john bennett | the silent treatment

16 09 2011

POETRY DISPATCH No.352 | September 16, 2011

The Silent Treatment
John Bennett

Sitting around
Ferlinghetti’s
apartment
over his
print shop
on upper Green
almost
40 years ago
after Bukowski’s
first
City Lights
reading
with Ferlinghetti
Bukowski
Rip Torn &
a host of
minions
someone said
Bukowski
you’re the
only one
who’s
done it &
I said
no one’s
done it
or we
wouldn’t
still be
trying to
do it &
Ferlinghetti said
the Beats
did it.

The Beats?
I said.
Kerouac?
Ginsberg?
Ferlinghetti?
But then,
you’re Ferlinghetti
aren’t you.

The room
got very
still &
Bukowski
smiled
down into
his beer
cradled on
his great
protrusion
of gut
& said
Now you’ve
done it
Bennett.

Ferlinghetti
stared at
me with
ice blue
eyes
that said
we’re
going to
silence you.

Which they
never did.


John Bennett

Battle Scars

John Bennett

30 new poems.

All 125 books signed by the author. Twenty-five of the books come with a signed watercolor by Henry Denander.

Mini-chapbook format, in wraps.

Cover art by Henry Denander.

Please click here… if you are interested in buying this book.





john harvey | blue monk

29 02 2008
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Allen Ginsberg and Thelonious Monk
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Poetry Dispatch No. 212 | February 28, 2008

ALL THAT JAZZ & MORE

Continuing with the jazz theme, begun yesterday with Dave Etter…there is so much more to say and write.(More too on Etter, coming in the near future.) Consequently, I will re-visit this jazz-poetry theme more often in Poetry Dispatch.

What can I say about today’s poet, John Harvey? Not much. I know him not all. But for this book. This is yet another instance (destruction of a myth) … concerning the matter of “judging a book by its cover.”

I remember walking into a Chicago bookstore one night about 5 years ago…drifting into the poetry section, seeing the title “BLUER THAN THIS” on the spine, pulling the book off the shelf on the strength of that title alone…being totally knocked out by the cover painting, the color of blue, not to mention the quote from the New York Times: “He sings the blues for people too bruised to carry the song themselves.” (Jesus, another poet!).

You know how it is when a book just calls you? “You’re going to buy because it feel right , take me home with you, love me, even though you know zilch about me.”

And, of course, the book is right. Love at first sight. A true ‘find.’ Wouldn’t part with it for the world.

If that wasn’t enough for a sure sale right there that night the blue book lured me by its cover alone, I had to open it and read/hear poem after poem that sounded as good as any night in any Chicago jazz joint…though the poet hailed from over there, across the pond.

Enough…check this number he does on Monk…and more. Norbert Blei

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Blue Monk by John Harvey

For all the world as if he has just walked in off the street, a gas company official, a removal man, something humdrum; when he sits at the piano it is as any man, unconcerned, might sit at a bench in the park, ease the weight from his feet, so palpable, the relief with which he sinks, broad, into the quilted leather of the seat; his topcoat, which he makes no attempt to undo, strains tight across his back, one or two stitches at the shoulder have snapped; squat on his head Monk is wearing a black and white checkered hat.

And now a scattering of applause has started haphazardly around the hall; it is an age before he edges back his cuffs and stretches out his hands.

Driving through Camberwell
the rain slides black across the windscreen
and as we pass the lights for the third time
you push a cassette into place,
the click and hiss of tape and then it’s him.
Rhythm-a-ning. Charlie Rouse on tenor, Sam Jones on bass,
Art Taylor at the drums. New York City, February, 1959.
A hundred years ago.

The critics at this time damn him with scant regard, another black jazzman touring Europe, parading his few tricks for a handful of krona and a pocketful of praise. But tonight, in Rotterdam or Oslo, Gothenburg – where doesn’t matter – this is different. Monk is on. Audience forgotten, that oversize right foot pounds down at an awkward angle; this is not the night to watch a legend running through what legends do, respectfully, and so the crowd cranes forward, reaching for the fire that flares so unexpectedly, so close to the end of this life.

