Gary Snyder

Though I have personally benefited from the astute intelligence and scholarship of Howard McCord, I never got to know him well. Looking at this bibliography of his life of work, I realize how deeply and widely he studied, thought, and wrote. He encouraged me and shared his interest in my quirky book MYTHS AND TEXTS long ago---and even wrote some notes on it. Now I can see that his own rare and radical insights have ranged on through the years into territories I'd like to go but haven't yet. McCord's a being of rare value, a quiet and totally independent man, a true "armed freeholder", especially poetically and intellectually, and he proposes a kind of citizenship we should all aspire to.

Geoff Young

Howard McCord is a guide, a soul in boots. He understands crazy, and lives sanely. Keen on the bedrock topography of the Pre-Socratics, McCord's poetry runs on something more substantial than chic, more difficult than irony. Dance to the wave of its cultural layering, break a sweat in the kiva of its special generosity.

Russell Banks

Over the years the works of Howard McCord got a lot of us through the night. It's a deep pleasure to have so many of those books and pamphlets invoked by this bibliographic compendium.

Ron Bayes

Howard McCord has been in my ken for well over forty years.  I first became aware of him, his writing, his wide concerns and his genius via his anthology 'the hungry generation…' which gathered together Malay Roy Chowdry and his vigorous circle of writing compeers in India.

Howard was a Washingtonian at the time and I a lifelong Oregonian teaching a year in Japan.  Soon I learned that we shared Iceland as well as Japan as key creative interests.

I moved to North Carolina where I settled in at St. Andrews Presbyterian college, meantime Howard was at bowling green, and we were able to keep up our friendship and shared friends at intervals here and there.

Yeats called Synge 'that rooted man.' Synge had a mainline to the power of the universe and the quandary of being.  Howard, no less.  He is a man most worthy of keening, loving praise.

Ron Bayes, founding editor, St. Andrews College Press (which, needless to say is proud to have published hmcc)


Switchblade. Bottle. Typewriter.
John Haynes

I wouldn’t know “literature” if it sauntered up and offered me a fine-arts diploma and a $30 enema.

I’m about the same with poetry.

But I know what I like. Howard McCord’s words have provided illumination during blackouts in my heart, soul, and mind. In our almost daily email correspondence in recent years, and before that in our correspondence by mail, and in our yearly personal adventures in which we climb mountains, camp out, or drive around exploring the American Southwest, Howard has proven to be an almost unimaginable combination of friend, counselor, mentor, older brother, and crazy, switchblade-carrying, poetry-spouting uncle.

Howard writes poems and prose that make you think about things, cry about things, or laugh about things ---- sometimes all three at once. One moment you’re sitting around the campfire listening to him express the love and wonder he feels for his wife and children. The next minute you’re reading “The Illusion of Compassion,” an essay Pete Seeger said “Belongs on the shelf next to Mein Kampf.”

Howard has proudly framed and displayed Seeger’s letter of complaint. He is not a man afraid of controversy or the ill-considered opinions of those who do not know him.

Howard McCord is not a man I would try to out-write, out-shoot, out-think, or out-drink. Nor is he a man who has any equal when it comes to demonstrating the essence of kindness, friendship, and pure unadulterated soul. His star burns bright.

When you stand near it you aren’t burned----you’re lit and warmed as if sipping smooth Knob Creek bourbon.

In his BOOK OF FRIENDS, Henry Miller wrote: "When I say friends, I mean friends. Not anybody and everybody can be your friend. It must be someone as close to you as your skin, someone who imparts color, drama, meaning to your life, however snug and secure it may be."

What an honor it is for me to orbit Howard McCord’s star.

John Haynes carries a knife and a pen.
Howard McCord taught him to be unafraid to use either.


from a manuscript soon to be published entitled
Epigramititis: 101 Living American Poets
Kent Johnson

Howard McCord

As a poet, he knew well what he’d done,
and so he fell, into the oblivion of Ohio,
oiling, lovingly, his many guns.

Jean Jones

I studied under Howard at Bowling Green State University and Howard and I were friends and have been since I've known him (we first met at graduate school in 1986).  I helped get him a reading at St. Andrews Presbyterian College where his old friend and my old mentor, Ron Bayes first recommended where I should go to graduate school:  Bowling Green State University.  I mentioned to Ron Bayes about having Howard read at St. Andrews and not only did Ron do this, as head of St. Andrews Press, he published Howard in The Wisdom of Silenus & Other Essays.  Ron recognized as I did the genius of Howard McCord as a critic and essayist.

Howard is one of the best essayists I have ever read.  His prose is lucid, clear, and best of all, short and to the point.  I know of Howard as a poet and a great one at that, but for me, his contribution to the world of letters is in his ground breaking essays, "Contentions," and "Intemperance," both of which challenged the Academic Ivy League East's perception of who was worth reading and why.  If that was all Howard ever wrote, I argue, these essays were worth reading by all people interested in studying postmodern poetry or literature. That is the strength of Howard for me.  He, whether he believes it or not, is a fantastic, lucid critic whose views were written in short, lucid prose which were a joy to read.  If I were teaching Postmodern poetry, I would make "Contentions" and "Intemperance" required reading for all my students.

