The search for jau

The only relevance this has to food, is as for thought, and I only double post it as curiosity is killer and I know a reader purports to know Russell Salamon — any chance on putting us in touch?


As mentioned previously (here, i think only in hover messages), Jau Billera was a Beatnik poet hailing from Brooklyn, who made a brief wave in Cleveland, during the 1960′s.  He was most famously associated with Russell Atkins, d. a. levy, Russell Salamon, Adelaide Simon, and Kent Taylor and a signator of the Cleveland Manifesto of Poetry — as were those others (lazy research). 

During his time in Cleveland, he issued two small books of poetry, Purgatory and Carousels, & The Terminal Tower.  He also made contributions to several other publications, hosted a radio show and published a poetry magazine called the Podium, with his wife, Eleanor.  Then, he seemed to disappear, until he apparently committed suicide in 1984 (also, sometimes dated to 1981). 

I stumbled on The Terminal Tower, in a small, grimy bookstore in Bloomington, IN, in 1987, then found Purgatory and Carousels, the following year at the John King Bookstore.  Many of his poems resonated with me (logically, since I bought TTT, then looked for others), and I’ve often wondered what happened to him, going so far as to make attempts to contact a number of the people who were associated with him, without much luck – though, I was directed to a woman, reported to be his widow, still living in Las Vegas.  It seemed tacky to contact her, so I’ve stamped my curiosity.

Then, I noticed, last night, that someone stopped (at the othe blog) after searching for Jau Billera, which led me to search for Jau Billera, and I was pleased to find a few new pieces of information – of most interest, a previously unheard of publication called, “Portraits : the thoughts and the poems.”  Published in 1979 by something called, “Las Vegas, NV : Personal Achievement Seminars.”

This was a limited printing of 1000, and the only remaining copy appears to be housed at Cleveland State University in their special collections — open, only 9 – 5,  Monday through Friday.  They have (another) publication, fully imaged, to which he contributed, however, not “Portraits.”  Consequently, there is a vacation day and three hour drive  in our near future, and we’ll be leaving early, some soon Friday.  It’s a good excuse to stop by the rock -n- roll hall of fame, as well, which the kids should find amusing.

I also stumbled over a couple new people that evidently knew him, though, I’m reticent to attempt outreach again; the previous responses have ranged from nought for lack of knowledge to rather gruff rebuff… 

If, on the minute chance, the person who stopped by, has knowledge of Jau, or knows those that do, it would be gratifying to learn more about him, how he ended up in Las Vegas — which seems like an odd place for the man.  Not a big deal, it’s just an twenty-five year, egging curiosity.

The above linked haikus may not be his best work, but I can certainly sympathize with Insomnia:

The night long, limping
dragged its feet past my threshold.
Morning never came.

My previous attempt at finding information, perhaps only worse failed by my attempt at poetic inquiry:

by the way, whatever happened to jau billera

Supposed Brooklyn import
Support, though, is lacking

 Suddenly appearing on the scene
Listed as the host of Poetry seminar on WCLV
Contributor to the Cleveland Manifesto of Poetry

 Podium publisher
With his wife Eleanor

 Then nothing until a note
Quote, “Did the news of Jau Billera’s suicide reach you” 


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