Inside his overcoat, under his chequered hat, Monk is lost and doesn’t care if he’s never found. Doesn’t give a good Goddamn. His fingers stab at single notes, crush chords; roll with the tide then tighten down. His hands seek and find warm spaces lost between the keys, laughter strung across the dark like lights of fishermen spaced out along the beach, phosphorescence on the sea, like Whistler’s Nocturne in Blue and Gold, the glow of radio stations long into the night.

I carry my wine across the room to where you sit
and we stare out across this London square, these Londonstreets.
I hear draw up outside the cab to take me home.
What if, on that precipice of kitchen, all those years ago,
instead of rinsing those last dishes at the sink,
I’d taken both your hands in mine and said
I would go with you, no matter where, no matter what?

Monk gets up from the piano as casually as he sat down, troubled by the memory of a promise he once made and now can neither remember nor forget. In the small hotel room with a view over the air ducts and the kitchens, a bottle of brandy stands half-drunk beside the bed.

I can never again watch your dress fall to the floor or rest my breast against your breast, my mouth pressed to yours to stop it with a kiss.

C minor, F 7th, B flat -nothing can be bluer than this.

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cov_bluer.jpegfrom BLUER THAN THIS Smith/Doorstop Books, England, 1998

REVIEWS

POETRY LONDON
Born Storytellers & Sensuous Language
Jane Holland

John Harvey, in his latest collection, Bluer Than This, (also) relies on narrative for many of his poems, but stylistically he is on another planet. The tone is sensuous and assured, but somehow always vulnerable, jerking you back from the story to the person behind it, in a way that ultimately reminds you of a world outside the poem without robbing the poem of its integrity: ‘His shirt so white that to turn and look / at it would be to be blinded by the moon’ (‘Couples’). I have an on-going line-break argument with Harvey—here, I would have preferred ‘at it’ on the previous line—but again, this is a question of risk-taking and how bold choices force an examination of language and its patterns onto the reader, which can only be good. It’s not simply about variety for its own sake. It’s about finding the right ‘sound’ for the poem, rather than being fatally pedestrian and so failing to see how a poem can take off if given enough space to do so. Harvey is unafraid of making radically different choices from line to line:

Though dead,
my father is still dying,
oh, slowly, sure and slow as the long fall of rain
(‘Apples’)

Harvey plays with form in a delightful way, never satisfied with the way he’s successfully ‘made’ a poem before, but always looking for new ways of ‘making’ them. I’m using the word ‘make’ deliberately, of course. Too much emphasis is currently put on the poet as ‘writer’ rather than ‘maker’. Harvey takes his work more seriously and does not simply let the words flow in the name of inspiration. The result is a collection which positively drips with unexpected shapes; the shape a poem makes on the page forming part of the whole experience of reading it. Harvey moves quite comfortably from prose poetry to free verse to the suggestion of a subtle rhyme scheme without once appearing to strain after form. A mildly laconic American influence suits Harvey perfectly. There are none of the wild gestures of youth in a line like this from ‘Blue Settee’, with its leanings towards the metaphysical: ‘This kiss starts high at the nape of the neck / and makes a new map of the world’. With Bluer Than This, John Harvey has contributed something admirable, and soothingly readable, to the chaotic and ever-shifting map of the poetry world.

from A NOTE ON SMALL PRESS BOOKS by JOHN BURNSIDE Agenda, Autumn 1998

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The editor at Slow Dancer is John Harvey, who is himself a fine poet. His second collection, Bluer Than This, (Smith/Doorstep Books), contains pieces about jazz, (Chet Baker, Lester Young), painting (Edward Hopper, Howard Hodgkin), and love; there is a tenderness here that many British poets do not risk, a keen eye for the details of family life, for the signs and gestures we live by, and for the moments of insight and realisation we keep to ourselves:

and when your eyes widen and, uncertain
whether or not to kiss me,
you hold out, instead, your hand,
I will slip into it those remedies I have long carried:
the knowledge that, nurtured, passion flowers
in the darkest place

(‘The U.S. Botanical Gardens, Washington D.C.’)

