Outlaw Poet

Testimonials

Ron’s poetry, prose, and multitudinous other writings have appeared round the world in a spectrum of journals, magazines, anthologies, newspapers, posters, CDs, cassettes, vinyl, chapbooks, zines, books, literary, music, videos, documentaries, films & arts publications. Below, you will find a few, of the many, quotes and testimonials, from folks round the world, regarding Ron and his work:

Hunter S. Thompson (Colorado): “I have long admired Ron Whitehead. He is crazy as nine loons, and his poetry is a dazzling mix of folk wisdom and pure mathematics.”

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Lawrence Ferlinghetti (City Lights, San Fransisco): “Ron Whitehead is a real visionary!”

Yevgeny Yevtushenko (Russia): “Ron Whitehead is a prophet. He is one of the world’s greatest poet prophets. What an inspiring honor to hear him read here at Granada Nicaragua’s International Poetry Festival!”

Cameron Crowe & Nancy Wilson (California): “We love Ron and Sarah Whitehead’s WESTERN KENTUCKY masterpiece…and Sarah Elizabeth’s stunning music…Ron Whitehead is a genius…Ron and Sarah are quite the inspiring couple…”

David Amram (New York): “Ron Whitehead is already acknowledged by many of his Elders to be a Major Literary Figure and the epitome of the work ethic! Ron and I have collaborated, recorded and performed at major festivals and universities all over the USA and Europe. Ron Whitehead is an extraordinary motivator who inspires young people to pursue the highest standards, to work tirelessly and to celebrate the intellect by constant study of Classic Literature while remaining Creative. At 73, I continue to learn from him.”

Blanca Castellon (Nicaragua): “Ron Whitehead was the hero of our 2009 Granada Nicaragua International Poetry Festival.”

 
Joe Ladwig (Minnesota): “Ron—You are a fucking GOD!!!!  Your essay made my day, week, year, and yes it was different of course!!!  How would it not be OUTLAW POET!!!
You should be damn proud of yourself, and I am just proud to know you brother!!!    I’ll stay in touch, and again you are the man–Thank you for the 
excellent essay for the upcoming book “HOW DOES IT FEEL”  All my best” -Joe
 
Frank Messina (NYC/New Jersey): “Ron,I received the package. A horn-of-plenty of creativity!! THANK YOU THANK YOU THANK YOU so much for sending this gift, a timeless gift we will cherish forever. Vanessa and I dug through its contents like kids around a Christmas tree. Everything from the grassroots note written on the water-colored paper, the beautiful Never Give Up scroll, with Howard’s artwork. Great design, haven’t seen anything like this since I was in Florence, Italy, where a group of artisans still use the ancient papyrus methods to print their books, poems, stuff Dante would use. Or might have been when I was wandering, in another life, by the Ponte Vecchio. This is just great! And the book, well shit  Prayers for the Modern Day Traveler is pure genius, pure rugged Kentucky down home Americana genius. In an age when people are saturated and quietly annihilated by the garbage heap that gets passed off as technology, this book is BANG-BANG shoot em up refreshing. Because when the shit hits the fan, when the lights go out, when the music’s over and God casts his hand and wipes us clean from the great big ball spinning spinning free, people won’t have a blackberry, a laptop, a Global Positioning System, a twitter account, just smoke signals, maybe a candle, and through the nuclear war fallout dust, Prayers for the Modern Traveler will shine as a beacon of light. And it does!
Your Ancient Friend,
Frank Messina
ps: these gems go into the permanent Messina Archives.”
 

Troubadours of Divine Bliss (Kentucky/Indiana): “Thank you, thank you, thank you Outlaw Poet and spokesman for the cosmic rebel! You are the seed of Mighty Kindness from which so much has grown. Thank you for sanctifying our gathering with your legendary fire and spirit…we have such gratitude and deep respect for you…thank you for being sooooo alive!!!”

