Okay so what is Dead Beat saying? All this Elvis nonsense! (see Elvis and Hudson)
Well it just seemed to spring from nowhere - but it's been brewing a while. Hudson you see has been playing the old Sun records, watching vintage Ed Sullivan shows, walking around with a sneer on his lips and swivelling his hips, and it got Old D.B. thinking about the poetry of rock and roll. I mean we've been talking about rhythm (trust me we have), we've been talking beat, that abstract quality that makes a poem or any piece of writing better than great. It involves knowing your craft and then taking risks, pushing it into a corner until it fights back. Every great writer has done his time belting it out on the back of a pick-up with a three piece band. You learn how to work the audience, what makes them scream. And I am talking a raw primitive scream that emerges from somewhere near your nether regions. You can't manipulate a scream such as that - a simple swivel and sneer doesn't cut the mustard - so what gives?
That's the question, folks. The king is dead, why does he live?
Alter Egos - I Am Done Watching This
Monday, October 30, 2006
Dead Beat remembers the early days of Sun - Sam Phillips used to ask him to beat out the rhythm on garbage cans - Jonhhy Cash, Roy Orbison, Jerry Lee Lewis, Carl Perkins, and that old tom cat Billy Lee Riley.
Oh yeah there was the hillybilly, Elvis something..."
Hudson interjects: Elvis Presley’s first record (“That’s All Right” and “Blue Moon of Kentucky”) was recorded July 5, 1954. It was released on the Sun label two weeks later. Elvis was 19 years old. He had never appeared anywhere professionally. In fact, he had only met the two members of his band, guitarist Scotty Moore and bass player Bill Black, the day before the initial session.
On July 30, Elvis made what amounted to his official debut on a country and western jamboree, headlined by Slim Whitman (Hold on Hudders, my mother likes Slim Whitman - Hold on Dead Beat my mother does too...), at Memphis’ Overton Park shell. Even in the midst of a seasoned professional cast and despite a pronounced case of stage fright, he was an immediate sensation. Over the next few weeks, his record proved to be a big hit in Memphis, and he made a number of club appearances. But Sun Records president Sam Phillips had bigger plans...
"What are you saying Hudson?"
"Movies, Dad. Hollywood. Lousy albums. A waste of a decade. Sideburns. Burgers and fries."
"Hudson you are but a non-entity."
"Not in Memphis, Dead Beat, not in Memphis."
Posted by Gerard Beirne at 12:28 am
It's a long lonely highway when you're travellin' all alone And it's a mean old world when you got no-one to call your own And you pass through towns too small to even have a name, oh yes But you gotta keep on goin', on that road to nowhere Gotta keep on goin', though there's no-one to care Just keep movin' down the line It's a long lonely highway without her by my side And it's a trail full of teardrops that keep on being cried My heart's so heavy it's a low down dirty shame oh yes You gotta keep on goin', on that road to nowhere Gotta keep on goin', though there's no-one to care Just keep movin' down the lineI gotta rock for my pillow 'neath a weeping willow And the cool grass for my bed My drinking water's muddy so don't you tell me buddy That I wouldn't be better off dead It's a long lonely highway gettin' longer all the time And if she don't come and get me Well, I'm gonna lose my mind So if you read about me tell her she's the one to blame, oh yes You gotta keep on goin', on that road to nowhere Gotta keep on goin', though there's no-one to care Just keep movin' down the line Movin' down the line Movin' down the line
Dead Beat has taught university football players who thought poetry was for sissys. He taught Dudes who thought it was funny to roll over their vehicles. He taught women who tore open the seat of their pants and sought to accuse the male species of voyeurism. He taught the Religious Right who advocated the use of smacking and the Religious Right who advocated the use of bible thumping and the Irreligious Left who advocated abuse of abuse. He taught rolled over vehicles and sissys. He taught torn pants and bibles. He taught and he taught and he taught, and at the end of the day Dead Beat taught himself this: you can't teach anyone anything, but the least you can do is teach yourself.
Write what you have to write. Learn from your mistakes. Repeat them and learn once more.
Posted by Gerard Beirne at 12:09 am
Saturday, October 28, 2006
You see to keep the short story short we need to rely on poetic technique. Density of language, the use of metaphor, imagery, symbolism. Every word counting and every word, phrase, sentence, working harder than ever. That way we can put more into a shorter space. Same number of words, more complexity.
Prose has always used the same elements of poetry but in a less heightened way. Rhythm, rhyme, they are all in there. The longer the work the more space we have to tie things together - to link and interlink - highways and backroads - the more room to explore -
Dead Beat warns you, you need to be able to write poetry to write prose. You need to be able to write prose to write poetry. Carver might tell you, they are one and the same.
Posted by Gerard Beirne at 2:33 am
Friday, October 27, 2006
It's what the kids nowadays call weed. And it drifts
like clouds from his lips. He hopes no one
comes along tonight, or calls to ask for help.
Help is what he's most short on tonight.
A storm thrashes outside. Heavy seas
with gale winds from the west. The table he sits at
is, say, two cubits long and one wide.
The darkness in the room teems with insight.
Could be he'll write an adventure novel. Or else a children's story. A play for two female characters,
one of whom is blind. Cutthroat should be coming
into the river. One thing he'll do is learn
to tie his own flies. Maybe he should give
more money to each of his surviving
family members. The ones who already expect a little
something in the mail first of each month.
Every time they write they tell him
they're coming up short. He counts heads on his fingers
and finds they're all survivng. So what
if he'd rather be remembered in the dreams of strangers?
He raises his eyes to the skylights where rain
hammers on. After a while --who knows how long? -- his eyes ask
that they be closed. And he closes them.
But the rain keeps hammering. Is this a cloudburst?
Should he do something? Secure the house
in some way? Uncle Bo stayed married to Aunt Ruby for 47 years. Then hanged himself.
He opens his eyes again. Nothing adds up.
It all adds up. How long will this storm go on?
Posted by Gerard Beirne at 1:46 am
Listen to this, from Tess Gallagher’s introduction to A New Path to the Waterfall by Raymond Carver:
“Ray’s new poems blurred the boundaries between poems and story, just as his stories had often taken strength from dramatic and poetic strategies. Ray had so collapsed the distance between his language and thought that the resulting transparency of method allowed distinctions between genres to dissolve without violence or a feeling of trespass. The story given as poem could unwind without having to intend towards intensities of phrasing or language that might have impeded the force of the story itself, yet the story could pull at the attention of the reader in another way for having been conceived as poetry.”
Blurring the boundaries. It is my life’s work.
Posted by Gerard Beirne at 1:14 am
Dead Beat lives out in the sticks. (“No self-respecting urban or rural centre would want his presence,” Hudson drawls.) But then, never mind what Frankie O’Hara might have to say, all writers live in the sticks. All writers sit removed from their community. From this position they are better able to observe it.
From this position Dead Beat is better located to appreciate the difficulties of rural writers in a world increasingly drifting towards the city. So D.B. is happy to chair a committee with his provincial writing organisation devoted to developing the organisation’s presence in rural communities.
