JOE SALERNO was born in the Bronx on April 2, 1947, and moved to New Jersey with his family when he was seven. He received his B.A. in English at Fairleigh Dickinson University where he edited the literary magazine Now. His graduate work was done at the University of Michigan under the tutelage of such distinguished poets as Donald Hall and Robert Hayden.
In 1972, Joe won the Hopwood Award, Michigan’s most coveted prize for poetry. This honor is further distinguished by its being won by exceptional American writers such as Arthur Miller, John Ciardi, X.J. Kennedy, Jane Kenyon, and Gregory Orr.
Although Joe received his doctoral degree and taught for some years at the undergraduate level, the concerns of marriage and family compelled him to work in the private sector as a technical writer, a job he did surpassingly well in spite of a lifelong aversion to technology. He continued to write poetry and to publish in such well-known magazines as Wormwood Review and Yankee, as well as receiving a 1982 New Jersey State Council on the Arts Fellowship in poetry.
Joe Salerno died of lung cancer on November 22,1995, and is survived by his wife, Beverly, and his three children, David, Miriam, and Daniel.
Miriam, Miriam, Miriam
What a fine tribute to a deep man.
“AMAZING” job for an “AMAZING” poet!!
Top notch job Miriam.
Love the audio clip.
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Well done my friend. Now, your father’s “real” legacy lives on! Love this website 🙂
One additional thing I forgot to mention. Your dad and I were friends for ten years before we discovered we shared the same birthday. Pretty amazing. Thanks for your sweet note.
I remember very well: April 1970, I went to hear the Hopwood Award winner, Joe Salerno, read his poetry. I was a sophomore, starting my English major, and I was entranced. With his full dark lion’s mane, Joe looked to me like Jim Morrison, another poetic hero. So, each February, for 51 years now, when the first red leaves appear on the rose bush, I recite his Spring poem:
is Spring’s beginning
not the green and glory.
It is the lashed and ragged rose stem
suffering its first red leaves
between brittle thorns
that extends to you a hand
of broken fingers
which is Spring.
Thank you for this great website!
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Wm, nice note. I was then a sophomore in hs, just beginning to delve into poetry in English class, presented by a fine teacher name Crowley. (Mr. C later applogized to us for moving to a county admin position in Rockville, Md, and thus abandoning the classroom. They often sent the good teachers away and made the ones who couldn’t teach guidance counselors ) .
Anyway, the poem that kills me by Joe — one that I’ve long ago memorized — is his ars poetica piece, “Poetry is the art of not succeeding”…a tour-de-force assessment that left me all messed up and that still makes the eye mist over. I
It is a great work by any standard. Certainly it’s great to me, and that’s what counts.
Funny how the Poetry Foundation doesn’t recognize him, as it didn’t, until recently, Kim Stafford. I’ve written to plug him, to no avail thus far.
Mark Head, MD