Richard Sommer reads unknown selection of poems (books are inaccessible at the moment).

Introducer- Stanton Hoffman


The second reader of this evening, Dick Sommer, was born in St. Paul, Minnesota, and educated at the University of Minnesota where he most recently returned as a visiting Assistant Professor of English, and at Harvard. In 1958 he was a recipient of the Academy of American Poets Prize, and over a period of several years published his poems in the Harvard Advocate. He has given readings in Cambridge, Minneapolis, and in Oslo. Also, he does not want me to mention his scholarly publications: Dash, Which Are, Strangers and Pilgrims, an essay on the Metaphor of the Journey written with Georg Roppen and published by the Humanities Press in New York City, as well as by the Norwegian University's Press, in Norway and A Monograph, the Odyssey and Primitive Religion, published by the University of Bergen in 1962. Ladies and gentlemen, Mr. Dick Sommer.


Richard Sommer


I didn't want him to mention those. Oh I've got the deal with Roy, as well. So this is a haiku with, which you'll be glad to know also has seventeen syllables in the title. "The Haiku to Roy Kiyooka", in reply to his haiku to me.


Richard Sommer


The snow melts, spring water burnishes the stone, I'll hear your poems again.


Richard Sommer


And this is the Haiku that began the mess, this was the one that I originally threatened to read to him, and naturally will carry out my threat. Which has a slightly different title, "Haiku at Roy Kiyooka"




Reads "Haiku at Roy Kiyooka".


Richard Sommer


And then there's the one that I think you have on that broadsheet, which as I looked at it, in all of its mimeographed splendor, struck me as sounding a bit, now, like the theme song of the Central Intelligence Agency, but I'm sorry about that, I didn't mean it that way when I wrote it.




Reads haiku first line "The little known eye..."


Richard Sommer


I'm as you've heard, I'm responsible for having written some criticism, sorry about that, but I hope to make it up with the next poem, which is also on your broadsheet. Called the meaning of--"The Meaning of Poetry".




Reads "The Meaning of Poetry".


Richard Sommer


And this next poem, you'll be very happy to know I have my wife's permission to read.



Reads first line "The figure eight..."


Richard Sommer


You're going to be out of luck if you don't play chess, for this next one. You may be out of luck if you do, but that's has more to do with the poem than your ability at chess.




Reads first line "How much wildness in that horseman's eye..."


Richard Sommer


Roy's given us a series of poems in praise of 'her', I don't know who 'her' is, but I have another name for her myself, she's called the Lady of Situations, and that's the title of this poem. You know, situations in the sense of she's always getting involved, or people are always getting involved. This is that Lady of Situation. And, oh yes, there's some erudition in this one too, there's a marvelous drawing taken from the tomb of Tuthmosis, which appears in the Skera, Egyptian Painting Volume, and you might look it up because she appears there as a tree, a breasted tree, and giving suck to a Pharaoh, it's quite interesting as a painting, anyway, that's in here too.




Reads "Lady of Situation".


Richard Sommer


The, I noticed that the Brotherhood of Railroad Engineers has arranged to have separate drinking glasses, or they're trying to get themselves put into the sanitary code, I think this is Roy's. This must be mine, still water. This next one, I wrote the day following my seeing of a movie that I hope many of you are familiar with, it's the Russian version of Don Quixote, a lovely film, beautiful adaptation of the myth of Don Quixote, and Sancho Panza in the terms of the revolution to come, and I was particularly fascinated to the title that was given to Don Quixote, in this film, so I used it for the title of the poem.




Reads "Don Quixote de la Manchesky".


Richard Sommer


This next one takes it's title, this is another area of that reference, takes its title from a little known and very important folk ballad, I had to put something in ethnic here, so this is it. It's, the title is "The Other Side of the Mountain", and it comes from that little song that begins "The bear climbed over the mountain to see what he could see, but the other side of the mountain was all that he could see".




Reads "The Other Side of the Mountain".


Richard Sommer


Incidentally, you must not get the idea that the mountain, you know, came entirely from the, from the, from the song. It, you can find it on the Greater Barrington Quadrangle, for the appropriate section of the Massachusetts of the US geological survey, it's right on the map. It's really there, it's got position. This poem is in four sections, there are three narrative sections and then there's a short epilogue. And it's called "My Loveliest Enemies". I don't think there's any point in keeping you in suspense about this, my loveliest enemies are birds. And that's the punch line, so now you know it and you can listen to the poem.




Reads "My Loveliest Enemies", parts 1-3




Sound fades




Continues reading "...and the crows moved too..."


Richard Sommer


And here's the epilogue




Reads "Epilogue" from "My Loveliest Enemies".


Richard Sommer


It's a race against not time but against the creeping gelatination, I think is the world of my lower extremities, and I'm sure the creeping sleepiness that is likely to affect you. This next, excuse me, here's to you! This next poem requires an erudite explanation too and I'm sorry for that. I hope, actually, it's not necessary. Alcowen [sp?], the Charles the King, Alcowen [?] was an 8th century scholar who was brought from his, from the York diocese, to the court of Charlemagne, and there became the principal architect of Charlemagne's attempt to bring Latin and latin culture to the Francs. You might say, I suppose, that he was the first of, first great humanist, but we'll see what his latin is worth in this poem. This is a letter, written by Alcowen [?], actually it was written by me, presumably written by Alcowen [?], to Charles the King.




