5071_524034189392_27102070_31281118_1469775_nI am a native New Yorker who was talked into going to school in Ohio by my supposedly best friend and ended up staying there long enough to receive a Master of Fine Arts in Creative Writing from Bowling Green University. I drifted out to Los Angeles because my ex-wife was intent on becoming a movie star. Having no better way to squander my money, I opened up a literary bookstore called Intellectuals & Liars in Santa Monica and became part of the poetry scene there. I had a few short stories and an excerpt from an earlier novel published in some small literary magazines, held weekly poetry/prose readings, published broadsides, and, being no exception to the rule that poetry doesn’t sell, went out of business. This led to a series of jobs like selling shoes, running a warehouse, writing advertising copy for radio, and teaching English to immigrants. Since my main concern was keeping a roof over my head and the wolves from the door while I continued to write, I took a job as a full-time tenured faculty member at a college. Eventually, not being satisfied with just teaching, I created an English Language Institute and went over to the dark side and joined the administration so I could run it. I ran language programs in both the US and Turkey for decades but now have settled into a life of writing/reading/traveling as an expat in Turkey since I find being an alien in a foreign country is easier to adjust to than being an alien in my own country. I have 6 books in print and others in various stages of completion which can be viewed on my website: http://www.leonarddurso.net. And once, in a city far, far away, I was a scoutmaster, which means I’m pretty good at knots, campfires, and am pretty loyal, trustworthy, helpful, etc.

180 thoughts on “About

  1. Hi Len,
    Just wanted to swing by and say thank you for your wonderful poem in this month’s issue of The Paperbook Collective. I could honestly see Italy in your words, it was beautiful!
    Thanks again for submitting your work. Here’s to 2014.

  2. Did you feel it?

    A magnitude 5.0 earthquake has occurred WESTERN TURKEY at:
    36.55N 31.25E Depth 85km 08/12/2013 at 17:31:57 (Universal Time)

    Earthquake location with respect to nearby cities:
    366 km W Adana (pop 1248988, local time 19:31:57.4 2013-12-08)
    61 km SE Antalya (pop 758188, local time 19:31:57.4 2013-12-08)
    33 km SW Manavgat (pop 96052, local time 19:31:57.4 2013-12-08)

    Manual location disseminated on 08/12/2013 17:44 (UTC)

    For maps and additional data, please consult:

    Links to regional seismological observatories:

  3. Might there be an equivalent in Istanbul for Black Bush? Or some colloquialism about the significance of a festive balloon lost among cold stars? Perhaps not. Nevertheless, I raise a glass in your direction, wishing you certain happiness, or at least certain acts of happiness, in this uncertain age. Cheers, Len!

    • Unfortunately, no Black Bush here. But there is other Irish available and wine, wine, wine, plus Turkey’s national drink: Raki. And as for balloons, there’s no one like you and Big Chuck here to fly them with.

  4. Hello Prof. Durso. Always nice to get to know a little bit more. I really enjoy your irreverence in describing your past adventures…I have to start writing my own, I hope is as fun a read as yours…someday I will show you the eulogy I wrote few years back…I know, I know…always the pessimist type…but I think it helped me look back and imagine the pages not written yet…
    Funny to decide to read your “about” when I am applying to join the dark side at school in the city…best regards…

  5. Well Fernando I hope your experience on the dark side is better than mine was. Apart from the students, both in the US and Turkey, and the staff (primarily in the US), my life dealing with administrations has not been a happy one. But I’m off to join Ali at a company far removed from where I’ve been these past four years, and that is not on the dark but on the bright side.

  6. Thank you for following We Fall Laughing. I have thoroughly enjoyed reading through your posts. You have so many interesting works. I look forward to more.

  7. “being an alien in a foreign country is easier to adjust to than being an alien in my own country”.
    This is close to hearts of millions who left the USSR (Russia) during last 100 years.
    However, why Turkey? What is better there? Do you speak Turkish?

  8. You are a great humble person. I really loved your works. Will be waiting for more of you adventures and posts. Followed you!! Help me back, will be deliberately waiting for your views on my works.

