Friday, October 9, 2015
Kerouac Festival in Lowell this weekend. Here are all the details.
Among the highlights…..David Amram, Pamela Twining, Andy Clausen
and here's Andy Clausen reading "My Name's Neal Cassady What's Yours?" (Andy narrates the story of his meeting with Neal Cassady, an excerpt from his "The Last Days of the Beat Generation.")
Watch Jonah Raskin on C-Span on his book American Scream - Allen Ginsberg's Howl and The Making of the Beat Generation
Regarding the Howl Celebrations featured here last week - The Six Gallery reading at the Avid Reader bookshop in Brisbane (which was, we hear, a great success) was also a launch, it should be noted, for the latest from Bareknuckle Books - an anthology - the first in a proposed series of annual anthologies (the anthology includes a full authorized reprint of the poem "Howl")
Howl - Still Howling, the big event for that takes place, don't forget, in Manchester, England, tomorrow. More on that tomorrow.
[Richard O Moore (1920-2015)]
Meanwhile, tonight, in San Francisco (Berkeley, to be precise) at the Mythos/Firehouse Gallery, a special evening for poet-filmmaker, Richard O Moore (who died this past March)
Garrett Caples on Richard O Moore here
Here's one of his extraordinary films, his 1965 NET USA Poetry film on Robert Duncan and John Wieners
See the out-takes and hear discussion by editors Robert Dewhurst & Michael Seth Stewart (on Wieners) here
KQED will be showing a retrospective of (several of) Moore's films, Saturday October 25
Speaking of films and filmmakers, Laura Israel's documentary Don't Blink - Robert Frank got it's world premiere this past weekend at the New York Film Festival
More on Laura Israel and Robert Frank here, here & here
Steve Silberman on sitting meditation - "One day at Naropa in 1977, Allen Ginsberg turned to the students in his class on the literary history of the Beat Generation and asked them pointedly:"How many of you have signed up for meditation instruction?" Seeing only a few hands rise tentatively in the air, he grimaced and said, "Aw, you're all amateurs in a professional universe!"
Vincent Katz in the current Brooklyn Rail - "Then there is Allen Ginsberg. His avidity for knowledge and for having poetry in the contemporary realm, in addition to the political backgrounds of his parents made it inevitable that politics would enter his poetry in a volatile way. In hs case you wouldn't say the times influenced him as much as he and his friends influenced the times"
Thrilled that our good friend Eliot Katz's book, The Poetry and Politics of Allen Ginsberg will soon be coming out from Beatdom
In Yale, through to tomorrow Yale Cabaret present: "inspired by the life and work of Allen Ginsberg"...
In Harvard, don't miss "Not To Be Played", at the Woodberry Poetry Room, a multi-faceted exhibit centering on a recording by Ezra Pound. (it's Pound's birthday later this month)
More information about that event can be found here.
Thursday, October 8, 2015
[Art deco relief on the exterior of the Berkeley Community Theater, housing the Florence Schwimley Little Theater, venue of the recreation of the October 1955 recreation of the legendary Six Gallery reading]
The legendary Gallery Six reading took place on October 7 1955. The following March (March 11, to be precise), the event was recreated and presented (at the Little Theater, Berkeley) by the San Francisco Poetry Center. Here, courtesy San Francisco Poetry Center's Digital Archive, is the audio from that night
Kenneth Rexroth introduces Gary Snyder, Philip Whalen and Michael McClure
The audio begins with joyful banter, (indeed, the high-spirits and exuberance are evident throughout the occasion).
Kenneth Rexroth starts off, introducing Gary Snyder
Kenneth Rexroth: A lady I know… There was some discussion of putting the next item on the agenda, you know, on the media, as they say - (I just heard this story, just now) - and she is reported to have said, "Well now, is he a real poet, or is he just one of those people who objects to everything?" - like Ginsberg - Anyway, he didn't get on the media, well, so maybe he is - You know, I think it's wonderful, we're all talking about the media, the way that a little pitch of mine eliminated all the cats that dig T.S.Eliot.
(But), first, will be Gary Snyder, who is a master of (what is it? revolt against everything, and uncomplicated forma - Are the forms still that way, or is this another fad?)
Gary Snyder: I think of the trees
Kenneth Rexroth: Well there's things that a tree can't do, see.
