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I think it was in the late 70’s when I first met Etheridge Knight. I was renting a bedroom in a big house on Delaware Ave. Tom Barden and Nick Muska also rented a bedroom there that he set up as a writing studio away from his home with the wonderful and legendary Susan Harman Muska. At that time Nick and Joel Lipman were figuring out ways to bring good poets to town for readings through their invention of The Toledo Poets Center. So they brought Etheridge Knight into town at that time, which I think was the second time he read in Toledo. I had missed his first visit, and had never really heard of him before. Anyways, Mr. Knight comes into Toledo and he’s totally fucked up and juiced, and struggles with his speech, yet still gives a hell of a poetry reading. Tom Barden put him up in the house on Delaware and that’s how I first got to meet him. I don’t think you can call Etheridge the patron saint of poetry in Toledo. That kudo has to go to Nick Muska and Joel Lipman. Those are the people who gave Toledo an illuminated poetry scene for the first time ever. And Tom Barden deserves a lot of credit for his energies, not only in poetry, but also in folk and ethnic music at that time. But that’s another story. But back to Etheridge Knight. He would come back to Toledo once in awhile because he liked the poets in Toledo and they liked him. It was like this for him in other cities too. He was kind of a Johnny Appleseed of poetry. In spite of his addictions and habits he was a no-bullshit guy with extremely high intelligence. And wisdom learned the hard way. At one point he stayed in Toledo for awhile to lay low and finish work on his award winning collection, The Essential Etheridge Knight, published by the University of Pittsburgh Press. 145

Splat Art Magazine May/June 2011  

underground art magazine

Splat Art Magazine May/June 2011  

underground art magazine

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