Andy Fogle

Five Found John Brown Poems

Title & Etymology Mix

calling forth
a beginning

calling forth
a cross

calling forth
the vulgar

calling forth this terror
this secret this quaking

calling forth
this walking towards

calling forth
Black abolition

calling forth this new

calling forth this
outbreak of secret god

Source & Method

I’ve been interested in abolitionist John Brown for a long time and recently received a grant from Saratoga Arts up in upstate New York to visit his farm, read, talk to people, and write poems. This is the beginning of one vein of that project and is based on a single old newspaper article from the Baltimore American, which collected the headlines of various newspapers reporting on Brown’s seizure of Harpers Ferry. It’s fascinating how the media framed that experience (and it implies a bunch for the public too: how they would “receive” the experience, but also maybe what they were ready for, how newspapers figured readers would best take it). As the titles within label it, I begin with the common nouns from those headlines, adding just a touch of light, simple language (usually just “It was…”). From there I work in the etymologies of those common nouns, then a mix of phrases from just the titles, a mix of phrases from just the etymologies, and then a mix from both.

From “HOW WOULD IT FIGURE IN HISTORY” Baltimore American, November 14, 1859, front page. A special thanks to Heather Thomas and Erin Sidwell at The Library of Congress for locating the newspaper article for me.

Andy Fogle is the author of Across from Now and seven chapbooks of poetry, including the forthcoming Arc & Seam: Poems of Farouk Goweda, co-translated with Walid Abdallah. Music’s at

Issue 25