Thursday, April 18, 2013

Remembering Kathy Acker

[Kathy Acker (1947-1997) - photograph by Allen Ginsberg. Copyright - Allen Ginsberg Estate - caption - "Kathy Acker in Green Room, Detroit Institute of the Arts, one night February 1985 we read together with Diane Di Prima - she writes violent sexual feminist narratives, parody of imaginative love-torture novels, lives in London, first published chapters of books as pamphlets I found in the mail from Lower East Side New York"]  

[Kathy Acker reading from "The Adult Life of Toulouse Lautrec"  at the Western Front. circa 1979, from Western Front Archive, Vancouver BC, Canada] .

Kathy Acker's has been previously featured on this blog interviewing William S Burroughs, but today is Kathy's birthday, (it would have been her 66th), and so today we wanted to put the spotlight on her.

Here's an illuminating page of audio (from that remarkable resource that is PennSound),
including the whole of the Hal Wilner-produced CD, Redoing Childhood (from 1999), her collaboration with The Mekons, "Pussy King of the Pirates", (from 1996), an interview/reading from SUNY, Buffalo (from the year before), and a rare 1978 recording from New York's Ear Inn (including sections from "(The) Adult Life of Toulouse-Lautrec" (published in that year), as well as several excerpts from "Blood and Guts in High School" (recorded, as it has been noted, a full six years before that particular book was published)).   

Here's Ellen Friedman's interview with Kathy (from 1989, from The Review of Contemporary Fiction) - Here's Mark Magill, six years earlier - questions and answers - in Bomb magazine. Here's a 1992 radio-interview with Michael Silverblatt, and, circa 1995, a conversation with R.U.Sirius.

Barbara Caspar's Who's Afraid of Kathy Acker? film documentary is well worth viewing
Come  Taste My Hand, a video-tribute by Lance and Andi Olsen, is available on You Tube in two parts - here and here.   

Another posthumus piece - Here's David Antin's (filmed) memoir/talk in the 2002 NYU Kathy Acker Symposium

In 1964, while still a student, she attended a reading by Allen and Peter at Brandeis University. She recalled that they performed on stage dressed in towels (sic), and that, that evening, she "learned more about poetry than (she) had in years of top-level academic training."
A decade or more later, at CBGB's, paradoxically, she was part of a group that was mercilessly heckling Allen. She explained:  "(We) ...spontaneously attacked and praised (him). Attacked him for being established, established in a society which we developed, and for bringing something as boring as real poetry into our territory of nihilism, formlessness and anarchic joy. (At the same time), We revered him because he and the rest of the Beats were our grandparents". 
"The Beats", she went on,"had understood what it is to feel, therefore to be a deformity in a normal (right-wing) world...Ginsberg's joy, (was) like our joy,(it) had the sharpness, the nausea, of all that comes from pain, from suffering.."
A late encounter (witnessing Burroughs and Ginsberg in Lawrence) is recounted in 21C magazine (from 1997 - all three died that year, the editor ruefully notes) - "Ginsberg was slightly more reserved. He seemed preoccupied with his health (he told me that due to heart trouble he had to cut down his touring) and with meditation practice...I saw how intelligent (he) is, while he was speaking, I could watch his mind move from point to point. Could this precision of mental movement which I call "intelligence" be related to meditation, to the clearing of the mind of obfuscation?"
Here's Peter Wollen's 1998 piece on her in the London Review of Books 

and here's Kathy, a few short months before her cancer death, dancing with The Mekons

It is also the great Bob Kaufman's birthday. See our previous Allen Ginsberg Project Kaufman postings here and here.

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