Friday, May 31, 2013

Friday Weekly Round-Up - 128 (Whitman's Birthday)

Image 031

[Walt Whitman (1819-1892)   c.1867-70 - Unknown photographer (probably William Kurtz) via The Walt Whitman Archives]

Whitman's birthday today!  (for Whitman-birthday celebration on The Allen Ginsberg Project see here and here

and Allen's birthday beckons!  (Monday June 3rd)

Howl Festival celebrations open tonight in New York, (inaugurated, as usual, with the regular "group-reading" of "Howl", co-ordinated by poet-impresario Bob Holman (Bob Rosenthal and Eliot Katz, among those taking part in the event) - and there'll be readings and performances taking place around the park (Tompkins Square Park) all day Saturday (more details here)

and Splab's (12th) Annual Allen Ginsberg marathon reading takes place in Seattle tomorrow. Full details of that event here.

AG Marathon - June 1, 2013

Opening today! - and on through till 9 September, Jean Jacques Lebel's Beat extravaganza in (Pompidou-Metz)  France

and China's "first-ever bilingual reading of Howl"!  [ 2014 update - this link and the poster that originally went with it, sadly no longer available] (that's on Monday)

Keeping our eyes open for more Ginsberg celebration.

& our dear friend Anselm Hollo will be remembered and celebrated, (on Wednesday June 5th), in New York, at the St Marks Poetry Project. Among the readers/participants Anselm Berrigan, Bill Berkson, Lisa Jarnot, Steven Taylor, Simon Pettet...  

Allen's photo-show, "Beat Memories" continues to elicit reviews (currently in its San Francisco location). Aaron Sankin's  "Allen Ginsberg Photography Exhibit Shows Hidden Side of  Legendary Beat Poet" (hidden? really?) appeared recently in the Huffington Post, and Renee Ghert-Zand's more extensive "Beat Memories Zooms In On Allen Ginsberg As Photographer" appeared recently in The Times of Israel.
Two further reviews, Corinne Platten in The Daily Californian ("captivating") and Sura Wood  ("an engaging, very enjoyable exhibition") in The Bay Area Reporter round out this review. 

Thursday, May 30, 2013

Peter Orlovsky Parinirvana



“Nude with onions” Portrait of Peter Orlovsky by Robert LaVigne (1954)

[Nude With Onions (Portrait of Peter Orlovsky) by Robert LaVigne (1954)]

Peter Orlovsky, Allen's long-time partner died on this day in 2010. He was 77 years old. First glimpsed by Allen in the portrait above by Robert LaVigne

Our previous Peter Orlovsky postings include here and here.

Here's a little photo portfolio. We fondly remember you, Peter

[ Peter Orlovsky and Allen Ginsberg in Lee Forrest's room, Hotel de Londres, Paris, December 1957 - Photograph by
 Harold Chapman]

[Peter Orlovsky, Allen Ginsberg, (and Michael McClure) - Photograph by Larry Keenan]

[Allen Ginsberg and Peter Orlovsky - Photograph by Cynthia Macadams]
[Allen Ginsberg & Peter Orlovsky in their NYC kitchen, snapped by a friend. April 1, 1987. c. Allen Ginsberg Estate] 

[Allen Ginsberg & Peter Orlovsky, Frankfurt airport, 1978. Photo: Herbert Rusche] 

Wednesday, May 29, 2013

Harry Smith Would Have Been 90 Years Old Today

Here's Dizzy Gillespie, in 1947, playing "Manteca". - click here

 Here's Harry Smith's transcription of the tune. Each paint stroke represents a musical note.

Here's another of Harry's extraordinary art works, an Untitled work, pastel on paper, from circa 1978, based on a series of 12 Zodiac designs  

And, while we're focusing on Harry, the painter, here's another

Harry, the painter, Harry, the film-maker (so far ahead of his time!). Here are the first of his "Early Abstractions"

Here's another manifestation of the man, celebration of his exemplary collection of "string figures"

[Harry Smith - Photo by Job Palmer - courtesy Harry Smith Archives]

Here is Richard "Rabbit" Brown singing "James Alley Blues"

As we reported here, Harry's archive (or, anyway, a significant part of it) was recently
acquired by the Getty Research Institute 

Extraordinary to contemplate, Harry Smith would've been 90 today. In honor of the occasion there's a celebration in New York at the Ace Hotel (there were earlier celebrations, earlier this month, in his birth-place, Oregon).

Thinking of you, Harry.  For further notices on Harry on the Ginsberg Project, see here, here and here.

[Harry Smith and Allen Ginsberg  in 1988 in Ginsberg's New York City apartment,
437 East 12th Street - photograph by Brian Graham - Copyright the photographer]

Tuesday, May 28, 2013

Spontaneous Poetics - 81 (Form Is Just An Extension of Content)

AG: ..In this case, the form is no more than an extension of content. Got that? Form is no more than an extension of the content? Does everybody understand that in this case? Does anybody not understand that. In this case, the form is no more than an extension of the..