Developing and emerging writers ("emerging, Dead Beat? Out of the woodwork, I presume" - Hudson) need supports. They need contact with other writers, they need book stores, they need second-hand book stores, they need coffee shops to sit around and talk in.
They need these more than they need writing courses. But writing courses would help.
They need writing groups and readings.
They need writers-in-residence. They very often have writers in residence in their community. They need to know who they are. They need to be able to approach them.
They need someone other than their mother to read what they have written. (Dead Beat’s Rule of Writing #1: Never show your mother what you have written - In fact writers don’t need mothers.)
But rural writers do need babysitters.
Rural writers need hockey arenas like they need a hole in the head.
Rural writers need company.
Rural writers need to get up off their behinds and travel out of the sticks occasionally.
The Out of the Sticks need to get up off their behinds and travel occasionally.
Rural writers need literary magazines in their general store right next to the condoms and cigarettes.
Rural writers do not need fleece jackets with an I Am A Rural Writer insignia embossed upon it.
Rural writers need bars where they can sit and read Rilke in peace. Rural writers need bars where they can sit and read in peace. Rural writers need bars where they can sit and read . Rural writers need bars where they can sit. Rural writers need bars.
Rural writers do not need post office boxes, rural writers need mail persons who deliver their rejections in person.
Rural writers need mail.
Rural writers frequently need persons.
Rural writers do not need rejection.
Rural writers need rural writers.
Rural writers need urban centres and urban centres need rural writers.
Rural writers need writing more than they need rurality (“they also may need a good dictionary it seems,” Hudson mutters - “Rural writers do not need Hudsons,” Dead Beat mutters in response).
Rural writers need responses.
Dead Beat hears you. Dead beat is responding. Dead Beat is rushing to your rescue.
Rural writers need old D.B.
Thursday, October 26, 2006
Darn it S. now you have me on a Carver roll. I read this to the Middle Year students. Well you have to, don't you? What else would you read? (Hudson is nodding his head in approval)
What The Doctor Said
He said it doesn't look good
he said it looks bad in fact real bad
he said I counted thirty-two of them on one lung before
I quit counting them
I said I'm glad I wouldn't want to know
about any more being there than that
he said are you a religious man do you kneel down
in forest groves and let yourself ask for help
when you come to a waterfall
mist blowing against your face and arms
do you stop and ask for understanding at those moments
I said not yet but I intend to start today
he said I'm real sorry he said
I wish I had some other kind of news to give you
I said Amen and he said something else
I didn't catch and not knowing what else to do
and not wanting him to have to repeat it
and me to have to fully digest it
I just looked at himfor a minute and he looked back it was then
I jumped up and shook hands with this man who'd just given me
something no one else on earth had ever given me
I may have even thanked him habit being so strong
Posted by Gerard Beirne at 12:40 am
This may be one for Dear Dead Beat but here it comes anyway. From an email with a writer I know:
Any advice you can provide about preparing a manuscript would be much appreciated. I don't think for this project/grant, I need to consider everything but at what point, for example, do you need an editor? Or does the publisher assign that once the manuscript is accepted? To be honest, while I have enough poems for a book, I am not satisfied withmany of them and a lot still need revision. I'm always encouraged when I read of famous writers who wrote a 100 drafts of a poem.
With regards to preparing a manuscript, I was facilitating a workshop for middle year students from neighbouring High Schools today and was reading them some Carver - during a break I read the introduction to the book by his partner, the poet, Tess Gallagher. Here is what she had to say: "My perhaps primitive way of ordering a manuscript was to scatter the pages out on the living-room floor and crawl on my hands and knees among them, reading and sensing what should come next, moving by intuition and story and emotion."
I adhere to this method.Get a feel for the book, its overall tone, be guided by your senses. Open with strong poems (something else I was reading recently by John Ashbery that I agree with) - put the dodgy ones in the middle and finish with strong poems.The publisher if interested will provide an editor, so don't worry about that. Send a sample of your work, 15 pages or so, and outline your achievements, do not be modest, exaggerate when possible.
Get to it Dead Beaters, churn out those manuscripts.
Dead Beat was working with some Middle Year students today - the bright lights of the future from a range of neighbouring schools. He does this sort of thing. Old D.B. likes the young guns.
Frankly they scare him. When D.B. was their age he knew nothing. For Heavens sake, he still knows nothing. (Don't say it, Hudson! Don't even think it!)
Anyway, the old adage that the teacher learns as much as the student holds sway for Dead Beat. It is nowhere near as corny as it sounds.
It's back to the basics folks. Every writer worth his or her salt knows this. No matter how great a fiction writer you are, it's all about plot, character, setting theme. No matter how astonishing a poet you are, it is all about line, density, metaphor, rhythm, and rhyme.
Dead Beat sounded off. The Young Guns offered their opinions. We looked at samples of their work. And the literary world exploded once more.
Dead Beat loves his job. Let us just leave it at that.
Tuesday, October 24, 2006
Dead Beat finishes off his tea (see A Study in John Ashbery), brings Hudson for a short stroll, then picks up the phone again.
"Do I revise much you ask?" he hears Mr A. enquiring, "Well, when I’ve finished writing I go over and make a few changes, but usually nothing very extensive: I either decide this is not worth bothering with, I’ll write something else; or I just make some minor revisions.Then I put it away and let it sort of ferment for a while, and take it out later, maybe make a few more changes then, but usually not very much.
Now ask me is it true I write all the time."
"Is it true you write all the time, John?"
"No I don’t, it’s not true. I try to set aside maybe one day a week when I’ll try to write something, and I don’t write for very long when I do write, or at any rate I write rapidly, usually."
"I've got to go now John. I have a novel I was thinking of rewriting."
"Is my work oblique, do I hear you say? Funny you should ask..."
Posted by Gerard Beirne at 12:22 am
Dead Beat just couldn't get Ashbery (SeeDead Beat and John Ashbery Discuss Fame) off the phone.
"Ask me something else," Ashbery insists. "Ask me how I shape my collection of poems."
D. B. relents. "Go ahead then, how do you shape your collections of poems?"
"Funny you should ask that," Mr. A replies, "I know that many poets like to give theirs a shape and a... a beginning, a middle and an end... but mine really are just whatever poems I have lying around. And I don’t arrange them, really, except to alternate the long ones and the short ones, and to have the strongest ones at the beginning and the end, and the weaker ones in the middle. I think that’s my rule of thumb for putting together a book of poems."
"Now ask me about my first book of poems."
"Why don't you tell me about your first book of poems?"
"Interesting question, Dead Beat. It was published by the Yale University Press, in their Yale Younger Poets Series, but they only printed something like eight hundred copies and it took eight years for it to go out of print, so I don’t think you could say it was a howling success. And it didn’t get any reviews, except for a few negative ones.One very nice review from Frank O’Hara, but I didn’t really count that. [Laughter]"
"Anything else, Mr. A?"
"Funny you should ask that..."
Dead Beat lay the phone down on the table and went to make himself a cup of tea?
What sort of tea Dead Beat?
Funny you should ask that...
Posted by Gerard Beirne at 12:07 am
Monday, October 23, 2006
"Get out of my chair Hudson."
Hud is sprawled out in Dead Beat's leather armchair in the library smoking a cigar reading Yeats.
