Norb Blei has enriched the lives of his readers with truth-telling poetry and prose. He is a journalist, a teacher, a publisher and editor, a novelist and writer of non-fiction, a painter and a poet. His writing brings to life the characters and landscapes that have surrounded him, both urban and rural. From the Czechoslovakian neighborhood where he grew up in Chicago to the rural villages and towns he now observes from his chicken coop/studio in Ellison Bay, Wisconsin. Blei’s character studies never disappoint as he transports readers from the taverns of Door County to the coffee counter at Al Johnson’s Swedish Restaurant, capturing the banter of everyday life that provides nourishment to the residents of a small community.
Never one to shy away from controversy, Blei’s essay ‘Shut the Damn Door’ written in 1992 implored residents and county officials to be wary of over-development on our tiny peninsula. ‘Take any dirt road and get lost,’ Blei concludes. ‘You may discover the real value of this place. You may discover yourself.’
And just when you think you have defined the man and his life’s work, comes Blei’s role as a teacher, most recently his very popular writing classes offered at The Clearing in Ellison Bay. Rounding off the activities of this Door County Renaissance man is his role of mentor, publisher and editor featuring the writings of other authors at Cross+Roads Press. Check out the titles and purchase something, it feels good to support the art of writing!
Today, thanks to the Internet, Norb Blei’s writings are reaching “the global village” with sites originating in Russia and France as well as the U.S. Visit Norb Blei’s many websites and check out the creative output of one of Door County’s human treasurs: NorbBlei.com, Basho’s Road.com, and PoetryDispatchandOtherNotesfromtheUnderground.com.
Also check out John Nelson’s excellent Wikipedia.org page on Norb.