AUTHOR

NEW HAVEN AUTHOR

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Jean-Thomas Cullen
= A New Haven Author & Poet =
Includes 27duet and Other Writings

New Haven Author. My purpose in this website is not to talk about myself, but about the writing I have created (poetry, fiction, nonfiction). Some brief info about myself will be relevant as background (see About page). I consider the seven books on this site to be my New Haven works, although I actually created a significant segment at college (UConn, Storrs) and later while serving with the U.S. Army in Europe and more recently in my ultimate home in San Diego, Connecticut. In the table below, 'Novel' refers to one work in particular: On Saint Ronan Street, but my New Haven (or related) novels include five others (see carousel at right).

Poetry

New Haven Poet. Actually, I began writing poetry in Luxembourg as soon as I learned to write (in the first and second grades at the Ecole Primaire, Gasperich, Luxembourg). I began seriously writing poetry as a sophomore high school student (Notre Dame HS, West Haven) and was a published poet by age 19. I wrote over 400 poems before reaching that classic age 27 burnout (while stationed with the U.S. Army in Kaiserslautern, West Germany). I wrote a good many of the poems (at least half) as a college student at Storrs. Before I left New Haven in 1974, I sat in a factory in New Haven Harbor (while working as a security guard) and typed all the poems I had accumulated in a box, written or typed on everything from napkins to sheets of paper and more. So after a childhood spent in several European countries (mostly Luxembourg), and my adolescence and young adulthood in New Haven, I began traveling again. I hitchhiked across the USA in 1972, including down the Pacific Coast from Oregon to southernmost California. I knew my days of poetry were drawing to an end, partly because I genuinely felt it, and partly because I had learned about the classic burnout of lyrical poets (specifically, Rilke and the like, before age 30; but the deaths of so many rock stars at age 27 created a mythic boundary). I typed up about 425 poems into a sturdy binder, and threw the box away. I would write a few more dozen poems over the next few years, but by about 27 I was finished. I collected sixty-four (64) of some of my favorites into a self-published volume entitled Pauses (Fresh Press, Kaiserslautern, 1980). The rest of the poems were to travel halfway around the world with me, and will hopefully see daylight finally in 2018.

Novel

On Saint Ronan Street. My most intensely felt New Haven novel originated not in New Haven, but thousands of miles away in Europe, where I was stationed with USAREUR. Like many young soldiers, I didn't fully appreciate the wonderful opportunity of living in the middle of Western Europe. During my first of two enlistments (first=wonderful, second=terrible), I was single, young, and driving a cool orange VW van. Alone, with buddies, or with girls, I cruised from Paris to Brussels, Heidelberg to Cologne, Luxembourg to Lake Constance, and many other interesting places. Having spent my formative years here (my first language Luxemburgish, my second German, my third French, and only my fourth being English), I was especially well positioned to enjoy my stay. And yet, like many GIs, I was homesick for 'the World.' I missed the life I had forever left behind and, long story short, wrote a novel to express my love affair with New Haven. Say what you will, it was home for me during my formative years. Like all Army brats, I can call more than one city or country home. Your home city is a parent, in a significant way. Or a lover. So I invented the love story of Jon and Merile. It's set in an old New England college town, and features the illicit affair of a struggling young poet (who is mowing lawns around campus for a living) and the beautiful young faculty wife whose professorial husband (a tedious dunderhead) is perennially Absent Without Emotional Leave (AWEL) from her life. It dawned on me even in K-Town that I was at least conscious of the writing of one of my (many) favorites, John Updike. The seasons in K-Town seemed to consist almost entirely of drizzle, and I missed the crisp, clear seasonal changes that rock your hormones and make your heart sing in New England. The fictional poet in the novel is one Charles Egeny (faint echo of Nabokov, I'm sure) but he is or was really me. When I unearthed the dusty ms in 2015, and realized I had a treasure in my hands, I had it typed (digitized) and edited before publishing. In the process, I realized that I had the 1980 poetry collection (Pauses, re-released by me around 2013 as Cymblist Poems (yes, a play on WD), and this was in effect the actual work of my fictional Charles Egeny. It was like reuniting long-separated twins when I published Cymbalist Poems and On Saint Ronan Street, so I had a lot of fun bundling both in one volume as 27duet.

TOP

Rotating Display. Here are my primary New Haven or New Haven-related book covers. Press F5 or renew your screen to rotate. Click on a cover to visit the explanation page on this site. For all my work, press Carousel above to visit my bookshop at the Café Okay website.

Kaiserslautern Retrospective. I stopped writing poetry at the natural age of lyrical poet burnout (27) while stationed with the U.S. Army in Kaiserslautern, West Germany for five years (Hon. Dis. 1980, SGT E-5, ARCOM, GCM). While working and traveling hard, I spent a great deal of time writing (which also makes me a Kaiserslautern author). As noted above, I continued sorting and combing through my poetry, and self-published Pauses in about 10 or 12 hand-made and hand-bound volumes before my separation from the military. I also wrote new fiction, of which the most important (I think) is my passionate, melancholy retrospective on New Haven. Like much of my work, it was never picked up by the GOMINY, and so lingered in a box, gathering dust, until 21st Century publishing opportunities liberated us from oppression and oblivion. I'll have more to say about the Gatekeepers of Mediocrity In New York and other 'publishing' centers at my Literary Novel website (upcoming). About that, suffice it here to say that most of the 'great authors' on your English Dept. syllabus over the centuries had to self-publish because they too could not penetrate the brick wall of corporate greed, short-sightedness, investor pressure, and fear of risk and freshness. All that is a discussion for another day and place. Anyway, my years in K-Town included writing new material and reading many exciting authors (a touch of home: the blessed U.S. Army libraries at Kleber Kaserne, Vogelweh, and elsewhere). That is where I not only compiled my poetry, but also wrote a manuscript titled cryptically just Jon + Merile. I was to eventually (2016) publish that in San Diego as On Saint Ronan Street, borrowing the name of one of my favorite (mythic) streets in the city where I grew up.