Joe Costa (Kentucky): “My God. I do wonder and admire how Ron Whitehead writes without injury? Such a constant frenzy. Such disregard. Whitehead is the lumberjack of American poetry. He writes with a chainsaw!” 

 
Bruce Hodder (England): “all you people out there with an interest in poetry as it’s being written NOW by people who are bringing style and passion and innovation to the craft would do yourselves a BIG favour if you googled the name of Ron Whitehead and had a look at what he’s been doing these past few years.” 

Casey Cyr (Connecticut): “Ron Whitehead transends even the devestatingly hard lessons of our times and speaks to the only true lessons, the eternal ones. He cuts right through the chaos that comprises our chattering thoughts. Ron Whitehead asks: Can art matter? Is it merely a gold exchange for the rich? Art IS the Holy Grail. And at the deepest primal level, everybody knows it. Only a few, like Ron Whitehead, can perceive it as clearly and communicate it while in his incarnate human being.”

Frank Messina (New York): “Ron Whitehead is one of my closest allies. He is a man of wisdom and tolerance. Ron and I debate over political issues, and sometimes he’s even right. But, in the end, we’re still friends. There is only one man I want to fight along my side in the trenches of life and his name is Ron Whitehead. He is one of the last warriors left in America.”

Carolyn Cassady (England): “I had heard people talk about Ron Whitehead for years so when I heard him read at The Ocean on the last night of the London International Poetry and Song Festival I understood why. His poems, and his reading of them, are pure genius.”

Annalisa Papaleo (Italy): “Ron Whitehead is an alchemist of language, a magician of poetry, a King of Words…I am honored to translate his work into Italian.”

John Rocco (New York): “In BEAVER DAM ROCKING CHAIR MARATHON: fragments of a lost text, Ron Whitehead is ‘the great rememberer’ and ‘the great experiencer’…a scintillating portrait…a Bildungsroman…in which each memory becomes charged with his history and the embrace of his subject…capturing the memory of what Ginsberg calls ‘Mortal’ America…and Whitehead’s new CD TAPPING MY OWN PHONE is a mercurial collection which features some of the ‘fragments’ that appear in the novel.”

John Tytell (New York): “With The Declaration of Independence This Time: Selected Poems 1996-2000, Ron Whitehead has a brave powerful book and the voice to carry it.”

Zen Master Dae Gak (Korea): “Ron Whitehead is Angry tender hearted Poet lover Who, Ripped open by life’s Sharp, diamond caesarean Edge, Emerges, awake, alive, Shaking blood and tissue. Howling at the, with a shriek, Morning sun AAAAAGH!!!!!!!”

Theo Dorgan (Ireland): “Ron Whitehead is a one man Atlantic bridge.”

Marty Messex (Kentucky): “You know I love my WFPK (91.9fm www.wfpk.org Radio Louisville), but the best radio station in the world is right here on Brother Ron’s facebook page, by gawd! Always love your tuneage, Ron. And keep on throwing those thunderbolts.”
 

Eimear O’Connor (Ireland): “Ron Whitehead’s words travelled at high speed Along the Liffey and out into the sea…mesmerised By the motion Of emotion…Something magic Happened over the Winding Stair Above the streets, Closer to the stars.”

Vincent McWilliams (Ireland): “Ron Whitehead’s poetry is like a fast train coming.”

David Amram (New York): “At the dawn of the 21st Century our young people have few role models of distinction and even fewer people close to their own age to look up to. Ron Whitehead gives hope to our artistic and intellectual future and gives our young people someone to look up to and emulate. Having worked with Ron many times, round the world, I can only share my amazement at his genius-level ability to organize and create memorable events that make all involved feel inspired to do their best. His own brilliance as a poet is matched by his dynamism, integrity and ability to communicate with anybody and everybody. I am honored to work with him anytime he ever needs me.”

Lee Ranaldo (New York): “Ron Whitehead’s TAPPING MY OWN PHONE is superb!”