Gary Snyder: "I'm going to read two simple little poems and then I'm going to read a next one that's longer - "For a Far-out Friend"
("Because I once beat you up/Drunk, stung with weeks of torment.."…."..I thought - more grace and love/In that wild Deva life where you belong,/Than in this dress-and-girdle life/You'll ever give/or get") - [applause] - "I suspect dishonesty!"
Audience comments: "Hey Gary, step a little closer to the microphone" - "You want me to move it" - "You've got a haircut" (see above)
"Song and Dance for a Lecherous Muse"
( "The implicit communication of woman"….. "first sunlight hitting the shades")
"Now here is a good one. Here I go into my celebrated wild life. After a reading at San Francisco State College, Rexroth says to me, "Your animals have got the loosest bowels of any animals!…" I'm sticking to trees . This is the first part of a three-part poem called "Myths and Texts", the middle part is about animals. The first part is about trees, the last part is about people, I'm going to stick to trees. It's about logging, really."
There are two things to do when you come in the woods, one is to be a choke-setter, the other is to be a whistle-punk and neither one of them are as bad as they sound. It's always best to start off with…"
Audience comments (to Rexroth) : "Sit in your chair"
Kenneth Rexroth: What do you mean sit in my chair?
Rexroth introduces Philp Whalen:
Go, man!" - [continuing conversation] - "Hey, come on Whalen, keep it going!"
Philip Whalen: This is just kind of a quiet peaceful thing.It's just called "For K.W" (senex - old man)
[Audience/Organizers attempt to accomodate the overflow crowd - "Excuse me, the people who are over here standing… (there are) more seats in the front…" "You want to wait till that settles
Whalen reads "For K.W."
"The mirror water over a mountain….
Now this thing is called "Martyrdom of Two Pagans" ("Out on a limb and frantically sawing.."…. Love is better than hate/and stronger than hell/For we toook our shoes off/As we fell."
This thing is called "The More It Changes, the More It's The Same Thing" ("'Plus ça Change'") -
This a different thing, it's all about the mountains - "Sourdough Mountain Lookout" - ("I always say I won't go back to the mountains…"…"Like they say, "Four times up/Three times down". I'm still on the mountain")
Audience comment: "Read that one about the thunder, read that one about the lightning ,
(the one) that Williams said something about."
Philip Whalen: Oh I don't have that one.
"I've got to quit with the a large souffle that I'm currently cooking up. It's this much so far [Whalen shows the extent of the manuscript] and they'll probably be more later but there's this much finished anyway and it's turning out a little different
"The Slop Barrel: Slices of the Paideuma for All Sentient Beings" ("We must see, we must know./What 's the nature of that star?"…."The bells have stopped/Flash in the wind/Dog in the pond') ….
Audience Comment: "You want to take a break" - "What? - There's no…" What?" -"Alright, then we'll keep going. "
Kenneth Rexroth: Why don't we take a break? - Keep going? - Keep going?
It is being debated if we should have an intermission or keep going. Keep going. Somebody's just pointed out to me that you're all in here and there's no place for you to go…
Rexroth introduces Michael McClure:
"Now I don't know what Mike (McClure)'s going to do. I understand that he had a sudden burst of creativity of a very high-class nature. That's what people tell me who heard him read last week - Mike McClure."
Michael McClure: I'm going to read a letter from Jack Spicer first ..If somebody'll pass it up..it's back there...
Audience Comment (mockingly) - Who's Jack Spicer? - (GS): Jack Spicer turns tricks on Mars - They've got more ping-pong tables there -
You got the return Address? -
Michael McClure: Spicer, 32 Myrtle Street, Boston..
GS: Everybody write him!
MM: It's a lettter to Johnny Ryan [sic], I'll have to edit it.
Audience Comment: No one else has tonight!
Michael McClure (reading Jack Spicer) reads: "You're a great bastard. You're letters have disturbed my contentment. Here I am with an excellent job, writing rarely - (handling the rare books in a library.. in (Harvard)..in Boston..) - lonely as a kangaroo in an aquarium, and then you have to write about how on the other side of the country people are really alive, thinking significantly, getting drunk significantly, fucking significantly. You've upset my cold New England dream world. (In the words of Faust, you'll never read to me, "Weh! Weh! /Du hast sie zerstört,/ Die schöne Welt" - that means, give up… I don't know
Audience Comment: "Go on, man, Go on".
