Thayler, Carl 1933–

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Thayler, Carl 1933–

PERSONAL: Born April 29, 1933, in Los Angeles, CA; son of Ben and Jean (Rosensweig) Thayler; married Marcia Ann Katz, March 28, 1964 (divorced); children: Emily Margaret. Education: Attended Los Angeles City College; Kenyon College, B.A., 1968; University of Wisconsin, graduate study, 1968–72; also attended Bowling Green State University's writing program.

CAREER: Writer. During the early 1950s, actor for the Folksay Theater troupe; actor in films, including The True Story of Jesse James. Has participated in Wisconsin Poetry-in-the-Schools program. Military service: Served in the U.S. Navy.


The Drivers (poems), Perishable Press (Mount Horeb, WI), 1969.

Some Ground (poems), Modine Gunch Press, 1970.

The Mariposa Suite (poems), Tetrad (London, England), 1971.

The Providings: Poems, 1963–1971, Sumac Press (Fremont, MI), 1971.

Goodrich and the Haggard Ode and the Disfiguration (poems), Capricorn Press (Santa Barbara, CA), 1972.

The Drivers, Second Series (poems), Bloody Twin Press (Stout, OH), 1988.

Poems from Naltsus Bichidin, Skanky Possum Press (Austin, TX), 1999.

The Tailgunner's Song (poetry chapbook), Skanky Possum Press (Austin, TX), 2000.

Shake Hands (poems), Pavement Saw Press (Columbus, OH), 2001.

Also author of a play, "Graill."

WORK IN PROGRESS: Poetry collection titled 3 Lives Country.

SIDELIGHTS: Poet Carl Thayler claims that even as a preverbal child he knew the power of language. "I navigated by language through the seclusion that silence imposed upon me," he recalled in the Contemporary Authors Autobiography Series (CAAS). "It lessened the gloom of nap time. I listened to older children on the stairs, and still older ones in the schoolyard across the street, and to Mother and the neighbor girl discussing whether or not to sin and eat chocolate. I understood the arrangements each made, and why. I understood firm decisions and feeble songs. I felt like a spy and liked the feeling. Language was a big deal, and mine."

During his high school years, Thayler fought with other students, did his best to "evade an education," and read the works of Henry Miller, Kenneth Rexroth, and Kenneth Patchen. Thayler wrote in CAAS that upon discovering the work of poet William Carlos Williams, "I decided I'd been a poet all along…. But my immediate desire was to race cars." He pursued that ambition, did odd jobs, and eventually began working in the film industry while also sporadically writing. "Language was as obstinate as a cowlick, as unmanageable as a libido," he said of his early efforts to master his craft.

After decades of eking out a living and occasionally publishing a volume of poetry, Thayler said in CAAS: "It's fitting for me to be writing in a rented room with my belongings, mostly manuscripts and books, in boxes. In two days I'll move across the hall. It will be cooler there. I like those manuscripts, the stories and the poetry, they read OK to me. Publishers don't care for them, although they claim to admire the writing. They claim also to be puzzled, and they ask why I'm 'perverse.' They talk about an admixture of 'realism' and 'surrealism.' Whatever they mean, there's no room in their theology for my brand of hermeticism. Well, far be it for me to discourage perversity."



Contemporary Authors Autobiography Series, Volume 11, Gale (Detroit, MI), 1990.


Carl Thayler Home Page, (December 27, 2002).