Alan Horvath's Legacy to the Cleveland Poets
By Geoffrey Cook


Your essayist has to apologize to his audience for the time it has taken to write this tribute for his dear friend and colleague, Alan Horvath.

Your poet has traveled from his adopted (Berkeley) California home to here in Central Virginia this past weekend to deliver a very un-lyrical academic speech at Virginia Commonwealth University in Richmond.

This Colonial-style capital of the old Confederacy, whose racist history stands in dramatic contrast to the industrial — basically — (displaced) Black- and Eastern European- Americans — who became the Clevelanders (of Northern Ohio) — during the 1960s. Further, we had to fight the ethnic Slavs unfounded fear of (Stalinist) Communism (in Capitalistic America?) whom they had projected upon their young poets.

I had come to visit your writer's — now 80-year old — mentor of poetry, Michael Mott, with whom I had studied during my undergraduate days at Kenyon in the mid-1960. The educational institution was/is a very conservative college, and I was less than happy during this era. Yet, what had attracted me originally, was its literary "mystique" (an unusual number of notable writers — especially poets — of the early and middle part of the Twentieth Century either were educated or taught there.)

Curiously, the days in Cleveland — whose burning Cuyahoga twists through the city south from the rubber-manufacturing Akron; past the steel-mills to its mouth north at the Lake — were schizophrenically intertwined with your lyricist's idyllic myth in bucolic Central Ohio by the Kokosing River.

Your essayist's family lived in a suburb of the dominant city in Northern Ohio on the Great Lake (Eire). I came home constantly to the urban landscape to escape the dullness of my other (rural) life, but the metropolitan panorama was so ecstatically exciting in contrast to the somnolent academy.

However, this is a dirge for Alan who kept the Cleveland legend alive! Alan was from Cleveland, too, but a generation younger than we in the Cleveland "Scene." He knew the skyscrapers so well, too. As the generation before, he searched for the core of that "ugly city," for to know this "Mistake on the (then Polluted) Lake" was to understand America — "The Heart of the Beast," which was the title of what your scribe considers his elegiac masterpiece and which your "biographer" had the honor to have Alan put back into print in a limited edition of a hundred. The creator of this page is most honored to have his name within Alan's catalogue!

The only facet that your author bemoans over Horvath's work as a publisher is that his editions are so slim; published in editions of a hundred each which establishes them as so valuably rare. They were beautiful, objects d'art as Michael Mott just mentioned to me, and, also, the other two who have done so much for the preservation of our (the Cleveland Underground's) work, the great collectors, Marvin and Ruth Sacker, who have, incidentally, written a comment for this cyber tribute, attested when they so graciously invited my wife, Norah, and your composer to their home/Museum last January (2011) in Miami

Alan Horvath discovered our slight (original mimeo) tomes in his youth, and through them he learned to love our regional literature. He began his mature research and editing leading to his definitive "reprints" which began after he had immigrated into California. He was creating the Cleveland "Underground" for a new generation! He was transporting the mythical Northeast Ohio of the 1960s into the Twenty-first Century!

Although Alan worked, and met his wife, Kathy, in the San Francisco Bay Area, and domiciled in the South (East) Bay city of Fremont, I physically met him, during a Northwest rain-soaked deluge, where his employers had transferred him, after I had chaired a contentious symposium on Kashmir in Portland (Oregon), across the River from his (late) home city of Vancouver (Washington) with his delightfully supporting wife. Mr. Horvath informed me that the natives on his Columbia (River) paid little consideration to the downpours there, but (he) just wore a floppy that night to protect him from the raging elements.

Alan had severe diabetes which had already affected his eyes, and his kidney was degenerating as well.

Strangely, I have diabetes, too, with the same weak organ that almost killed me in Madison (Wisconsin).

I know of the constant weakness that kept him from doing what he wished to do. His physical struggles only makes his creative accomplishments that much more poignant! He told Kent Taylor on the telephone in the "City" (S.F.) — on North America's Western Coast — the night before his passing that he (Alan) had told the poet (Kent) across the Bay from your elegist (me) that both of us' colleague and friend, Alan, had told him (Kent) that he (the artist/publisher) was looking forward to his first dialysis, since it cleans out the poisons from one's body which your kidneys have failed to do; bestowing a temporary measure of well-being and strength.

Mrs. Horvath had dropped our printer and designer off at the dialysis center early on the morning of his demise — only to receive a call a few hours later at her work that her husband had expired later during that morning . . . the first time in the "chair."

Alan was quite brave to fight the pain and weakness to produce the uniqueness of our peculiar Lake and her children! Alan,

May you reside in the Bosom of Abraham!

Dona eum Requiem!

Jamestown (Va.)

April 13th, 2011


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