Reads "Letter written by Alcowen [?], to Charles the King".


Richard Sommer


And this poem is, has a title, and a subtitle. The title is "Concentration" the subtitle, "Homage to Eva Jerome".




Poem is never read.






Works Cited

Barbour, Douglas. “Poetry in English: The New Generation: After 1960”. The Canadian Encyclopedia. Historica-Dominion: 2009. December 13, 2009. < PgNm=TCE&Params=A1ARTA0006355#SEC826371>.

Boxer, Avi and Bryan McCarthy and Graham Seal. “Re: Reverend Richard J. Sommer”. The Georgian. Friday, November 12, 1971: Letters, page 4.

---. “Get Your Shit Together...”. The Georgian. November 19, 1971: Letters, page 4.

Farkas, Andre & Ken Norris (eds). Montreal English Poetry of the Seventies. Vehicule Press, Montreal: 1977.

Solway, David. 4 Montreal poets: Peter van Toorn, Marc Plourde, Arty Gold and Richard Sommer. Fredricton, N.B., Fiddlehead Poetry Books, 1973.

Stevens, Peter. "Sommer, Richard". The Oxford Companion to Canadian Literature. Eugene Benson and William Toye (eds). Oxford University Press 2001. Oxford Reference Online. Concordia University Library, Montreal. September 16,  2009  <>.

---. “Richard Sommer Biography- (b.1934), The Poet and the Pinnacle, Blue sky notebook, The other side of games”. Literature Reference: American Literature, English Literature, Classics & Modern Fiction. December 13, 2009. <>.

“Poetry Reading Info”. OP-ED. [Sir George Williams University, Montreal.] November 25, 1966: page 7.

“Prism Awards For Literature”. The Georgian. (Sir George Williams University, Montreal). October 17, 1967: page 11.

"Richard J(erome) Sommer." Contemporary Authors Online. Detroit: Gale, 2001. Literature Resource Center. Gale. Concordia University Library, Montreal. October 6, 2009. < p=LitRC&u=concordi_main>.


Howard Fink list of poems:

3 3/4, on one 5” reel, two tracks mono, 50 mins

1.  Haiku for Roy Kiyooka first line “the snow melts...”
2.  Haiku at Roy Kiyooka first line “I hear Roy speak...”
3.  Haiku first line “The little known eye...”
4.  “The Meaning of Poetry”
5.  first line “The figure eight...:
6.  first line “How much wilderness in that horses eye...”
7.   “The Lady of Situations”
8.  “Don Quixote de la Manchasky”
9.  “The Other Side of the Mountain”
10.  A poem in four sections: “My Lovliest Enemies” parts of section one missing
11.  First line “Great Lord...”


Transcript, Research, Introduction and Edits by Celyn Harding-Jones

Richard (Dick) Sommer at SGWU, 1966 (with Roy Kiyooka)

Catalog numberI086-11-046
Labels3 3/4, on one 5” reel, two tracks mono, 50 mins
Sound qualityGood
SpeakersRichard Sommer, Roy Kiyooka, Stanton Hoffman (introducer)
VenueSir George Williams University, Basement Theatre (see OP-ED article “Poetry Reading Info”)
DateDecember 2, 1966

Supplemental Material


00:00- Stanton Hoffman introduces Richard/Dick Sommer

01:02- Introduces “The Haiku to Roy Kiyooka”

01:31- Reads “The Haiku to Roy Kiyooka”

01:50- Introduces “Haiku at Roy Kiyooka”

02:07- Reads “Haiku at Roy Kiyooka”

02:27- Introduces first line haiku “The little known eye...”

02:55- Reads first line “The little known eye...”

03:13- Introduces “The Meaning of Poetry”

03:36- Reads “The Meaning of Poetry”

04:19- Introduces first line “The figure eight....”

04:26- Reads first line “The figure eight...”

05:02- Introduces first line “How much wildness in that horseman’s eye...”

05:23- Reads “How much wildness in that horseman’s eye...”

06:27- Introduces “Lady of Situation”

07:34- Reads “Lady of Situation”

09:29- Introduces “Don Quixote de la Manchesky”

10:54- Reads “Don Quixote de la Manchesky”

13:25- Introduces “The Other Side of the Mountain”

14:05- Reads “The Other Side of the Mountain”

17:15- Introduces “My Loveliest Enemies”

18:24- Reads “My Loveliest Enemies” parts 1-3

33:19- Reads “Epilogue” from “My Loveliest Enemies”

35:52- Introduces “Letter Written by Alcowen, to Charles the King” , Charlemange, 8th Century Scholars, Latin; Howard Fink List “Great Lord”.]

37:33- Reads “Letter Written by Alcowen, to Charles the King”

41:46- Introduces “Concentration: Homage to Eva Jerome” (poem is never read)