Michael McClure (continues, reading from Spicer's letter) "There's nothing here, just like there is nothing in New York. I've always said that the East is empty, but I'm surprised to find this is true as a literary anti-Semite like (Robert) Duncan would be to find that the… (I can't read the writing..) the world was controlled by the Jews. There's an isolation from ..an isolation from enthusiasm. Nothing is left but manners and good will. New York lost even the good will. It is impossible to imagine just how poisonous culture without enthusiasm can be, like a perpetual educational television program. Enough of this, I would leave for San Francis.." - this is the part - "I would leave for San Francisco tomorrow if it wasn't for the horror of unemployment that those fine shattering jobless months created. I cannot live without security anymore, anymore than I can live without magic. I discovered that I don't like people well enough to allow myself to be dependent on them. I would come back for any job, but it would have to be a job I came back to. So, Mr John Allen Ryan, if you love for me and have any friends that love me, start them searching for a place in San Francisco where I could be employed, anything from night-watchman in a museum to towel-boy in a Turkish bath. I won't come back without a job to come back to, and I won't stay here even though I love rare books, if I have a chance to come back .if I have a chance to come back to civilization. This is a manifesto as well as a personal letter, broadcast its terms. San Francisco has a chance to regain its second poet. The other poet, Dante, is also willing to return to Florence under conditions. My "Oliver Charming" is charming. I hope I'll have a chance to show it to you personally. It's long, incoherent and sexual, I think it's the most important thing I've written, but, of course, it's only half-finished and god knows…"
Audience Comments: "Now Michael's censoring!.." - "No no it mentions you"..
Michael McClure: It says, "Wallace Berman, a special love to you, whose beard I don't want to…
Audience Comments: - "He censored it!" - "Let him read it!"
Michael McClure: So, If anybody knows about a job…
Audience Comment: "He censored it goddam it!"...
Michael McClure: ….have them tell Johnny or The Place, or any of us or.. his address is 32 Myrtle Street, Boston, Massachustts
Audience Comments: "So - it wasn't rhymed" - "I know" - "blank verse"
McClure turns to his own poems:
Michael McClure; The first things I'm going to read are new -
"Laid part to part, toe to knee…"…"a pale tuft of grass" -
(and) this is called "The Mystery of the Hunt" ("It's the mystery of the hunt that intrigues me…) [reading breaks off/tape concludes in media res]
Wednesday, October 7, 2015
Hear Michael McClure give a first-hand account of the event and its significance, on Witness, for the BBC World Service
Here's McClure's account of that extraordinary occasion (excerpted from his Scratching The Beat Surface)
" (In 1955) I (gave) my first poetry reading with Allen Ginsberg, the Zen poet Philip Whalen, Gary Snyder, and the American surrealist poet Philip Lamantia, The reading was in October 1955 at the Six Gallery in San Francisco. The Six Gallery was a cooperative art gallery run by young artists who centered around the San Francisco Art Institute…. On this night Kenneth Rexroth was master of ceremonies. This was the first time that Allen Ginsberg read "Howl". Though I had known Allen for some months preceding, it was my first meeting with Gary Snyder and Philip Whalen. Lamantia did not read his poetry that night but instead recited works of the recently-deceased John Hoffman - beautiful poems that left orange stripes and colored visions in the air.
The world that we tremblingly stepped out into in that decade was a bitter, gray one. But San Francisco was a special place. Rexroth said it was to the arts what Barcelona was to Spanish Anarchism. Still, there was no way, even in San Francisco, to escape the pressures of the war culture. We were locked in the Cold War and the first Asian debacle - the Korean War. My self-image in those years was of finding myself - young, high, a little crazed, needing a hair-cut - in an elevator with burly, crew-cutter, square-jawed eminences staring at me like I was misplaced cannon-fodder. We hated the war and the inhumanity and the coldness. The country had the feeling of martial law. An undeclared military state had leapt out of Daddy Warbucks' tanks and sprawled all over the landscape. As artists we were oppressed and indeed the people of the nation were oppressed. There were certain of us (whether we were fearful or brave) who could not help speaking out - we had to speak. We knew we were poets and we had to speak out as poets. We saw that the art of poetry was essentially dead - killed by war, by academics, by neglect, by lack of love, and by disinterest. We knew we could bring it back to life. We could see what (Ezra) Pound had done and (Walt) Whitman and (Antonin) Artaud, and D.H.Lawrence, in his monumental poetry and prose.