"Sorry Old Man," he apologises. "I guess you got out of bed the wrong side again."
"Well at least I got out of bed," Dead Beat retorts knowing full well that Hudson has been sleeping in his armchair all night.
Hudson puffs out a plume of smoke. "You need to relax more. This writing life is too stressful on you."
"You're too stressful on me Hud."
"Oh come on Dead Beat, I'm just a loveable mutt."
"You're pure bred, Hudson."
"Finally you admit it. Here sit down at my feet. Have a puff of my finest Cuban, and I'll read you some soothing Yeats:
I will arise and go now, and go to Innisfree,
And a small cabin build there, of clay and wattles made:
Nine bean-rows will I have there, a hive for the honey-bee,
And live alone in the bee-loud glade...
Stop breathing Old Man, you're making too much noise."
Posted by Gerard Beirne at 11:56 pm
Ashbery of course decided that if Mr O'H was going to have his say on Dead Beat that Mr. A could not be left out.
"Hey Fame," I say, "how's the writing going?"
"What's with the Fame, Dead Beat?"
"Well you're a pretty famous guy, right?"
"I just write poetry that most people don't understand."
"What other kind would we want to write?"
"Listen Dead Beat, until I was about forty very few people knew my poetry. Most people think that from my first book on I was a success, that I instantly became a well-known poet. In fact, nothing happened with the first three books and I concluded that nobody was ever going to read this stuff. If I wanted to go on writing I’d write for myself or just stop, which I seriously considered at various points."
"Yeah. And then I thought it’d be a shame to give this up since I really enjoy doing it, so I’ll just continue. And then suddenly I started getting more famous, if that’s the word."
"That's the word Mr. A. Anyway tell me about the New York School of Poetry?"
"Well, it didn’t really come into existence until after the fact. I was here with a group of poets who were friends, and we had some things in common: I think basically what unites our poetry is the experimental approach, but the poetry was different in the case of Koch, O’Hara, Schuyler and me. We weren’t called the New York School of poets until after I had gone to live in France and was a bit out of touch with America anyway. When I left in 1955 to go to Paris as a Fulbright Student and ended up staying there more or less for ten years all of us were completely unknown here. We didn’t think of ourselves as a school. I still don’t."
"But the New York School of Poetry is famous right?"
"If that's the word?"
Posted by Gerard Beirne at 3:03 pm
Friday, October 20, 2006
"Here's a thing Frank. Some people find your work so real, they consider it abstract."
"They're right, Dead Beat. Abstraction in poetry, which Allen recently commented on in It is, is intriguing. I think it appears mostly in the minute particu1ars where decision is necessary. Abstraction (in poetry, not in painting) involves personal removal by the poet. For instance, the decision involved in the choice between "the nostalgia of the infinite" and "the nostalgia for the infinite" defines an attitude toward degree of abstraction. The nostalgia of the infinite representing the greater degree of abstraction, removal, and negative capability (as in Keats and Mallarmé). Personism, a movement which I recently founded and which nobody yet knows about, interests me a great deal, being so totally opposed to this kind of abstract removal that it is verging on a true abstraction for the first time, really, in the history of poetry."
"Hey, don't go all modest on me Mr. O'H."
"Well you did ask."
Posted by Gerard Beirne at 12:47 pm
"Heard you were waiting on me, Dead Beat. Sorry Pollack just wouldn't give it up."
"That's okay Frank, Dead Beat's in no hurry."
"So what gives?"
"I though maybe you could tell me about your ideas - what lead you to your groundbreaking style?"
"Where are you taking me Dead Beat? This is New York. I’m not saying that I don’t have practically the most lofty ideas of anyone writing today, but what difference does that make? They’re just ideas. The only good thing about it is that when I get lofty enough I’ve stopped thinking and that’s when refreshment arrives. But how can you really care if anybody gets it, or gets what it means, or if it improves them. Improves them for what? for death? Why hurry them along? Too many poets act like a middle-aged mother trying to get her kids to eat too much cooked meat, and potatoes with drippings (tears). I don’t give a damn whether eat or not. Forced feeding leads to excessive thinness (effete). Nobody should experience anything they don’t need to, if they don’t need poetry bully for them."
"Groan, Dead Beat. Groan."
Posted by Gerard Beirne at 12:36 pm
Thursday, October 19, 2006
Dead Beat sees no reason why you shouldn't read this.
Mission Tire Factory, 1969
All through lunch Peter pinched at his crotch,
And Jesús talked about his tattoos,
And I let the flies crawl my arm, undisturbed,
Thinking it was wrong, a buck sixty five,
The wash of rubber in our lungs,
The oven we would enter, squinting---
because earlier in the day Manny fell
From his machine, and when we carried him
To the workshed (blood from Under his shirt, in his pants)
All he could manage, in an ignorance
Outdone only by pain, was to take three dollars
From his wallet, and say:"Buy some sandwiches.
You guys saved my life."
Posted by Gerard Beirne at 10:49 pm
Dead Beat celebrates Frank O'Hara's 80th year. He invites you all to step back in time to September 25, 1964 and accompany him to a poetry reading at the Lockwood Memorial Library, SUNY, Buffalo.
Listen in here
Posted by Gerard Beirne at 10:20 pm
Dead Beat and Frank O'Hara seemed to part ways far too soon (See Give It Up)
Too many distractions. While waiting for Frank to return have a read at this - one of Dead Beat's all time favourite poems. And even the bould Brendan Behan gets a mention - immortality or what!
The Day Lady Died
It is 12:20 in New York a Friday
three days after Bastille day, yes
it is 1959 and I go get a shoeshine
because I will get off the 4:19 in Easthampton
at 7:15 and then go straight to dinner
and I don't know the people who will feed me
I walk up the muggy street beginning to sun
and have a hamburger and a malted and buy
an ugly NEW WORLD WRITING to see what the poets
in Ghana are doing these days
I go on to the bank
and Miss Stillwagon (first name Linda I once heard)
doesn't even look up my balance for once in her life
and in the GOLDEN GRIFFIN I get a little Verlaine
for Patsy with drawings by Bonnard although I do
think of Hesiod, trans. Richmond Lattimore or
Brendan Behan's new play or Le Balcon or Les Nègres
of Genet, but I don't, I stick with Verlaine
after practically going to sleep with quandariness
and for Mike I just stroll into the PARK LANE
Liquor Store and ask for a bottle of Strega and
then I go back where I came from to 6th Avenue
and the tobacconist in the Ziegfeld Theatre and
casually ask for a carton of Gauloises and a carton
of Picayunes, and a NEW YORK POST with her face on it
and I am sweating a lot by now and thinking of
leaning on the john door in the 5 SPOT
while she whispered a song along the keyboard
to Mal Waldron and everyone and I stopped breathing
Posted by Gerard Beirne at 6:47 pm
Wednesday, October 18, 2006
"Oh pooh pooh (See Rewriting - Wipe Your Chin Discreetly), Cartie is such a whinger."
"Enid?" Dead Beat holds the phone away from his ear.
"Yes of course, Dead Beat, Enid says grinning loudly."
"I was expecting your call."