Michael Pollock (Iceland): “Ron Whitehead is The World Ambassador of Poetry.”

Karel Srp (Czeck Republic): “The ARTFORUM ’98 Exhibition of Ron Whitehead’s important work, both his and his work as Director of The Literary Renaissance, was a big hit and a huge success. It is very important for us to see, through poetry and art, the situation in USA and round the world. Through Ron’s work we see. Now all his work is in our archives. The people of Prague can continue to see. We are proud. It is important for us. Thank YOU!”

Lana Witt (California): “Ron Whitehead is amazing. I’ve seldom known poetry to rise to the honesty, stubborness, and energy of what came charging straight at me in his CD TAPPING MY OWN PHONE.”

Frank Messina (New York): “Listening to TAPPING MY OWN PHONE is like tapping into an oil well of inspiration; a poetic horn of plenty where the flavor of American political angst and true Kentuckian local color shoots its way straight to the soul. Ron Whitehead is at least Chaucer’s equal. The BEAVER DAM ROCKING CHAIR MARATHON is a Masterpiece better than THE CANTERBURY TALES. Three cheers to Ron Whitehead!”

Kevin Ring (England): “Ron Whitehead explodes in a tirade aimed at pulling down all the garbage that society holds dear: rampant commercialism, couldn’t care lessism. If the President thinks he’s got trouble with Ms Lewinsky then he’d better watch out for Ron as he gives us the REAL AMERICA.”

Frederick Smock (Kentucky): “BEAVER DAM ROCKING CHAIR MARATHON achieves an urgency and immediacy that is truly poetic.”

Jordan Green (North Carolina): “Ron Whitehead is the incantatory, subversive bard of Kentucky. He is a poet with higher vision and higher frequency tuning. He has a performance style learned from his Pentecostal preacher grandfather but which also takes the best from the oral poetic style of the Beats. Ron is an energy force that encourages articulation and voice, that makes young people proud to be part of something. His voice cuts through the rough reality of his western Kentucky coal mining roots and reaches for a higher cosmic grace. Ron has produced over 400 readings and INSOMNIACATHONs and has read all over Europe and the USA. At the age of 48, with a family to support and complete commitment to his craft, Ron Whitehead will get in a car or on a plane anytime and travel anywhere he’s asked to give a reading.”

Miguel Moors (Belgium): “Ron Whitehead dissects American Society with a butcher knife.”

Lawrence Ferlinghetti (California): “Ron Whitehead, out there in Kentucky, out there where the tall heroes used to grow, is sowing the dragon’s teeth of new heroics.”

Bob Holman (New York): “And now it was like a cyclone hit that stage – Ron Whitehead is screeding a poem with an 8-piece orchestra toodling out sounds by Jeremy Podgursky, amazing, high energy, a battle for soul!”

Anastasios Kozaitis (New York): “Ron Whitehead is the most engaged poetry activist in the United States of America!”

Al Aronowitz (New York): “An autobiographical gem that marks compassion and defiance as the touchstones of heroic myth in the coming-of-age of a young man in the western Kentucky coal fields. Ron Whitehead is one of the greatest poets of our time.”

Paul McDonald (Indonesia): “Ron Whitehead has the gift of perceiving the divine in the ordinary. His work is always at least exciting if not magical. It is simultaneously hard-bitten, stark and urban while containing a gentle, pastoral lyricism all of which is always compelling. His work is a dharma gate that must be entered, a magnificent Zen koan where the question and answer lie hidden in the experience.”

Rene Hendrix (The Netherlands): “William S. Burroughs and Ron Whitehead, in a series of dreams, taught me how to save the world.”

Casey Cyr (Connecticut): “Ron Whitehead has been working so hard all his life, has climbed the equivalent of a hundred Mount Everests for poetry, music, integration, inclusion, non-specialization, LOVE and the advancement of humankind. No one else who I know has the endurance and capacity and generosity of spirit (except for David Amram who shares these qualities) to achieve what he is achieving. Ron is clearly chosen for the work that he is doing, and it is a ray of clarity and grace that shines from his being. HIS GIANT HEART IS SINGING!”

