Kenneth Warren, Editor of House Organ, Dies at 63
Yesterday we were saddened to hear the news of Kenneth Warren's death at the age of 63. Jim O'Bryan at the Lakewood Observer writes:
This morning one of the best humans I have ever had the pleasure of meeting and working with passed away. Kenneth Warren, age 63, died of a heart attack. His son Parker was by his side according to his other son Beckett who called me.
He had been feeling bad since heading back to New York to take care of his parents, from a poetry session celebrating friend Herbert Gold, at Lakewood Public Library, the institution he headed for 25 years and made it the top library in the country 6 years in a row. He went to his acupuncturist who treated him. He still felt bad, and Parker headed to New York to take him to the "Western Doctor" at noon. While waiting to leave he suffered a massive heart attack, and was pronounced dead in his home.
Warren was the longstanding editor of House Organ, the lengthwise-folded single-stapled pamphlet which, over the years, published an array of poets (young and old, established and emerging). If a copy of House Organ never graced your hands, you can get a sense of these simple and elegantly DIY'd publications from Patrick James Dunagan's 2007 review on galatea resurrects:
House Organ is a personal endeavor that escapes the crippling baggage that generally accompanies such affairs. Kenneth Warren edits and publishes each issue, sending them out from his residence in Lakewood, Ohio. Unassuming in appearance, House Organ consists of several sheets of 8 ½ by 11 paper folded vertically in half with a single staple affixing the spine; addresses are written on the back and postage attached—no need for envelopes—each issue contains poems, ongoing critical engagements, reviews, and memoirs. As Warren has termed the publication, it is a donor organ. This appears to be meant literally, those who receive it in the mail along with those who it publishes, donate their time and person to an ongoing, active engagement with poetry. Warren is paying attention below the usual radar. It would be of no surprise to one day run into him without ever knowing it and for him to have all the words needed for conversation at hand without any concern for hobnobbing or any “who’s who” nonsense. This is the sense of mind evidenced by his editorial judgment along with the continuing productivity and longevity of the Organ.
Warren was also the author the eclectic and intellectually capacious Captain Poetry’s Sucker Punch: A Guide to the Homeric Punkhole, 1980–2012, a collection of essays on poetry and music that was 30 years in the making. His presence in poetry will be greatly missed.
And for more on Warren's life and work, head here to read Peter Anastas's tribute.