"I should say you were. Cartie and all that, she's such a rotter. Twenty short stories before supper! Enid says in exasperation."
"So what was your writing pattern? Jolly Dead Beat beams."
"It was rather queer really, Enid said lazily. After some smashing home-made ice-cream, I would sit at my desk and bang my pen down on it with a dull thud. I would usually stop at that point for my extra special cherry tarts or some hot buttered scones with cream. Then I would begin to write, Enid grins from ear to ear."
"That sounds wonderful, Dead Beat exhorts."
"No, Dead Beat, children do not exhort. Absolutely no exhoration. No wonder you sell so little."
"That sounds wonderful, Dead Beat exclaims?"
"Oh Dead Beat, you cause me to despair. Children do not exclaim either."
Dead Beat is miffed. "My children exhort," he says with a scowl. "My children exclaim," he huffs.
"Then Dead Beat, they are not children at all, most probably they are deviant uncles and aunts, Enid says firmly."
"Tell me about your rewriting process, Enid? Dead Beat demands angrily.
"Dead Beat, Enid scorns, children do not need to be rewritten, they are always right."
Posted by Gerard Beirne at 11:16 pm
Dead Beat grew up on a staple diet of Kelloggs Cornflakes and Enid Blyton. Now he already knew this, but he had forgotten, and he was reminded today. Enid Blyton wrote 700 books in her lifetime and over 10,000 short stories.
No, Dead Beat did not add in extra zeros by accident.
Barbara Cartland on the other hand slaved over 23 books a year every year.
No, I am not feeling under any pressure, none at all. Besides this is all paltry considering the amount of cornflakes produced in a single day.
It just got me thinking... rewriting and all that...
...and then Dame Barb herself blew into my ear:
"Dead Beat, my Darling, there are twenty four hours in a day. Tea and toast for breakfast only, skip the bacon. There's a first draft right there. And then at Elevenses, one biscuit not two. There's your first rewrite. And for lunch, some light poached salmon, or herring. Now here you need to take some time for digestion, so an early afternoon walk over the dales. You just lost one rewrite, but you gained inspiration for tomorrow's book. And so, wipe off your shoes and back to work. Afternoon tea and cucumber sandwiches. Wipe your lips, and ever so discreetly, your chin. Another rewrite before teatime, and darling you really must rest after that or the creative juices will dry up. Enid, God bless her, would stay at it, but she could only manage twenty short stories or so before supper. Hardly worth the energy. A good night's sleep, a light sherry does the trick. Arise early for the final draft."
Posted by Gerard Beirne at 10:49 pm
Tuesday, October 17, 2006
Dead Beat has been thinking about what Mamet said ( see Gratuitous Sex and Plastic Frogmen) while D.B. was knee deep in snow:
“I like mass entertainment. I've written mass entertainment. But it's the opposite of art because the job of mass entertainment is to cajole, seduce and flatter consumers to let them know that what they thought was right is right, and that their tastes and their immediate gratification are of the utmost concern of the purveyor. The job of the artist, on the other hand, is to say, wait a second, to the contrary, everything that we have thought is wrong. Let's reexamine it."
This is the thing with Mamet, he is so articulate. And in Dead Beat’s opinion he has put his finger right on the button.
So as writers we have figure out what it is we wish to do.
Do we want to entertain the masses? And that can be a good thing to do. Or do we want to be contrary?
Dead Beat as all his little Dead Beats will tell you can be very contrary (Hudson, the scut, is nodding his head).
If we are not writing for the masses, then we have to remember that everything we have thought is wrong. This does not exclude the ‘artist’. Sometimes it seems that writers think that they already know what is wrong and set out to ‘reveal’ this to their audience. Well, hey ho, no! The writer’s opinions are wrong also. Their work, if written well enough, will reveal for the audience and the writer what is right.
Posted by Gerard Beirne at 11:36 am
Saturday, October 14, 2006
The Buk, called me up.
"Tell me the truth, Dead Beat," he pleads, "they all think I'm dead, right?"
"It's a rumour, Chuck."
"I can't die. People like me we just don't die. We spend our life trying, but we fail in the end."
"What can I do, Chuck Buk?"
"You've got a little poetry in you, haven't you D. B.? So, tell them to listen to this, tell them this is a way of dying, a way of staying alive."
He hung up as though he never existed. But Dead Beat listened as Dead Beat as always listened to Charles Bukowski.
Think you're a poet:
Click Here For Enlightenment
Posted by Gerard Beirne at 11:42 pm
Hudson trots down the stairs to the library. I look up form my desk where I am rewriting my novel. He has a book between his teeth which he throws down at my feet.
"You like to read, don't you Dad?"
"Hudson, you know it."
"Well read this then." And out he struts.
I pick it up, it's bright yellow cover. Golden Retrievers For Dummies.
"You heard me Dead Beat."
Posted by Gerard Beirne at 11:19 pm
Dead Beat made the mistake of mentioning summer movies. A subject dear to Mamet's heart.
"I read too many 'summer movie' novels," Dead Beat complains.
"Summer movies. I'm fascinated by summer movies. I think they're the equivalent of the state fair. At the state fair, we go to see the latest in technology, the special effects. We also go to see the prize heifers, the movie stars. We go to get a touch of the sordid or louche in the hoochie-koochie shows. And the state fair goes back to the Grecian and pre-Grecian summer festivals, much as you went to the Eleusinian mysteries to get laid in a way that pleases God."
"So what are you saying, Mamet?"
"A place for everything and everything in its place."
"Special effects and hoochie-koochie?"
"You bet ya. We all need a little hoochie-koochie, Dead Beat."
"Don't push it, Dead Beat, no names being offered."
Posted by Gerard Beirne at 12:42 am
"So The American Tragedy Dave? (See
Killing the Girl)"
The snow has been shovelled and we have gone indoors for a cup of hot chocolate.
"What do you want to know?"
"I don't know. Tragedy, comedy? Same coin?"
"The film of comedy is such that in every scene, the hero makes a misstep and yet is rescued at the end by the forces of good, or by God, or by a deus ex machina. Tragedy is exactly the opposite. At each step, the hero seems to be doing the correct thing, but at the end of the movie ends up consigned to perdition, or death, or disgrace, because of some internal flaw. So film noir is much closer to tragedy and the light or Hitchcockian thriller is much closer to comedy."
"Really Mamet, you would laugh at Hitch?"
"Quietly, Dead Beat. Real quietly."
Posted by Gerard Beirne at 12:26 am
"Why the heck don't you buy yourself a snowblower D.B.?" Mamet asks (See Gratuitous Sex and Plastic Frogmen.)
"I'm a writer of fiction and poetry, Dave, not a film maker."
"Touché." As he heaves a load of snow over his shoulder. "Now where were we?"
"You were talking about The American Tragedy. Theodor Dreiser and all that."
"Oh yes, If you look at "An American Tragedy," which I've always considered the great American novel, the reason it's specifically an American tragedy is that the problem with the hero is that he sees love as basically a commercial endeavor. He wants to trade up. He finds this perfectly nice girl who wants to sleep with him and who loves him and whom he's very fond of and then he finds someone he likes better. And the only way he can get rid of the first girl is to kill her. That's the American tragedy."
