Poetry News

Flim Forum Publishes a Selected Poems of Paul Hannigan (1936-2000)

By Harriet Staff


We're happy to help announce that one of our favorite small presses--Flim Forum Press--has just published The Problem of Boredom in Paradise: Selected Poems by Paul Hannigan, potentially reviving the readership of the late poet, who was born in Cambridge in 1936 and kept the company of Boston-area writers like Fanny Howe, Bill Knott, William Corbett, DeWitt Henry, Tom Lux, and James Tate. "His publishing life extended from the late 60s to the late 70s with a small number of books and chapbooks. He taught at Emerson College and was an occasional editor/reviewer for Ploughshares and The Harvard Review. Hannigan suffered from a series of debilitating illnesses for most of his adult life, from which he eventually succumbed in 2000. He left behind a world of notebooks, unpublished poems, short stories, unfinished novels, fragments, comics and drawings." More about the book:

The Problem of Boredom in Paradise contains selections from a young Hannigan's A Theory of Learning (1966), the chapbook Holland and the Netherlands (Jim Randall's Pym Randall Press, 1970), selections from his books Laughing (Houghton Mifflin, 1970) and The Carnation (Tom Lux's Barn Dream Press, 1972), and the entirety of Bringing Back Slavery (Dolphin Editions, 1976). Also: a large portion of an unpublished manuscript The Higher Slum (1975), an assortment of other unpublished works from the 80s and 90s, and a few original drawings.


Paul Hannigan, society reporter on safari, sketches serpentine philosophers and corporate baboons, chronicles “these degrading surprises we call our days.” Like a good comedian, he paints these fools on his own face, in othered self-portraits, alternately toothy and toothless, sad saccharine, smothered in “moral sherbet.” Hannigan mumble mumbles a messy subjectivity, all the insecurities of our race, gender, sexuality. He can be rhapsodically self-felicitous in fantasies of self-pity. He can be witty, crude, and brutally cruel. Paul Hannigan, fall-guy, castaway, shackles Milton with suburban shopping malls and maps over happiness with The Bush, that colonial/genital beachhead. Hannigan’s poems are busy napping, bong coughing, constantly undressing, disabling, donning a series of hospital gowns. Perverted lyrics parade from his hopelessly open mouth.

You have already
had enough fun
now you must
what watch watch
and listen and
remember. Sort
according to subject.
And cross-reference.
At your dwindling
so-called leisure.

Flim Forum's entire catalog is worth a serious peruse. Last year's The Death of Pringle, by Justin Katko, had us at an operatic "The." And Jennifer Karmin's aaaaaaaaaaalice "is the sound and sight of the disappearing rabbit," as Vanessa Place wrote. Buy this newest, and read more about, by and for Hannigan, at the Paul Hannigan website. And a terrific interview with Flim Forum co-editor (with Matthew Klane) Adam Golaski about Hannigan can be read in the current issue of Open Letters Monthly.

Originally Published: March 13th, 2013