Friday, April 11, 2008

Open Space Friday - #2

This is the second in a series of posts about Ted Pugh, a horticulturalist known as the "Pomona Poet." Ted lived all his life in the stone house at the corner of Gibbs and McKinley. This photo is of Ted when he was just a boy - already tending to his Pomona garden. Boys like nothing better than to water the garden, look for worms and run around in their underwear. Ted was no different. Either is Mr. Big, who was doing those three very things in our yard today.

As a mother, I recognize the voice of a young boy in Ted's poems:


My heart is connected
To the earthworm,
And the fallen
Lacy leaves
It crawls through;
And the earth
That moves through
The earthworms.
My heart is
Earth and lace -
And earth magnified
With tillage.

- Copyright, Ted Pugh 1997, from the book Open Space

This photo is of the house as it looked when Ted lived there. I'm told that the forest around Ted's house was a thorn in the side of some of his neighbors, not to mention a violation of the City's code ordinance. I think this poem explains why Ted grew his garden so wild and woody:


Let her go into the grove and beyond--
Let her carry vine back
To vine.
May she visit her
First mother once again.

Let her know
The host vein
Of her body;
The twin violet
Of her beginning

Let her grow
In Vatican of space--
At the villanelle
Of lyric germination.

She shall sow
Her breath in
A grant
Of naturalness--
Gravity let her leave - - -

-Copyright, Ted Pugh 1997 from the book Open Space

Davis Dutton, owner of the late Dutton's Bookstore of North Hollywood, the last real bookstore in the entire San Fernando Valley, was a friend of Ted Pugh's. Davis wrote this in "Open Space Reviewed," a page which appears inside the Open Space book: "Ted Pugh relished the play of words - puns, paradox, alliteration, the linking of disparate and contradictory images. He called the process 'lyric germination.'... Ted Pugh, as a man and a poet, never stopped growing. Beauty and joy and mystery and sadness, and the eternal cycles of life death and rebirth, abound in these poems."

A sad footnote: In February, Davis Dutton's brother announced the closing of the last remaining Dutton's Bookstore, the one in Brentwood. Seems that the Dutton brothers, like Ted, witnessed first hand the passing of an era. For Ted it was the concrete jungle taking over. For the Duttons, it was Barnes & Noble.

These two poems, the quote from Davis Dutton, and the boyhood photo of Ted are from his book entitled "Open Space" published by Positive Polyanthea in 1998. I will now leave some open space for others who knew him - or of him - to fill.

Please click on Ted Pugh below to see the earlier Open Space post.



me said...

From Cedric Rogers, the publisher of two Ted Pugh poetry books: Natural Bridge was before Open Space. I have a few spare copies of each, should anyone want to pick up a rare collector's item. I have a lot of information at my fingertips about Ted Pugh, as he was a neighbor and friend, and it is more than I can write at one sitting. I have given the Goddess a subject list for when we meet in person, and for future posts here.

Ted's anger at the world was fairly simple. It took the view from his house of the orange groves and converted it to a city street with people who didn't speak English riding by and hurling insults at him.
I once told him that the only difference between his reputation and mine was that we both used to run out in the street shouting at the traffic going by, but he did it more often, so I could hide behind him, metaphorically.

Just as these publications were launching Ted, his influence allowed Positive Polyanthea, our publishing company, to be born. We have a third book which is a poetic history of Dutton's Books.

As soon as I run out of energy pumping folks with details about Ted, then my wife would take over. My wife Lorraine is the literary editor of Positive Polyanthea, a division of Positive Promotions. I am not known as poetical; I'm a retired rocket scientist. My family were publishers and despite Ted's dislike of the computer, I showed him how his book could be published and make a profit in a market where a poetry journal circulated nationally and read by all the poets that poets read normally has a circulation of about 1000. Positive Promotions is about miracles.

More to come,


Garrett Sawyer said...

It seems like everybody has a picture of themselves outside with a hose as a child. Mine will be famous one day. Just

Ted Pugh seems like a very unique and interesting individual. I like the poems of his you posted.