"The girl gets killed?"
"We kill her Dead Beat. She just doesn't get killed. We kill her." He throws the shovel down in disgust. "You teach writing, Dead Beat. You know how it goes. We always kill the girl."
Posted by Gerard Beirne at 12:15 am
Friday, October 13, 2006
It's been a bad day for Dead Beat. First the snow, then who should pull up on his skidoo but Mamet. I mean Dead Beat likes the guy. He's the main man, no doubt. But he sure likes to talk.
There Dead Beat is shovelling snow and old Mamet is leaning on the fence post yakking away.
"Whad ya say, Dave?" Winds howling, snow blowing in my eyes and ears.
"Gratuitous sex, Dead Beat."
"You or me?"
"No Dead Beat, the audience for movies. I don't think they need to see it; I think they're habituated to it. Most of the time sex scenes in movies are like the plastic frogman in breakfast cereals. They're put in to fool the audience that what they're getting is a better product."
"Books too, no doubt." I heave a shovelful of the white powder into the wind by accident. It blows back down on both of us. "Got you, boy."
"Whad ya say, Dead Beat."
"Got what you're saying."
"Yeah, well, at least it wasn't as bad as Schindler's List."
"How so?" Heave, ho.
"Because, as a Jew, I don't like the fact of the Jewish people being exploited, whether in the name of good or ill...attempts to picture Jews going to the gas chambers are exploitative, even if they're done for the best reasons in the world."
"The only response is silence?"
"I think so."
"I read somewhere Dave, that you considered it mass entertainment."
"It fits into the audience's need to applaud itself. I like mass entertainment. I've written mass entertainment. But it's the opposite of art because the job of mass entertainment is to cajole, seduce and flatter consumers to let them know that what they thought was right is right, and that their tastes and their immediate gratification are of the utmost concern of the purveyor. The job of the artist, on the other hand, is to say, wait a second, to the contrary, everything that we have thought is wrong. Let's reexamine it."
Dead Beat struggles with his shovel and the weight of Mamet.
"Oh for crying out Dead Beat, give me that shovel, you're useless."
Dave grabs the shovel from my hands. "I've more to say," he warns.
"No plastic frogmen, right. That's what you're saying..."
Dead Beat yields up his shovel - no plastic frogmen Dead Beaters- none at all.
Posted by Gerard Beirne at 11:48 pm
Dead Beat should have known.
The geese packed up and left his river, but oh no, still Old Dead Beat didn't get the hint.
Hockey season started up and Dead Beat's four little hocksters got back to practice (or in the case of Hockster the Younger - still only four years old - got started in practice. Hockster the Third gave up her slight figure skates and returned to her buff hockey ones (albeit with pink skate guards)), but still Dead Beat didn't get the hint.
Well guess what, Dead Beat woke up to drifting snow (since when Dead Beat is snow moving at 90kph considered 'drifiting'?), impassable roads, closed schools, and a snow shovel and finally, finally, Dead Beat got the hint.
Yes folks, it is winter here in Seven Sisters Falls.
Posted by Gerard Beirne at 9:13 pm
Dead Beat has been sounding off about literary awards (see Pandering to the Parade) - he who is shameless about promoting his own few meagre accolades!
That being said he is delighted to see that Orhan Pamuk has been awarded this year's Nobel Prize for Literature. Dead Beat had the pleasure of sharing a reading with him a few years ago at the Dublin International Writers Festival and found him to be a very noble man indeed.
Shame however that the Prize has got so political - Dead Beat thinks it kind of dampens the 'honour'. The recent trend has been to select writers who have been in conflict with their governments.
Tough on the rest who are as important but are not so oppressed.
This is the problem with prizes and awards - they very often lose track of their supposed intent.
Posted by Gerard Beirne at 7:50 pm
Thursday, October 12, 2006
Dead Beat shared a cell with Johnny Cash all those years ago. They were both going through some rough times and found support in each other. D.B. has never forgotten J.C.'s help.
Press the button below for instant redemption"
Play VideoReal Player
Posted by Gerard Beirne at 1:33 am
Wednesday, October 11, 2006
It was a star filled night. Guillaume (see Hudson and Apollinaire Go Wireless) and I strolled across the Pont Neuf.
"Hudson," he told me, "I have been inspired by your beastiality."
"My dear Guillaume, you flatter me."
"Really Hudson. I have outdone myself on this occasion."
"Oh Guillaume, you are wont to exaggerate."
"Hudson, put aside your opium and listen:
Orphée [ I ]
Admirez le pouvoir insigne
Et la noblesse de la ligne:
Elle est la voix que la lumière fit entendre
Et dont parle Hermès Trismégiste en son Pimandre.
Du Thrace magique, ô délire!
Mes doigts sûrs font sonner la lyre.
Les animaux passent aux sons
De ma tortue, de mes chansons.
Mes durs rêves formels sauront te chevaucher,
Mon destin au char d'or sera ton beau cocher
Qui pour rênes tiendra tendus à frénésie,
Mes vers, les parangons de toute poésie.
La chèvre du Thibet
Les poils de cette chèvre et même
Ceux d'or pour qui prit tant de peine
Jason, ne valent rien au prix
Des cheveux dont je suis épris.
Tu t'acharnes sur la beauté.
Et quelles femmes ont été
Victimes de ta cruauté!
Ève, Eurydice, Cléopâtre;
J'en connais encor trois ou quatre.
Je souhaite dans ma maison:
Une femme ayant sa raison,
Un chat passant parmi les livres,
Des amis en toute saison
Sans lesquels je ne peux pas vivre.
O lion, malheureuse image
Des rois chus lamentablement,
Tu ne sais maintenant qu'en cage
A Hambourg, chez les Allemands.
Ne soit pas lascif et peureux
Comme le lièvre et l'amoureux.
Mais que toujours ton cerveau soit
La hase pleine qui conçoit.
Je connais un autre connin
Que tout vivant je voudrais prendre.
Sa garenne est parmi le thym
Des vallons du pays de Tendre.
Avec ses quatre dromadaires
Don Pedro d'Alfaroubeira
Courut le monde et l'admira.
Il fit ce que je voudrais faire
Si j'avais quatre dromadaires.
Belles journées, souris du temps,
Vous rongez peu à peu ma vie.
Dieu! Je vais avoir vingt-huit ans,
Et mal vécus, à mon envie.
Comme un éléphant son ivoire,
J'ai en bouche un bien précieux.
Pourpre mort!… J'achète ma gloire
Au prix des mots mélodieux.
Orphée [ II ]
Regardez cette troupe infecte
Aux mille pattes, au cent yeux:
Rotifères, cirons, insectes
Et microbes plus merveilleux
Que les sept merveilles du monde
Et le palais de Rosemonde!
Le travail mène à la richesse.
Pauvres poètes, travaillons!
La chenille en peinant sans cesse
Devient le riche papillon.
Nos mouches savent des chansons
Que leur apprirent en Norvège
Les mouches ganiques qui sont
Les divinités de la neige.
Puces, amis, amantes même,
Qu'ils sont cruels ceux qui nous aiment!
Tout notre sang coule pour eux.