Jan Pankow (The Netherlands): “Ron Whitehead’s poems are a magnetic field of poetry energy: encounters, viewpoints, and facts of life mingling with emotions, dreams, and visions.”

Robert Lax (Greece): “Ron Whitehead’s “Moxley and Eirene” worked its way into one of my just-before-waking dreams last night. The whole story. And yes, naturally I’m ready to endorse all he says in I Will NOT BOW DOWN, too!”

Douglas Brinkley (Texas): “Ron Whitehead is one of the most exciting poets in America. Poet and literary activist, he is one of the great poets of his generation.”

Tenzin Geyche Tethong, Secretary to His Holiness The Dalai Lama (India): “Ron Whitehead, His Holiness The Dalai Lama thanks you and offers his blessing and permission for you to create a poster of his message to you which you have written in the form of a poem. I would like to express my personal appreciation to you. Your poem for of His Holiness’s message is extremely powerful and moving. I am confident that it will inspire many.”

Robert Hunter (California): “Ron Whitehead’s energy and important work never fail to amaze me!”

Diane di Prima (California): “Ron Whitehead, Fellow traveller riding the winds of change between worlds, in the thick of the creative process, Bon voyage! I enjoyed EVE AND THE OPHIDIANS. “White Horses” is really strong!”

Bob Holman (New York): “Spoken word at its purest and most fulfilling. Ron’s combination of full drawl, magnolia sweet and Wendell Berry’s Mad Farmer’s blue hot rage, vitally fashions a new post in the American ear.”

Jim Carroll (New York): “Love, Angelic Orders, and Blessings on Ron Whitehead’s good work!”

David Amram (New York): “There were over 300 poets and musicians. Ron Whitehead was the highlight of the New York City festival. When he read I was knocked out! I marveled at the talent he possessed! He captures the spirit of the South in his poetry!”

Eithne Strong (Ireland): “Ron Whitehead’s dazzling energetic work, his poetry and his prose never cease to impress and astonish!”

Allen Ginsberg (New York): “Ron Whitehead is energetic Bodhisattvic poetic spirit! Happy to see and read so much poetry energy!”

Harper Tobin (Washington, D.C.): “Ron Whitehead’s BEAVER DAM ROCKING CHAIR MARATHON is no cheesy nostalgia trip. Anyone familiar with Whitehead’s work knows better. He gives achingly real portraits of Beaver Dam’s inhabitants, offering up the disturbing as well as the beautiful, the ugly as well as the quaint. His style shifts from page to page always capturing the reader, evoking the spirit of defiance and hope that is the heart of this literary treasure…Why isn’t Ron Whitehead already a household name?! His TAPPING MY OWN PHONE is a gem. Ron reads as if any breath could be his last. He captures the world in all its beauty, corruption, and potential. I cannot recommend his work highly enough!”

Joe Slavin (Kentucky): “Ron Whitehead is the most extraordinary teacher-scholar it has been my great good fortune to know over a career spanning thirty seven years. His success in encouraging students, to express themselves and grow as students, is unrivalled.”

Lawrence Ferlinghetti (California): “Ce Ron Whitehead est un brave type! Il a ecrit un poem autobiographique que est epatant…sur San Francisco et un certain fer-ling-g hetti…Qui est? Ron Whitehead is Bodhisattva in Kentucky!”

Seamus Heaney (Ireland): “Ron Whitehead, the only begettor of all this, is here for good!”

Colin Cooper (England): “Ron Whitehead lives at 100 miles an hour judging from his book of poetry…like Ferlinghetti…he’s a rabble rouser and wildly romantic and we need plenty of those…the book is illustrated by full colour paintings by Ferlinghetti…Fit him alongside Gary Snyder for wit and insight…certain to shake up the old guard.”