The Six Gallery was a huge room that had been converted from an automobile repair shop into a gallery….A hundred and fifty enthusiastic people had come to hear us. Money was collected and jugs of wine were brouoght back for the audience. I hadn;t seen Allen for a few weeks and I had not heard "Howl" - it was new to me. Allen began in a small and intensely lucid voice. At some point Jack Kerouac began shouting "GO" in cadence as Allen read it. In all of our memories no one had been so outspoken in poetry before -we had gone beyond a point of no return. None of us wanted to go back to the gray, chill, militaristic silence, to the intellective void - to the land without poetry - to the spiritual drabness. We wanted to make it new and we wanted to invent it and the process of it as we went into it. We wanted voice and we wanted vision….
…Ginsberg read on till the end of the poem, which left us standing in wonder, or cheering and wondering, but knowing at the deepest level that barrier had been broken, that a human voice and body had been hurled against the harsh walls of America and its supporting armies and navies and acadamies and institutions and ownership-systetms and power-support bases..
.."Howl" was Allen's metamorphosis from quiet, brilliant, burning bohemian scholar trapped by his flames and repressions to epic vocal bard."
& McClure, (in a 2008 reading at UC Berkeley), recalls the Six Gallery and reads three of his poems from that night.
Here's part of Kerouac's fictionalization in The Dharma Bums
"Anyway I followed the whole gang of howling poets to the reading at Gallery Six (Six Gallery) that night, which was, among other important things, the night of the birth of the San Francisco Poetry Renaissance. Everyone was there. It was a mad night. And I was the one who got things jumping by going around collecting dimes and quarters from the rather stiff audience standing around in the gallery and coming back with three huge gallon jugs of California Burgundy and getting them all piffed so that by eleven o'clock when Alvah Goldbrook [Allen Ginsberg] was reading his, wailing poem "Wail" ["Howl"] drunk with arms outspread everybody was yelling "Go! Go! Go!" (like a jam session) and old Rheinhold Cacoethes [Kenneth Rexroth] the father of the Frisco poetry scene was wiping tears in gladness.
Meanwhile scores of people stood around in the darkened gallery straining to hear every word of the amazing poetry reading as I wandered from group to group, facing them and facing away from the stage, urging them to slug from the jug, or wandered back and sat on the right side of the stage giving out little wows and yesses of approval and even whole sentances of comment with nobody's invitation but in the general gaiety nobody's disapproval either. It was a great night.
Among the people standing in the audience was Rosie Buchanan [Natalie Jackson], a girl with short haircut, red-haired, bony, handsome, a real gone chick and friend of everybody of any consequence on the beach, who'd been a painter's model and a writer herself and was bubbling with excitement at that time because she was in love with my old buddy Cody [Neal Cassady] "Great, hey Rosie?" I yelled, and she took a big slug from my jug and shined eyes at me. Cody just stood behind her with both arms around her waist. Between poets, Rheinhold Cacoethes, in his bow tie and shabby old coat, would get up and make a little funny speech in his snide funny voice and introduce the next reader: but as I say come eleven thirty when all the poems were read and everybody was milling around wondering what had happened and what would come next in American poetry, he was wiping his eyes with his handkerchief. And we all got together with him, the poets, and drove in several cars to Chinatown for a big fabulous dinner off the Chinese menu, with chopsticks, yelling conversation in the middle of the night in one of those free-swinging great Chinese restaurants of San Francisco."
For more on the Six Gallery reading - see here - and here
Extended notices on the occasion of the 45th - and 50th - anniversary celebrations - here and here
Tuesday, October 6, 2015
[Jack Kerouac, Charles Reznikoff and William Carlos Williams]
Allen's 1980 Naropa Basic Poetics continues
Student: Is that the only valid poetry then, citing particulars?
AG: Well, that's a generalization.
