Charles Henri Ford (often credited as America's first surrealist poet) died on Friday, September 27, 2002 in Manhattan at the age of 94. (In addition to his Manhattan apartment he also had a house in Katmandu.)
Charles Henri Ford & Gerard Malanga 1968
Ford first met Andy Warhol in the early sixties and was responsible for introducing Warhol to Gerard Malanga. Gerard was a student at Wagner College on Staten Island at the time. Ford also went with Gerard and Andy when Warhol bought his first movie camera. In 1963 Warhol attended a lot of experimental dance concerts at Judson Church with Charles Henri and Gerard. (POP52)
Charles Henri was already well known before meeting Warhol. In addition to his poetry, he had edited two influential magazines - Blues: A Magazine of New Rhythms which he started while still living with his parents in Mississippi in 1929 and, later, View magazine in the 1940s. The writings of Paul Bowles and Erskine Caldwell were first published in Blues which also included work by William Carlos Williams and Gertrude Stein. View was an art and literature magazine with a "surrealist and figurative focus". (NYT093002)
Charles Henri Ford 1999
(Photo: Eric LaPrade)
Ford was also a photographer. He started taking pictures in the 1930s and had his first exhibition in Paris in 1954. The most recent exhibition of his photographs was at the Leslie Tonkonow Gallery in New York in 1997. In 1999 the Ubu Gallery also showed his Prose Poems from the mid-1960s - "large, colorful word-strewn collages that combined the elements of Concrete poetry and Pop Art and presaged image-text artists like Barbara Kruger." (ibid)
Ford's most recent book was Water From a Bucket; A Diary, 1948 - 1957, with an introduction by Lynne Tillman. (Turtle Point Press 2001).