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Bill Costley

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[edit] Bill Costley

William (Bill) Kirkwood Costley (born 1942) is a poet, journalist and media activist whose work contains strong ties to New England, particularly Boston’s North Shore. In the late 1960s, Costley’s poetry became increasingly political and deeply reflective of his blue-collar background. CONTEMPORARY AUTHORS quotes him as saying that he sees himself “as representing a denial of the rural cultural-oligarchic New England literary cultures of Frost and the Lowells, using an urban dialectical-realism based on oral history.” Ray Boxer in an editor's note for THE SMITH #17 commented, “The media poetry of Bill Costley is both headline and small town event." A decades-long prolific contributor to little magazines and other small press publications, as well as to newspapers both over and underground, representative examples of Costley’s work can be found in THE MOVEMENT TOWARD A NEW AMERICA, ed. by Mitchell Goodman; THE LIVING UNDERGROUND, ed. by Hugh Fox; ELEVEN YOUNG POETS, ed. by Harry Smith (The Smith #17, 1975); THE GHOST DANCE ANTHOLOGY, ed. by Hugh Fox. Costley was poet-in-residence with the Wellesley, Massachusetts, Symphony Orchestra, 1987-88 and its president 1990-91. Collections of his papers, letters and other writings reside at the Northwestern University Library and in the Charles Olson Collection at the Wilbur Cross Library, University of Connecticut. Recordings of Costley reading are archived at Harvard University’s Lamont Library. Over the years, Costley has been active on the behalf of tenant rights and nuclear disarmament. Among other activities in Costley’s varied career, he taught for a year (1968) at Boston’s Graham Junior College, where comedian Any Kaufman was his student. A self-described “resister, not a radical”, Costley identifies himself politically as anti-fascist, anti-imperialist.


R(A)G(A)S (poetry), Ghost Dance, 1978. KNOSH I CIR (poetry), Ghost Dance, 1978. A(Y)S(H)A (poetry), Ghost Dance, 1988. TERRAZZO (poetry), Malfunction Press (Wales), 1992. SILICONIA (poetry), Beehive Press, 1995.

Anthologies: THE MOVEMENT TOWARD A NEW AMERICA, ed. by Mitchell Goodman, Knopf, 1970. THE LIVING UNDERGROUND, ed. by Hugh Fox, Whitston, 1973. ISBN 9-87875-934-7 ELEVEN YOUNG POETS, ed. by Harry Smith (The Smith #17, 1975) ISBN 0-912291-36-9 THE POETRY OF MOTION, ed. by Alan Bold, Mainstream, 1985. GRACES, ed. by June Cotner, Harper, 1994. THE GHOST DANCE ANTHOLOGY, ed. by Hugh Fox, Whitston, 1994. ISBN 0-87875-450-4 THE LIVING UNDERGROUND: A PROSE ANTHOLOGY, ed. by Hugh Fox, Whitston, 1999. ISBN 0-878753-42-7


HARD CURRENCY (one-act play), first produced at Boston Playwright’s Platform, 1985. THE 4th (play), first produced at Wellesley College, 1989.

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