AG: All I'm saying is there's lots of poetry like that, you know, an enormous amount of poetry is like that. For us beginning students (including me), let's begin in somewhere real where we can begin, instead of somewhere up in the air where we can't begin at all. Because, if we have nowhere we can stand, then there's no point in my standing here. I mean, if there's no place, with specific.. if there's no place, with feet on the floor and carpets and senses, then it's hardly possible to talk.
Student: Well, since you bring the sixth sense into it..is the opposite extreme, or the opposite (thing) something like (Jack) Kerouac's mystical descriptions in Big Sur?
AG: Give me a for instance?
Student; For instance, when he's having the d-t's, and he's tripping through sort of a Dantean level of Hell, and he's writing…
AG: You'd have to be.. No, you'd have to get the text and bring up the text, because you'll find, especially in Kerouac..
Oh, the other.. the other... axiom - Kerouac - quote - "Details are the life of the novel" - unquote. "Details are the life of the novel" (and he means just "details", like we've been talking about). You'll probably find that in the more hallucinatory parts of Big Sur there are hallucinations made of very specific details (like the giant terrific hard-on on the mule, or something like that, which is very clearly described and made you know, in such reddened… such red...
Student: He's describing a vividly slow grinding sex act, back in the...
AG: Get the text, and we'll look, word-by-word, whether it's something way up in the air, or whether this hallucinatory vision is composed of little specific noticings.
Student: Oh yes, it's really specific and concrete, you know, as if..
AG: That's what I'm talking about. That's all I'm talking about. That's all I'm talking about, that, even if you're going to have a vision, you have to present it in concrete terms, with "minute particulars", details, specifics, recombinations of sensory.. ok? - You had your hand up?
AG: Something? You were saying something?
Student: Well, it did include our minds (as well)….
AG: I didn't mean your mind, (but), (well,) go ahead, and say it..
Student: …. (No), I was confused about what you were saying, but, you've cleared it up (now) by what you said.
AG: Oh, yeah, I said it before. Mind, the crystal ball, will recombine all the colors of the other senses. You make combinations. Mind is an immense computer. Anyone who can
take down all those details and break them down into units and bits, and reconstruct them like cut-ups, make all sorts of amazing things, but, just for sanity's sake, and for good poetry's sake.. . See, the purpose of this course is not to study literature, but.. I mean, not to study literature for a literature course, but to provide you with some useable insight into your own writing . So that's why I'm beginning to lay down at the very beginning - be.. stay real, stick with reality if you want to write some unreal poetry, start off with some reality, because there's always the.. I've found, here in Naropa, and all over, in dealing with younger poets, and older poets, (that) mediocrity is generally lack of specificity, lack of minute particular detail, lack of outline (as (William) Blake would say), outline, definite outline
So, that was Shakespeare (Shakespeare's "minute particulars"), and we'll get back to that later. Not that all poetry's got to be just that. It's just that there's got to be that ground to begin with. Or that should be borne in mind, that basic direction, for your own writing.
Now in modern days, there was a theory of Imagism, as it was called (it was a theory called "Imagism", and (an)other, "Objectivism" American poetics, an American poetry development, that tried to get down to specifics, and tried to follow up the theories that I just mentioned). So I'll read a couple of little samples of famous, or well-known, modern poets who've written in this way, not with rhyme, just direct treatment of the object
"The wind blows the rain into our faces as we go down the hillside upon rusted cans and old newspapers past the tree on whose bare branches the boys have hung iron hoops until we reach at last the crushed earthworms stretched and stretching on the wet sidewalk"
- What is unusual about that is that..well, it's a good enough description of an old lot in a rain - "rusted cans and old newspapers" - pretty nearly anybody can write that..(though this was written in nineteen.. probably nineteen twenty, probably, when it was unusual to allow your mind to think about rusty cans as part of poetry. That was a big discovery). But, beyond the rusty cans, "past the tree on whose bare branches the boys have hung iron hoops" - That's pretty interesting - like a haiku - I mean, some stretch.. exercise of poetic imagination on the part of the..
[(to Student) you might go, please, get some chairs - Student - Get some chairs? - AG: Yes, go get some chairs..settle in, it would be easier..]
Student: Who's that poem by?
AG: Charles Reznikoff - Poems 1918-1936 - Volume 1 - The Complete Poems of Charles Reznikoff, Black Sparrow Press
Student: Would that be required text for the course?
