Sandoval Signpost
An independent monthly newspaper serving the community since 1988
  Featured Artist

Larry Goodell
photo credit: —Lenore Goodell

Goodell bookcovers; cover designs by Lenore Goodell

Signpost featured artist: The performative poetry of Larry Goodell

—Oli Robbins

“Poetry for me is making things, at least making things happen, so that a three-dimensional poetry is possible and the ancient voices of ceremony are given voice...” This is the sentiment of Placitas poet Larry Goodell, whose poems of the past half-decade were recently published as three books by Albuquerque’s Beatlick Press. Goodell refers to the books, comprised of poetry dating from 2011 to 2014, as a sort of “journal explosion.” Says Goodell, “Journals are my mainstay and have been for most of my creative life. I always have one with me with a pen.” The books include more imagery than do his previous publications. His drawings compliment the poems and offer further insight into the poet’s cerebrations. Goodell’s writing process is a spontaneous one, and he never knows when it’s going to occur. When it does, it’s all at once—an entire poem completed in a sitting. “Everything for me happens at the time of writing. I don’t revise, ever.”

Goodell is a longtime resident of Placitas, engaging with the culture and land for more than half a century. He now has eight decades under his belt, but started life in Roswell, New Mexico (calling himself “just a hayseed from Roswell”), where he played the piano and tried his hand at writing. He went to University of Southern California, thinking that he would either enter the sciences, or become a filmmaker or musician. Goodell professes to have spent several years writing “awful stuff” before finding his voice and style.

Moving to Placitas in 1963 ushered in a series of seminal relationships, beginning with an introduction to American poet Robert Creeley, who helped Goodell refine his poetic approach and output. Later that year, Goodell traveled to Vancouver where he attended a poetry conference and studied with renowned poets Charles Olson, Allen Ginsberg, Robert Duncan, and Philip Whalen. In ‘64, back in Placitas, he established Duende Press and began using a mimeograph to publish his own work and that of others. But perhaps most central to Goodell’s developing poetic vision was meeting his wife Lenore, whom he married in ‘68. “That gave me the jolt,” says Goodell, “the visual jolt and the true love jolt.” Goodell continues to marvel at Lenore’s capacity to perceive the visual world truly and comprehensively. “Her sense of seeing is absolutely remarkable. She points out things you overlook, she sees things that are just incredible. She helped me with my visual sensibility and sophistication.” Lenore is a lifelong photographer and received an MFA in sculpture from UNM. She has been a constant inspiration for Goodell and has, at times, collaborated with him—sometimes making objects that would accompany Goodell at his readings.

There was a time when Goodell would take a bevy of items to readings and on tour. Paraphernalia, costumes, and objects became part of the total work of art. “It became extremely elaborate at one point,” says Goodell, who now tends to be more restrained with visual effects—sometimes cutting out his poems and painting watercolors on the backs, which can be hung from a clothesline and face the audience. The performance of the poem has always been paramount, indelibly connected to the words themselves. “When I would write a poem,” says Goodell, “I’d have a sense of how it was to be performed and what was needed to do it at the time of writing.” Though Goodell’s performances are energetic events that engage the viewer/listener, he conceives of them as relating more closely to ceremony than to theater. The objects that he creates for his readings are complete, three-dimensional things that can be viewed in the round. “In theater,” says Goodell, “you’re only concerned with the two dimensions. When you’re making a set, you don’t care about what the back of it looks like. But for something ceremonial, you care about the whole object.”

One’s sense of place seems to relate strongly to one’s sense of self, and Goodell firmly believes in the power of place. “Living in the village in the acequia system, being a native New Mexican—all of this is part of one’s sensibility and enters into the work. It’s implied. Sense of place is so pervasive, and wherever you are and wherever you’re working, your neighbors are not only your human neighbors but every creature that lives within your particular realm. All is the frame of your creative work.”

Goodell will be partaking in two readings this month: Anasazi Fields Winery’s Holiday Poetry Open Mic event on December 13, at 2:00 p.m. and South Broadway Cultural Center’s Resolana: Lux program (headlined by Albuquerque’s poet laureate and national poetry slam champion Hakim Bellamy) on December 17, at 7:00 p.m. Goodell’s books, broken garden & the unsaid sings, Digital Remains and Pieces of Heart are currently available for purchase from the author and at Copies can also be checked out from the Placitas Community Library. Visit and to access Goodell’s poems, performances, songs, and musings.

c. Larry Goodell

c. Larry Goodell

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