Friday, November 18, 2011

Kell Robertson


---------- Forwarded Message ----------

Subject: Kell Robertson
Date: Sat, 12 Nov 2011

Kell Robertson, 1930-2011: Cowboy-poet celebrated 'guns, guitars and women'
Steve Terrell | The New Mexican
Monday, November 07, 2011

Kell Robertson, a poet, songwriter, country singer, storyteller and local character, died Monday. He was 81. Robertson died on the property where he had lived for about 15 years, southeast of Santa Fe near N.M. 14. A friend and neighbor, Joanie MacCallum, said he'd had a peaceful night surrounded by loved ones.

On Sunday, friends visited along with his daughter, Penelope Read, who flew in from San Francisco to be with the ailing poet, sit at his bedside and hold his hand. But though Robertson had been talking, joking and telling stories the night before, friends said, by Sunday afternoon he'd slipped into unconsciousness and never awoke. Robertson was hospitalized about three weeks ago for liver problems. On Saturday, the hospital released him, telling friends that he had only a few days to live.

He had lived since 1997 on the property of fellow poet Argos MacCallum — Joanie's brother-in-law. The two had met in 1989 at a poetry event at the Caravan of Dreams Performing Arts Center in Fort Worth. MacCallum allowed Robertson, who at the time was homeless, to move into a small building on his property. Robertson referred to it as a "converted chicken shack," though in reality MacCallum built it for Robertson three days before he moved in.

Robertson often described himself as "an old drunk." His songs celebrated a life of "Guns, Guitars and Women," as the title of one of his tunes said. He sang of saloons that were "cool and dark inside." Friends remember him with an ever-present cowboy hat on his head, a beer in one hand and a cigarette in the other. In a 2004 interview in No Depression magazine, Robertson said, "I've always thought that my biography is in my poetry and songs."

He said he was born in 1930 in Codell, Kan., the son of a saxophone player who abandoned the family when Robertson was a toddler. His mother remarried a man who kicked him out of the house at age 13. But that was not before his mother took him to see Hank Williams play in Louisiana. "I was a hood," Robertson told The New Mexican in 1998. "My biggest thought [up to that] time was I wanted to own a gas station or rob one, make some money, get a chick and ride across the South being Jesse James or something. But then I went to see Hank Williams and saw what he did with that audience. How he touched everybody so deeply. I figured to myself, somehow I've got to do something like that."

Through the years, he earned his living as an usher in a movie theater, a fruit picker, a dishwasher, a soldier in the Korean War, a disc jockey at country and jazz stations, a bartender and an insurance salesman. . . . He also fell in with San Francisco's North Beach scene in the 1950s and '60s, and he published a mimeograph poetry magazine called Desperado in the '60s.

Said MacCallum: "I think he should be remembered as a major American poet. To him, poetry was a job. And he did it with relish." Besides publishing several books of poetry, Robertson released three CDs of his music, all of which were recorded after he moved to Santa Fe. He performed locally in places like the now-defunct Oasis Cafe and on KSFR radio. Longtime musical cohort Mike Good, who flew from Ohio to be with Robertson on his final day, said Monday that he took at least four road trips across the country with Robertson. "We drove the back roads, just seeing everything and talking," Good said. "He really opened my eyes on how to perceive things. ... He was really connected up there where all that — poetry and music — comes from."

In one of his songs, "I Always Loved A Waltz," Robertson contemplated his own epitaph: "Just write on my tombstone, Lord if I get a tombstone/Or maybe just a honky-tonk wall/That he was crazy for ladies, Lord, and guitars and babies/And a damned old fool for the waltz." His most recent performance was a poetry reading in July at Teatro Paraguas Studio with MacCallum.

Robertson will be buried Tuesday in a private ceremony on the MacCallum property. MacCallum said a public memorial featuring music and poetry by Robertson's friends is being planned for February.


if you want to know how good Kell Robertson was then read 
this assessment by the late Tod Moore, 2008



Under the discount store
the fast food place
the furniture outlet
under all that asphalt
is one of the best chunks
of black bottom farm land
in southeast
My grandad grew corn
wheat, oats and alfalfa,
rotating the crops by
his almanac and the taste
of the dirt, and there
under that corner
my grandma’s garden grew.
The house was somewhere
near the bicycle rack
and the barn was where
they have that bank
of video games.
Under all this asphalt and concrete
plastic and steel, I learned to cut
a calf, learned to drive a team of horses,
learned to work in this earth
and in that barn, learned
from a third cousin who
teetered on the edge of womanhood
another meaning for kisses
beyond the peck on the cheek
I got from grandma.
I close my eyes and see it,
butt my way under that old
Jersey cow
squirt the hot steaming milk
into the cold tin bucket, hear
the hogs snorting around for slops
we saved for them.

I open my eyes and almost
get run over by a housewife
with a buggy full of disposable diapers
and sugar-coated cereals.

The security guard takes my arm, asks
if I’m alright, leads me out into the parking lot
asks me what I’m doing there if I’m not
going to buy anything.

I’m visiting my grandad’s farm I say
underneath all this crap
is the sweetest little farm
in southeast

Walking away
into the shimmering heat
rising from the parking lot
I swear I hear
Grandma calling us for supper.
There’ll be beans and cornbread
and iced tea...tomorrow we’ll start
plowing the lower forty.
Then we’ll come home and sit
on the front porch, watching the dogs
playing in the yard, dreaming
of going to town next week
to sell some hay and get
a store-bought hat
to wear at the dance at the Grange Hall.
Maybe my cousin will be there
and she’ll teach me more
about this kissing business.

Right now
looking back at the parking lot
full of people doing something

all I can see is what we’ve lost.

Kell Robertson


Kell Robertson Interview

this is a beauty, worth reading

[30th august 2012, I clicked on above 'link' and I couldn't get back to the interview, but I'm sure if you 'googled' 'kell robertson interview' it would turn up somewhere.]

1 comment:

Sissy said...

one of my favorite outlaw poets, RIP Kell...

"when love sags
and a bottle of cheap wine
is our blanket against
rock hard death
with his damn hands
all over us."