Charles Fort

Poet and Professor

Honorary Doctorate of Humane Letters, honoris causa

Siena Heights University

2014

Master of Fine Arts

Bowling Green State University

B.A. English

Siena Heights College

Charles Fort's books include: We Did Not Fear The Father, New And Selected Poems, Red Hen Press, 2012, and Mrs. Belladonna's Supper Club Waltz, New And Selected Prose Poems, Backwaters Press, 2013. Born in working class New Britain, Connecticut, he is the founder of the Wendy Fort Foundation Theater of Fine Arts. Fort is currently at work on Sorrow Road, 100 Villanelles,and a novel: The Last Black Hippie In Connecticut

www.charlesfortpoet.com
We Did Not Fear The father in Green Mountain Reviews
Podcast
A review of Darvil
We Did Not Fear The Father

We did not fear the father as the barber who stood

like a general with a white jacket in a green visor cap.

For six long days he held a straight razor like a sword

until his porcelain-crown chariot became a down-home chair.

The crop-eared son learned to see how a workingman's

day job after the night shift filled the son's small pockets

with licorice, filled the offering plate, and paid the keeper

who clipped our grape vines under his own pageant.


We did not fear the father as landlord in our three-story tenement

who took charge of four apartments and the attic dwellers.

We searched each corner of the dirt cellar for a fuse box

while he broke out plasterboard upstairs with a sledgehammer.

We peeled out paper from wire mesh and read the headline news

a century old before he lifted us like birds into our bunk beds.


We did not fear the father until he entered the tomb of noise

for his night job, shaping molten steel into ball bearings

as we stared into the barbed grate where he stood

before the furnace sending smoke into the trees


Fear became the eight-hour echo and glow inside his skull,

the high-pitched metal scraping our ears as our provider

left the factory floor with oil and sawdust inside his mouth

and punched out as the fermented dalight burned his eyes.

We did not fear our father until he stooped in the dark.


Charles Fort

Making Arguments About Literature, College Textbook

Bedford, St. Martin's Press, 1, 2, 3, 4, and 5th Ediion.

Best American Poetry, Scribner's. 2001

The Georgia Review

The Poet's Daughters

Claire Fort

Claire is a member of the Screen Actor's Guild-AFTRA for her performance as Juliet at 23 years old.

Review

Romeo and Juliet

Claire Fort... a rhetorical genius... a master of paradox and oxymoron...girlish enthusiasm and sheer intelligence...

Shelley Fort

These are reviews for her first professional play receiving astipend and points toward Screen Equity membership.

Intimate Apparel

Review

"Shelley Fort, a second-year student in the Brown/Trinity Rep MA acting program, easily keeps pace with the veteran cast members. Fort's betrayal of fallen-woman Mayme is brassy and layered as she touches on character's unreachable dreams, deep-seated hurts, and the quick-witted humor that serves as her most ready defense. Fort and Ellis have a particularly intense and compelling scene together late in the second act that is a standout moment for both women in the production."

"Mayme is feisty and edgy, but those characteristics cover up apain that she only begins to hint at. Fort showsboth sides of the character expertly, slipping effortlessly from behind the tough veneer for intimate confessions."

