is a work in progress. I've included
both an artist's statement of sorts and
a short, more formal biography, to give
you some idea of the life experience from
which all this emerges.
For decades I've
run writers' workshops, and participated
in them as well. I believe in the workshop
as a sacred space for writers and writing.
Right now I teach one for kids, in my own
community. I'm considering establishing
a workshop for adult writers once again.
For my thoughts on the writers' workshop
as a function of craft, click here.
Finally, I've included
a Links page, to
connect you to some sites I find variously
relevant and valuable -- including those
of some of the publications wherein my work
has appeared, and even a few pieces of mine
that have made their way online elsewhere.
I'd love to hear
from anyone who responds strongly to this
site and my work, either pro or con. You
can always reach me at email@example.com.
About My Work
Im 85, which
taken by itself is no big thing. It doesnt
make me smarter or wiser or better or
anything except older. But I do retain
some of what Ive experienced which
most people still alive have either forgotten
or never known. I may therefore be able
to offer you some nuggets with a special
shine, plus I retain some facts, long
since distorted, inverted or lost in the
sweep of history.
As I was growing
up large vocabularies were not unusual.
It may seem in these times that mine is
huge. Its not. My son Allans
is bigger than mine. I hope youll
approach my words with an eye to finding
me entertaining or not, informative or
not. Wonderful would be youd find
me exciting and even witty. But youll
know soon enough if Im your cup
I write to be read.
That may seem tautological but its
not. Many write for themselves, as reinforcement
for their fantasies, a perverse snobbery.
In these obscurantist days many write
for just a close circle of friends with
all kinds of arcane allusions in their
work which they and few others can follow.
I dont exactly write for the slob
on the block but I do try to make myself
and my words accessible. My reasoning
is: If youre a writer and youre
not accessible why would you expect someone
to burrow through the silt to find what
may, but only may be there? I think
accessibility is a golden rule.
rule is -- you must have something to
say. In these days of yellow smiling,
sunny faces, where bad news has been abolished
forever, and even the bad news that does
get through gets a good spin, telling
it like is as they say really goes against
the tide. But if you have nothing to say
who cares if youre accessible?
So: the demand I make on myself is to
write on what I consider to be important
subjects. As Evita says, thats what
youre gonna get in me. Does it take
hubris to say of ones writing --
hey -- this is about an important subject.
Well of course it does. First of all a
writer would have to be crazy not to have
hubris, faced with only a blank piece
of paper and his own mind with almost
no chance for gaining materially from
what hell labor at without stint.
Hed better have healthy hubris or
he wont sustain his own momentum.
Besides -- the trick in being a writer
is to say to the reader -- youre
in good hands with All State. Once the
reader doubts the writer, forget
it, hell close the page. So an important
instant task for the writer is to make
sure the reader will and has come along
for the ride and will remain on board
or else the writer really is writing for
I make on myself is to say what I have
to say not only clearly but artistically.
That last is a stumbling block for many
in these days when poetry must slam to
be heard, where va-voom rules. After all,
receptivity to art is subjective. Van
Gogh never sold a painting while he lived.
Talk about hubris. He did it anyway. Why?
Because he had to. There may be
the key. So I work hard, sometimes dozens
of rewrites to be clear and artistic at
the same time, for no recompense, but
because I have to. If you dont like
it or dont get it -- hey -- tough
luck for me. Do I think Im Van Gogh?
Not yet. Might never get there. But the
thrust is the same. The artist
does it because he must. Surely not for
It should be clear to you that as I place demands on me I place demands on you. When we read Ulysses we can all get the story, Homers
tale, set in Dublin 1920 or so. Nice conceit.
But if we know the allusions --
ah, the plays on words, sometimes on foreign
words -- well -- the more we bring to
it of course the more we get. And many
of those allusions are not hard to come
by at all for anyone who is what used
to be called a well-read person. That
demand on you is implicit in my work.
Oh, Im accessible anyway, even if
you bring little to it. But there
are layers there that youll appreciate
if you come to it with something of your
For a notion of
the kind of thing I write and my attempt
at communication, heres one from
my new book, Stubborn Pine in a Stiff
Wind. Theres nothing for it,
as the poem says, but to make a partnership,
you and I. You may tire of me, find me
tendentious, lecture-y, over-political,
intense. Well -- youll walk away.
(Im told I can be funny.)
But if we stay as partners I assure you
I will bust my head to bring you garden
fresh each day.
-- Earl Coleman
Im human --
theres the whole of it. Does it diminish
me that in my mind, my affect, my life I
have no ethnicity, no class, no color, no
country, no belief in the hereafter or in
a power higher than my own humanity? My
own blood replenishes my cells. My own brain
steers me through my days. My right or wrong
isnt arrived at via some compass Ive
been given with a trembly arrow guided by
some other entity pointing to their version
of True North. As I believe in nothing else
and nothing less than Self I dont
believe in Death with a capital D or fear
it, as I fear no deity or icons on a plinth
or on a wall. I look to music, words and
paint to feed my mind and spirit, their
mixture of the heart and brain, to help
me toward my right and wrong. My passions
point me to perceptions of the good and
bad in how I live my life.
At my four score
and six of course Im weaker, slower,
feel more pain, and have become less agile
than I used to be. The same is true of all
machines (Hamlet called his body a machine)
-- my toaster needs my coaxing to pop up,
my TV picture starts off dark, my plumbing
sometimes doesnt work. Machines like
me and mine break down. Why wouldnt
they? Nothing lasts forever. If I drop the
sturdiest artifact Ill have no choice
but sweep the pieces up and glue them back
together if I want to keep the piece. If
I should fall theyll have to pick
me up and glue my hip, or rivet it, if it
should come to that. No force will make
me fall or fix its magic eye on me to make
me fall, or will my fall. If I fall, (and
have I ever fallen), I was and will be responsible
for that fall. My genes and my alertness
will be tested every day. The fault, dear
reader, should I fall, will always be my
When we roll the
dice we pass or we crap out. The odds of
chance take care of that. No intervention
except the hand of man can change the outcome
of that roll. Im free of cant, of
toeing some elses moral line. I have
no need of nostrums, solace, fairy tales,
or platitudes, not even for a lessened pain.
Pain helps me write. Just as joy helps me
write. Just as my eroticism, passions, angers,
loves, connections with words, music, paint,
help me write. Im not an island --
Im part of you and your humanity.
Nor are we as a whole an island. Were
the honest goods, the thing itself, the
When we are self-dependent,
daring to face mirrors or face life, why
thats our straight line to the stars,
those chunks of real matter orbiting other
bits of real matter as this real matter,
our Earth, is busy orbiting. Our Earth.
Our center of our gravity. No secrets in
it we will not discover at some time. No
discoveries of which we are not capable.
Were mankind! We have resources weve
never tapped and will develop others, replenishing
ourselves as my cells replenish my blood.
We are the very apex
of the animal kingdom as well as the life
force and when we are defeated or set back
we have only ourselves to blame for temporary
blindness, lack of nerve, slowed growth
toward that next stage (and always the one
after that) -- just as were victorious
only through our own efforts in concert
with all other human beings. When we are
fearless, searching for the best in ourselves,
there are no heights that we shall not achieve.