    Be Bettr, Stay Bettr!


  9. Very interresting biography 🙂 Thank you for visiting my blog, it is really appreciated.

    I’ve visited LA last year, but I didn’t get a good feeling about this town. Did you enjoy it at first sight or did you learn to like it ?

    • My LA experience was different since my world revolved around my bookstore and my friendships were with mostly writers/poets. I did know a lot of people in “the business” but I wasn’t involved in that world. My ex-wife was. Thankfully, though, I survived all that and have still retained enough friendships to still get a little nostalgic at times for California.

  10. Fantastic About page Sir Leonard Durso
    Open book with failures and successes am sure all built with strength, motivation and determination.
    Well done Sir.
    I caught your visit to my woods. Thank you..
    Please don’t excuse the theatrics of my blog. Although my howls are meek, they are sincere.
    My play in this little part of my world.
    Welcome to my woods, hope you find a line or two that flows
    I look forward to yours.


  11. I love your “about” write up….pride mixed with humility. Once someone asked me to describe my “career pathway.” I said I married at 19, divorced at 24, raised my daughter alone and worked at whatever put food on the table, often two jobs while going to school at night and taking care of the home responsibilities. You seem to have a similar story. I did learn that no job is menial or more important if it is honest work. I am headed to amazon.com to check out your books. hugs, pat

  12. Leonard,
    This “About” is perfect, especially the part about you opening a book store. If I am ever in Turkey, I’ll be sure to say “hello”. Thank you for your words. They are truly beautiful.

    • Well if I’m ever back in NY you can say hello there, too. It’s probably a lot closer. And you are most welcome for my words. I find your words on your blog to be quite wonderful.

    • Hi Euphie,
      Thanks very much for following and I, too, enjoy reading your posts on your blog. And thank you for being so kind as to nominate me for an award but I never know how to deal with awards so I tend to avoid them. I know, of course, they are a form of acknowledgement but I prefer it when other writers just respond to the work. And when you press the like button or make a comment that is much more important to me. This blog, as I’m sure you’ve noticed, fulfills two purposes for me: it highlights work of other writers I admire and hopefully introduces them to people who will read more of them on their own(sort of an outgrowth of the educator in me) and it has brought me back to my first love of poetry and gives me an outlet for that apart from my novels. It has actually slowed me up in my prose writing but has enriched my life in ways I did not originally anticipate when I started it. And unlike some other bloggers, I am not interested in increasing “my numbers” to just have more followers but appreciate those who actually read what I post just as I enjoy reading the work of people I follow. So the fact that you like some of what you read here is much better than an award. And I hope we can continue to have a dialogue through our writing. That dialogue I have with other writers such as yourself inspires and encourages me. Writing is, as I know you know, a lonely business but blogging gives us all an audience that immediately responds to our work and that gives us the same gratification a performing artist gets. Who could ask for anything more?

      • Absolutely true… But this is a chain of appreciation for bloggers I guess.. One another blogger nominated me and I thought it would be lovely to nominate some of the blogs I follow constantly.. look forward to exploring more of your blog and talking through our poetry and writing..


      • Hi Euphie,
        No, you did a nice thing and I appreciate it. And I thank you for following my blog which is reward enough. Meet you through & across our words, Len

  13. Hello. I was brought here by a little poem of yours called ‘your name’ that really touched me. I am humbled by your extensive visit to my blog. Welcome and I am glad to know you. I am starting to explore your blog now.

  14. If Jeff thinks you’re one of the good guys, that’s good enough for me! Have just begun reading your work and am now a follower. Drop into my Randa Lane haiku site sometime and rest your weary bones with haiku. Hope to see you soon. 🙂