Now as a person, Howard is unmatched.  One of the most generous and giving people I have ever met.  If I showed up at his house in the middle of the night terrified, upset, and needing a place to stay, he would offer it with no questions asked.  Even if I was being pursued by the law.  He, contrary to his public persona, is a law-abiding, honest, decent conservative person, who loves his wife and family with all of his heart although I think a part of him hates himself for it. That is the part who writes.  Still, anyone who has such loyalty from his friends is a natural leader and Howard is that although ironically, I have never seen him demand loyalty.  It just comes naturally to those who know him just as it comes naturally from him as easy as he draws breath.  He introduced me to poetry and to guns and both draw equal attention from me to this day.

What else can I say?   A more decent and honest man I hardly know except for two others who mean as near and dear to me:  Ron Bayes and Michael Mott.

Here is a website that describes me more:

Shaya Kline

I don't know Howard McCord at all. I happened to be web surfing, looking for 16 year old double amputee nymphomaniacs and I found your web tribute to Howard.

If I were gay I would certainly be attracted to this distinguished white haired gentleman and I would ask: "Does he have any money?" But knowing what Jenny has put up with all these years waiting for that day of the fall and resurrection I know all claims on greenbacks have been assayed and mined and placed in the vault.

But I'll make claim to that brain, that grand intellect that encompasses all history and literature. Most of all I'll claim that friendship that is as deep as God's vagina and as true as the love of the lion for that baby zebra drinking that last drink at the pool of eternity. I know that all goyim are waiting for the day to push this simple Jew into the gas chamber.

I love you Howard, so push away.

Howard McCord: Friend and Fable
Dr. Martin Jack Rosenblum

Howard McCord is my friend. We talk to one another, correspond, and we see each other as often as events permit. His written work has been known to me for many decades, and in fact we met decades ago when I wrote him a letter praising one of his poetry texts. There is an attribute in his writing that is also in his life, and this is the fable -- for his words as well as his actions purvey the old lore that has been forgotten by too many as of this 1 September 2002 comment.

After numerous books, I published a controversial one. It led me out of the

fine art world and so it was troublesome to the academic and fine art police.

It was as substantive as any work I had previously written, but it was offered in a more commercial setting than the other books had been. Howard McCord was the only one who stuck by my side during this period of time and encouraged my own intuitions (which ultimately led me off the page and into sonic realms where I had begun as a writer anyway and always preferred to remain).

This little comment about Howard McCord is not about me. But I must risk

having it read that way because of Howard's mystical yet practical ability to permit a friend to be left to his own devices, no matter what, and so by praising my dear friend and associate I must speak of that which is my own vision ---- because he encouraged it in ways that only the Old Iguana, his rightful eponym, could have; nobody else I have ever met, worked with, and shared so much in terms literary and numinous knows more about himself than does Howard McCord. And his self-knowledge makes mine even more my own.

Howard McCord is a literary genius. He can be relied upon as a friend

should, which is contrary to being a genius as most are solipsistic sots. He once gave me a hat. I wear it when I am able to understand the fable that he offers any of us who read his works or speak to him. I do not wear this hat when I am unable to follow my own intuitive light, for it would be unworthy to seek shade by virtue of his gift if I were not true to myself.

The process by which Howard McCord tells you to know who you are is in all of his published works. It is in his living process. He is the creator of fables and is fabled himself. It would be foolish to write some sort of dialectical tribute to the work and the man, here, so bless all who read this for letting me just hermetically proclaim the Old Iguana's influence.

Without it, without him, I would not wear any hat at all.

Dr. Martin Jack Rosenblum is a singer, songwriter, recording artist, and poet of note.

Visit his websites: and

Dan McLachlan

I came back to Washington State University to begin my sophomore studies after having dropped out for a year to earn loot working as a seismic technician at Nevada Test Site. It was the fall of '62, and though I didn't glow in the dark from all the nuclear explosions I had participated in, I began the year living in poverty in a 15-foot trailer that had no toilet, water, or stove. By late fall I had fallen ill from dehydration and malnutrition and was found unconscious, wearing only my underpants, face down in the snow, mere feet from my trailer door. The next two weeks found me looking from a front window of the old, brick student infirmary. It was here that I came to know my poetry professor who had learned of my plight somehow and had chosen to keep me abreast of my studies by paying me bedside visits. That professor, of course, was Howard McCord. He had just turned thirty.