Larry Fagin: I don't understand that and I want a complete explanation. I've never understood it and I don't believe you!

AG: You don't understand it in this case?

Larry Fagin: No

Student: Oh, yeah

AG: I was talking about this case. I was talking about this here case here [Laughing Gas], when I woke up out of the dentist chair, in the middle of a thought, with the eye opening to perceive...

Larry Fagin: Is that the only case it applies to?

AG: I wasn't talking about any other cases of anything. I just said, does everybody understand what I mean, that form is no more than an extension of content in this case..

Larry Fagin: I'm not arguing the point.

AG: And I'm arguing this point.

Larry Fagin: I see

AG: Because if we can build one case... 

Larry Fagin: (I'm still not clear) what you're talking about

AG: If we can get it on one case, we can get it on a lot more cases, but... get on the case!

Okay. In a larger sense, of course, (the) form is no more than an extension of the content.On account of.. because, as I've been explaining all along.. I've been arranging.. I've been trying to figure out ways of arranging the sequence of thoughts on the page in sequence as they arrive to the mind, or in some sequence as they would be mouthed, or in some sequence conditioned by the notebook size. So, in that sense, form is no more than an extension of content. And that phrase, for those who don't know, which made all the brouhaha, is the famous phrase that (Robert Creeley) laid on (Charles) Olson, which Olson, the critic-poet, repeated in his famous essay, "Projective Verse", which is basically talking about the field of the page and the field of the mind (what's going in the field of the mind onto the field of the page). I don't understand his entire essay, but I do understand, or I do like that one phrase as being useful...

(tape ends here

addenda: (from 2003 - transcript of "Cross-Cultural Poetics", a radio discussion with Leonard Schwartz) - LS: Many years ago you wrote that Form is never more than an extension of content - RC: (laughing) I was really young then, Leonard - LC: (laughing). All these years later, in your new book, If I Were Writing This, does that still seem true? - 
RC: Well, content is never more than an extension of form and form is never more than an extension of content. They sort of go together is the absolute point. It's really hard to think of one without the other; in fact, I don't think it's possible. What I meant, whatever that means, is that what's coming to be said.. it's like William Carlos Williams' wonderful insistence, "How to get said what must be said...", that need, that impulse, that demand is what I would call the content's finding a form for its own realization, recognition, substantiation".      

Monday, May 27, 2013

Spontaneous Poetics - 80

[A Plan For A Curriculum of The Soul - Charles Olson, first published in Magazine of Further Studies #5, edited by Jack Clarke, Buffalo, 1968)]

Student: Is it also a good idea, when you're doing this kind of topography with a tape-machine, or whatever, to...

AG: When you're doing this kind of topography with a tape-machine, or on the page directly, or with a tape-machine..

Student: Yeah

AG: For a tape-machine notation in this form, the biggest example I have in my own writing is "Wichita Vortex Sutra"

Student: Is it a good idea to.. put forced space, or space, between the thoughts, to isolate them as thoughts, where, (here) in the second paragraph, you start at the margin...

AG: Because it was a new thought. (So) I started at the margin.

Student: ..and there's..  Would it be a good idea to...

AG: Or a new series of thoughts, like, or a new chain of thoughts -  Yeah?

Student: ...Would it, is it a good idea to make it more of an isolated thing by spacing it (that line) from the one above it?

AG: If you want to isolate it. But if it's just a new thought following an older thought, then you don't need to make a big jump. If it's a hiatus between thoughts and a definite gap, and maybe even a change of direction, or a rest (as in music), then, naturally, you want two typrwriter-, or three typewriter-, spaces - or five! (Jack) Kerouac has used a number (of), like, giant spaces, when his mind gave out and he had nothing to say - So he just dropped it (all) to the bottom. [Allen quotes Kerouac here, from "Mexico City Blues"]
"Brown wrote a book called/The White and the Black" - space, space - "N a r c o t i c  C i t y/ switchin' on" - space, space - "A n g e r  F a l l s --" - and then, half (of) the page, space - "(musician stops,/brooding on bandstand)" (that last phrase there) in parentheses.
So it depends on how you're scoring it, intelligibly, to indicate your own mind process. There's no point over-exaggerating the spaces between thoughts. Going back to the margin is already separating out the thoughts, separating out the sequences of thought into their pulsation beginnings. 

Student: But it is a real useful device to.. use those.

AG:  Yeah, sure.. The whole page is there to be used.

Now, in arranging a broken-block page, called a broken-block page, like this, you have to make the arrangements with all the other elements we've talked about. You have the syllables, the echo of syllabic count comes in in how you arrange your lines, there's echo of accent, echo of vowels, there's breath-stop to indicate breaks, there are units of mouth-phrasing, a good deal of artistic working with the balance of the page to get it looking nice and interesting and at the same time ragged like thought, having thought, then, at the very right-hand margin. Sometimes if you've really got a thought that goes on a long time and wants to have a definite end, you can bring it all the way out to the end.

