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Sunday, April 3, 2011

The Time of the Night by Gerrit Henry

The Groundwater Press

NEW BOOK INFORMATION for Immediate Release

The Time of the Night

Gerrit Henry

foreword by John Ashbery & full-color cover portrait by Alex Katz

Publication: April 2011 111 pages. Paper

Price: $14.95 ISBN 1-877593-10-9

A long-awaited posthumous collection of poetry by one of the New York School’s most admired writers, The Time of the Night presents poems by Gerrit Henry (1950-2003), from unpublished papers as well as hard-to-find and out-of-print earlier publications.

His close friend, the poet Marc Cohen, describes in a preface how he gathered and edited these poems, few of which have ever appeared in print, from manuscripts found after Henry’s death in his New York City apartment. In addition, the book includes a gorgeous, full-color cover portrait from a painting by Alex Katz; a foreword by John Ashbery; and an appendix by David Lehman.

Gerrit Henry didn’t publish enough in his lifetime to be considered a “neglected or overlooked poet.” And until we have a “Collected Poems,” The Time of the Night will be the best and only introduction we have to one of the great poets of my generation. Be prepared to take a roller coaster through hell (or is it Manhattan?), if only to see what illusions of bliss and tatters of happiness still remain to be had. Always a witness to the highs and lows of life, Henry is a poet of disturbing rhyme (unsettling connections) and wrenching lyricism (think singer/composer). In fact, his work stands right next to that of Thom Gunn, but, make no mistake, it is all his own. I think Gunn would have deeply loved a poet who could write: “My affair with Alfred Hitchcock / Consisted of a fat, black silhouette, / And a skinless Cornish hen.” Open this book and read on. If these poems don’t knock your socks or knickers off, then you are a lot deader than you think. John Yau

Reading Gerrit Henry’s definitive collection of poems you slam up against some big contradictions fast. Many of the poems here exhibit the glitzy ease, high art, smart remarks and chattiness that commonly get associated with New York school writing. Yeah, yeah, yeah. But there’s so much else—poems jumping around—alternately obscure, wise, goofy, trippy and romantic. And hard and sad, too. It’s such a rich cascade of viewpoints as a collection that this volume can be hard going for a reader in spots. I mean if you wanted one kind of a ride. But as you near the end, how Henry’s contradictions operate now becomes clear. Each statement stands so tremulously, because what’s ultimately questionable to Henry is just “being” itself. What he’s done is both astonishing and bold. This is a whole collection of poems written by Hamlet. Eileen Myles

Lush with graceful and fast-moving images, Gerrit Henry’s poems are propelled by meter and shaped by rhyme. So it is tempting to praise them by calling them songs. Yet his poetry is better understood—and more accurately praised—as down-to-earth speech haunted by heavenly song. Thus he evokes the small pleasures and great terrors of a life haunted by heartbreaking intuitions of the ideal. Carter Ratcliff

Groundwater Press Books are distributed by Small Press Distribution. For information, please contact publishers Eugene Richie and Rosanne Wasserman at

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