I learned, as we quickly became friends, that I had known him many years earlier in Palo Alto, California. He had been the driver of the Bookmobile that visited Baron Park Elementary weekly. He had been the shy, thin man that helped me with my reading selections, and who had set certain books aside that he knew I would like. I also learned that we both loved the Wasatch Mountains in Utah where he had done graduate studies at the University of Utah. My father had been directing graduate studies in science at the time. We agreed that those looming mountains were among the most magnificent of our lives, and we trusted that out there more existed somewhere that would also speak to us. Coincidence, then, began our friendship and has continued to influence it ever since.

By the end of my sophomore year at WSU, I had renounced the sciences of my father and had joined the dubious league of misfits that made up the English Department. I was an unskilled writer and a worse poet, but I had led an interesting life until then, having lived in a cave one summer and having ridden 1,700 miles with two horses another. So Howard told the English Chair, Emmet Avery, he felt my writing might be helped with a great deal of guidance, time, and patience. With that, I settled in for the long, seven year ride that would eventually earn me the first Masters in Creative Writing to be issued in the state of Washington, thanks to Howard, the most patient man I have ever known.

Good friendships bring with them additional friends, and Howard made me a part of his young family and took me to the countless faculty parties he was invited to. Soon, I was bringing along my own wife, and later, a young son that played with his two boys. And, as is the nature of universities, the English department consorted with the art department in demolishing cheap wines, listening to LPs, discussing the sexual revolution, the civil rights movement, the Vietnam War, new folk music versus rock, the elusive aesthetic nature of art and poetry, and, of course, the astonishing true accounts of hilarious childhood misadventures. Police were summoned by neighbors who wanted to sleep, the department fuddy-duddies clucked their tongues during the day, and even then, as young as we were, we understood we were all going to die.

And die we did. Howard and I have put them all in the ground. Avery, Sterling, Stobie, Balyeat, Joy, Kris, Peterson, Arntson, Slonim--the list is long. The scholars, poets, novelists, sculptors, musicians, actors, painters, potters, journalists, and photographers that filled those low-cost faculty homes, those brilliant souls that howled and laughed at the absurdities of the universe and dared it to stopper their joy and bliss, are now all gone.

As Howard wrote and just today sent to me concluding his poem IN ICELAND,

If there are wild men,
you will know it
only by the snapped bleat
of a ewe some dawn,
or a bottle of good Polish
vodka gone from your tent.

And so, Howard, a wild man of the mountains and of the world of literary scholarship and imagination, holds a bottle of Knob Creek to the moon and laughs as he salutes us all. We sit around a desert fire between two granite walls on the Idaho/Utah border, twenty-one of us all told, and burn our joys into the wilderness night. We have spent ten days climbing mountains, trad climbing and top roping cliff faces, and, of course, singing, playing harmonicas, mandolins and guitars, and discussing the new sexual revolution, the civil rights movement, the Afghan war, folk music versus rock, the elusive aesthetic nature of art and poetry, and, of course, the astonishing true accounts of hilarious childhood misadventures. And so again, Howard at seventy, me at sixty, our children in their thirties, our friends of all ages are there with us. And also again, Howard is addressing a prose poem, this time THE PEARL DIVER, to the youngest among us--four nineteen year old climbers that have been with us for, what, three years now?

Yet, in quieter moments, I can feel Howard's eyes on me as I scale a wall, as he can as I watch him do the same. He worries about me, and I him, and so we give each other gifts to ward off the future. I give him a lightweight Patagonia Puffball jacket against the cold, he gives me a knife and a poem which reads:

Presented to Dan McLachlan
On the occasion of his struggle with
And wounding by
Sent by its Demon Mistress
This blade anointed with horse oil
And magical herbs
Guaranteed when used
With a Naturally Pure Heart

Learning Cartography
— for Howard McCord
John Wylam

"A map may lie, but it never jokes."
— "Listening to Maps"


A road atlas is good as a dictionary,
names of Western towns I might've passed
by air, twice, to California
and back — and then the white wall
of the Rockies: this is not
my country but gorgeous, terrifying,
the snowrange our jet didn't clear
by much, and through that left-hand window,
as near as I might ever come,
a haze above the ghost-desert, far south. A man walked
the arroyo, one thin confluence,
vanishing point. He's your story,
and he made sense, even
from the air-conditioned falsehood where I rode.

Tonight's for whiskey on ice,
the atlas left open at Arizona, legend
whispering what Easterners
can never understand: the enormous
desert distance, towns turned
fictive by shimmer and stories

one might say aloud while walking
as sandhawks draw tightening circles
in the air overhead.


But here you are in Ohio, living
in flat country, awaiting the drought's
end, aware how every field abandoned
is a farmer's living nightmare.

How does anyone arrive here,
and wind up staying? "There are only
two things to do in Bowling Green,"
you said to me the first time

we spoke, "One of them is writing.
The other is drinking." A glass
of Jim Beam adds a shimmer to dry clouds,
the moon impossibly huge,

balanced on the bleak horizon.
This summer's been dry as all Arizona,
there's no doubt, and as
you said years ago, it's still no joke.