Wednesday, December 5, 2007

Poetry: Donald Green

A reading by Donald Green

Interview with Donald Green

Artist: Donald Green
Medium: Poetry
Location: University Avenue right off of Washington Square Park (but I’ve also seen him right outside West Fourth Station)

A poet of the utmost urbanity, Donald Green pedals his wares on the sidewalks of the great Manhattan byways. Seated at his folding table, with large mountings of his favorite poems flanking Mr. Green is more than happy to engage passing pedestrians in manner that is anything but. In his worn jacket and rumfled shirt you would not suppose that the man before you is anything less than poetic and that his regular manner of speech would have your forget your place and believing you were in the middle of a spontaneous theatrical dialogue. Such are the ways of Donald Green.

Such are the ways of a man who, as a young boy in Harlem, living just near the former house of Langston Hughes, felt different and turned to writing as his sanctuary. Such are the ways of a man whose father was standard working class but chose to work at Columbia University’s Library by day, study writing by night and sell poetry on the street.

Mr. Green has had a truly interesting career. After studying briefly at Columbia he began publishing his work. His work has appeared in books alongside such illustrious poets as Robert Frost, Langston Hughes and Donald Hall. He wrote The New York Times Millenium Poem in 2000 and was the lead off article in a New York Magazine spread on writers. Richard Rueben’s article “For a Pushcart Poet Life is Getting Verse and Verse” in 1997 was followed by articles on Patti Smith, Jim Carol, Mia Farow and more. Mr. Green also has a recorded reading with the Columbia School of Journalism on permanent archive which you can find at the school’s website.

In the midst of all this Mr. Green was persistently pursuing a career of poetry in his unique way. After saving up a few thousand dollars, Mr. Green left his job at Columbia to commit himself to writing. After quickly using up his savings, Mr. Green decided not to accept an offer to return to his previous job, but to persist while staying with his twin brother in Brooklyn who is “very traditional in his way of life”. Then, as Mr. Green tells it, recently (that is, a decade ago) he got the idea to try selling his poetry on the street in Brooklyn. “And the first person I asked bought a poem from me, and I was on my way.”

Today, Mr. Green sells collections of his poetry, some typed some hand written, in hand made anthologies on the street. He is also unafraid of the challenge to create spontaneously and will write a personalized poem upon request. However, as much as Mr. Green enjoys this life and feels it has contributed to his abilities, noting, “it’s given me a lot to write has helped me a great deal with writing,” he says his time on the street is drawing to an end. Now he hopes be a more traditional writer and publish books of his poetry as well as a musical he has been working on.

Some poems by Donald Green:

Blue Joy
Out of gray
came a bright blue
He sat upon my window sill
and for and instant - no
more than a ray of sun
in the whirl of time – we
stared at one another

He then lifted his blue wings
and gently returned to the gray

I combed my hair
I brushed my teeth
I dressed
I then had my morning lemon
and went off to work

And when the gray had
gone to yellow and from
yellow to a soft mellow
brown, I gathered my things and rushed home.

I wanted to see if he had
come again with evening time


I could not really say.

Perhaps this is what
loneliness can come to

When the Friend is You - Written by Donald Green on the spur of the moment
And a friend,
begins in
my mirror,
Not Alone in one
I can encounter.
For if the friend is not in my mirror,
how is it possible
to join
with someone
Is it possible even
to look with
beauty consistent
at the wonderous
All that’s about us,
Without ever at first
To relish the self,
can God be company without
What bond, connection,
celebration can there honestly be
without the ONE before

Like what you see? Order a manuscript or a poem or just leave some love


Anonymous said...

Come on. This is so clearly dreck. I've seen this man many times, and he doesn't seem to understand that closing your eyes and speaking slowly and dramatically doesn't actually make you a good poet.

Thomaz said...

You know, what I like about such people as mr anonymous is that don't have the courage to claim their opinions. Well, the dreck is you...I spent an hour with this gentleman, yes, completely "normal" like you, no he's not. Rather verbose, to his own admission. But, a coward NO. And, tell me, what great accomplishments have you made to the art world that gives you the right to pass judgement. At least have the courage to take credit for your lack of sensitivity, vision, and "artistic" not "pedantic" opinion. So moved was I by this man's honesty and deep point of view, that I shall put some of his poems to music, and I wholeheartedly look foward to it.Is he a great genius ? Who knows, is he on a singular mission, focused upon his life's work as he sees it, dedicated, persistant, courageous, yes he is. He gave me a gift today, I hope I can return it in kind. Bravo, Donald, see you soon, Thomas Lawrence Toscano.