These are obvious things, but, obvious as they are, very many people don't pay attention to them. Lacking the experience of writing, since they only write one poem a week, or one poem a year, you're (they're) hung-up on it. It never occurs to them that you can finally build up a practice of arrangement on the page (which, as I keep referring to, includes "chance" as an element - either chance from the point of view of an odd balloon popped up in the mind, or, I meant to say "arbitrary", but I said "arbitruck", so you have "arbitruck" there ( - and you might want to say "ARBITRUCK" in big bold letters). So that's chance - or you might not have noticed where you put the phrase down on the page anyway, or you might have just run out of space and put it up on the margin, written the wrong way, so you've got to find a place to put it later on - or you might want to put it up on the margin (just because it occurred that way, as a marginal thought)..Some(times) (Charles) Olson has done that. Olson has pages (and so has  (William Carlos) Williams) where the lines are running criss-cross on the page, or crazy on the page. They're not running left-to-right. In fact, Williams always mentioned (and he told me directly) "Why is everybody putting everything on the margin all the time? It's boring. Why do all the thoughts have to be lined up, as if like soldiers in review?" In fact, he wrote a little poem about that, that ends "Peggy has a little (bit of) albumen/in hers'' - I've forgotten - "This Florida", I think it was (called) ["This Florida, 1924"] "Houses rhyming up and down the street like bad poems", I think. ["But I am sick of rime -/The whole damned town/  is riming up one street/and down another.." (are the correct lines)]. He objected to the notion that everything had to begin at the margin. And, actually, if  you're beginning a poem in the middle of a thought, there's no reason to begin at the margin. For instance, I began one of the poems in (my book, Kaddish),  "Laughing Gas".  I was waking up out of a laughing gas stupor, with the eye opening, so I just started in the middle of the page - ".......with the eye opening"..."with the eye opening/ to see a doctor and a nurse..." [ the actual lines (it's the opening of the second section of  "Laughing Gas") read  ".......with eye opening/slowly to perceive/that I be coming out/of a trance -/one look at the lipstick/it's a nurse/in a dentist's office"] -  So I started on the right-hand side of the page [Allen begins writing on the blackboard] - like, dot-dot-dot, "with eye opening". It was on one line, but.. let me do it that just started there, and then continued, over at my margin, " see the dentist drill" . So, ".......with eye opening", given that situation, given that being the meaning of the poem, or, given that that was the content....    

Sunday, May 26, 2013

William Blake's Laughing Song

Laughing Song by William Blake

When the green woods laugh with the voice of joy
And the dimpling stream runs laughing by,
When the air does laugh with our merry wit,
And the green hill laughs with the noise of it.

When the meadows laugh with lively green
And the grasshopper laughs in the merry scene,
When Mary and Susan and Emily,
With their sweet round mouths sing Ha, Ha, He.

When the painted birds laugh in the shade
Where our table with cherries and nuts is spread
Come live & be merry and join with me,
To sing the sweet chorus of Ha, Ha, He.

Spring merriment. Allen's rendition of William Blake's "Laughing Song" (from the 1969 Songs of Innocence and Experience) is the feature on the Allen Ginsberg Project for this weekend. Don Cherry plays sleigh bells and bearded gourd (sic), Cyril Caster, trumpet and French horn, Janet Zeitz, flute, Bob Dorough, harpsichord, and Michael Aldridge and Matt Hoffman join Allen and company on vocals.

Ed Sanders and The Fugs version of the song (used to accompany a playful Yoko Ono-inspired 2012 Spanish children's-book launch!) may be heard here.

Djennet Moskvin's jaunty Russian rendition (again, with distracting visuals) is here.

Some scholarly discussion of "Laughing Song" may be found here.   

"Ha ha he".

Friday, May 24, 2013

On Bob Dylan's Birthday

Bob Dylan and Allen Ginsberg inside the kitchen of Dylan’s Woodstock home in 1964
[Bob Dylan and  Allen Ginsberg in Albert Grossman's kitchen, photo: c. Douglas Gilbert] 

Raymond Foye has generously provided us with this account (that first appeared in the 1990 Dylan anthology, Wanted Man (edited by John Bauldie). The Allen Ginsberg Project today celebrates Bob Dylan's 72nd birthday 

The Night Bob Came Around 

Late one night I sat in Allen Ginsberg's East 12th Street apartment with Allen and Harry Smith, the eminent ethnomusicologist and folklorist. We were looking at a new batch of photographic prints delivered that day by Brian Graham, a freelance printer who had been working for Robert Frank. I had proposed editing a volume of Allen's photographs for the  publisher Twelvetrees Press, and we had set about making an initial selection.

Allen proudly displayed a recent portrait of Harry. "You know you're a real menace with that camera," Harry whined in his nasal drawl, and then announced that, as it was 11 o'clock, he was going to bed. Allen and I resumed work, though we were interrupted a few minutes later when the telephone rang. It was Bob Dylan. Could he come over and play Allen the tape of his new album? Of course, Allen replied, and repeated the address, instructing Dylan to yell up from the street, as the doorbells were all out of order. About 20 minutes later, Dylan stood in the street, shouting Allen's name, as a yellow taxi sped off into the darkness. Allen opened the window and dropped down the keys tied up in an old sock. Dylan let himself in and walked up four flights to the tenement apartment. "Is this sock clean?" he asked in italics.