    Ron Evans

  15. Oh my — where to begin? I’ve been on the “Dark Side” — and probably in your mind to the very dark side (an MBA program). But like you, loved working with the students. But there is so much more — a midwesterner, I grew up in Waukegan, Illinois (land of Jack Benny) so have watched the marching band of Ohio dot their “i”; in college days debated at a Bowling Green tournament; and have a deep love for Istanbul having been there 4 times while working with our Global MBA…..became very good friends with the CEO of Mavi Jeans there. Have you heard of the Kibele? It’s a lovely old hotel just down the block from the Cistern and the Blue Mosque — run by two brothers — with ceilings covered in lantern-type lamps. I always stayed there – loved being in the “old Turkey” rather than the Hilton-type hotels. The Kibele has a coffee/lunch spot on the lower level, open to walkers-by, plus you can have your coffee/tea/breakfast/lunch in the common areas, filled with antiques and lamps also. A lovely Turkish guy named Elvis (really!) often staffs the desk! Now that there’s a nonstop flight between Boston and Istanbul, I’m hoping to take my husband to see this fascinating place!
    On the poetry side, have enjoyed looking around your site and will definitely follow so I can take more time with it. Apologies this is so long — somehow feel a kinship with you??
    As you’ll see, if you look at my About, I’m new to expressing this inner voice and absolutely loving the world of poetry! I believe there is still a poetry bookstore in Cambridge which I plan to explore! Best wishes — looking forward to reading more!

    • Thanks for sharing a bit of your life. I do know that hotel, or at least was in it once visiting friends of a friend here from San Francisco who stayed there. And it is a lovely hotel. I lived on the Asian side in Moda/Kadiköy but am now looking to buy in Üsküdar or therabouts.

    • Hit the wrong button before I was finished replying. Anyway there is some common ground here and I look forward to reading your blog and following your process of discovering poetry. As for poetry bookstores, I am thinking of opening an English language literary bookstore in Istanbul sometime in 2016 after I return there this summer.

  16. Hello Leonard, I´m a very novice writer. I started studying English Lit. in the U.S but dropped out after a year, not good idea by the way. Now I´m 32 living in Spain( I´m Spanish) and resuming my long lost love that I had left in the back burner for over 10 years, writing again. So I´m very glad you stumbled upon one of my posts and actually liked it a person like you that is such an accomplished writer. It was this one https://beastsofarticulation.wordpress.com/2015/03/22/warfare/
    Looking forward to exploring more of your blog as well as your books.

  17. I know you most of the comments on here are just people saying “thank you for viewing my blog and following” So I am going to do the cliche person just must say it too…Thank you for viewing my blog…I really meant it 🙂

  18. Pingback: The Very Inspiring Blogger Award | The Rattling Bones

  19. ” I find being an alien in a foreign country is easier to adjust to than being an alien in my own country.” I liked that (and can relate to it lol!) Thanks for visiting and following. I like your poems and will do likewise.

  20. Hi there, thanks for dropping by. Now I’m nervous to have a local following me on my first trip to Istanbul. As if to accompany that thought, it’s thundering outside!

  21. Mr. Durso, I wanted to come by and express how much I appreciate your regular visits to my very small “Attic” in a vast sea of blogs. I hope your visits result in my putting a broad smile on your face. But, I’ll be equally happy if I sneak a barely audible chuckle or two from you. And may I also offer how interesting I find your about page. I’m now even more grateful to have such an accomplished person, such as yourself taking time to read my bit of fluff. Thank you very much. :O)

  22. Great blog, I too escaped from what I thought was an “Alien” culture into one that fits my alien mind, nice to find another of like kind. Enjoy your blog. If I understand you correctly you are teaching English in Turkey, through your Institute? I do something similar in Kazan just on a smaller scale. Thinking Turkey is a much warmer place than here, need another teacher? These frost bitten hands need some warming. Glad to have made your acquaintance.

    • Thank you. I’m not teaching any longer but am semi-retired, devoting my time to reading, writing, traveling, trying to learn as much as possible before I slip off this form of existence.Lots of opportunities here, though, for teaching English. And yes, warmer, especially places like Izmir and farther south, than where you are in Central Asia.

      • That’s for sure. We aren’t actually in Central Asia, but close enough. Been thinking about coming to Turkey and checking it out. One of my students became a realtor there. He’s invited me to come and visit. Maybe sometime during the winter I’ll take him up on that just to get away for a break from the freezing cold here.

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