AG: Well, if you want to learn how to write poetry I would say so, not for the course . But I would say it's one of the best handbooks you could… I would say it's one of the best handbooks you could check out. In a previous term's courses, I've used this and William Carlos Williams' Collected Earlier Poems just as grounding for beginners and for advanced students. It's really worth reading. (If you can't find itm it's in the library).
So, so you've got the "bare branches (where) the boys have hung iron hoops", which is like a little stretch of imaginative noticing, it's a little beyond just "rusty cans" it's, actually, a little like a haiku, some magical little action by the kids, where they've hung iron hoops on the bare branches and left them, and a guy walks by on the empty lot and sees them - so there's some kind of athletic poeticism there - "until we reach at last" - what? - "the crushed earthworms stretched and stretching on the wet sidewalk" - and that's really uncanny, because, we've all seen that, after the rain (because you remember it began "The wind blows the rain into our faces"), we've all seen that after the rain, but hardly anybody has had the poetic presence of mind to write that down, although it's (so) elemental, and it's also..it's as big as the atom bomb in terms of ecological weirdness, because, you know, this particular phenomena of earthworms on sidewalk "stretched and stretching on the wet sidewalk" is a wholly new.. a wholly new phenomena, you know.. only in the last two thousand years have people noticed that. Usually the earthworms are in their earth, or in their natural place, but there's lawns, and then there's sidewalks, and then there's (a) little grass margin by the roadside, and then there's worms lost on this path (he might have had them among precipices and rocks.. Yellowstone… but this particular, very urban, or sub-urban..haiku ..or suburban event, miracle, whatever, poetic freak, this suburban freak of nature - "earthworms stretched and stretching on the wet sidewalk" - crushed earthworms - that's pretty.. it tells you all the story of the earthworm and of life itself, but it's also this whole..this particular civilization that's sketched, (like a fast Cezanne sketch - you know, like when he's got Mount Sainte Victoire in just a couple of lines, a couple of colors, Cezanne watercolors , late late late Cezanne where it's all reduced to just the… "By what particulars is this mountain significant?" "By what particulars is he significant? - Do you follow me? -By what particular stand-out optical angles, colors…. ?
These days.. the papers in the street/ leap into the air or burst across the lawns - / not a scrap but has the breath of life:/ These and a gust of wind/ play about./Those, for a moment, lie still and sun themselves (The first line was "These days the papers in the street/ leap in the air or burst across the lawns" (it's also a very modern noticing)
William Carlos Williams has a very similar poem.. does anybody know that? - "The Term", it' called - "The Term" - "A rumpled sheet/of brown…" - Did everybody get the last poem? - Did anybody space out on it and miss it?.. It's about wind - I'll read it again - "These days the papers in the street/ leap into the air or burst across the lawns -/ not a scrap but has the breath of life:/ These and a gust of wind/ play about./ Those, for a moment, lie still and sun themselves" - There's a little anthropomorphic projection on it but it's a good description - (And) "The Term" (probably written around the same year, because they were friends, Charles Reznikoff and Williams, William Carlos Wlliams) - "A rumpled sheet/ of brown paper/about the length/ and apparent bulk/of a man was/rolling with the/wind slowly over/ and over in/the street as/a car drove down/upon it and/ crushed it to/the ground.Unlike/a man it rose/again rolling/with the wind over/and over to be as/it was before." - Pretty funny - so there were two.. but - "those for a moment, lie still and sun themselves" - The two guys were like scientists, observing phenomena, the same phenomena (but very particular phenomena, phenomena from the descriptions).
So more Reznikoff, some more - "Walk about a subway station/ in a grove of steel pillars/how their knobs, the rivet-heads -/unlike those of oaks -/ are regularly placed/how barren the ground is/except here and there on the pllatform/ a fat black fungus/that was chewing-gum" - Has everybody seen that on pavements - the "fat black fungus/that was chewing-gum"? Has anybody here ever written about it? - or has anybody here ever read a poem about it? - And how many times have you seen that.. in your twentieth-century existence? - you know, just part of our ordinary, everyday experience, every day we see it
Somebody did write a poem about snot under the desk! I have seen a poem like that. One student did last year..
