Wednesday, January 8, 2020

Simon Perchik - A Celebration by Tobi, Susan & Rich

Simon Perchik
I first "ran into" Simon Perchik in 1972 through the small press scene at the time. His work was challenging at first, and intrigued me because the imagery was coming into my brain the same way some of the paintings I was studying at the time did. The review I used of his work then still applies today - chiaroscuro with words. I also could see the entire background behind Mona Lisa as more interesting than the lady sitting in the middle of this glorious area. Like Da Vinci with paint, Perchik was able to affect my brainwaves with words.  The first book I purchased by Perchik was Who Can Touch These Knots in 1985. Since then my collection has grown both back to I Counted Only April (1964) all the way to The Rosenblum Poems (2020). All these books are available for you to borrow through our Cholla Needles Library. I looked at a review of The Osiris Poems I did on these very pages in 2017, and if you click on this link you'll see more of my thoughts on the work of Simon Perchik.

Today I am butting into Tobi's notes on Simons books because I am also going to butt into Tobi's notes with notes from Susan Tepper. Three long-time fans of the work of one poet in one place? That could only mean one thing - and you can figure it out for yourself! The word that comes to my mind is joy =:-) And Simon has a new book. And Simon is 96 years old and still writes poetry every day. A personal inspiration for me through many years, Perchik is very much worth celebrating. So, I'll stop butting in and let Tobi speak her mind. - Rich

Happy Birthday Simon Perchik, and Just a Little Bit More

Happy New Year to you all!!

On Christmas, 2019, Simon Perchik turned 96. Cholla Needles gave him two presents, one book by him entitled The Rosenblum Poems, and the other entitled The D Poems.

Per Rich, the symbolism is in the covers. In the Rosenblum Poems the potter is taking clay and water and creating something new - the same way Si takes photos and science and makes something new. The D Poems cover goes well with the concept of "documentary". 

Per Michael T Young of Triggerfish, "I’ve always loved the way Perchik’s poems transform from moment to moment through acceptable irrationalities as a doorbell 'smelling your sweat,' or a bed sheet that becomes 'the stream pouring from each stone fountain.' Each moment of reflection finds an adequate anchor in an enlarging image and which in turn yields another reflection and so on until the resolution finds itself in what one can only call an exaltation of pure imagination."

Per Si, "The 183 poems in this collection would never have been written except for the synaesthesis created from the 183 photographs from the book Documentary Photography: Time Life Library of Photography to inspire and guide the author." -Simon Perchik

Per Tobi:

You already know how I feel about Si from reading my semi-review of The Gibson Poems. I adore the beauty of his words. If you read Si’s poems out loud, the words come tripping out of your mouth like gorgeous splashes of color on a priceless painting.

I love Simon Perchik. We have published him often. I always want to travel to the East End of Long Island to hand deliver his contributor copy so I can give him a big hug. He is an amazing man and an amazing poet. I just can’t say enough about him. One day I’ll write my thoughts on these two new books. I doubt I can say anything that hasn’t already been said but I’ll try. If you got any cash instead of coal in your stockings though, you may want to check out these books. And remember, there are three independent bookstores in Joshua Tree and I bet they all have these books!

A Christmas Present for All of You!!

Simon Perchik is one of the poets in the January issue of Cholla Needles, the journal we all love and adore. And I’m one of the poets too, I can’t thank Rich enough.

When I found out I would be in the issue with Si, I wrote the following poem as a surprise. It’s in the January issue as well:

Saturday Mornings at the Golden Pear Café

Somedays I feel as ratty as my Uncle Si’s old brown briefcase.
He’s had it since before I was born, the pockets stretched
as thin as an old lady’s upper arms waving goodbye

as she boards the ferry home. There’s plenty of room
for his writing gear, noise-cancelling head phones, iPod
of classical music. He only wears the head phones when someone

with a pitch that can scratch glass won’t use their  “indoor voice”.
He prefers the low hum of conversation under Jean Pierre
Rampal’s Suite for Flute and Piano on the café speakers,

or a quick chat with waitstaff friends, rather than silence.
I meet Uncle Si every Saturday, rain, shine, or tired. He’s ready
for coffee number two. I have avocado toast and a café mocha

while we go on about the week. My writing gear is a legal pad,
bunch of pencils, and my ears. His friends have adopted me—
I am a lucky listener but it’s only on Saturday—

they would turn possessive if I went more often.
Along about 1:00 pm I head home for my daily nap.
Uncle Si takes the bus home to wait for a call from a friend.