Bob Edwards (Washington D.C.): “I LOVE Ron Whitehead’s “The Coal Miner(I & II)” and “Moxley and Eirene!”

Denis Mahoney (Rhode Island): “These past months I have read Ron Whitehead’s BLOOD FILLED VESSELS RACING TO THE HEART: Beyond Chaos is The Ocean of Consciousness several times. What a remarkable work it is! It’s subtle (and not too) back and forth gestures and movements and openings and its Placement! I wish he would continue this work! This is the direction that people need to See towards, be, at least, opened to. Thank You Ron Whitehead for The Work!”


Danny O’Bryan (Kentucky): “The Great White Light, Whitehead that is, swept over The College last night with a round of passionate posey mined directly from his ever raucous life. Mentioning notables like Amiri Baraka and The Dalai Lama – illustrious heroes many of the role-model-starved students probably never heard of – the poet quickly had them under his spell. The man, who always wears his life on his sleeve for everyone to gawk at, flexed his tattoo covered arms at the scribes “I might be skinny but look at those muscles!” and spit out tales of Kentucky rocking chair competitions and wild family antics that made “Do You Want To Be A Millionaire” look life watching paint dry. Certainly all present learned an important lesson: It doesn’t hurt to celebrate life in all its painful and joyful manifestations!…Ron Whitehead, a virtual P.T. Barnum of Poetry, is on a one-man crusade to change the consciousness of the world through poetry and music…Whitehead and his non-porfit organization The Literary Renaissance launched a series of multimedia INSOMNIACATHONs (Temporary Autonomous Zones): 48-hour marathons of poetry and music and art and film (all the Arts), similar to Ken Kesey and The Merry Pranksters minus the bus, attracting large audiences and worldwide attention…This led Whitehead to take his traveling magic mystery theatre on the road to New York City and New Orleans (where the TIMES-PICAYUNE named his INSOMNIACATHON 1996 “Arts Event of The Year”) and The Netherlands and numerous other cities states and countries…Never one to separate art from show biz or politics (or newcomers from old-timers) Whitehead assembled an odd cast of characters for his Hunter S. Thompson “This is Your Life” Tribute which the NEW YORK TIMES called “a beautiful literary last waltz.” The event included actor Johnny Depp, musician Warren Zevon, socialite Roxanne Pulitzer, historian Douglas Brinkley, world musician composer David Amram, the Sheriff of Pitkin County (Aspen), former Louisville Mayor Harvey Sloane, Hunter’s Mother Virginia, his son Juan, and a host of others including a bluegrass band. Everyone at the SRO event closed out the night standing singing “My Old Kentucky Home.”

Casey Cyr (Connecticut): “I got to know Ron Whitehead’s I WILL NOT BOW DOWN: Selected Poems 1990-1995 well and from it I feel an understanding for some of what Ron has been doing in the world. The physicality of which is astonishing – but that doesn’t even compare with what kind of alchemy is happening on the mental levels. Ron Whitehead is Shaman and Shamas (the candle that lights other candles) contributing to, directing, promoting, integrating, expanding, and possibly healing the consciousness of an artistic body of thought that sure does need help to go to the next level, which I believe has something to do with the heart region. And if I might prophesize, I think that Ron will be seen as one of the great poets of our generation, which I believe spans about 50 years. The kids of tomorrow’s wasteland are really going to need him. Just like we need Patchen and Kerouac. Those guys changed and saved my life.”

John Tytell (New York): “Ron Whitehead reminds me of Corso…early Yeats in the Celtic Twilight…Ferlinghetti…Ginsberg…spontaneous transcription emerging in a tumultuous rush…infused with Whitehead’s belief in the magical transformations implicit in poetry, with the music of the poem serving as chant, incantation, ultimately pagan prayer…the same can be said for the poetry rants (Insomniacathons) Whitehead has been organizing around the country, non-stop marathon readings.”