Well, "Coming up the subway stairs I thought the moon /only another streetlight,/ a little crooked." - "The white gulls hover above the glistening river where the sewers empty their slow ripples" - that's pretty good, because the gulls are (after) the detritus from the sewers.
Student: Can you read that one again?
AG:"The white gulls hover above the glistening river" - that's real pretty, that - "where the sewers empty their slow ripples" - "After Rain" - "The motor cars on the shining street move in semi-circles of spray/semi-circles of spray" - (he liked it so much he repeated it) - (Has) everybody seen that at some time or other? - "The motor cars on the shining street move in semi-circles of spray/semi-circles of spray" - "After Rain" (so the street's flooded) - "Suburb" - If a naturalist came to this hillside,/ he'd find many old newspapers among the weeds/to study." - "This smoky winter morning - /do not despize the green jewel shining among the twigs/because it is a traffic light" - "About the railway station as the taxi cabs leave/ the smoke from their exhaust pipes is murky blue./ stinking flowers, budding, unfolding over the ruts in the snow" - This may be the best, actually - "If there is a scheme/perhaps this too is in the scheme/as when a subway car turns on a switch/the wheels screeching against the rails/and the lights go out/but are on again in a moment" - Has everybody been in the subwat and had that happen? Anybody not been in a subway? Well, it happens at subways - "If there is a scheme/perhaps this too is in the scheme/as when a subway car turns on a switch/the wheels screeching against the rails/and the lights go out/but are on again in a moment" - that's so archetypal of an experience in New York that it's amazing it's not written about more, but this was, I guess, first notated in the (19)20's - "When the sky is blue the water over the sandy bottom is/ green/They have dropped newspapers on it, cans, a bedspring, sticks/ and stones/but these the/ patient waters corrode, those a patient moss/ covers" - that's a pretty picture of the "patient moss" - Okay, so that's a little touch of Reznikoff "clamping his mind down" on objects, being actual
And then a little, a few samples of William Carlos Williams doing more or less the same - actually, doing more or less the same as Shakespeare, here - "New books of poetry…" - It's called "A Coronal" - "New books of poetry will be written/New books and unheard of manuscripts/will come wrapped in brown paper/and many and many a time/the postman will bow/and sidle down the leaf-plastered steps/thumbing over other men's business/ But we.." - (meaning poets of his time) - "we ran ahead of it all/One coming after/could have seen her footprints/in the wet and followed us/among the stark chestnuts.." - ("her"'s Spring, the Goddess of Spring, I think - It's like the Shakespeare line) - "Anemones sprang where she pressed/and cresses/ stood green in the slender source-/ And new books of poetry/will be written, leather-colored oak leaves/many and many a time." - (he's just saying, "Spring will come - and people will be writing. People also will be Springing. People also will have their mental, emotional, literary Spring)
Student: What was the title of that poem?
AG: "A Coronal" - C-O-R-O-N-A-L - I sent him a (little) book of poems wrapped in a brown manuscript too. That's why I noticed this poem years later (when I was thinking hard!) - ""New books of poetry will be written/New books and unheard of manuscripts/ will come wrapped in brown…"
So, just a couple of things to those who… "To A Poor Old Woman" - "Munching on a plum on/ the street a paper bag/ of them in her hand/ They taste good to her/ They taste good/ to her. They taste/ good to her/ You can see it by/ the way she gives herself/ to the one half/ sucked out of her hand./ Comforted/ a solace of ripe plums/seeming to fill the air/They taste good to her."
"Late For Summer Weather" - He has on/ an old light grey Fedora/She a black beret/ He a dirty sweater/She an old blue coat/that fits her tight/ Grey flapping pants/Red skirt and/broken-down black pumps/ Fat Lost Ambling/ nowhere through/the upper town they kick/ their way through/ heaps of/ fallen maple leaves/ still green - and/ crisp as dollar bills/ Nothing to do. Hot cha!"
"Proletarian Portrait" - "A big young bareheaded woman/ in an apron/ Her hair slicked back standing/on the street/ One stockinged foot toeing/the sidewalk./ Her shoe in her hand. Looking/intently into it./ She pulls out the paper insole/ to find the nail./ That has been hurting her."
So, okay, that's (William Carlos) Williams.
[Audio for the above can be found here, beginning at approximately eleven-and-a-half minutes and concluding at approximately thirty-one-and-three-quarter minutes in]