Meagan said...

I met this man yesterday...he was wonderful...and wrote me and my friend a poem..

Is that clear?

Blackbird said...

My wife and I had the privilege of meeting Mr. Donald Green on the very evening that I proposed to her.

Seizing upon the serendipitous good fortune of finding a poet-for-hire, we solicited a poem from him in the hopes of crystallizing our evening's momentous joy into a literary snapshot we could use to revisit the romantic ambition of the evening.

I am not a literary critic but I can vouch for Mr. Green's writing being both thoughtful and deliberate. And and while I admit I'm certainly predisposed to appreciate the poem he wrote for us by virtue of the events that directly preceded it, I can also tell you that I especially enjoy the rhythm, color, and shape of his words, and look forward to having his elegantly loopy scrawlings transcribed, printed, framed, and gifted to my wife on our anniversary.

Anonymous said...

I met the man in 1997 and bought his poetry. A friend of mine subsequently translated this into Georgian and published the translation. If anyone knows how to contact Donald Green, we would be happy to send him the book.

Anonymous said...

you can reach him after October 29th at:

Anonymous said...

I met Donald last night in the L train path on 14th St. He is a kind individual with much passion and talent in the art of poetry. He wrote me a poem on the spot about New York City from his perspective.

-Thank you Donald

Anonymous said...

I saw him and he was eating a napkin. I gave him a subway sandwich and a bottle of water. Then a homeless guy came up with a cup full of bills and coins. I wanted to grab him and scream at him for not buying any food for Donald.

Cheap Viagra said...

I want that you judge a little work I wrote some time ago, "sometimes when I hear the wind, I can feel the call of the night, a call to turn into the being that everybody fear, a being made with darkness and the cold of the winter, the being inside is free to make anything...just watch me." thanks for the attention.

Anonymous said...

i,m from europe, a friend of mmine who lives in ny told me" hey man did u know about my man?..check on google donald green the poet" ..this man is a genius ....

Anonymous said...

i just met donald green: he was reading out a poem or rather composing aloud amids the sounds of the subway at 1.30 am at W4 street - moving words that reminded me that writing poetry is wrenching acorns from lilies

Anonymous said...

He might be a poet but is nasty to you when you walk by with a dog and tends to use the neighbor's doorways as toilets. He is clearly ill and needs help.

Steven Morelli Poet said...

I met donald a 2 or 3 years ago, we sat together in some nyc underground fox hole, and traded energies for a while. he is alot of things, being "ill" is not one of them- actually, being enlightened and perennially on the streets are not mutually exclusive.
a man is one who "pisseth against the wall" as the Old Testament puts it- and not every one loves dogs-being on the street 24/7 is HARD- such minor peccadilloes are ridiculous accusations to hurl at this example of a wonderful human being. He is a mystical creature having a rare combination of exotic esthetic sensitivity and a equally rare ability to exist and thrive no matter where he is residing - that he is on the streets for such long stretches of time I believe is simply because HE CAN- can u? I would perish.

Walter Peterson said...

Does anyone know how I can contact Donald? His email address poetgreenpoet@yahoo has been discontinued. He usually sits on 9th st at 4th Ave but he disappeared from there last week...any ideas? Thanks.

MJ said...

To Walter Peterson: I see Donald in the subway every morning when I transfer from the F to the 2 train at 14th Street. He has a little space set up in the tunnel there. I'll try to get his contact info for you.

jessmelndez said...

I met him today and he wrote a poem for my son mike. And mike gets older I will Read it to him. I love the poem and mr green is an awesome guy.

Anonymous said...

I actually cried reading one of his poems today. To each his/her own.

John said...

I met him today on the subway while on my way to school. I got the chance to talk to him for a while. he told me that he has websites through which we can talk to him. Do any of you know of a way i can contact this man through the internet?

Anonymous said...

I met Mr. Green yesterday at the 14th and 6th Avenue subway transfer. I spend approximately 40 minutes talking about poetry and writing. It was such a pleasure to meet Mr. Green.

My Now Ministries said...

Contact me I have his information

My Now Ministries said...

Contact me I have his information