Blue

“On an afternoon so mirror-like and bluish/It seems Windexed.” That’s a line from Robert Long’s poem “Littoral Landscape” included in the now out-of-print collection What Happens. The poet is describing a September sun, but even on dry spring days I see it that way. And even though Robert is gone now, he died in October 2006, we still feel his presence in the voice that rings clear from the pages of his collection, Blue, published by Canio’s Editions in 2000, and from the pages of DeKooning’s Bicycle, unfortunately, also out-of-print, although we have copies available at the shop. This lyrical set of essays about the artists and writers of the East End has the sensibility of some of the earlier poems, paeans to the landscape that continues to entice us, inspire us, amaze us.

There are a million ways to describe the color blue: “the milky sky’s headache…” or “An hour of blue/ At once dense and slick.” These from the eponymous poem from Blue. There’s “the driveway’s cool blue gravel” from “Imperfect Sunset;” and the “painted powder blue room”of the muse in “Where The Muse Lives;” or the “green-blue light/Of Union Square Station, 1968” from “Tie City.” The “Chagall blue of the gas stove,” in “Storm” or “the day of achingly blue skies,” in “Fumetti.” No matter how you paint it, blue’s the most beautiful, mysterious, fluid color there is.

Friends of Robert Long have created a memorial scholarship fund in his name. In April we gave out the first awards to three deserving high school seniors who showed promise in writing fiction, poetry and prose. We plan to continue to make these awards and to offer grants to working writers. In this way, we hope to continue to encourage writers, just as Robert received a grant that helped him complete the manuscript of Blue. To make a donation to the fund, please send a check to the East End Arts Council, 133 East Main Street, Riverhead, NY 11901.

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7 Responses to “Blue”


  1. 1 Missy PA June 19, 2008 at 10:56 pm

    Congratulations on the blob! Kudos on the Robert Long Memorial Scholarship – great job supporting writing and writers. Besides a contribution to the scholarship fund, while at the keyboard, I’ll share a contribution to the theme on blue with a few words from a favorite poet.

    204
    A slash of Blue—
    A sweep of Gray—
    Some scarlet patches on the way,
    Compose an Evening Sky—
    A little purple—slipped between—
    Some Ruby Trousers hurried on—
    A Wave of Gold—
    A Bank of Day—
    This just makes out the Morning Sky.

    E. Dickinson

  2. 2 canios July 20, 2008 at 3:49 pm

    How wonderful to have this lovely poem by Emily Dickinson added to our entry on Blue! Our friend Robert had a collection of her work among his vast poetry library. She is certainly a favorite of ours and Poem #204 shows one of the hundreds of reasons why. We enjoyed a visit to the Dickinson Homestead in Amherst, Mass. some years ago and became so inspired by The Belle thereof that we’ve held several celebrations of her birthday (December 10, 1830) at the bookshop. We also had a special exhibition of beautiful artwork inspired by Dickinson created by Hazel Kahan. Hazel visited the Homestead and collected leaves from the property which she later worked into her exquisite pieces incorporating quotations from Dickinson’s writing. (For info. on Hazel’s work, contact the bookshop.) Thank you, Joanie! There are so many beautiful shades of Blue!

  3. 3 David Benforado August 15, 2008 at 5:01 pm

    I spent many months searching for Robert. I had met him while he was still at the Hampton Guild Hall. He introduced Joseph Brodsky to the audience, I listened. After the speech, I met him and we started a mail correspondence, roughly for 3 years, but very extensive. I was 15 years old at the time, the year was 1994. I had lost all of my contacts with Robert, and finally, about two weeks ago, I found one of the last letters and decided to search extensively. He was wonderful; he was so attentive as a teacher and guided me through my first experimental stages in writing. At the end it was painting that won my heart. If you are planning on publishing a book on Roberts’ correspondence, I will be happy to contribute. His letters are aspirations for young poets. We were talking about Rainer Maria Rilke, Rimbaud, up to one of his favorites topics, the Beat Generation. We used to take walks to Jackson’s Pollock grave, and he was narrating to me stories from his youth, and his encounters with Burroughs. I am moved as right now it is that I am finding out about his passing away. Robert may You Rest in Peace. Your friend, and always restless young poet, David.

  4. 4 David Benforado August 15, 2008 at 5:16 pm

    part II:

    I am taking the liberty of quoting an excerpt from one of Roberts’ last letters to me.

    The date is April 6th, 1996:

    “…..I think writers help each other merely by encouraging each other and that’s about all I have been able to do for you. It’s not even a matter of “writers” –it’s simply that artists of any sort whether it be in writing or painting or acting or playing music need to support each other. So any support I have given you has been a repayment to the artists who encouraged me when I was starting out, because they saw something in me that I see in you–talent, and, beyond that, sensibility. So we all owe this to each other. And I expect that you ‘ll do the same for younger artists when you get older….”

    –Robert Long

    I don t know if you want to post this, I thought it might interest you as I saw you have a scholarship fund in memory of Robert Long.

  5. 6 indiraganesan June 2, 2014 at 4:14 pm

    Reblogged this on Indira Ganesan and commented:
    As graduates from colleges and universities finish with commencements, beginning new lives, Canio’s Books in Sag Harbor, NY offers a way to help young poets. The following is from their blog:

  6. 7 danabeesvoice June 2, 2014 at 4:55 pm

    What a lovely blog post, Indira, and the outpouring of response is so inspiring. I always list my favorite color as blue because it covers so much territory – in range, metaphor, visual, physical, soulful. I especially like the excerpt from Robert Long’s letter to David Benforado where he encourages the support (and community) of other artists.


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