Anvil on a Shoestring Cover

In this belated first collection by a celebrated New York poet of the late 1960s and ‘70s, Mike Silverton lets loose his pataphysical cannons in a salute to the anarchic impulses of art. “Look,” he writes, “if the superficial dazzles, depth need not apply.” Bring your sunglasses.


“Is Dada dead or alive? And if it’s dead, why is everyone laughing? They must be reading Anvil on a Shoestring by Mike Silverton. He’s been writing poetry for so long that Tristan Tzara was often accused of stealing from him, and yet this is his first full-length collection. As someone said when Mussolini’s corpse was hung upside down from the roof of a gas station, it’s about time. Silverton has the poet’s essential clairvoyant gift of recognizing the strange invisible fur that grows on words. He understands that when you pet them passionately and they rub up against each other, sparks will fly, the reader will burn with a bright, uneven flame, and the conflagration also brings illumination, not to mention amusement, amazement and a delightful bewilderment.”

–Kurt Luchs, author of Falling in the Direction of Up

“Mike Silverton is a liar. If ‘poetry is the call of despondency’s claxon,’ as he claims in Anvil on a Shoestring, how come the book empurples one’s face in laughter throughout? Silverton’s words writhe and glint like wet eels in a barrel. His meaning is somewhere down there, scraping the bottom. Dive in. If he isn’t your favourite poet, it’s just that you’ve yet to realise it.”

—Guillermo Stitch, author of Lake of Urine

“Silverton walks a piano wire, a guitar string, every word exquisitely played, pulled taut between meaning and—hammer-struck or finger-plucked—music.”

—Mike Czerzinsky, author of Marlowe’s Tedious Gong

“Every word Mike Silverton writes demonstrates that you can get much farther with a kind word and a gun than you can with a kind word alone.”

—Al Capone

“If you don’t mind smelling like peanut butter for two or three days, peanut butter is darn good shaving cream, and Mike Silverton’s Anvil on a Shoestring is darn good poetry.”

—Barry Goldwater

“Let me make one thing perfectly clear. Solutions are not the answer. Mike Silverton’s Anvil on a Shoestring isn’t, either.”

—Richard M. Nixon

“The cure for crime is not the electric chair, but reading Mike Silverton.”

—J. Edgar Hoover

“To read too many books is harmful, but Mike Silverton’s Anvil on a Shoestring is the hammer we will use to crush the enemy.”

—Mao Zedong

“There are three side-effects of reading Anvil on a Shoestring: enhanced long-term memory, decreased short-term memory, and I forget the third.”

—Timothy Leary

Mike Silverton’s poetry appeared in the late ‘60s and early ‘70s in Harper’sThe NationWormwood ReviewPoetry Nowsome/thingChelseaPrairie SchoonerElephant and other publications he may have (and most likely) mislaid. William Cole included Mike’s poems in four anthologies: Eight Lines and Under, Macmillan, 1967; Pith and Vinegar, Simon and Schuster, 1969; Poetry Brief, Macmillan, 1971; and Poems One Line & Longer, Grossman, 1973.

As a culture go-getter, Mike produced poetry readings for The New School for Social Research, New York’s municipal radio station, WNYC, and Pacifica Radio’s WBAI, KPFA, and KPFK. One glaring regret: Mike had arranged to record Frank O’Hara on the week in which he was killed, the weekend intervening, by a dune buggy.

Mike’s music writing, centering on modernist classical, appeared in Fanfare, a bimonthly review, and several Internet publications, including his own Mike’s reviews of high-end audio hardware appeared in the main in The Absolute Sound, a print publication, and For the unlikely audiophile reading this, Mike’s speakers are Wilson Audio Sasha W/P.

When Mike and Lee relocated from Brooklyn to Midcoast Maine in early 2002 he indulged an interest in Dadaesque assemblage, resulting in several works in a group show at The Center for Maine Contemporary Art in Rockport, and a one-man show at Belfast’s Aarhus Gallery. Mike and Lee’s 1842 house and barn are peppered throughout with work he’d have preferred to sell. (Jefferson Davis spent a night, obviously at an earlier time. Really.)

pub date: 2022-04-01
$18.00 | 174 pages
isbn: 978-1-952386-31-2 (paperback)
Cover design by Anne Marie Hantho