February 2, 2016

Karl Gluck/Altan Ogniedov (1964 - 2016)

Albany Art Gallery, 2/26/93
That great open mic poetry reading in the sky is getting mighty crowded. I was saddened to hear of the death of Karl D. Gluck, who also wrote as Altan Ogniedov. Karl was an active member of the Albany, NY poetry scene in the very earliest days of the late 1980s, when he was a student a the University at Albany studying Russian language & literature. I used to greet him with the faux Russian I had learned from the Marx Brothers, “Pissanya.”

He was one of the editors of Open Mic: The Albany Anthology (Hudson Valley Writers Guild, 1994) which included 2 of his poems, “So What We All Wear Black” & “Untitled: for Kevin Factor & Mary Ann Murray.” I have a fat file of many poems & correspondence dating from 1988, including a poem he read at the QE2 in Albany (10/22/88) then crumpled up & threw it on the floor. I retrieved it, & others that he gave the same treatment to at other open mics. At a Halloween open mic at the QE2 in 1989 he stripped to his long underwear & a Mayakovsky tee shirt, then to just his underpants, to read a poem about being an exhibitionist; the picture of him in his long underwear was the one used in Open Mic & also appears on my Flickr! site.

Later on he gave me copies of his poems, including an early typed version of Phantasmagoria, with “Altan Ogniedov” as the author. A later version was photocopied, dated 1990, with author(s) as Karl D. Gluck “with Altan Ogniedov.” Eventually this was published as a more conventional poetry chapbook in 1993, by R.E.M. Press with the author as Altan Ogniedgov. In the earliest typed version there was an author’s bio stating Ogniedov was born in Russia in 1964. In the 1993 book version there is this note:
Altan Ogniedov is the alter ego of Karl D. Gluck.
Alton Ogniedov was born after Mr. Gluck’s disastrous love affair and subsequent failed engagement to a certain woman who resides in Moscow. It was this experience that brought about the poems in Phantasmagoria.
Mr. Ogniedov occasionally makes his presence known in Mr. Gluck’s life, forcing him to break into tears at work (as a translator for Russian immigrants and social workers) and other inopportune moments, as well as occasionally writing a poem in Russian for Mr. Gluck who, by the way, has entirely recovered from the “Moscow Incident.”
Albany Art Gallery, 12/7/89
He was the featured reader at the Albany Art Gallery series on Jefferson St., run by Don Levy, in December 1989 & he included in the reading 2 poems in Russian, with English translations, that he gave as hand-outs. His poems were melancholy, angst-ridden (he was in his mid-20s after all), but spiced with sardonic humor & often with references to Russian literature.

In 1991 he self-published a small chapbook of 8 poems, Brooklyn: Brutal Poems from Exile by Altan Ogniedov. Around 1990, after finishing at UAlbany he moved to Brooklyn, but was a frequent visitor to Albany & the poetry readings here. We exchanged a number of letters at that time as he struggled to make his mark on the New York scene. We met & went to a couple readings in the City on my visits there for my job. The most recent poems I have from him are from 2002, after he had married. He & his wife Lan had a daughter, Vivian, then divorced.  In October 2002 he returned to Albany for “7-Year Itch,” a reunion reading at Valentines (the QE2 gone by then) with many of his old friends.

It only seems just that I should end this brief tribute with a poem by Karl (or Altan as he would have it). This is the introductory poem from Phantasmagoria.

Statement of Purpose

I am a poet.
I write.
I know nothing
of computers —
never take the easy
way out.

I am a poet.
I write.
By hand.
In Gothic Blackletter.
On stone.
By candlelight.

I am a fraud.
I scribble in margins
of library books.
In pen.
I avoid bill collectors
and keep my good name
with close collegues
who always have something
“new” to say.
Voice activated IBM’s.

Late at night,
after a hard day
of selling matchsticks
or pencils
from a cup
on street corners
in the rain
I write.
By hand.
In Gothic Blackletter.
On stone.
By candlelight.
And I have
this stolen slogan:

Quality, not quantity.

We chisel a name
for ourselves
the old-fashioned way:

one crack
at a time.

Hey Karl, Pissanya!


Anonymous said...

Beautiful tribute, Dan. I was so sad to hear of his loss.
- Nancy Klepsch

Ken Gluck said...


Thanks so very much for posting this. I love your words and the photos. Karl is my brother and it pains me deeply to have lost him. I know he was a very talented poet and his mind was amazing. I also know how much he really enjoyed the poetry group. Those were some of his happiest days. We are holding a small, discrete Buddhist memorial service for him in Manhattan on the evening of Friday 19 February. I encourage anyone wishing to attend e-mail me at kengluck@sbcglobal.net and I will provide further details.

Best wishes to all,
Ken Gluck

Donna Williams Aitoro said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Donna Williams Aitoro said...

I didn't know Karl, but I was moved by your memories of him, Dan -- and by the poem.

Sharon Silber said...

Love your tribute to Karl, Dan. I had the pleasure of being in a poetry group with Karl, the Hudson Pier Poets, in NYC. We had met many years ago and have been meeting recently on a more irregular basis and all of us were shocked and saddened to hear of Karl's death. It gave me great pleasure to read your remembrance of Karl and of Karl's alter ego, Altan, who I had forgotten about and had always found oddly endearing, that Karl, with his very German name, had this whole alternate identity as a Russian poet. It also made me remember Karl's many fine, unusual poems that I had the pleasure to hear him read. One of our members, Stephanie Dickinson, is now trying to collect Karl's poems into a book and I hope she will be in touch with you. Best, Sharon Silber, NYC

Ken Gluck said...

Dear Friends of Karl,

My sister and I have created a memorial website for Karl at: http://memorialwebsites.legacy.com/karl_gluck/Homepage.aspx. Please feel free to drop a note, picture or anything there.

Thank you and best wishes,


norvie said...

Karl :
You gave US a lot
Thank U so much
Every blessing
into it !!! norvie