Les bien-aimés sont malheureux.
Voici la fine sauterelle,
La nourriture de saint Jean.
Puissent mes vers être comme elle,
Le régal des meilleures gens.
Orphée [ III ]
Que ton coeur soit l'appât et le ciel, la piscine!
Car, pêcheur, quel poisson d'eau douce ou bien marine
Egale-t-il, et par la forme et la saveur,
Ce beau poisson divin qu'est JÉSUS, Mon sauveur?
Dauphins, vous jouez dans la mer,
Mais le flot est toujours amer.
Parfois, ma joie éclate-t-elle?
La vie est encore cruelle.
Jetant son encre vers les cieux,
Suçant le sang de ce qu'il aime
Et le trouvant délicieux,
Ce monstre inhumain, c'est moi-même.
Méduses, malheureuses têtes
Aux chevelures violettes
Vous vous plaisez dans les tempêtes,
Et je m'y plais comme vous faites.
Incertitude, ô mes délices
Vous et moi nous nous en allons
Comme s'en vont les écrevisses,
À reculons, à reculons.
Dans vos viviers, dans vos étangs,
Carpes, que vous vivez longtemps!
Est-ce que la mort vous oublie,
Poissons de la mélancolie.
Orphée [ IV ]
La femelle de l'alcyon,
L'Amour, les volantes Sirènes,
Savent de mortelles chansons
Dangereuses et inhumaines.
N'oyez pas ces oiseaux maudits,
Mais les Anges du paradis.
Saché-je d'où provient, Sirènes, votre ennui
Quand vous vous lamentez, au large, dans la nuit?
Mer, je suis comme toi, plein de voix machinées
Et mes vaisseaux chantants se nomment les années.
Colombe, l'amour et l'esprit
Qui engendrâtes Jésus-Christ,
Comme vous j'aime une Marie.
Qu'avec elle je me marie.
En faisant la roue, cet oiseau,
Dont le pennage traîne à terre,
Apparaît encore plus beau,
Mais se découvre le derrière.
Mon pauvre coeur est un hibou
Qu'on cloue, qu'on décloue, qu'on recloue.
De sang, d'ardeur, il est à bout.
Tous ceux qui m'aiment, je les loue.
Oui, j'irai dans l'ombre terreuse
Ô mort certaine, ainsi soit-il!
Latin mortel, parole affreuse,
Ibis, oiseau des bords du Nil.
Ce chérubin dit la louange
Du paradis, où, près des anges,
Nous revivrons, mes chers amis,
Quand le bon Dieu l'aura permis.
Posted by Gerard Beirne at 11:42 pm
Hudson’s muse, Del-ight, was reminding Hudson of his love for Apollinaire.
Hudson says he has fond memories of smoke filled evenings with Picasso, Apollinaire, Max Jacob, Satie, and Andre Derain in the cafes of Paris. “We were going to change the world,” Hudson claims, “and we did. Forget this reckless internet and those appalling blogs, we had the telephone, the wireless telegraph and the phonograph - the rapid succession of frames in silent movies. We were the future. We were the now.”
“Hudson, I keep telling you, you are only three months old.”
“Dead Beat you are passé.”
Posted by Gerard Beirne at 11:30 pm
Hudson yaps, "Hit me with the English version, Guillaume. My French is very pawr." (See Le Bestiaire)
Apollonaire shakes his head, "Hudson, you need to meet a French Poodle."
Admire the vital power
And nobility of line:
It’s the voice that the light made us understand here
That Hermes Trismegistus writes of in Pimander.
From magic Thrace, O delerium!
My sure fingers sound the strings.
The creatures pass to the sounds
Of my tortoise, and the songs I sing.
My harsh dreams knew the riding of you
My gold-charioted fate will be your lovely car
That for reins will hold tight to frenzy,
My verses, the patterns of all poetry.
The Tibetan Goat
The fleece of this goat and even
That gold one which cost such pain
To Jason’s not worth a sou towards
The tresses with which I’m taken.
You set yourself against beauty.
And how many women have been
victims of your cruelty!
Eve, Eurydice, Cleopatra:
I know three or four more after.
I wish there to be in my house:
A woman possessing reason,
A cat among books passing by,
Friends for every season
Lacking whom I’m barely alive.
O lion, miserable image
Of kings lamentably chosen,
Now you’re only born in a cage
In Hamburg, among the Germans.
Don’t be fearful and lascivious
Like the hare and the amorous.
But always let your brain weave
The full form that conceives.
There’s another cony I remember
That I’d so like to take alive.
Its haunt is there among the thyme
In the valleys of the Land of Tender.
With his four dromedaries
Don Pedro of Alfaroubeira
Travels the world and admires her.
He does what I would rather
If I’d those four dromedaries.
Sweet days, the mice of time,
You gnaw my life, moon by moon.
God! I’ve twenty eight years soon,
and badly spent ones I imagine.
I carry treasure in my mouth,
As an elephant his ivory.
At the price of flowing words,
Purple death!…I buy my glory.
Look at this pestilential tribe
Its thousand feet, its hundred eyes:
Beetles, insects, lice
And microbes more amazing
Than the world’s seventh wonder
And the palace of Rosamunde!
Work leads us to riches.
Poor poets, work on!
The caterpillar’s endless sigh
Becomes the lovely butterfly.
The songs that our flies know
Were taught to them in Norway
By flies who are they say
Divinities of snow.
Fleas, friends, lovers too,
How cruel are those who love us!
All our blood pours out for them.
The well-beloved are wretched then.
Here’s the slender grasshopper
The food that fed Saint John.
May my verse be similar,
A treat for the best of men.
His heart was the bait: the heavens were the pond!
For, fisherman, what fresh or seawater catch
equals him, either in form or savour,
that lovely divine fish, Jesus, My Saviour?
Dolphins, playing in the sea
The wave is bitter gruel.
Does my joy sometimes erupt?
Yet life is still so cruel.
Hurling his ink at skies above,
Sucking the blood of what he loves
And finding it delicious,
Is myself the monster, vicious.
Medusas, miserable heads
With hairs of violet
You enjoy the hurricane
And I enjoy the very same.
Uncertainty, O my delights
You and I we go
As lobsters travel onwards, quite
Backwards, Backwards, O.
In your pools, and in your ponds,
Carp, you indeed live long!
Is it that death forgets to free
You fishes of melancholy?
The female of the Halcyon,
Love, the seductive Sirens,
All know the fatal songs
Dangerous and inhuman.
Don’t listen to those cursed birds
But Paradisial Angels’ words.
Do I know where your ennui’s from, Sirens,
When you grieve so widely under the stars?
Sea, I am like you, filled with broken voices,
And my ships, singing, give a name to the years.
Dove, both love and spirit
Who engendered Jesus Christ,
Like you I love a Mary.
And so with her I marry.
In spreading out his fan, this bird,
Whose plumage drags on earth, I fear,
Appears more lovely than before,
But makes his derrière appear.
My poor heart’s an owl
One woos, un-woos, re-woos.
Of blood, of ardour, he’s the fowl.
I praise those who love me, too.
Yes, I’ll pass fearful shadows
O certain death, let it be so!
