Tonight’s featured speaker, Robert Roth is based in New York and was born in Jackson Heights, Queens in 1943. A past participant in PA events in the Stamford area, Robert is the author of Health Proxy (Yuganta Press, 2007) and is co-editor with Arnold Sachar of And Then, an annual magazine of poetry, short prose narratives, art and photos, which has published the work of several Curley’s poets over the years.
In addition to sharing selections from his book, Robert will also discuss the evolution and continuing mission of his magazine, which, after 26 years of publication, is being recognized in literary circles for its radical inclusiveness and focus on the connection between the personal and the political—a prospect that once seemed elusive in “On the Ever Increasing Difficulty of Selling And Then”, Robert’s 1998 essay on the threatened supplanting of physical periodical media by the Internet.
Covering several decades over the course of a creative life beginning in the sixth grade, fueled by everyday experiences and thoughts on managing life, work and conscience before the ever-heavier awareness of one’s finiteness, Health Proxy embodies a quiet but brave impatience for the Easter Bunny-like pretenses that shield us from the challenges implicit in direct awareness of how things really are and the uncertainty of where we are heading. J. Stefan-Cole, in his 2008 review for Free Williamsburg, sees Robert as “…Not a tepid salesman of the self, but one to expose the good, the bad and the not so pretty.”
Good examples of his easy-going stoicism are this commentary he makes in an interview about how stronger community ties of past decades made it easier to live “decently poor”, compared with today’s more unforgiving social/economic climate and a glib description in the 2007 reading below from Health Proxy of his tenacious cat’s frail but claw-deployed final days, wherein her owner agrees with the veterinarian to “let her be killed” (as opposed to be being “put to sleep”):
“Time Stand Still”, by the 2015 Allan Waters Humanitarian Award-winning prog-rock trio, Rush (now into their fourth decade), makes for a sympathetically frank and affecting meditation on the regrets and joys of life’s passage: