Fish Gotta Swim

Larry Kearney

ISBN 978-1-941550-67-0     $18.00        370 pages

Roots & Branches Series

Fish Gotta Swim: A book equal to anything in the craft of American writing—Huckleberry Finn, The Red Badge of Courage, Billy Budd—and instantly takes its place in the American canon.

           John Thorpe


Larry Kearney’s Fish Gotta Swim has been described as the finest memoir blending fact and imagination since Tolstoy’s Childhood, Boyhood, and Youth. It is an extraordinary story of a child coming to consciousness of the world through the measures and sightings of poetry and song, this time in Mother Brooklyn. Read it, then teach it to your children.

           Benjamin Hollander


Larry Kearney’s lyrical, probing voice has been an essential in American poetry for the last 50 years.

           Joanne Kyger


Kearney is one of those unsung cats who has been producing intelligent thoughtful snarly deeply musical poetry, deeply felt wryly wrought astute poetry of the first rank for decades for a select few—you’re in for a rare treat.

           David Meltzer


His ear is uncanny, tuned with perfect fidelity to culture high and low, to all the temptations of language and heaven. His curiosity about form and metric have turned his work into a palace of music; it’s a poetry so melodic and harmonically inventive as to approach the aural splendor of, say, Charlie Parker’s Birdland . . .

           Kevin Killian

Larry Kearney was Born in Brooklyn, New York. He moved to San Francisco in ’64 and became involved with the group of poets centered around North Beach and generally and inaccurately described as the San Francisco Renaissance—Spicer, MacInnis, Duerden, Duncan, Brautigan, Stanley, Blaser, Kyger, Meltzer, Hirschman et al.


His closest friends in poetry were Jack Spicer and Richard Duerden, and Spicer’s insistence on being willing to, and capable of, saying what the poem wants to say when it wants to say it, endures for him as a working definition—poetry as the whole of the real—the seen and unseen, heard and unheard—the voices of the haunted living and the unsuccessfully dead.


He has published twelve books of poetry and three works of non-fiction, as well as a children’s book. Six screenplays and a book on films of the late forties are ready to circulate. Four volumes of memoir are complete, and two more in progress. In his role as ghostwriter he has produced five books, four of which have been published, and his own press, Worm in the Rain Publications, lists a hundred-and-forty-five titles in its catalog.


A partial list of places where he has read, lectured or taught would include the St Marks in the Bowery Poetry Project, Intersection, The Language Lab, The Kootenay Writing Society, Vancouver BC, the New College of California, San Francisco State, the University of San Francisco, Robin’s Books in Philadelphia, the Bolinas School and Dunham Academy.


The five noir novels written under the name Ben Gunn have yet to circulate among publishers. One of them, Hearts like Smoke, also exists as a screenplay and a fifth, called Martha, is in progress.


He currently lives in Amsterdam, Netherlands, and Mouron-sur-Yonne, France.