The Selected Prose of Bobbie-Louise Hawkins

Another book we’ve been “meaning to get to” and are more than happy to announce – Barbara Henning‘s edition of The Selected Prose of Bobbie-Louise Hawkins (there’s also another title, a reprint of some early poems), bringing Bobbie-Louise Hawkins’ talkative distinctive work, happily, back into the world (It had long been a shame that the archly-named Almost Everything“, not to mention other titles, had become woefully out-of-print – The Selected Prose, at 400-plus pages, reprints a generous amount from that book, plus a section of more recent work, plus a portfolio of photographs, plus an illuminating interview with Henning (the genesis of the whole project), plus, plus…)

Lewis Warsh, poet and novelist (and one of her sometime-publishers – Absolutely Eden, (2008)), writes:

“Bobble Louise Hawkins captures the sound of the human voice on the page with grace and honesty and allegiance to the music of the way people talk, interact, lie to themselves (and others), make speeches, converse. Her (dis)comfort zone is the fine line between past and present, who you want to be and what you are, and she always knows when to stop. Applause to Barbara Henning for gathering these minimalist-epic tales all in one place, a keepsake for the ages”.

Anne Waldman notes: “She should be newly rediscovered and read beyond her hundreds of adoring fans at the Jack Kerouac School of Disembodied Poetics where Bobbie has presided as a grande dame teacher and consummate genius performer of her work many years..” (one might add, not only her own work, but that of others, check out her 2005 lectures on “Four Extraordinary Women” (Marguerite Duras, Ruth Draper, Colette and Camille Paglia) here, here, here and here).

Multiple recordings of her work over the years at the Kerouac school are available via the incomparable Internet Archive. We would single out this, perhaps, from 1978 – “In this class, Bobbie explores an interdisciplinary approach to pedagogy following the motto, “Education is teaching someone how to learn for the rest of their lives” and this (from 1989) – “The Sounding Word”.

Bobbie’s fabulous, richly-ironic, West Texan drawl is almost a “must” to be familiar with, it’s a particular delight hearing her reading from her own work. The Internet Archive provides this great 1987 reading. PennSound, of course, too, has recorded gems (this, from 2002, from Boulder’s Left Hand reading series, and this (from 1979 – poems and stories – Bobbie’s effortlessly crafted poetry surely deserves another (companion) book).)

Here’s the opening story in “The Selected Prose” – “When you’re stoned on grass and drinking wine and it’s really festive…”

Here‘s (not in the book) a clear-eyed recollection of the legendary socialite, Panna O’Grady Here’s an intriguing note on George and Mary Oppen.

The Collected Memoirs, that’s a third Bobbie Louise Hawkins title that should come out and that we look forward to reading. Meanwhile, we salute Barbara Henning’s generous selection.

Here’s, to conclude this post, footage of Bobbie reading at Naropa, during the summer session, in July of last year.

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