What Just Happened
Kentucky native Richard Meyers dropped out of high school and moved to New York to be a poet, but after a few years of writing and editing poems and pamphlets and literary magazines he decided—in 1972—to change his name to Hell and sing and write songs in a rock and roll band instead. He still wrote poems at times but didn’t want to be seen as a “rock poet,” so he underplayed that part of his story. After 10 years and the impact of “punk,” which D.I.Y. movement Hell had a lot to do with triggering, he left music behind too, in favor of fiction and journalism. He hasn’t published a proper book of new poems until now, 50 years later.
Nearly all the poems in What Just Happened were written during the 2020-2021 pandemic. The poems are accompanied by an essay on the subject of “Falling Asleep,” which condition Richard proposes as being the closest humans get to a direct experience of reality, and the book closes with “Chronicle,” an 88-entry list of observations, eruptions and goofs.
In What Just Happened, Richard Hell’s new poems are interspersed with images created for the book by Christopher Wool.