Artists Lenore and Larry Goodell at
home in their garden in Placitas
Cutleaf Coneflower (Rudbeckia
laciniata), Las Huertas Canyon, photograph, by Lenore Goodell,
July 14, 2007
Sidebells Penstemon (Penstemon
secundiflorus), Vicinity of Forest Road 445, photograph,
by Lenore Goodell, May, 24, 2007
Glyph, Vicinity of Forest Road 445, photograph,
by Lenore Goodell, April, 04, 2007
Featured artists of the month:
Larry and Lenore Goodell
A marriage of words and image
Is Larry Goodell the poet laureate of Placitas? He scoffs
at the title and says, “How about poet Larry-ett?” He
may deserve some sort of moniker for living in Placitas and writing
poetry for the past forty-five years, but it would be difficult
to find one simple title to pin him down, since he’s done
poems, plays, and songs. He’s played the piano since childhood
and loves to play “Oh Fair New Mexico,” our state song,
written by the blind daughter of Pat Garrett, Elizabeth Garrett.
Jeff Bryan, whose La Alameda Press published Larry, calls his Here
On Earth “a group of idiosyncratic sonnets of love and loving
outrage.” Ricardo Sanchez said of Goodell, “He enunciates
a poetics of madness and joy, of celebration and realization—and
the words seem to dance from him. Everything becomes a work of poetical
art, very political in its sense of the power and magic of language.”
Larry moved to Placitas in 1963 and Lenore in 1967, and they got
married in Placitas in 1968. Larry was born and raised in Roswell,
New Mexico, college-educated at University of Southern California,
and pursued a master’s degree in Creative Writing at University
of New Mexico. Lenore is from New York City, a graduate of New York
University, and then in New Mexico she completed her master’s
degree in Fine Arts from UNM. For twelve years, Larry and then Lenore
lived in a tiny casita, house-sitting the old Hertford Ranch near
Tunnel Springs in Placitas. It was the home of Major General Kenner
F. Hertford, retired, and Annie Hertford. The Goodells’ son
Joel was born there in 1969. In 1975, they built an adobe home in
Placitas village on Paseo de San Antonio and have lived and gardened
there ever since. Joel is currently lead man (building sets) in
a movie production in Santa Fe. Their granddaughter, Lyra, goes
to Placitas Elementary.
During the early years, Larry enjoyed the tutelage and friendship
of the late eminent poet Robert Creeley who lived in the Village
and taught at UNM. Creeley’s house was a sort of mecca for
the “New American Poets” who came out of the Black Mountain
and Beat Generation groups of poets. Larry said it was a New Mexico
rural version of Gertrude Stein’s circle of artist friends
who gathered in Paris early in the twentieth century.
Larry taught English at Albuquerque Academy, struggled with academia
in quest of a master’s at UNM, published a poetry magazine
called duende, and another called Fervent Valley (a descriptive
name for Placitas). Lenore was the arts editor of some of the best
issues, as Larry had graduated from mimeo publications to hands-on
offset printing for the later issues. At one point, they traveled
with their son Joel and the poet Stephen Rodefer across the United
States performing poetry readings.
Lenore has always been involved in the visual arts, moving from
sculpture, colored pencil drawings, and water colors. She was well-known
for her stuffed animal designs at one point but through it all she
has been a photographer. Together, they have never stopped cultivating
their acequia-watered organic garden and enjoying Placitas’s
When they first came to the area, the foothills between Placitas
village and Bernalillo were empty. “People weren’t interested
in development back then, but things have sure changed,” said
Lenore. “We watched the hippy movement come and go, and then
we watched some of the hippies become realtors. Luckily, things
haven’t changed much here in the Village. “Back then,”
Larry says, “I was too young to be a beatnik and too old to
be a hippy,” once again defying categorization.
Larry has been known best as a performance poet. He says, “I
just can’t think of poetry as separate from performance. A
printed poem is like a musical score. It is essential to hear a
poem read aloud. Think of the chant-like vitality of Vachel Lindsay,
the father of American performance poetry. If only we could hear
Whitman. There’s only one tiny Edison recording. If only we
could hear Shelly, Shakespeare, Sappho. Look at the amazing success
of “slam” poets and many of those poets memorize their
work, which is amazing. That’s what Homer did.” Larry’s
animated readings are like improvisational jazz performances. If
you’ve ever seen him perform, it’s impossible to read
his poetry without hearing his voice.
He has been a vital part of the Duende Poetry Series, poetry readings
performed quarterly for the past several years at Anasazi Fields
Winery. Now with the help of a Witter Bynner Foundation Grant, poets
might finally be paid for performance and transportation. “It
would be an asset to the community if we could offer poetry workshops
for kids and adults, and perhaps eventually a Duende Poetry Festival
in Placitas and Bernalillo.”
Lenore is now a full-time photographer, recently retired from her
twenty-five-year job as a cartographer. She grows a vegetable garden
and has built the computers she uses now, as well as Larry’s
new one. Having spent many years working with urban subjects and
highly structured compositions, her photography now focuses mostly
on landscapes and wildflower portraits in relationship with natural
settings. She says, “I regard the photograph as found object.
I have always been a purist, indulging in very little manipulation,
either in the darkroom or on the computer, and I never crop images.
That poetic moment must occur when the shutter trips. This is much
the same as Larry’s not rewriting his poems.” She and
Larry spend a lot of time hiking and exploring natural places nearby.
Wildflowers, when photographed, must also be identified. Local geography,
culture, and sense of place are central themes in both of their
Lenore participates in the Placitas Studio Tour in May. She will
also be glad to show photographs by appointment—email her
at firstname.lastname@example.org. Larry’s
currently-available books are Here On Earth (59 Sonnets)
from La Alameda Press, Firecracker Soup (Poems 1980-87)
from Cinco Puntos Press, and Out of Secrecy from Yoo-Hoo
Press. All are available from him—email email@example.com—or
at one of the Duende Poetry Series events at Anasazi Fields Winery
in Placitas. The next planned event is Sunday, September 16 at 7:00
p.m.—all women: Arden Tice, Diana Huntress, Mary Oishi, and
the wonderful Albuquerque poet, Margaret Randall. The event is free
to the public.
Today we’re hiking up the coarse sand trail
to where the sun meets the rocks.
I’ll sit here & wait for the photographer
to take her picture and ascend
to where I am
There are birds, flies, space
here in this boulder-studded arroyo
where everything is pleasant, even the breeze.
And up even higher on another boulder
I look up to the streaming bell and see
a hummingbird alight on top a high dead piñon.
It sits there preening, the longest time,
and, tinker bell streaming,
flies away to the silence of my thinking.
Why is it the rarer something is
the higher in ascendancy?
Here is where an arroyo flood of rocks is
dark grays that have knocked together
to this apparent silence
as I ascend to the bright green of scrub oaks.
How fresh they are in early summer.
How laggard I am, in the climbing.
The profession of a writer steals me to the desk
too often and it never seems enough.
Going back down I am elevated
to the cooler smells.
I love the air up here, she says.
I pocket my complaints.
Farther down there is the sound
of airplaines overhead.
There is the sound of fast walking
on coarse sand.
There is the sound of my heart breathing.
—LARRY GOODELL 2007