Hang On To The Yangtze River
Neeli Cherkovski
(Lithic Press)

Pub Date: 9/1/2020

A new collection from Neeli Cherkovski who has spent a lifetime in service to Poetry. More closely than ever the poet explores his life of exhausting hyperactivity. These poems embody the rewards and difficulties of the unfettered energy of a person living with ADD, as in the poem, “Hyper Me…,” “I do not wish to sit still folding the menu, / I need to jump up and head south / onto the fast lane / listening to Country & Western / shutting my eyes // sit still! / learn to listen! / finish what you started! / meditate! / pet a weasel! / the engine purrs…” The book’s title comes from a line in the poem, “Elegy For Steve Dalachinsky,” a good friend who died as this manuscript was being compiled. Forever climbing on Poetry mountain, Cherkovski contemplates the looming abyss and, as the airy summit beckons, he goes on celebrating this existence, every exuberant moment.


The life of Charles Bukowski—laureate of lowlife Los Angeles—a novelist and poet who wrote as he lived. This is the only biography of Bukowski written by a close friend and collaborator and may be the closest readers will come to meeting the man himself—an unforgettable encounter no one should miss.

The author of Ham on RyePost Office, and other perennial bestselling novels, short stories, and poetry collections only ever wanted to be a writer. Maybe that’s why Bukowski’s voice is so real and immediate that readers felt included in a conversation. “In his written work, he’s a hero, a fall guy, a comic character, a womanizing lush, a wise old dog,” biographer Neeli Cherkovski writes. “His readers do more than glimpse his many-sidedness. For some, it’s a deep experience. They feel as if his writing opens places inside of themselves they might never have seen otherwise. Often a reader comes away feeling heroic, because the poet has shown them that their ordinary lives are imbued with drama.”

Neeli Cherkovski began a deep friendship with Bukowski in the 1960s while guzzling beer at wrestling matches or during quieter evenings discussing life and literature in Bukowski’s East Hollywood apartment. Over the decades, those hundreds of conversations took shape as this biography—now with a new preface, “This Thing Upon Me Is Not Death: Reflections on the Centennial of Charles Bukowski.”

Full of anecdotes, wisdom, humor, and insight, this is an essential companion to the work of a great American writer. Long-time Bukowski fans will come away with fresh insights while readers new to his work will find this an exhilarating introduction. “In his death, I hear him clearly,” Cherkovski writes. “His voice comes to me resonant, full of unforced authority, a message of endurance, self-reliance, and honesty of expression. At the same time, he is also saying, ‘Poetry is a dirty dishrag. Keep laughing at yourself on the way out the door.’ ”


Coolidge & Cherkovski: In Conversation
Edited by Kyle Harvey
Introduction by Patrick James Dunagan

146 pages
ISBN 9781946583161
October 1st, 2020

Edited by Kyle Harvey with an introduction by Patrick James Dunagan.

A transcribed conversation between two prolific American poets. Swapping personal stories and anecdotes, Coolidge and Cherkovski offer insight into a wide range of topics including: the New York School, the San Francisco poetry scene of the 60s/70s/80s, the Language School, the Vancouver Poetry Conference, the Berkeley Poetry Conference, David Meltzer, Allen Ginsberg, John Ashbery, Charles Olson, Gertrude Stein, Philip Whalen, Charles Bukowski, Bernadette Mayer, Willem de Kooning, Philip Guston and more. Includes lengthy appendices where each poet presents some thoughts on poetics and their approaches to writing poems.


Elegy For My Beat Generation

$17.00/ Poetry
Feb. 2018 (Lithic Press)

Elegy For My Beat Generation is a masterful river of lyricism, spilling from one perception into the next. In these odes and elegies Cherkovski pays homage to his aging and gone friends from the heyday of all their lives, contemplates his own dwindling days, and attempts to come to grips with ultimate ends.


In the Odes

(Magra Books 2018)

In the Odes is Neeli Cherkovski’s homage to two of the most important influences in his career as a poet, Confucius and Ezra Pound. A mature look, as well as a poetic inventory and self-examination, of what it has meant for Cherkovski to be a poet immersed in the natural world. As Pound looked to Confucius, Cherkovski examines his own work in the light of the 20th century master’s debt to the Confucian tradition. 


The Crow and I

R.L. Crow Publications
74 pages
ISBN 0972295895

Neeli Cherkovski continues his poetic exploration started with his PEN Award winning LEANING AGAINST TIME, followed by FROM THE CANYON OUTWARD and now with his THE CROW AND I. Cherkovski, again opens the window to the self as he takes us deeper into his search of time, reason, redemption and love. In this, the third in his series of poetic memoirs, Cherkovski reflects on his sexuality, the lives he has touched and been touched by, and his love of his adopted city, San Francisco. Cherkovski, now a reluctant elder, has found his place in the garden. A place where friends of every sort are welcome to sit, rest their wings, sip a cappuccino and share a life time of wonder with the poet—forever in full flight.

“I first met Neeli Cherovski in the Caffe Trieste in 1977, he sat at the table next to mine, quietly reciting a new poem to a friend. We began a conversation about poetry and painting that has continued for thirty-five years. As his faithful companion I would follow him across the hills of San Francisco day and night, listening to him recite and discuss Lorca, Whitman, Emily Dickinson, and Ezra Pound. In his small apartment at 28 Harwood Alley he created a warm and wise shelter for poets young and old, feeding them and caring for their writing. For months at a time he took in Bob Kaufman, Gregory Corso, Marty Matz, and others in need. In the midst of this generous life Neeli wrote poems daily. He celebrated a love and learning in language that is exuberant, vivid, and reflective. Neeli lives for poetry. Long may this great imagination thrive.”—Raymond Foye

“Writing now at the height of his powers, Neeli Cherkovski has evolved into a quintessential San Francisco poet of international stature—speaking not only to our times but back across the ages to those greats of whom he is a certain successor: Whitman and Neruda, Patchen and Pasolini, his poems, hard-earned yet easeful, lyrical but tough.”—Alan Kaufman


Manila Poems (Bottle of Smoke Press)

From the Middle Woods

New Native Press
63 pages
ISGN 978-1883197070

In FROM THE MIDDLE WOODS, Neeli Cherkovski has done the nearly impossible: he has blended the sacred and the profane, as well as the essences of pristine nature and concrete commerce. Originally inspired by The Confucian Odes, the poems in this collection bring to mind the lovely acrobatics of Tu Fu and Marichiko in translations by Kenneth Rexroth. Cherkovski’s “elemental” poems, sprung from personal experiences, bring to life such landscapes and sensations as the pungent odors of ocean and pine needles along the tree-studded coast of northern California. Here, East meets West and politics meets wilderness head on, yet gently, in Cherkovski’s capable and caring sculptor’s hands. This book is masterful proof that modern irony and self-absorbed narrative do not rule the American literary psyche, nor is true compassion dead in America’s harbors and woods.

From the Canyon Outward

R.L. Crow Publications
70 pages
ISBN 978-0972295819

With his new collection, Neeli Cherkovski continues the exploration started with his award winning LEANING AGAINST TIME. He once again opens the window to the self and takes us deeper into his search for reason, redemption and love–Cherkovski takes us on a journey through his innermost being, leading us FROM THE CANYON OUTWARD. “I squirm against blurb words like ‘magisterial’ and ‘fully realized’ and God knows–‘profound,’ but Neeli Cherkovski’s new book is a deeply rich work which reminds me of the best of Rexroth’s nature poems, which to me is a major accomplishment. But more than that, there’s a deep philosophical and elegiac edge to the beauty of the words & lines”–David Meltzer.