Dylan carried a six-pack of beer under his arm, and was accompanied by an attractive middle-aged black woman who spoke only with her eyes. Dylan was wearing black jeans and motorcycle boots, black vest and a half-unbuttoned shirt which showed off a pot belly that Allen saw fit to remark upon — a remark that Dylan saw fit to ignore. Fingerless motorcycle gloves, grey in his hair and beard, yellow nicotine-stained fingers with long nails; shabby, unkempt and very edgy, shifting his feet and carefully scanning all of the books, records, and tapes, on the shelves throughout the apartment. This was the same apartment where 10 years previously he had brought the Renaldo & Clara film crew for a pre-road run-through. At that time Dylan was accompanied by a few musicians, and his then-girlfriend Denise Mercedes. Allen had invited some neighborhood poets — Gerard Malanga and Rene Ricard. The poet Robert Creeley, in town from Bolinas, had spent the evening sitting at the kitchen table drinking Scotch whiskey and chatting with Rene, spurning Allen's subtle attempts to lure him in the bedroom where Dylan was hoping to meet a poet whose work he held in great esteem. Creeley's ignoring Allen was perhaps due to the fact that Allen never explicitly stated that Dylan was present. Creeley thought that the sounds emanating from the bedroom were Bob Dylan records, and it was not until Dylan was departing that Creeley realized what had been going down, and he laughed at the absurdity of it all

"So where's the tape?" Allen asked excitedly. Dylan reached in his shirt pocket and took out a cassette in a plastic case. We sat in the living room, Dylan sprawled on a low couch, as Allen cued up the tape. "I was hoping you could give me an idea for a title," Dylan said. "I never had a problem with album titles. They always just came to me."

File:Bob Dylan - Empire Burlesque.jpg

The band kicked in with "Tight Connection". Allen leaned forward, trying to catch the words. "I can't understand the words," Allen complained. "What are the words?" he quizzed Dylan. "Ya have to lissen," Dylan replied with a surly scowl. Allen shook his head. "I am listening. I can't get the words. Can you repeat them for me?" By now Dylan was obviously perturbed. "I'm sorry but I just can't hear them," Allen repeated. So we played the song over again and Dylan began feeding Allen the lyrics, with a particularly pained expression on his face; slightly embarrassed, almost. Next song. Next song. At one point Allen remarked, "Fancy arrangements."
At another point Ginsberg thought he detected a quasi-religious overtone. "Aha!" he said sarcastically, "I see you still have the judgment of Jehovah hanging over our heads!" "You just don't know God," Dylan replied, twice as sarcastic. "Yeah, I never met the guy," Allen said, ending the exchange. Dylan opened his second beer.
Suddenly Harry Smith was yelling from his room off the kitchen: "Turn down that music! Don't you understand I'm trying to sleep!" I have always known Harry to be a quintessentially perverse character, but this went beyond anything I'd ever thought him capable of. Allen didn't turn the music down, but agreed to switch off the set of speakers in the kitchen.'

[Harry Smith in Allen's 437 East 12th Street Apartment - Photo c. Brian Graham]

Soon Dylan stopped repeating the lyrics and Allen began to catch the words, occasionally interjecting his admiration for a particularly well-turned phrase. I continued to sit in a state of paralysis, which only heightened when "Dark Eyes" came on, its melody turned inside out, all structure, no surfeit, no embellishment. To hear "Dark Eyes" for the first time — one of the greatest listening experiences one is ever likely to have in life anyway — with Dylan sitting there, averting his glance, shifting his weight nervously, made me aware of just how rare, how painful it is for him to lay his heart bare this way. The tape ended and there was a long silence as we all stared at our feet.

"What were you thinking of calling the album?" Ginsberg asked at last. "Empire Burlesque," Dylan said, somewhat emphatically. Allen nodded. "That was the name of a burlesque club I used to go to when I first came to New York, down on Delancey Street," Dylan volunteered, as if to explain away the obvious political content. "Yeah," Allen replied, "I think that's a good title." Dylan looked rather surprised, and then slightly pleased at being confirmed in his hunch. Nothing more was said about the matter. I had my eye on the tape and so did Dylan. He guardedly put it back in his pocket.

"So, Harry Smith is living with me," Allen proudly announced. Dylan looked genuinely amazed at this fact. "Harry Smith," he repeated the name slowly. "Now that's somebody I've always wanted to meet," Dylan said with enthusiasm. "I'll go get him," Allen said, hurrying out of the room. But Harry, having retired, simply refused to get out of bed. So Allen instead bummed a few cigarettes. When Allen came back and reported that Harry was not getting out of bed, Dylan looked disappointed but impressed.

