From Our Library: “New Directions 22”, Featuring Richard Hell Before He Was Richard Hell

Posted by Tom Roberge, on November 17, 2011

This is the Richard Hell everyone knows. Frontman for the seminal punk band Television (first known as The Neon Boys) and later for The VoidoidsRichard_Hell2.jpegRichard_Hell.jpeg










He became a legend in the punk scene. Malcolm McLaren says that Hell inspired the look for the Sex Pistols. D. Boon cites him as an influence in "History Lesson Part II". And he has undoubtedly inspired legions of lesser-known punk and hardcore bands. And hopefully still is.

But prior to joining The Neon Boys, he'd dropped out of high school and moved to New York (from Kentucky) to become a poet. In addition to writing under a pen name — along with future bandmate Tom Verlaine, as a sort of combined character — he was also published under his given name: Richard Meyers. And among those editors who saw Meyers' talent and put his poems in print was our very own James Laughlin, who published eight of them in New Directions in Prose and Poetry 22 back in 1970. 

In lieu of my being able to perform a little show-and-tell routine with each of you in person, here are some scanned images of that well-handled volume. 

The cover:




















The first of his poems, called "Cells":





















And the contributor page with his short bio:




















Two last comments before you run off to iTunes in search of Television or the Voidoids: 1) the back cover copy calls Richard Meyers "a promising discovery"; 2) Hell has written two novels and — according to this piece in The New York Observer — is in the process of writing his memoir. I can't wait.  

*The clip of the Minutemen playing is from the wonderful documentary about them, called We Jam Econo

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