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  • Big Table Publishing


Inside the amazing brains of

Richard Fox & Timothy Gager

Worcester-based poet Richard Fox seeks three-decker rainbows, fluent scout dogs, and illuminating espresso. When not writing about rock ‘n’ roll or youthful transgressions, his poems focus on cancer from the patient’s point of view drawing on hope, humor, and unforeseen gifts. The winner of the 2017 Frank O’Hara Prize, Richard seconds Stanley Kunitz’ motion that people in Worcester are “provoked to poetry.”

“Here are three things you need to know about Richard Fox’s poetry: It is as universal as it is Jewish; it is as honest about living as it is about dying, and it is as skillful with memory as it is with words, arrangement, and imagery.”

~ Wayne-Daniel Berard,

author of Art of Enlightenment

BLM: Where were you when you heard John Lennon had been killed?

RF: At home, watching Monday Night Football. Howard Cosell, palm rubbing forehead, broke the news. The game continued, unimpressed. Time and score flashed on the screen as familiar violence, loss shattered my world. Most people shrugged, disregarded full bladders until the end of the third quarter. Hummed “I Am The Walrus“ as their pulsating piss echoed off the bowl.

Note: John Lennon died at the same age by the same means as Robert Johnson. Discuss.

BLM: When people ask "What kind of poetry do you write?" how do you answer?

RF: I’m a narrative poet, a storyteller who works mostly in free verse and villanelles. My themes include: cancer from the patient’s point of view—youthful misadventures—and family. I am also writing a novella-in-verse about Cassie & her crew that spans at least three books.

BLM: What do you feel is your best poem, and why?

RF: Tough question. What criteria define best? Poems are sole moments in time. Choose one, others immediately leapfrog. Who am I to judge? Tonight, I’m thinking about Michael Beigner, an inspirational man and yearning poet from the Pioneer Valley. His dying wish: use the time of his last breathe as a prompt. “Peace recycles” is Worcester—gritty clubs, multi-cultural police officers, the pleasantly warped filter that curdles our poetic fervor. I love and am proud of my hometown.

Peace recycles

The host hypes next week’s feature. Tips his bowler. Bids good night.

Strolls to me, asks, You’re the designated driver tonight? Again?

I nod. Seems to be a permanent appointment. No worries. I’ll get the guys home.

Last call. Boris, Nicholas, Thomas click glasses, down doubles.

The host helps me herd the three from bar to parking lot.

Boris points at my car. Snorts. An Outback. We’re. Out. Back. Cackles.

He claims shotgun. The other two scramble into the back seat.

We merge into traffic. Windows hum open.

Boris whoops. Flings verses at unsuspecting pedestrians.

Nicholas and Thomas lean out. Yodel. Shout limericks.

The rivalry escalates from clever to earsplitting.

Flashing blue lights wash the road, flood the rear view mirror.

I pull to the curb. Boris grins. Hands me my registration.

Two police bicycles. High power flashlights. Snickers.

I look up. ¡Hola,Officer Diaz. Xin chào,Officer Phan.

Diaz shakes his head. Bangs his helmet on the Outback’s roof.

¡Mi hijopobre!* You stuck transporting drunk poets? Again?

Phan cracks up. No open bottles. No lit joints. Good guys.

But—c’mon. People are sleeping. Or were. Keep it down, ok?

Phan’s phone chirps. He gestures to Diaz, steps away.

Nicholas says, We’ll be cool. Stellar night of poetry. Wired.

Phan returns. Hoots. My sister had a baby boy! Born at 10:30.

Diaz, you & Abril are invited to NgàyĐầy Tháng.**

Thomas pipes up, I’ll write the baby an occasional poem.

Driving resumes. Windows hum close. Boris muses.

I endlessly contemplate life after death. Never consider life before birth.

Radio plays Mingus. “Nostalgia In Times Square.”

*My poor son!

**Baby’s one-month anniversary feast


Timothy Gager has published sixteen books of fiction and poetry. Joe the Salamander, his third novel, is set for release in Spring, 2022. His previous book, 2020 Poems reached number one in five different Amazon categories. Timothy hosted the successful Dire Literary Series in Cambridge, Massachusetts from 2001 to 2018, and as a weekly virtual series starting in 2020. Timothy has had one thousand works of fiction and poetry published, of which seventeen have been nominated for the Pushcart Prize. His work also has been nominated for a Massachusetts Book Award, The Best of the Web, The Best Small Fictions Anthology and has been read on National Public Radio.

“Timothy Gager is a genius of the quotidian, keenly observing the details of our lives and rendering them so that we can hear the deep pulse of our identities, of our pure being, within them. I'm one of Timothy Gager's biggest fans."

~ Robert Olen Butler


BLM: Do you have a favorite dinosaur?

TG: T-Rex, as short arms make modern MEMEs

BLM: What has been the biggest setback in your writing career?

TG: Lucky to feel that I've not had any big setbacks. I've had some pauses, because of unsuccessful periods, but upon reflection, ultimately, they have advanced my career.

BLM: What do you consider your best poem and why?

TG: I like a few of them, yes. Best is all subjective upon day are upon who might possibly be inclined to tell me that there was something of mine that resonated. Also there are some "best funny," "best political," "best romantic," "best sad." So I'll give you one which I thought had some generous responses to...

In the dark corner of a Theater Our hands touched, craved completeness of fingers, intertwined, growing limb-like vines, shielding old cracks of a brick wall. In April, the climbers stay sparse--may we forbid nature a minute longer? May we be offered blooms of ivy? So tender the cover, so gentle it grows.

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