Latin mortal dreadful word,
Ibis, Nile’s native bird.
This cherubim sings the praises
Of Paradise where, with Angels,
We’ll live once more, dear friends,
When the good God intends.
Posted by Gerard Beirne at 11:26 pm
Hudson wishes to remind you that Dead Beat does not endorse and is not responsible for the Man Booker Prize.
Booker juries are notorioulsy fickle and in general incapable of making a decision. In other words they pander to the parade.
Drums and trumpets desireable.
With All Due Respect
Books were never meant to be compared, put into competition, challenged in the high jump.
Us authors are a sorry lot. We start out with hight intentions and settle for hurdling over extremely low positions.
Posted by Gerard Beirne at 2:13 am
Dead Beat fell off the Black Mountain and landed in New York. He woke up, rubbed his head, tried to regain his vision.
"Whoa, buddy, take it easy."
And that was how he met Frank O' Hara.
"Call me, Frank."
"Walk with me Dead Beat. Let's talk a while."
"You know anything about poetry?" I ask.
"Sure," O'Hara answers, "but "I don’t even like rhythm, assonance, all that stuff. You just go on your nerve. If someone’s chasing you down the street with a knife you just run, you don’t turn around and shout, 'Give it up! "
Dead Beat rubbed at his bruised bones and ego. "Give it up!"
Posted by Gerard Beirne at 12:43 am
Dead Beat sits down at the end of the day and gets very serious. He wants you to read Tim O Brien. Think about it and any other links there may be in Dead Beat's blog to Mr. O' Brien. Then digest this:
"A team of American and Iraqi epidemiologists estimates that 655,000 more people have died in Iraq since coalition forces arrived in March 2003 than would have died if the invasion had not occurred.
The estimate, produced by interviewing residents during a random sampling of households throughout the country, is far higher than ones produced by other groups, including Iraq's government.
It is more than 20 times the estimate of 30,000 civilian deaths that President Bush gave in a speech in December. It is more than 10 times the estimate of roughly 50,000 civilian deaths made by the British-based Iraq Body Count research group.
The surveyors said they found a steady increase in mortality since the invasion, with a steeper rise in the last year that appears to reflect a worsening of violence as reported by the U.S. military, the news media and civilian groups. In the year ending in June, the team calculated Iraq's mortality rate to be roughly four times what it was the year before the war.
Of the total 655,000 estimated "excess deaths," 601,000 resulted from violence and the rest from disease and other causes, according to the study."
I don't know, folks. The hope is that literature can stem the tide, but God damn it, you better write to the best of your ability, just in case, and you better know your craft. We are not writing for pleaure but for survival.
Do not underestimate your importance, and do not read Dead Beat too lightly.
Tuesday, October 10, 2006
Dead Beat was bumming tea off Creeley. Old Bobby was in no mood for platitudes. "Get down and see Olson (See Leave the Roots On.) He tells me you ran out on him."
"Jeez, Bob, he was talking like a planet on excess altitude."
"He's a poet."
"Dead Beat, he's our friend."
"You're right Bob. I'll go call on him, ask about the weather that sort of thing."
And so off I go down the Black Mountain where the altitude is less.
"So Chuck, what's the weather like?"
"Dead Beat, All that matters is that the thing be the thing of the thing - a cool thing which is like the river for the tiger of the river. To say it in language is like hard as hell. The greates poetry profile that was made this side or the other side of the Atlantic is called the Anacreontic Award and I hereby now make it and it's pre-amanquiantic and it's absolutely way down below Atlantis and it has got no end, no end because it is like the stock of heaven and creation, and it hasn't even been booed or had a crown yet, but it exists. And I know where it is playing - and I know where it is planted, and I know where it is, and we all do too, and we all know what we are talking about, because it is down on the plantation under the trunk of that large cypress tree in all that goo, way down there in that rain swamp."
"Back in a mo..."
Posted by Gerard Beirne at 11:50 pm
Decided to look in on Charles Olson again: passing his window I could hear his voice, loud and clear, so I stopped to listen:
whatever you have to say, leave
the roots on, let them
And the dirt
Just to make clear
where they come from
"Hmm," I said to myself and carried on walking.
Posted by Gerard Beirne at 2:56 pm
Sunday, October 08, 2006
Hudson and I are in the library, sharing a port and talking through the finer points of literature.
"So what do you think, Hudson?" I ask. "Do you think, also, that traditional forms in poetry are largely passe?
Hudson lowers his glass. "I refer to Levertov (See Talking to Grief)," he says, "to quote" : I think that the kind of closures imposed by traditional forms relate to the sense of life within the periods which gave rise to them. After Einstein, the certainty about the future that people used to have was changed. The universe has turned out to be much less defined than we had thought—with hell below and heaven above—and we obviously live in a time of uncertainty. Forms in poetry, then, have become in my opinion anachronistic. Nevertheless, if an individual's basic sensibility is generally in tune with those kinds of underlying conceptions which gave rise to the form in the first place, a couplet, for instance, or a sonnet, then maybe he or she can use them successfully. But I think that the use of forms in a sort of wishful-wistful way—to give order where we have apparently little of it—is not poetry. I think that we should acknowledge the chaos we live in and deal with it."
Hudson wipes his lips, "Deal with the chaos, Dead Beat. You'd be the better writer for it."
Posted by Gerard Beirne at 2:18 am
Dead Beat took Hudson's advice and sought out the company of Denise Levertov. She mentioned how she had spent some time with William Carlos Williams.
"So how were your meeings with the Doc?' Dead Beat asked
"Williams's influence on me was great because certainly, coming from England, as I did, the manner in which he incorporated the rhythms and diction of common speech into his poetry gave me a shot in the arm and a way in which to deal with coming to live in America.
I suppose that my first visit to Williams was somewhat of a pilgrimage. I had been reading his work for a few years before I went to see him. I had even written him a letter and had a reply from him two or three years before my first visit. On my first trip I went out to Rutherford on the bus, with either Bob Creeley or Cid Corman, possibly even both."
Dead Beat nods his approval. He has a lot of time for the Doc, a lot of time for common speech.
Posted by Gerard Beirne at 2:13 am
Hudson is turning out to be quite argumentative. He tells me he has little time for Creeley and even less for Olson.
"You're a pup," I tell him, "what do you know?"
"Levertov is where it is at." He lights up a cigar.
"Put the cigar out, Hudson."
"You don't believe me?" he asks. "Listen to this":
Talking to Grief
Ah, Grief, I should not treat you
like a homeless dog
who comes to the back door
for a crust, for a meatless bone.
I should trust you.
I should coax you
into the house and give you
your own corner,
a worn mat to lie on,
your own water dish.
You think I don't know you've been living
under my porch.
You long for your real place to be readied
before winter comes. You need
your collar and tag. You need
the right to warn off intruders,
my house your own
and me your person
my own dog.
"Heck of a poem, Dead Beat, don't you think?"
"Woof, Hudson, Woof."
Posted by Gerard Beirne at 1:32 am
Saturday, October 07, 2006
Hudson has been missing all weekend. I finally found him in the library at the writing desk.
"What's up Hud?"
"Uh, not much, writing my memoirs."
