Biography of Bill Knott
Bill Knott, originally known as Saint Giraud, was born in Carson City, Michigan. He is an associate professor at Emerson College in Boston. He first received recognition with The Naomi Poems published in 1968.
He published this work under the pseudonym Saint Geraud (a figure who, it was claimed, lived from 1940 to 1966). Poet Thomas Lux wrote of the collection: “The best poems in this first collection … confront the reader with their directness and imagination …. They’re poems of anguish and frustration because the poet takes responsibility.” Knott’s poems are sometimes surreal, with startling juxtaposed images. Critic Meghan O’Rourke noted the variety of forms in Knott’s poetry, identifying the simple style of some poems and the “highly-torqued syntactic compression” of others. In The Unsubscriber, she found “the mode alternately heroic and vernacular, the subjects ranging from ecocide to the degradations of age to meditations on the sword of Damocles and Rilke’s archaic torso.”
Knott, who was an orphan, spent a year in an institution for the mentally ill in Elgin, Illinois, when he was 15; he worked with his uncle at a farm in Michigan, spent two years in the army, and wrote his first book while working as a hospital orderly. He taught for many years at Emerson College in Boston.
Bill Knott died on 12 March 2014 at age 74.
Bill Knott's Works:
The Naomi Poems: Book One: Corpse and Beans (1968), Follett, under the pseudonym 'St. Geraud'
Aurealism: A Study (1969), Salt Mound Press. (chapbook)
Auto-Necrophilia; The _____ Poems, Book 2 (1971), Big Table Pub
Nights of Naomi (1972), Big Table (chapbook)
Love Poems to Myself (1974), Barn Dream Press, Boston (chapbook)
Rome in Rome (1976), Release Press
Selected and Collected Poems (1977), SUN
Becos (1983), Random House
Outremer (1989), University of Iowa Press
Poems 1963-1988 (1989), University of Pittsburgh Press
Collected Political Poems 1965-1993 (1993) Self-published chapbook
Sixty Poems of Love and Homage (1994) Self-published chapbook
The Quicken Tree (1995), Boa Editions, Hardcover Softcover
Laugh at the End of the World: Collected Comic Poems 1969-1999 (2000), Boa Editions
The Unsubscriber (2004), Farrar, Straus and Giroux
Stigmata Errata Etcetera (2007), Saturnalia Books
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Bill Knott Poems
Advice from the Experts
I examine my skin searching for
An Instructor's Dream
Many decades after graduation the students sneak back onto the school-grounds at night and within the pane-lit windows
(End) of Summer (1966)
I'm tired of murdering children. Once, long ago today, they wanted to live; now I feel Vietnam the place where rigor mortis is beginning to set-in upon me.
All it takes is Laura Riding's riding- crop across my butt, and I'm off: Git-up horsie she cries astride me as
Fragments from the Beach
(Nonasyllabics) In retrospect the tragic nature of sea is a taste wept too daily,
Who whispers here is forgotten. Saliva's emptiest fruit adorns the stones,
Feeding the Sun
One day we notice that the sun needs feeding. Immediately a crash program begins: we fill rockets with wheat, smoke-rings, razorblades, then,
Even if the mountain I climbed Proved to be merely a duncecap It was only on gaining its peak That that knowledge reached me.
Castration Envy #11
Tying the pimp in dreams to a lamppost His tuxedo wet with wheedled kisses, can I wake up sucking the footprints of toilets In jails that glitter like crash-dived marquees.
(Poem) (Chicago) (The Were-Age)
'My age, my beast!' - Osip Mandelstam On the lips a taste of tolling we are blind The light drifts like dust over faces