Heroes of the Revolution: Harold Norse

Art by Rob Goldstein
Portrait of Harold Norse by Jim Breeden

In 1977 I lived in New Haven, Connecticut.

There are hundreds of reasons I loved my time in New Haven.

One was Manhattan was an hour away by train.

I took Amtrak to New York at least twice a month to hang out in the Village.

One weekend in the Fall of 1977 I stopped for a drink at Uncle Charlie’s on Greenwich Avenue.

I met a hot guy who invited me home.

He had a studio apartment with a bed, a chair and a nightstand.

On the nightstand was a book of poems by Harold Norse,  Carnivorous Saint.

A devouring saint?

I sat on the bed and opened the book.

I’d never seen poetry like this before.

I said good-bye to the hot guy, raced to the bookstore, got Carnivorous Saint, and hopped the train back to New Haven.

I was smitten.

The poetry in Carnivorous Saint was political, sexy and full of humor.

Norse used his poetry to define gay liberation in language that included working class men.

Norse is a working class man who declares that he is not a Man:

Art by Rob Goldstein
Scanned from my copy of Carnivorous Saint, purchased in 1977.

I’m Not A Man

I’m not a man, I can’t earn a living, buy new things for my family.

I have acne and a small peter.

I’m not a man. I don’t like football, boxing and cars.
I like to express my feeling. I even like to put an arm
around my friend’s shoulder.

I’m not a man. I won’t play the role assigned to me- the role created
by Madison Avenue, Playboy, Hollywood and Oliver Cromwell,
Television does not dictate my behavior.

I’m not a man. Once when I shot a squirrel I swore that I would
never kill again. I gave up meat. The sight of blood makes me sick.
I like flowers.

I’m not a man. I went to prison resisting the draft. I do not fight
when real men beat me up and call me queer. I dislike violence.

I’m not a man. I have never raped a woman. I don’t hate blacks.
I do not get emotional when the flag is waved. I do not think I should
love America or leave it. I think I should laugh at it.

I’m not a man. I have never had the clap.

I’m not a man. Playboy is not my favorite magazine.

I’m not a man. I cry when I’m unhappy.

I’m not a man. I do not feel superior to women

I’m not a man. I don’t wear a jockstrap.

I’m not a man. I write poetry.

I’m not a man. I meditate on peace and love.

I’m not a man. I don’t want to destroy you

San Francisco, 1972

Carnivorous Saint
Scanned cover of my copy of Carnivorous Saint, purchased in 1977.

There is more to my story about Harold Norse but that is for another post.

To learn more about the poet, Harold Norse, click here:

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22 thoughts on “Heroes of the Revolution: Harold Norse

      1. I’m happy to hear that you ordered the book. Kenneth Pitchford is another unsung hero. While some of the ideas of the radical effeminists were untenable what they attempted to do was courageous. John Lennon’s decision to let Yoko take care of the business while he raised Sean was influenced by the radical effeminist movement.

        Liked by 1 person

      2. Lennon wrote a couple of songs that were directly influenced by effeminist movement and his most powerful post-Beatles music is a result of the effeminist idea that men need to let themselves feel and understand their emotions and the sexism that they internalize as a result of social conditioning.

        Intellectually, Lennon evolved from “I’d rather see you dead, little girl than to see you with another man” to “I didn’t mean to hurt you, I’m sorry that I made you cry.”

        Lennon is an excellent example of a working class man who learned how to use his mind by learning how to question himself.

        Liked by 1 person

      3. It’s a fascinating story if you examine it from a class perspective. Lennon’s evolution as an intellectual begins when he meets Yoko who is skilled at belonging to the upper class.

        It’s a shame that Sean can’t emerge from his Father’s shadow because he has the combined gifts of both of his parents.

        Liked by 1 person

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