"Hud, you're only three months old. Memoirs suggest a life lived."
"What? Don't you just make it up? James Frey and A Million Little Pieces and all that."
"Don't bring him into the 'fray', har, har!"
"I mean it."
"Okay, Hud, the deal is, autobiography is based on the facts. memoir is based on your memory of events, your interpretation, it is more true than facts."
"I know that."
"I just want to tell you my working title..."
"A Million Little Faeces."
"Subtitled: One Dog's Shi**y Life."
"Don't interrupt me, I am just reaching the part where I became addicted to drugs."
Posted by Gerard Beirne at 1:03 am
Friday, October 06, 2006
Cid and I have been sitting silently in his small home in Kyoto. I am finding it hard to breath - suffocated by poetry.
"Tell me Cid, what is it?"
"Everything is poetry for me. Just to share it with others, that's all. Really, I feel there's nothing that needs to be explained, or taught to anybody. So I write poetry that's really designed not for the usual readers. It's designed for everybody. For anybody: child, or people who have never read poetry before. In fact the best audience I ever had were nine-year-olds in San Francisco, who probably had never heard a poem before in their lives. Even the teacher, who was in her late twenties I think, had probably never heard poetry read before. And they were wonderful. One of the kids even quoted one of my poems back to me. And I didn't explain a word: I read sixteen poems from one of my little books -- the whole book. No introduction: I just read the poems to them -- no explanations -- and they were absorbed, it was obvious. It was perfect. My perfect audience: nine-year-olds, mixed group, half of them black. And I was invited because we were staying with a family friend, a doctor friend of ours, in San Francisco at the time, and the little girl... After supper I read them this little book, as a form of thank you; and the little girl, nine years old, said, "Will you read that, to my class?" And I said, "If the teacher says OK." And she did, so I went ahead and did it. That was the best reading I've ever had. It's the kind of reading I like. I often read one on one, which is my preference: I don't like large crowds, and I've never drawn large crowds -- it's not my thing, and I'm not really interested. Maybe on radio is perfect, because nobody was there, except sometimes another poet."
Reading alone to no one - maybe Cid was right about that. Maybe poets and large crowds just don't mix. Cid bowed out of the US at a point when he was quite famous - gave up the fame to become unknown. Wrote prolifically for no one at all except himself.
Read us another one Cid. Dead Beat continues to listen.
Posted by Gerard Beirne at 12:43 am
"Cid, tell me about it. What is the world's perspective on poets and their thing?"
"Dead Beat - you just don't get it - this world has no time for poets"
"Why is that?"
"It's very down-to-earth, like the way I live. I'm out, I love to walk. I don't drive, I've never driven in my life. I've never been on a bicycle in my life. I'm probably the only person in Japan, apart from the maimed, who can't. Obviously I could have done it if I'd wanted to, but I've never learned; I've no desire to be on a bike. I've been on a motorbike, in Paris; and here, Gary Snyder, I've been on his motorcycle, once. He loved to drive fast. Somebody else mentioned it to me recently, that they knew that too. He said that driving fast on a motorcycle was safest. But I was thinking at the time, "Well, this could be the death of two key American poets" [laughs]. But it was all right; I just was not used to it."
Down to earth - Deat Beaters. That's the way your poetry ought to be, both feet on the ground.
Posted by Gerard Beirne at 12:40 am
Dead Beat on a visit to Kyoto some years back with his great friend, Gregory Dunne, paid a visit to the seminal poet Cid Corman. Greg brought D. B. to Cid's house where he met the man himself and saw in Cid's office the lifetime of his work, sheet upon sheet.
Now in case you don't know, Cid published anyone who is anyone, and if you don't know that, well shame on you.
Okay a few details I borrowed:
Cid Corman, b. 1924, was born in Boston, and received his B.A. from Tufts. He did graduate work at the University of Michigan, where he won the Hopwood Award for Poetry, and the University of North Carolina. Throughout the 1950's and 1960's Corman's magazine ORIGIN published some of the major works of the Black Mountain poets, as well as other important work, choosing mostly poems not yet readily available elsewhere: the early poetry "A hint or tint ofmusic - as if the silence were being turned on." of Charles Olson, Robert Creeley, and Denise Levertov with the late works of Wallace Stevens and William Carlos Williams. He carried on a fascinating correspondence with Stevens, who greatly respected what Origin was doing. Corman published over seventy volumes of poetry, translated several French and Japanese poets, and published four volumes of essays. He lived in Kyoto, Japan since 1958 where he and his wife ran a business, Cid Corman's Dessert Shop. Corman is one of "late" modernism's most significant enablers, a poet of talent himself, and a master of "production" -- whose work, both as poet and publisher, is intertwined with the Objectivists Zukofsky and Oppen, as well as Creeley and Olson. Among those poetic colleagues and many younger poets worldwide, Corman's verse is perhaps the most committed to the sublime, refusing the temptation of "effect" for the tactile ink of line and "touch." His collection Nothing Doing is full of poetry of cognitive conundrum, but also of uncompromising wisdom, where Corman can definitively declare: "There's only / one poem: / this is it."
Dead Beat has a bunch of Corman's works but most importantly he walked with him that noon in Kyoto when Corman promised to share correspondance for ever if Dead Beat was up to the challenge and sad to say, Dead Beat was not.
So Dead Beat has kind of got lost up the Black Mountain. But that's okay. There are lots of trails to ramble along and explore - those guys had a lot of time for Patrick Kavanagh too as does D. B. naturally being the fine Irishman he is - so feel free to explore and discover - you never know who you'll meet along the way.
Posted by Gerard Beirne at 12:22 am
So Dead Beat and Bob were chewing the fat (see Creeley and Dead Beat Crash)when Bob says, "why don't you pay Olson a visit next time next time you're feeling lonely."
"Are you trying to give me a hint, Bob?" I ask.
"Well it is my pad, man. I'd kind of like to get it back sometime, my space and all that."
"Oh you Creeley and your space."
Anyway Dead Beat can take a hint as good as anyone and wanders off to find Charles Olson. He knocks hard on his door.
"Who is it?" Olson asks.
"Hey Chuck, it's me, Dead Beat, can I come in?"
"Sure," Olson says throwing open wide the door. "Get a free chair and sit down. Don't worry about anything. Especially this. We're living beings and forming a society; we're creating a total, social future. Don't worry about it. The kitchen's reasonably orderly. I crawled out of bed as sick as I was and threw a rug out the window."
"Okay Chuck," Dead Beat replied looking for a chair. "And I'll have a little bit of whatever you're having yourself."
Well Dead Beat is always on the look out for writing advice and decided to pose Chuckie this one:
"Do you enjoy telling young poets what they ought to do?"
"Oh, Jesus, God, if I ever did, may the Lord of the whole of the seven saints of India and China Buddhaland, Gangestown, and all takers this side of where the Tartars went—may they forgive me because like I am happy to have some friends here in the kitchen. I mean, wow, I’ve been very lucky, very lucky. I’m sorry, but I was born with a towel on my head."
"I'll be right back," Dead Beat shouts after him as he flees the room.
Posted by Gerard Beirne at 12:21 am