<I>Howl'</I>s Echoes 2

"Let me show you what I'm working on," Allen said proudly, and we went into the kitchen. Allen handed Dylan a photograph of Kerouac standing in profile on a New York fire escape, railway brakeman's manual in pocket. "You took this photo?" Dylan said incredulously. "I've seen this photo for years, I never knew you took this. These are great." Dylan began shuffling through the new prints. "Man, you have to do an album cover for me sometime." "Great!" Allen replied. "What about this one?" pointing to the tape. "Nah, this one's already finished, but the next one," he promised. (The following year Allen turned up backstage at a gig in Kansas City, where they both happened to be performing. Allen took out his camera and began snapping pictures. "I'll pay you not to do that," Dylan pleaded. "But we have an agreement," Allen protested. "I'm supposed to photograph your next album!") Allen explained how we were putting together a book of photographs for a West Coast publisher, who had requested that Allen handwrite descriptive captions.
Suddenly Dylan became enthusiastic. "I got a great idea. Send me a bunch of photos and I'll write the captions. We can do this book together!" Allen looked surprised. "Yeah, sure," he said, a bit thrown off by the suggestion. "Yeah, man, I'll write little stories to these." (A week later Allen called Dylan's office to make the arrangements. "You realize you may never see these photos again?" Dylan's secretary warned. Allen reconsidered, and decided to ask Robert Frank's advice. "Sure, why not?" Frank replied. "It's worth the risk" A few months later Allen called the office and collected the photos. The package had not been opened.)

Allen Ginsberg, Francesco Clemente  White Shroud  1983 photo: Allen Ginsberg, Francesco Clemente  White Shroud  1983 AllenGinsbergFrancescoClementeWhiteShroud1983.jpg
[Francesco Clemente - Illustration from White Shroud - Allen Ginsberg & Francesco Clemente, Kalakshetra Publications Press, 1983]

Allen then displayed an edition of his poem White Shroud, illustrated by Francesco Clemente and hand-printed in India. Dylan looked it over carefully for a long time, impressed by the illuminated manuscript treatment. "How much does this cost?" he asked. As I had brought the book by, he referred the question to me. "Twenty dollars," I replied. "And how many of them do you make?" "We made a thousand." "How much does the artist get?" Dylan asked — not so much being crass as just wanting to know the practical, business side of the book. (After all, I thought later, I'd hardly expect him to stand there and discuss the aesthetics.) I gave a brief run down on the split.
Allen tried to interest Dylan in teaching songwriting at Naropa Institute in Boulder that summer. Dylan hedged, and walked into Allen's office, just off the kitchen. He looked at the desk. "Is this where you write your poems?" he asked. "No, I write most of my poems in notebooks. I type them up here." Dylan looked at a wall of books. "You still see Burroughs?" he asked. "I'm seeing him in Boulder next week," Allen responded. "Tell him... tell him I've been reading him," Dylan stammered. "And I believe every word he says."

It was about 2.30 in the morning and Dylan said goodnight. Allen walked him out into the hallway and bid him goodnight. The next day I phoned the apartment. Harry Smith answered. I asked why he hadn't got up the previous night and he mumbled some excuse, and I got the sense he was actually afraid to meet him. But Harry did remark that Dylan's speaking voice was much higher-pitched than he'd imagined. He also noted how human Dylan's voice had sounded.

Friday Weekly Round-Up - 127

[Apparition of the young Allen Ginsberg in the window of the Contemporary Jewish Museum, San Francisco - Photograph by Steve Silberman

Beat Memories, Allen's photo show opened yesterday at the Contemporary Jewish Museum in San Francisco. Organized by Sarah Greenough, Senior Curator and Head of the Department of Photographs at the National Gallery of Art in Washington DC, the show arrives in the Bay Area after a hugely successful run at the Grey Gallery, New York. Reviews and appreciations of that (which were manifold), and of the original DC exhibition, may be read here, here, here and here.

Here's a must-read - Emma Silver's piece for J Weekly - Eyes of a Generation - Beat Poet Allen Ginsberg's Snapshots of His Friends on Display at CJM 

A "Gathering of Angels", last night, the opening program and party, featured a talk by Sarah Greenough (about the making of the exhibit) and a performance of an original setting of Allen's "America" (by Conspiracy of Beards' (sic) musical director, Daryl Henline). On Tuesday, there'll be a special showing of the Rob Epstein-Jeffrey Friedman "Howl" movie, and on Thursday, Quiet Lightning present (as part of their "Neighborhood Heroes" series) a special Ginsberg-inspired show. 

More CJM San Francisco events planned in the months ahead (including a three-day festival scheduled to take place July 11-14 (there's more information about that here)     

and upcoming, (May 31), next week, Jean-Jacques Lebel's multi-media extravaganza at
Centre Pompidou-Metz  (included in that will be the world-premiere of Lebel (& Xavier Villetard)'s t.v. documentary, "Beat Generation - Kerouac, Ginsberg, Burroughs". 
(For more information on that, see here

Disappointed to see the  New York Howl Festival (also opening May 31) is using that lazy "Moonlight Madness" quote - Well, at least they didn't advertise it with "And The Beat Goes On"! 

