Bill Knott

12 Jul

Bill Knott’s poems are the kind of poems you want to read when things get really fucked up.  And things seem to always get fucked up, don’t they?

I read an interview he did  a few months ago that has been haunting me where, when asked what he thought his poetic influence would be, his answer was– “You gotta be kidding. The answer is none, no one in their right mind will read my work. I’ll be forgotten and gone.” (

Knott’s poems have been important to me for years so I felt compelled to start a blog called just so I could say so.  I will probably spend the rest of my life (although according to Knott, I am not in my right mind) trying to figure out how to write a poem as simultaneously disciplined and alive as Bill Knott’s To The Emblematic Hourglass of My Father’s Skull.  I don’t know who out there is writing better lines.

Dear Bill, I like you…

J. Hope Stein


by Bill Knott

The night that dies in me each day is yours:
Hour whose way I stare, yearning to terra
Firma my eye. There. Where a single hair
Would be a theater curtain I could cling

Behind, dreading my cue, aching to hear
What co-hurrah. More, more of leaves that fall
Consummate capsules, having annaled all
Their veins said! Printout printemps. And yet
(Altars our blood writes a blurb for god on)
Can one ever envy enough his skeleton’s
Celebrity. Can any epitaph

Be adequate repartee for your laugh.
Days lived by me each night say less than it.
While sleep in ounces weighs me wanting.


7 Responses to “Bill Knott”

  1. hotshot bald cop August 31, 2011 at 5:17 pm #

    Pulitzer prize stuff there.

  2. leroy kingman 1940-1966 September 12, 2011 at 2:40 am #

    Sacagawea, princess of leftovers. Crying for a miracle, but they’re too expensive nowdays.
    it’s an atrocity, a stolen blasphemy that made my sister weep luminously
    Kreegah! Short and proud coats!
    Silently breathing in the beaten, trembling twilight
    Our hands aglow; soft, not agony, but luck.

  3. ----- September 14, 2011 at 12:34 am #

    Since I published this a few things have happened.

    1) I bought some artwork from Bill Knott – a water color of a sliver of moon. and he threw in some autographed books (10!). One was inscribed: “I hope you enjoy these depressing poems.”

    2) I sent him the link to poetrycrush and he wrote back saying that he was flattered. phew.

    3) I discovered that punk rock legend Richard Hell (Blank Generation) is also fascinated by Knott’s work –

    4) The links to Knott’s 3 blogs – (poetry, prose and art) are all dead links, as is his twitter. I hope he’s ok. Maybe just sick of the internet?

  4. SlackyB January 31, 2012 at 8:11 pm #

    First, I want to agree wholeheartedly with the author’s statement “Bill Knott’s poems are the kind of poems you want to read when things get really fucked up.” There’s a number of reasons for that. For one thing, the poems aren’t usually at all hard to read.
    In reply to one of the replyers, I’d say Richard Hell is something that’s good to listen to when things are fucked up. I didn’t know there was a connection with Knott.
    Also, I too have had the sense that Knott’s blogs have dried up. I’m guessing that at this point one pretty much has to get the published books to gets Knott’s poems.

  5. J. Hope Stein March 13, 2014 at 3:41 pm #

    Reblogged this on poetrycrush and commented:

    I wrote Bill Knott an email 3 days ago in a panic which never got a response: I had built up the courage to finally ask him if I could send him my chapbook. I am way too shy about these things. I said he would probably hate it but that, still, I wanted him to have it. I had been thinking about writing that email for 3 years.

    Following is the very first entry of Poetry Crush which I also wrote in a frenzy after reading an interview of Bill Knott. When I sent it to Bill he said he was “flattered and honored” — I am thankful he didn’t hose me! I like to think romance was his weakness.


  1. Vol. 1 Brooklyn | By Excluding Myself, I’ll Grow: Bill Knott, 1940-2014 - March 13, 2014

    […] “To The Emblematic Hourglass of My Father’s Skull” […]

  2. Why Knott? Part 2 | Lost in the Forest - March 16, 2014

    […] with Old Blue Medicine-Type Bottle: To X         To the Emblematic Hourglass of My Father’s Skull         Poems and artwork at Salamander […]

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