David Amram (New York): “The first time I heard Ron Whitehead read I felt what I imagine those who heard Abraham Lincoln deliver The Gettysburg Address felt.”

Thomas Nord (Kentucky): “Ron Whitehead eats, sleeps, and breathes poetry.”

Michael Dean Odin Pollock (Iceland): “The London International Poetry & Song Festival’s response to Ron Whitehead’s I WILL NOT BOW DOWN was Incredible POWERFULL it felt like a bomb hit The Ocean…people were yellin, clappin, sayin YEAH others riveted wide eyed to their seats…i stood at the back of the room up on some stairs to get an eagle eye view of this poem which I consider along with LEAVES OF GRASS by Walt Whitman and HOWL by Allen Ginsberg and THANKSGIVING PRAYER by William S. Burroughs to be one of the GREAT American poems of All Times. I WILL NOT BOW DOWN and ALL ALONG THE WATCHTOWER capture the voice/heart/spirit of later 20th Century and on better than anything I’ve heard!”

Nick Obis (Ohio): “Ron Whitehead, I thank you and Quincey Troupe for headlining the University of Dayton’s 2nd Annual Literature Conference, 2002. Friday evening was nothing short of astounding – certainly like nothing my students had ever heard! I heard so many wonderful comments from them in the following days and weeks about all the various aspects of your performance, with your group The Viking Hillbilly Apocalypse Revue. I too can still hear the Icelandic rapping, the ambient music, and the powerful words; it was a staggering, moving experience; I don’t think I have ever seen anyone, anywhere, break dance at a poetry reading! But what moved me more than the poetry and music was your patience, kindness, and understanding. I was so nervous before the festival, and so relieved by your sympathy and easygoingness. You are truly a remarkable person with a remarkable group. Thanks for teaching me to “never give up!”

Denis Mahoney (Rhode Island): “Ron Whitehead has the goods and is the last and forward maker of the fire breather preacher with the text written new across the starry night. I can picture him reading poems with snakes crawling out of his mouth and nostrils, like those maniacs who work the snakes for Jesus, turning to medusa flames, the fork filled flavor flick fuck tongue is two words split into a thousand pieces of black and white sand and delivered like a Sioux death chant, a new ghost dance to live and rise out of the ashes. Ron’s word is poet breath, new creation out of decay, intentions are color worlds, filled with color, every tint is blow breath glass and I keep coming back to his nostrils flared like John Brown in Kansas, hard muscle break tracks, or soft glow of love he is able to bring the rage round to snake crazy snake soul sonnets to orpheus, our brother Rilke Flower-muscle that slowly opens back the anemone to another meadow-dawn, until her womb can feel the polyphonic light of the sonorous heavens pouring down is prophecy and vision blast bleak and we all stand naked against the capitalist relation that has come to encompass existance and Ron as new prophet stands against that as strong as John Brown, Rilke, just a neck down the vision ladder from our kooky Dada Queen Baroness Elsa von Freytag-Loringhoven and is exactly what is needed. I give Ron the world in his breath.”

Tom House (Nashville): “That’s a wild and fierce look on the cover of Ron Whitehead’s new I Will Not Bow Down CD, and that’s a wild and fierce picture of him there on the inside, and that’s a wild and fierce performance/production he presents. I was not prepared. Finally got back home and settled in here last night put it on and blew my head right from the start. Old favorite, “Tapping My Own Phone,” the music is like the subconscious of the mind mouthing those feverish thoughts. “4th Person Singular” a favorite as well. Not sure if I’ve heard that one before. “Raven Hair And Turquoise” and “Comes Night And Wind” both great. The music never gets in the way of the words and, as in the very best one to me “Gimme Back My Wig,” the whole becomes way more than the components, damn almost like rock and roll – and in many ways this feels as much like a “band” CD as it does a “spoken word” one. And I think Ron paces it like one. That’s just something always important to me, almost like a set, and Ron is a master at that. He couldn’t end it more personally, poetically, beautifully than with “You Grow Wild In My Heart.” I Will Not Bow Down is definitely a masterful work and I congratulate Ron and all who perform on it. I’ll be giving this guy some hardcore listening these days to come. “

Dan Roberts (KZYX Radio, California): “TAPPING MY OWN PHONE is the most amazing CD of poetry I’ve heard!”