It’s been the same for the last twenty years. I nap and write
in my head. Si talks on the phone, doodles beautiful words
in the spaces between their conversations.

For both of us, poems are written, dreams are dreamt,
friendships are strengthened like watertight seawalls. I cherish
Uncle Si, this timeless café, avocado toast, and Saturdays.

                                                -Tobi Alfier

No, he’s not really my uncle but that’s what I call him. And yes, he writes many mornings at the Golden Pear Café, where I will get the avocado toast if I ever have the good fortune to meet him there (I googled the menu).

But for anyone thinking of doing the same thing, don’t do it now. 96-year-old Uncle Si is out of the country where it’s warm, but he assured Rich he’s still writing every day. And dang, this is going to be a book I look forward to, and cannot wait to read!!

We’ll get back to topics of strengthening our own work, the myth of writer’s block, why not all prose is poetry, and anything you’d like to talk about next week. Wishing you all a Happy New Year, a Happy Decade, and all good things xo - Tobi

And now - I butt in again with this joyous note from Susan Tepper, along with a photo Susan sent of Simon Perchik reading aloud from The Gibson Poems. . .

A TRIBUTE to Simon Perchik on the Publication of The D Poems and The Rosenblum Poems by Susan Tepper:

Susan Tepper
What is coincidence, really?  Some say it’s an alignment of the planets.  While my friend of nearly twenty years, Simon (Si) Perchik, would laugh off that notion, I still say there’s something to it.  Some kind of pattern or plan that brings coincidence into the light. 

Never having heard of this extensively published poet, I ‘first met’ Simon through his poem currently titled D42 in his new book The D Poems.  But that was long, long before now, back in 2001 where it was first published in Green Mountains Review, and titled with Simon’s classic *.  The poem appeared on the left facing side of the page of my first ever published story! I read Si’s poem and my mouth dropped open.  I knew in that moment that I had just encountered a tremendous force in contemporary poetry. 

Photo: John Barclay-Morton
Trying to keep things somewhat chronological here, a few months ago, Rich Soos who published these two new books, asked me if I’d like to write a review. Well, low and behold, with the text of the review copies on my lap, there was ‘the poem’, the very poem that inspired a long and enduring friendship with Simon, his family, the past, present and future. Our long and almost daily phone chats over the years have covered just about every topic.

Simon is brilliant, intense and surreal in his poetry.  He has been published in nearly every literary magazine and zine on the planet, from the biggest and most notorious to the tiniest upstarts. He is democratic in every sense of the word. In his life he is generous and open, thoughtful, kind, loyal, and on target about the world.  Many is the time he has pulled me up and out from making a choice I would (probably) regret.  Here is the poem that began our coincidence.
     D 42

     These empties half windswept, half
     crumpled and every day more body bags
     – you think the candy wrappers, the receipts

     so near the station would be allowed
     and circle safely, cover the dead insects
     the way bells still lower a wooden gate

     when trains pass each other
     –you know the sound, a rake
     being dragged along the wet grass

     as if the sun was still green
     not yet the bits and pieces
     that fall to these tracks as stars

     –you listen closer and closer
     till the ground takes hold your body
     fills it after waiting so long.

                   - Simon Perchik

From Rich: I butt in one last time with this humorous & unfortunately true quote from Library Journal: "Perchik is the most widely published unknown poet in America." It is true. Simon's work has appeared regularly in many journals - editors love his work - they "see" the magic. In the three books Cholla Needles has published you can see the listings of over 200 different journals where Simon's work has appeared - and that's just the past 3 years. Simon Perchik has over 30 published books, starting from his very first book in 1949, to his most recent book in 2020. We celebrate his birthday, his life, and his tremendous contribution to the world of poetry. I look forward to publishing 20 more years of his books. - Rich Soos


  1. Simon Perchik my favorite poet all time. Because he write magical lines which is directly affect on my heart

    Wikipedia Professionals.

  2. Dear Hettie, I agree that Si is wonderful. Thank you for reading the blog!!

  3. Simon Perchik is wonderfully talented. Thank you for sharing his brilliance.

    1. I love him. I think he's brilliant too. Thank you for reading this post!!!

  4. I also love your poem, Tobi. How did I miss it? Don't ask. It causes more flakes in my flaky brain.

  5. I am easy to miss, no worries xo


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