Norbert Blei | Notes From The Underground


Welcome to Monsieur K’s World – and Ours or Writing on Thin Air

One good reason today’s writer might hope to be heard in our world of constant distraction, diminishing readership, a culture gone kaput, rests in what you are now reading on the screen : the community of cyber communication which as writers we’re going to have to live with, study, understand, and utilize if we expect any audience at all. The time when editors, publishers, and agents rang you up for work, courted you with lunch, drinks, promises and blank checks is long gone– if you were fortunate to experience any of this at all. “You’re just going to have to do it yourself” is as true today as ever. Yes, there are still, and will always be publications out there to sell (basically give) your work to, and a handful of quality publishers large and small that might conceivably even invest in your work at their expense in the hope that it might make a little money for them – and maybe you. However, it’s increasingly unlikely these days you will find a publisher who truly believes in your vision as a writer.

So, Who is Monsieur K. and how did he find Norbert Blei? Or you, or anybody? And spread the word? Well, through the eyes of the internet of course. As I recall, a few weeks ago I wrote a piece on the net praising a two-in-one chapbook, OUT OF CHILDHOOD and POEMS AND DOODLES written by Ronald Baatz and Mark Weber. Baatz (who sent me a copy of the new book) I’ve known and admired for years through his poetry only, which I first read back in the 60’s or 70’s in Marvin Malone’s lively little mag, The Wormwood Review. OUT OF CHILDHOOD is another book of beautiful Baatz. Mark Weber (POEMS AND DOODLES)…I did not know at all.

outtwo.jpgWeber, however, published this chapbook (#59) through his small press, Zerx Press, 725 Van Buren Place SE, Albuquerque, New Mexico 87108, and Weber, I discovered is a damn fine, funny, thoughtful, solid, soulful poet of the Real School of Real Writing, which always starts from a homebase (city, country, neighborhood, town, village…) of people/place, family/setting you can never quite shake, taking on further color, depth, meaning, as you move toward whatever’s waiting for you ahead (you’ll see fire, you’ll see rain…) all the while whistling in the dark, trying to find the right tune, unlearning whatever you’ve been taught to say, finding and rediscovering the hand-hewn language, lasting words within that belong to you alone and were there before you ever knew they were there to tell it all.

Weber hosts a popular jazz program on KUNM 89.9 FM in Albuquerque (who I’m sure I’ve listened to in my many out-of-body journeys through New Mexico in the 60’s, 70’s, 80’s, etc.)…and, did I say he painted houses for a living? That reading him is like listening to good jazz? That I’m into four of his books at the moment? That he’s a true believer in the chapbook: (“I’ve been publishing books for years and over the last 4 or 5 years I’ve been telling people that there’s nothing better than a chapbook. If you can’t get across in 18 pages, you’ll never get across in 144. Chaps rule!” ) Plus listening to CD’s of his past programs. That he’s one of these writers who comes along (a handful a year, if I’m lucky) who restores my faith in this whole writing-in-the-dark-on-cave-walls existence? And that – but of course, “…the music goes ‘round and around/Whoa-ho-ho-ho-ho/And comes out here”? And there. And everywhere…if you find the right frequency.


But back to cyber connections. Somehow the piece I wrote on the Weber and Baatz chapbook found its way to France. To someone named Monsieur K. who I assumed lived in Paris – given writers, poetry, jazz, etc. Monsieur K. wrote back via my website contact link and suggested I look at his website, Metropolis to see what he had previously posted on Mark Weber. Which I did – and immediately loved everything he did on Weber, not to mention the beauty, design, quality of the website itself. Somebody doing something thing like this, somewhere outside one’s own country, immediately removes chapbook-poet Weber writing from Albuquerque, New Mexico and puts him and his work in a whole other dimension. Just like that. Which, if you’re an artist of any kind needing to communicate, can only be a good thing.

Well, that connection led to Monsieur K. picking up two other cyber postings of mine – which I invite you to look at and enjoy for the sheer excellence and beauty of his presentation. A few days ago, I wrote a short e-mail to Monsieur K., thanking him again for doing what he does and essentially asking him: “Who are you?” And so…the music (indeed )goes around and round… Norbert Blei

1 Comment

  1. Mark Weber

    Norbert sure loved to write. And what a beauty of a place where he lived — out there on that little Wisconsin penninsula that shot out into Lake Michigan — from his little cabin he looked deeply at life and used words to understand his place within it. Like Jean-Jacques Annaud’s Quest For Fire, Norbert carried his bear skull to far off regions looking to re-flame it. His spirit is now on the radiant path into the cosmos.

    It would be appropriate to inscribe his tombstone with the same thing you find on Herman Melville’s: Writer.

    August 23, 1935 – April 23, 2013

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