August Highland (California ): “Ron Whitehead is The Dalai Lama of the literary world.”

Frank Messina (New York ): “I’ve seen thousands blinded by the white light, halos and fractal geometry of Ron Whitehead. I’ve seen tundra-demons, geothermal genies, naysayers forever turned to stone by that Kentucky ‘Bone Man’. And yes, I’ve seen Ron Whitehead levitate over stages 3, 4 and 5,000 miles from Kentucky, held up high by coal mine spirits, red wine and Buddha at the palms of his feet.”

Jean Ritchie (New York): “Kentucky, by Sarah Elizabethth and Ron Whitehead, is a stunning CD. Sarah and Ron both did a beautiful job.”

Dr. Joe Slavin (Kentucky): “Kentucky, by Sarah Elizabeth & Ron Whitehead, is a stunning piece of work, beautiful in both sound and heart.”

Tommy Gaffney (Oregon): “Spending time with Ron Whitehead a few years back changed my life.  The whole damn experience, from the wine-soaked meeting in his living room to the bourbon-infused book signing, he so graciously hosted, is still with me everyday.  Not sure how to repay him for all that.  And I appreciate the email updates on his mad adventures.  I open the ol’ yahoo account every morning hoping for more news.  What can I say, he’s an inspiring man.  And I’ve been spreading the word about his work around Portland, Oregon.  In fact, I currently volunteer to host a small writers group (in my cramped little living room), and we discussed Ron’s Tapping My Own Phone as our first “assignment.”  We also listened to my copies of “I Will Not Bow Down” and “The Viking Hillbilly Apocalypse Revue.”  The overall theme for the session was “this is how this shit is done.”  In a word, Ron Whitehead’s influence continues to cross mountain ranges that ain’t used to being shown up.  Thanks Ron for being you, my friend.”


Casey Cyr (Connecticut): “Ron Whitehead’s new CLOSING TIME CD is magical, radical inspiration, stark truth, gentle beauty. It portrays the human experience completely. The flame reflected in four generations, all together reveal the purity of oneness.”

David Amram (New York): “Ron Whitehead’s ‘The Sound of Snowflakes on Christmas Eve’ and ‘Old Blue Got Run Over by A Coal Truck on Christmas’ are right up there with Charles Dickens’ A CHRISTMAS CAROL and Dylan Thomas’ A CHILD’S CHRISTMAS in WALES. Not one word could/should be changed. They are classics! I have always loved Ron Whitehead’s spirit and generosity as well as his work…These stories are like the late paintings of Matisse, and Richard Strauss’ last art songs, where they both turned to simplicity and clarity when in their prime. Ron’s stories/poems should be read at The White House, if we get a President who knows where the South is located and understands the poetry of the lives of everyday people and the beauty of family life as well as the magic of Snow in the South…Ron’s work is right up there with Mark Twain…It transcends politics. His work should be read in classrooms, as children’s stories, Southern Studies, poetry classes, church reading groups…His work can reach the whole world…His work is way Beyond Beat!! Ron Whitehead’s work is lyrical, touching, and perfectly written AND SO REFRESHING…I’ll be glad to write a Forward or Introduction to any of his books anytime… Nobody is doing what Ron Whitehead is doing, especially in his newest works…They are 100% Whitehead.”

Dennis Kirtley (Morocco): “I am all about music. I think music. I sleep it. I eat it. It’s just in me. And not just my own music – also the music of great composers. I know many symphonies by heart, great jazz compositions, note for note. As I was reading Ron Whitehead’s poems last night, music was playing in my head and it wouldn’t stop. It was the score of “Rhapsody in Blue” by Gershwin. The brainscreen image was that of a train, streaming forceful and unstoppable through the countryside. This is the sense Ron Whitehead’s poetry and person brings to me. I thank him for being him!”