Delighted to see Steve Silberman's "Celestial Homework" ("It's never too late..") get some significant belated dissemination (it's also included in Jim Cohn's Museum of American Poets "Big Beat Bibliography" site (courtesy Randy Roark)    

To end today's Round-Up on a sad note - We note, belatedly (he died this past month, April 26), the passing of ecologist, anthropologist, biologist, and environmental activist, Peter Warshall. A touching tribute by his neice, Rose, is available here. Audio from a number of his illuminating talks at Naropa in the (19)90's can be accessed here ("On Squirrels On Earth and Stars Above", for example). A late (but, nonetheless moving and inspiring) video(d) presentation, "Enchanted by the Sun" (recorded this past November for The Long Now Foundation) is available here. Do you know where your water comes from? 

image of peter warshall

                                                                                 [Peter Warshall (1940-2013]

and Doors maestro, rock legend, Ray Manzarek. Ray on Allen (in 1991) - "Allen Ginsberg was fabulous. The man is so filled with energy. He's 65 years old and he's just loaded with energy and charm and wit and his mind is constantly racing" - Michael McClure on Ray & Allen - "I love Allen because when Ray Manzarek and I perform on a double-bill with (him), Ray imagines he's looking at the Russian Revolution and Mayakovsky, and that we are going to go out of the music club (to) sing and march in the streets". Ray again - "I suppose if Jack Kerouac had never written On The Road, the Doors would never have existed. It opened the floodgates.." Here's (from the city that made him famous) Ray Manzarek's obituary, in the L.A. Times. 

                                                                                                                            [Ray Manzarek  1939-2013]

Thursday, May 23, 2013

Spontaneous Poetics - 79 (Ed Marshall)

AG: I got turned onto that partly by Kerouac's Mexico City Blues, which were divisions of thought into the spaces of a notebook page, but for larger draughts of thought, or larger breaths of thought, I got turned on to this form of open-page broken phrasing arranged in series out on the page by a long poem called "Leave the Word Alone" by Edward Marshall, which is [was - sic] in the Don Allen anthology, and was, I think, the first, about 1958, breakthrough of this kind of block form, where thoughts were spread around on the page in a sort of logical order as they emerged from the mind of the writer.
"Leave the Word Alone" (that's the title of Ed Marshall's poem) is a long rhapsodic poem which also influenced me in rhythm for "Kaddish", but I think it was one of the single monuments of original notation of thought on the page that was produced in the post-War period. Ed Marshall, (a) friend of John Wieners. The poem was originally published in The Black Mountain Review, edited by Robert Creeley, in 1957 (so the date is probably 1955). And it was different from Williams, because it was a more rhapsodic poem, dealing with his mother and aunts who were in (a) bug-house in Boston. It was sort of crazy like Christopher Smart, but it had that element of continuous breath that wasn't exactly (a) measured long line like Whitman or Christopher Smart - that was broken-thought-ed, fragmented thought, but the thoughts had relation to each other, in terms of their speech, so it arrived at a form that was unique, and which I later used a lot as a model. The nearest of my own texts like that is a poem called "To Aunt Rose". And Frank O'Hara had somewhat of that same arrangement too - so I guess Frank O'Hara's poems were contemporaneous with Ed Marshall - but Frank wasn't writing (quite) that intense homosexual rhapsodic style. So for that rhapsodic style, (as a) modern Hart Crane, I think Marshall is the originator.

But we still have the problem, yeah, chance. Yeah?

Addenda:  "Marshall's Service" by Allen Ginsberg - (Introduction to the 1979 Pequod Press edition of Leave The Word Alone) - 

                                                      MARSHALL'S SERVICE

             This poetry serves for recurrent sacrament as given in Noon at Toxcatl 
                                                                                                   "...the beauty of
                                                         the boiled red and blue of the
                                                       seat of the emotions - the heart -"
The Creed or vision or most raw experience was shown to Irving Rosenthal, one of Edward
Marshall's early editors & connossieurs, as 
                                                                         I believe is He
                                                                       that comes as a germ
                                                                         in and out and in
                                                                           my feces..."
Like Christopher Smart, obscure in theological reference, as obscure as citizen, this poet's retired in privacy at time of these writings to bleak sexual apartments in a great dying city. And there to ecstatic transcriptions of Peyote in Brown Church
                                               "If I were to have heaved thee up/ O Earth"
                                                                                                                        and we hear a Refrain,
so characteristic of Marshall and Smart, one of many odd quotidian refrains mixed with archaic sacramental diction.
       The figure of Steve Jonas returns (with Alice O'Brien) as in John Wieners mythos, here's Last of Jonas Cycle, an older traditional form, the Epistle now wisely used, for a personal (not impersonal) quarrel - a social or moral ideological hassle between two brothers/sisters   
       Eighteenth Century divine Letters, free style twentieth-century poetics, again similar to Smart in mad sound, as the choruses of Hellan, Hellan roar louder in Bellen (The Bellowing Bear). Again Marshall's similar to Smart as prophet personalism's spokes-man with odd rich common language in eccentric mouth saying Let Us Sit And Meditate
                                                                               "Let us sit and meditate
                                                                                and we shall do things
                                                                                and get places
                                                                                before the Government
                                                                                           ever gets there