The Poet's Daughters

Kenyon College, BA Drama

Graduate Scholars

MFA Candidates

Brown University

Trinity Repertory Acting Program

University of Washington at Seattle

School of Drama

Professional Actor Training Program

Training

London Academy of Music and Fine Art

Shakespeare Summer Program

British Academy at Oxford

Shakespeare Summer Program

St. Petersburg, Russia

Method Acting

Eugene O'Neill Theater

Summer Fellows

Performances

Romeo and Juliet, Juliet

Indiana Repertory Thatre dir. Tim Ocel

Much Ado About Nothing, Hero

Film, Liberal Arts, Josh Radnor

Short Film, Breezewood

A Kind of Alaska, Deborah, Harold Pinter

Antigone, Antigone

Kenyon College

Invisible Man

New York Theater Workshop

Casting Dir., Jack Doulin

Lydie

The New Dramatists NYC Dir. Kim Weild

Folk Song

Goodman Theater Casting Dir., Adam Belcuore

Twelfth Night

Hedda Gabbler, Thea Elvstead

Blues Speak Woman

Spunk

A Flea In Her Ear, Antoinette

Love Song, Molly

Valentine

Isemene Antigone

Medea

Ruth

Welfare Woman, Bully

In The Blood

He Is Here He Says I Say

Stone's Children

Rubicon Theater NYC

Raynell, Fences

Staged Reading

Burn This, Anna

The Greenhouse Theater-Chicago

Macbeth, Malcome, Witch 1

Candid Theatre Co.

War Music, Hector

Fourth River Theater Ensemble

The Bacchae, Agave

Fourth River Theater Ensemble

Antigone, Antigone

Kenyon College

Our Town, Emily

Kenyon College dir. Daniel Kramer

Juvenilia, Angie

Kenyon College

The Changeling, Diaphanta

Kenyon College

Two Gentlemen of Verona, Lucetta

Kenyon College

Measure for Measure, Juliet

Kenyon College

Metamorphoses, Myrra, King Midas's Daughter, Iris, Sailor

Kenyon College

Big Love, Ensemble

Kenyon College, dir.Jonathan Tazewell


We Did Not Fear The Father: New & Selected Poems contains the best of forty years of Charles Fort. Ranging easily through a dizzying array of forms - sonnets, villanelles, prose poems, sestinas, elegies, blank verse, haiku, and modular poems, for starters - Charles Fort here demonstrates, unequivocally, that he is a master of his craft. By turns surreal, tender, terrifying, absurd, and soulful, Fort's work churns with passionate, forceful expression. Fort owns the masters.

Mrs. Belladonna's Supper Club Waltz: New and Selected Poems contains work that is a rarity in American literature: a trilogy of prose poems. Fort's two previous books in the trilogy appeared in 1993 and 2001: Darvil, and Frankenstein Was A Negro. One can hear the webbed footsteps of Darvil on the streets of Paris retrieving the walking sticks of Baudelaire, Rimbaud, and Verlaine. The Darvil Nightmares end with Darvil riding the Metro into the inferno.

If you are holding this book, you are one of the lucky ones who has the privilege of welcoming a masterwork into the world. Charles Fort's Lady Belladonna's Supper Club Waltz is a poetry, a resolutely American poetry, that is working at the utmost limits of the human experience, where meaning and vision fuse in a cosmic event changing everything before or after.

In his poem entitled 'Race War,' Charles Fort concludes that 'earth is not sufficient and earth is our only companion.'¯ But here is a poet who can weave magic out of that bleak fact. In WE DID NOT FEAR THE FATHER, I am ever the great blues tradition not only in American music but also in American culture: Fort is one of those ingenious improvisers who can take what little the world leaves him and transform it into tunefulness, forever staying ahead of all that would destroy him in realms both human and natural. Whether meditating on his wife's tragic death, on the innocence of his sleeping child, on the sufferings of his brother, or whatever else, this writer's way with rhythms and cadences, his simply astonishing command of forms (from prose poem to villanelle to free verse, blank verse and haiku), his plain greatness of heart: all these remind us that to the eye that would seek it and to the voice that would articulate it, beauty is an abiding thing. Charles Fort's readers should rejoice once again to have his testimony to that glorious truth.

Sydney Lea

Vermont Poet Laureate


We Did Not Fear the Father: New and Selected Poems by Charles Fort is a powerful, sometimes an overwhelming, collection. It boils with passion in its observations about social justice; it murmurs its intimate but respectful love poems, and it weeps frankly and openly in the heart-tearing elegies. Every poem, every line, is charged with feeling.

But these are not dithyrambic outpourings. There is a startling abundance of formal usages. Surrealism is employed for the musical violence with which it can color metaphors and there are jazz-rock-blues rhythms behind many of the phrasings. But there are also more traditional forms and variations, villanelles, modular poems in which lines and phrases can be transposed from one place to another so that the meanings of words, sentences, and even of rhythms change, and there are poems that build upon the words of other poets like Tennyson and Dickinson. Here is an amazing array of forms, both traditional and experimental, and these forms are forcefully expressive; they are not mere showpieces.

