text by Séamas Cain
(from the Spidertangle newsgroup)
Franklin Rosemont, surrealist poet, artist, historian, street speaker,
& labor activist, died of an aneurysm on Sunday, April 12th in
Chicago, Illinois. He was 65 years old. With his partner & comrade,
Penelope Rosemont, & lifelong friend Paul Garon, he co-founded the
Chicago Surrealist Group, a remarkable presence in the art & activism
landscape of Chicago for forty years.
Rosemont did not separate scholarship from art, or art from political
& social revolt. His books of poetry include “The morning of a machine
gun” (Chicago : Surrealist Editions, 1968); “The apple of the
automatic zebra’s eye” (Cambridge, Massachusetts : Radical America,
1971); “Lamps hurled at the stunning algebra of ants” (Chicago :
Surrealist Editions & Black Swan Press, 1990); & “Penelope” (Chicago :
Surrealist Editions, 1997).
Rosemont was a leading figure in the reorganization of America’s
oldest labor press, the Charles H. Kerr Company. Under the mantle of
the Kerr Company, Franklin edited & printed the work of some of the
most interesting & important figures in the development of the
political left: C.L.R. James, Martin Glaberman, Staughton Lynd, David
Dellinger, Cornelius Castoriadis, Sam Dolgoff, Paul Goodman, Grace Lee
Boggs, Paul Avrich, Augustin Souchy, Mother Jones, Lucy Parsons,
Benjamin Péret, Utah Phillips, Paul Buhle, T-Bone Slim, George
Woodcock, and, in a new book released just days before Franklin’s
death, Carl Sandburg. In later years, Franklin Rosemont created &
edited the Surrealist Histories series at the University of Texas
Press, in addition to continuing his work with the Kerr Company &
Black Swan Press.
Franklin Rosemont was a friend & valued colleague of such persons as
Studs Terkel, Mary Low, the poets Philip Lamantia, Diane di Prima,
Lawrence Ferlinghetti, Dennis Brutus, the painter Leonora Carrington,
& the historians David Roediger, John Bracey, & Robin D.G. Kelley.
I first encountered Franklin Rosemont face-to-face during the Chicago
protests of August 1968. Then & since, I found him to be an amazing
blend of contradictions, at once cordial yet cantankerous, amiable yet
dismissive, spontaneous & enthusiastic yet grim, social yet
unmistakably self-absorbed, creative yet singularly overpowering.
Indeed, he was a unique personality.
My condolences & solidarity to Penelope Rosemont, the Chicago group &