                                                                                And now the knee-caps are
                                                                                          shaking -
                                                                                 and the knee-caps touch the
                                                                                          ground -
                                                                                Yes, watch he is kneeling -
                                                                                And he sees the stars above - "
extended rhythm of Hellan, Hellan stays in my mind a decade as of this preface, it was a lovesong through the religious coverings, a love song in 1960 Hell.
       Leave the Word Alone - I first saw text in 1956 in San Francisco. Creeley (perhaps the earliest Marshall editor-connoisseur) had a sheaf of blue paper onionskins, in strange-typed open-page form - the poem was scattered all over the page more (as in first published version Black Mountain Review #7) - now it goes downpage in logical order, one breath suspended beneath another, the ideas as phrasings clearly stepping downward indented to the end of each thought, each thought a sort of strophe broken within itself, as if analyzed and divided by breath/idea line. I Thought shewing parts in profile, each long-breathed idea-sentence diagrammed into phrases.
       Hearken within each unit a kind of strophe-antistrophe antiphony - Biblical apposition they call it?      
                                                                                                take it any longer - pressure
                                                                                                        and she ran away."

That antiphonal extra phrase is an extra memory-detail rising at the end of first impulse thoughts, it's form of the recall while typing that forms the verses, gives logical after-echo thoughts of particulars to each assertion, completes references with minute detail for Bodhisattvic explanation. "Add alluvials to the end of your line when all is exhausted but something has to be said for some specified irrational reason, since reason can never win out, because poetry is NOT a science. The rhythm of how you decide to "rush" your statement determines the rhythm of the poem in verse-separated lines..." - J. Kerouac 1959 explained his own similar practice.
       Here telling about his mother, as I told mine in Kaddish, so here's Marshall's original Confession, that inspired my own, I copied his freedom of form, and wildness of line, and homeliness of personal reference:

              "She reads nothing now for she is catatonic, dementia-
                           praecox among the wolverine
                                         gang of girls who
                                                     couldn't get what they
                                                                    wanted in the '29

                             "If  I can finish this poem without cracking up and becoming
                                             victorious onslaught resurrection
                                                    It was the first of August that she couldn't 
                                                                 take it any longer - pressure
                                                                                  and she ran away."

This poem was in Don Allen Anthology (with Kerouac's & Olson's essays on freedom of breath mind tongue) which did influence Poetics in 1960-1970 period till partly forgotten in a flood of obscure rhymed crap issuing from Rock and Roll technology, late synthetic  Republican rock & roll, money and vagueness - but this Ed Marshall text is sharp-tongued prophecy, and poetry must recover the sincerity, awkwardnesss, naivete, and absolute seriousness of his revelation of his own sources of emotion, (early traumas and momma in madhouse unrecognizing him)
       I remember kneeling over Marshall over a decade ago 8th Avenue 28th Street NY thanking him for displaying a model memorial family poem, model of what's now tritely called "confessional" poem as if consciousness to fellow human beings to break the human ice  (as G.Corso named a mood) were somehow emotionally degraded - Oh no, it's an honor to bear witness to real tears, real tragedy, real one and only life, our own self archetypes honestly revealed as in Leave the Word Alone - This is the antidote to official poison gas and Mechanical Button Bomblets electrified o'er the nation - one human voice in wilderness stillness repeating the charming story of self truth. Ecstasy, yes, paroxysms of realization noted social. This piece is historic, like the poem Mayakovsky prophesied "At the Top of My Voice" :
                                                    "excavate in future like a
                                                             piece of rocket ship on moon"
       Re-reading the text I'm amazed that in this time the poem and poet haven't become  classic, known to all youths in Nixon years of impersonal secret thought with hidden feeling and up-tightness dominating Nation from Whitehouse down to street robber - everyone in America a thief living of thievery from nature or man, thus secretive & shamed of inner thought - So that this poem, and the type of poem that rises from it, is emotional medicine to the Nation.
       Where public speech is stilted, or cold, or conventional to police Bureaucracy, the speech of innermost private family thought becomes manifesto and standard of human (as opposed to non-human bureacratese, objective rational disconnected from raw meat body feeling) emotion & public discourse - no matter how un famously the speech is, modestly writ along and buried in Black Mountain Review or the memories of a few poet survivors of the  '50s, or poet youths who check the Don Allen New American Poetry 1945-1960 Classic Anthology.
       This speech is still good medicine for the young of another generation who will have to break through Party conditioning of "thought, feeling and apparent sensory phenomena", have to break through the nationalistic-ideological murder (mass-murder Good American as one recognizably Good German) "cool" apathy to reach, express, manifest, vocalize their own experience - actual momma knowledge, actual national grief, actual city subjectivity and personal body-lore.
       Yes Duncan said it was grief driving those mad bombers through the skies to turn Indochina Heaven into US manufactured Hell this our last decade. Despite this poem. And it is the obscurity of Marshall's poem & the excess publication given to the last several Presidents' poems, the reversal of value in public discourse, the mass marketing of bad White House poesy that has allowed this emotional and physical holocaust to develop. Grief over what we've done to our fellow yellows, our planet, our selves - Bombed out in soul forever: America's taken to violence to shield itself from the living grief expressed here in Leave the Word Alone.
                             "And Harry visited the hospital to see my 
                                           mother - faint recognition -
                                                    She was gone, not gone, asleep - no more
       This tender tone exact shorthand detailed hurried recollection, inspirations-on-the-wing from memory, uncovered my own natural style in Kaddish several years later.
       I know it's strange to praise another Poet's work for influencing your own, but I have fame and name and shame of money where Marshall has none, yet much of my reputation rests on an original breath of inspiration that came from Edward Marshall's own body lone unlaureled Prana intelligence, lung.
       Marshall explains his breakthrough, in an extra Fragment of ..the Word:
                                     "for it was the Holy Spirit
                                                    that made me jump out of my seat -"
       Examining his book (December 13, 1972, men returning from lunar voyage) see how prophetic Mischief of the Spirit is, beginning and ending:
                                          "The larger the territory
                                                       the greater the claim
                                                                     into all space
                                                                               not for sale - 