Gui Stuart (Kentucky): “Ron Whitehead is the greatest living writer…and he is still struggling to pay the bills so how can I hope for anything more than to write…writing is an unnatural act…but it is not any more unnatural than working in an office or talking on a cellphone…and in some strange ways it is the most natural act of all…being human feels like an unnatural act in these trying times of fascism…the absurdity of fascism is everywhere but I don’t want to live like that and I sure as hell don’t want to write like that…I owe Ron Whitehead more than I can ever repay…he has taught me that failure is nothing and that it is okay to fail as long as I write what I feel and know…and I’m gonna continue, just like Ron does, regardless of whether I ever get published…I’m gonna continue to test my own limits and probe my own humanity…I would love to make some money to live on and be able to start a printing press with Ron someday but that is not why I write…I write to try and redeem my own soul for myself…that is why I write…I write out of some alien innate gnostic urge to express the conflict of humanity that is in me and in all of us…that is why I write…they can’t beat us…Ron Whitehead proves that every day…they can’t take our souls from us…Ron Whitehead reminds us of that in his writing and in his life…they can lie and cheat and steal and even kill us but they’ll never take our souls…Ron Whitehead reminds us of that in all he says and does…Ron Whitehead reminds us that no matter what happens Never Give Up.”

Lee Troutman (California/Kentucky), on Ron Whitehead and EYE of THE FUKING STORM’s new recording (companion to book) PRAYERS for THE MODERN TRAVELER, the last great truthtellers, nada
“thank you for the beautiful tape!  phenomenal vocal performance!  amazing!  what a great concept for packaging with the hand painted art, the ambient and bended musical mind field…  all of it…   listening to it, it reminds me of a couple things Ken Kesey said.  he always talked about the whole structure of lies, the square peg hypnosis of the governed world.  he’d say ‘sometimes there’s a crack in the wall.  as a writer you can sometimes find one.’ thanks for being so damn honest all the time.  thanks for being my friend.  in all your wonderful insanity.  i’ve been entertained by it all.  glad to see you looking so healthy and spry the other night.” 
Paul K (Detroit/NYC/Kentucky): “Ron Whitehead is America’s greatest living poet.”
 
Frank Messina (New York City/Jersey City, New Jersey/Florida):
Ron, I received the package. A horn-of-plenty of creativity!! THANK YOU THANK YOU THANK YOU so much for sending this gift, a timeless gift we will cherish forever. Vanessa and I dug through its contents like kids around a Christmas tree. Everything from the grassroots note written on the water-colored paper, the beautiful Never Give Up scroll, with Howard’s artwork. Great design, haven’t seen anything like this since I was in Florence, Italy, where a group of artisans still use the ancient papyrus methods to print their books, poems, stuff Dante would use. Or might have been when I was wandering, in another life, by the Ponte Vecchio. This is just great! And the book, well shit  Prayers for the Modern Day Traveler is pure genius, pure rugged Kentucky down home Americana genius. In an age when people are saturated and quietly annihilated by the garbage heap that gets passed off as technology, this book is BANG-BANG shoot em up refreshing. Because when the shit hits the fan, when the lights go out, when the music’s over and God casts his hand and wipes us clean from the great big ball spinning spinning free, people won’t have a blackberry, a laptop, a Global Positioning System, a twitter account, just smoke signals, maybe a candle, and through the nuclear war fallout dust, Prayers for the Modern Traveler will shine as a beacon of light. And it does!
Your Ancient Friend,
Frank Messina

ps: these gems go into the permanent Messina Archives.

“Mr. Crazy Beloved Ron Whitehead. Remember when he was a normal professor type? I now call him the John Brown wild-man of Kentucky. He’s a great lunatic. Well loved and always supporting all.Denis Mahoney (Boston)