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Ken Angel’s 43 Poems by Bill Kushner and Tom Savage

I was visiting Ken Angel in his studio last week and on leaving he handed me—he is a gift-giver—an early printing of a book he did of some of the poetry collaborations that Bill Kushner and Tom Savage used to write together when they met at SAGE, an LGBT community center for seniors on 7th Avenue, during 2015 up to the time Bill died. Bill loved SAGE. Meals there only cost three dollars, and there are vegetarian options; there were poetry workshops as well, and he loved to walk. SAGE wasn’t far from his apartment, and getting out and walking through Chelsea was important because the street was where the action was. Bill did a lot of his writing on the way. Even at the end when walking was difficult, he got out. The last time I saw him we walked.

This labor of love, these 43 poems, that Kenny has put together is a great archive, done with his own paint and design that captures the back and forth of these two old friends who were also lovers and enemies from time to time over the decades who ended up very good friends with love winning out in the end. These often naughty collaborations can be inspiring with bright flashes of humor and insight. The cover of paint, words and collage of hearts on the back says it all: Ken Angel is, in the vernacular of an earlier age, a doll, and his art with the respect and love he has for poets is a gift for us all. I randomly picked out two poems and scanned them to give the reader an idea of all of the fun that is going on between those covers below.

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