                                               And don't forget the alchemists
                                                              and all the chief priests
                                                                   who will wiggle their way to the moon."
       Well yes little slight generational social comments linking fad and style to Apocalypse too, as The Nabi, adorn the book. 
                                            "Thank God for the rhythmic generation
                                                           of bodily rhythms     
                                            For this is "the generation that seek him"
       Another major anaphoric composition How Deep is Thy Love is vision of 1960s funky city apartment live as if in belly of whale:
                                        "How deep is thy love because I did go out 
                                                 on the roof this morning with the dog
                                                         and I felt September before the  
                                                         Idea and then I discussed
                                                         color to sound."

Absolutely quirky mad Smart - with some kind of hidden wisdom ram-rodding the poem forming a rhythmic spine - Emptiness and dispossession, he's returned to natal New England & singing in the emptiness is at the edge of - over the edge of - compassion to himself and the world about which he sees, names and rhapsodizes around in the Deep Love refrained poem. 
       Yet it was thought for a decade to react, publish or comment -  or read - this poesy, because it often seems it's crazy punish-meant - till a familiar mood of hopeless human prayer sets in. So that you know he's with You, You and You:

                                                    "I throw my manuscript and I surrender all, my
                                                                    Dear, but God says that I must throw some         
                                                                                    more of my conscience (pricks) at his
                                                                                    Son's feet if I expect to be lifted high
                                                                                    angel-wise and go by I's lifted - 
                                                                                    archangels and lyres -
                                                       A little more surrender and you'll go everywhere..."

       What tradition is this? What poetic tantra?. Reading the Convicts I thought somewhere between Christopher Smart, Emily Dickinson, Browning and Gertrude Stein - there's a lilt and logic to the short line interrogative prose arrangement - a quick form for self-interrogation same verse form as Last of Jonas Cycle. On That Web of Words, Marshall commentarys on his own method

                                                  "Short circuits - 
                                                               or staccato
                                                   with no restraining wires
                                                                that give expectantly  
                                                                                 to the next line
                                                              Short circuit..."
       And Dramatic Silence provides a more classical explanation of method.

                "The lyre of self-estrangement admitting sin
                        stroking these discords     
                                        then dischords
                                        then chromatics
                                        but then grace notes -
                        but only grace notes because of dischords -
                                                                                     disgraceful notes."

       An open-form poetry, projective or spontaneous has now become commoner practice than in the days when these excellent examples of natural individual. type of notation were scribed; it's appropriate that as the innovative precision  (accuracy to one's own embarrassingly free mind) of original poet Marshall's lines and divisions and breaks, chords and dischords, are finally published, they be available to younger poets for a working standard.  Rule of thumb and sensitive ear and intelligent mind guide thought in these free forms, and many "minute particulars" keep the lines alive. Open form poetry when written popularly can also be a lot of slush, there is plenty of that in the '70s. Marshall's work is published just in time, to show the source of this style, and its native usage.
       Thoughts rise. What mystic experience had he - all the way back to '52 addressing "mortals on all Saints day"? like some XX Century Gerard Manley Hopkins. We can tell the divine Afflatus in How Deep is Thy Love among other poems. Yes and there's the smallness of George Herbert, little poems with some complex image Fire worked out, ramified like Altars and Pulleys.
       What major quality here? A unique sense of refrain powerful loud rhythm, Hellan, Hellan/Bellen Bellen,  Leave the Word Alone, How Deep Is Thy Love all prove Marshall's strange familiar genius of vocal movement, which others including myself can use, moved by his pioneer ear, and tongue, and lung.  Andrei Voznesensky asked in Moscow in 1965 elevator to his apartment, "What language do you think in?". I said something, Spanish, mostly English -  He said I think in rhythm.   
                                                                                                                           - December 27 1972