I have known and admired Mr. Fort's poems for some decades now, but much of the work here is new to me. I have been profoundly impressed - and moved.

Fred Chappell


It is a good sign when a poet is hard to pigeonhole, and indeed Charles Fort defies easy categorization. He writes prose poems that declare they are sonnets, and sonnets that declare they are Psalms. His villanelles are often ludically experimental, while his free verse displays a formal rigor. These poems are in lively conversation withā€”listening and talking back to--the Western canon. Fort executes surreality with wry humor and political spark ('T. S. Eliot was a Negro'¯; 'Autobiography of Nine Genres' where 'There is a georgic didactic descriptive verse inside the washing machine knocking against the oak tree'), but ultimately these poems are grounded in the real world and felt emotions, and he writes poignantly about family love and loss When a night-shift factory working father brings back ball bearings from the factory for his children to play with as marbles ('the largest on the block'¯), we feel the weight of those steel spheres, humble gestures of love, on which so much vast machinery depends.

E. Stallings


Charles Fort, as though the hellhound were on his tail as it was on his spectacular work's chief spiritual presence, Robert Johnson, will take you on a hard ride here. Robert Johnson was perhaps the supreme eminence in that profoundest formal contribution to American poetry, the blues; and yet Fort's choice of a breathless, even a rampaging prose-poem manner at once pays homage to his great mentor and encompasses a huge swatch of history - social, political, religious, familial, neighborly, generational. The reader may first imagine these poems as surreal, but in fact they are super-real: Charles Fort has found an utterly precise and moving idiom for things large and small, ones that would -- before Mrs. Belladonna's Supper Club Waltz -- have seemed beyond expression. He is matchless.

Sydney Lea

Vermont Poet Laureate


The Town Clock Burning

Selected by Harold Brodkey for Writer's Choice

The New York Times Book Review

Consistently interesting - often luminous poetry.

Ken Shedd

The Mid-American Review

No review can adequately praise the poetic and moral victory of this collection - the refusal to assume easy answers or to merely express hate, and the difficult, earned humility of 'Race War'¯ are testaments to Fort's powers as a poet - it is a speech-act of authenticity and integrity - I'm also struck here by how the poem's allusion and borrowing from Tennyson work so naturally, the sonority of Fort's language throughout this poems, and elsewhere in the collection is worthy of comparison to Tennyson.

Fred Chappell,

University of North Carolina at Greensboro

The publication of The Town Clock Burning is a signal event - a body of engaging work - a fine honesty - exhilarating lyricism.

E.T. Malone

North Carolina Literary Notes

The Town Clock Burning is like a fresh canvas by some, new, imaginative painter - with his considerable imagination and gift for description - something of the durability of love and the continued possibility for hope among the wasteland - warnings to society about slavery, totalitarianism, and failure to recognize the humanity of all people - Fort rises about the regional and racial to where true freedom resides-in the core of the imagination.

Darvil

David Soucy

The Prose Poem International Journal

Through fierce, polished work, we learn what it is like to be the Other. Skewering cultural icons is Darvil's forte - a polyphony of American sounds - in deconstruction the great patchwork quilt that is American culture.

Fort undermines any notion of the Other while understanding all too well the reality of it. His poems are jazzy through Fourth of July bombast, Native American lore, Afro-Caribbean rhythms, and the detritus of a post-war materialism.

And his comedy is Swiftian; he is most brutally funny when is angriest. Fort's indignation is pagan and untrammeled; the rhetorical strategy of the mask allows Fort a degree of self-definition. (In a review of her new novel (Called Out, NY Times Book Review, and June 9, 1994. P.7), A. G. Mojtabai is quoted as saying, 'Literature attempts to bring news of how it feels to live in someone else's skin.'¯ The work of Charles Fort is eloquent, if painful, testimony of that ideal.