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Biographical / Historical
Alan Bätjer Russo was born May 25, 1938, in Auburn, NY and grew up in New Jersey and Kansas. While attending Wichita University, he first published several of his own poems as well as a notable translation of Pervigilium Veneris (The Vigil of Venus) from Latin. While at WU he befriended members of the local literary and artistic scene—including fellow students Glenn Todd, Justin Hein, Charles Plymell, Roxie Powell, and Robert Branaman. In 1959 Alan edited an anthology published by Charles Plymell called Poet's Corner #2 that featured his poem "Said She From Amidst Her Fragments." In 1960, Plymell published a sheaf of Russo's poems with the title The Locked Man.
That same year Alan moved to San Francisco, to be followed by many of his Wichita cohorts, where he published poems in various literary magazines and chapbooks created by Plymell and David Omer Bearden.
He spent the next two decades primarily in California along with stints in the mid-west and upstate New York, traveling and working at various jobs including staff member at the San Francisco Oracle. During this period, he began working sub-rosa on a number of prose writings that would comprise a "novel" he called State Line.
By the 1980's he was living and driving a cab full-time in Tulsa where his parents had moved to in 1964. Later he would be looking after them as their primary caregiver. In 1991 he traveled to Wichita to be reunited with Charles Plymell and Bob Branaman for an event at the Wichita Art Museum. After losing his parents in 1998 and 1999, Alan fell ill in December 2002. He spent the next six months in a Tulsa nursing home until he passed on May 24, 2003.
On his death certificate it was noted that his occupation was that of "Poet and Cab Driver."
Biography compiled and written by Robert Dumont.