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Reading of Beat poet Harold Norse's work set for May 9 in Petaluma

Harold Norse in the 1970s. (WWW.HAROLDNORSE.COM)

DAN TAYLOR, THE PRESS DEMOCRAT

Copperfield’s Books in Petaluma will host a poetry reading from a new edition of work by the late Beat poet Harold Norse at 1:30 p.m. May 9.

Known for his use of everyday language and images, Norse became an important voice of the “Beat” generation of the 1950s, challenging traditional norms and values.

Born Harold Rosen in Brooklyn in 1916 to an unmarried Lithuanian Jewish immigrant, the writer eventually rearranged the letters of his last name to change it to Norse.

In the late 1930s, Norse became part of the inner circle of English-born poet W. H. Auden, after Auden came to the U.S.

Living in New York City’s Greenwich Village during the 1940s, Norse honed his poetic skills in the company of writer friends that included writers James Baldwin, Tennessee Williams and Jack Kerouac.

During the Cold War, Norse left America and traveled for 15 years in Europe and North Africa. He collaborated with writer William Burroughs in Paris and mentored Canadian folksinger and songwriter Leonard Cohen on Hydra, one of the Saronic Islands of Greece.

During the early 1980s, Norse lived and worked in a house he bought from surrealist poet Andrei Cordrescu.

The May 9 program at Copperield’s, at 140 Kentucky St. in Petaluma, will feature Todd Swindell of Sebastopol, editor of the new edition of Norse’s work, “I Am Going to Fly Through Glass: The Selected Poems of Harold Norse.” San Francisco poets Neeli Cherkovski and A.D. Winans also will participate.

Information: copperfieldsbooks.com, 707-762-0563.