Poet Everette Maddox's "American Waste"

After a long dry spell beginning in the early 1980s, poet Everette Maddox began writing again in 1988. The poems began to pour out of him, seeming to bubble up after the seven years in which he did not write. He wrote his poems on whatever was available--the backs of flyers from the Maple Leaf Bar and Muddy Waters club, bar napkins, coasters. As Maddox was homeless at the time and his possessions spread across the homes of friends, Hank Staples, the bartender (and now co-owner) of the Maple Leaf, collected the poems in a paper K&B drugstore bag and held on to them. The subjects of these poems, written mainly while he sat in bars, were the environs of the Maple Leaf and Carrollton, bar life, his friends, alcoholism, and his unrequited love interest, Suzy. They were witty and tragic, melancholy and romantic, immediate and succinct. He wrote up until his death on the day before Valentine's Day 1989.

"American Waste" was published posthumously by Ralph Adamo and Portals Press in 1993, four years after the poet's death. It was edited by his friends Hank Staples, Nancy Harris, Patrick Travis, Ken Fontenot, and Fred Kasten, along with his brother Bill. The story goes that Maddox, sitting at the corner of the bar at the Maple Leaf, found himself staring at a garbage container across the street, American Waste painted on the side. He said he'd like to call his next book that.

The following is a poem from Everette Maddox's "American Waste," entitled "Writing Again."

"Writing again
after 7 yrs
isn’t as good as
whose last flush you
were to me
but it beats hell out of baseball"


Interview with Hank Staples, co-owner of the Maple Leaf Bar.
Staples discusses how the book "American Waste" got its name. ~ Source: Video courtesy of Michael Mizell-Nelson.
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Interview with Nancy Harris, current organizer and host of the Everette Maddox Memorial Reading Series.
Source: Video courtesy of Michael Mizell-Nelson.
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