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What is perhaps most striking in Bluer Than This is Harvey’s extraordinary empathy. His insights into the minds and hearts of others, whether they be family and friends, or figures from the world of painting or music, are consistently sharp and clear, yet this poet is always aware of the limits, and the possible limits, of our knowledge: as much as he wants to understand and penetrate the mystery of the other, he never forgets that it is this very mystery that makes all communication miraculous. Bluer Than This is published by Smith/Doorstop Books.

ANDY BROWN reviews BLUER THAN THIS ,Orbis, Winter 1998

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In an excellent collection of poems strongly influenced by contemporary jazz and painting, John Harvey presents his tenderly understated poems exploring intimate and family relationships. The jazz is covered by poems on Thelonious Monk— ending with the poignant “C minor, F 7th, B flat / nothing can be bluer than this.”— Charlie Parker and others, with a short poem about Chet Baker who “…knows this is one of those / rare days when he can truly fly.” The painting poems deal with Bonnard, Vuillard, Edward Hopper, Corot and Howard Hodgkin. In an astute comment lan McMillan has noted that Harvey’s work has a ‘genuinely transatlantic feel.’ McMillan is right: the jazz, the art, the thrilling conversational tenderness of poems like “Seven Year Ache” on Frank O’Hara:

…O’Hara at fifty,
knocked over by an errant jeep on the beach; his mother
frail from hospital and drying out,
tumbling yellow roses into his grave. Such waste!
Each day that’s lived is lived in hope and in regret.
We die each day and not from love but lack of it…

Such great moments resurface throughout this book and its stories of love known and love lost build up to make this a deeply moving collection. Whether Harvey gets us there in a poem about young Americans wrecked on drink, then dead in a car wreck; or “the duality of grief and joy, relief / and guilt ·” of the couples in the poems about Hopper paintings, Harvey does it inimitably. As he notes in “North Coast”: “What is never shared, cannot be lost.” The fact that Harvey seems to have shared so much in his life and poems only intensifies the impact of the losses. That he achieves this in a poetry that is neither wistful nor sentimental, rather tender and epiphanic, singles him out as a uniquely readable poet of great integrity.

JIM BURNS reviews BLUER THAN THIS ,Ambit No 156, Spring 1999

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There’s an engaging rolling feeling to the best of John Harvey’s poems, as if each one had started with an idea, memory, or observation, and then gathered momentum and expanded as it moved down the page:

Now the rain is falling
and the petals that have already fallen
pink and white, float up around us as we walk,
your smile suggesting how close you are to forgetting
the lover who so recently left you,
and so we continue, ducking into a corner pub
and there, facing you, I catch myself drawn to you
and I can tell we are both wondering
about this dwindling distance between us,
how perilously a kiss would close that space.

The autobiographical content is typical, as is the directness, and the everyday language. The poems sound like someone talking, which is to their credit, and the voice that comes through is consistent. A somewhat melancholy tone is often apparent as relationships come to an end, the poet looks back on lost loves, and sadness nudges at the narrative. Harvey’s interest in jazz reflects this tendency, with poems about musicians like Lester Young, Charlie Parker, and Chet Baker, who all declined as the years passed and died in sad circumstances. In one poem, “Blue Monk”, he neatly blends a jazz performance with memories of an old flame in a way that highlights the last line — “nothing can be bluer than this”.

Harvey does write about other things besides jazz and love affairs, and there are good reflections on childhood, family life, visits to America, and art. Corot, Edward Hopper, Vuillard, and Howard Hodgkin, all get a look in. And what comes through at all times is the sheer readability of the poems. I freely admit to sharing Harvey’s liking for jazz, films, and American poetry, but it isn’t just this that makes me admire his work. The poems just pull you in and carry you along with their relaxed but effective approach. They are like good stories:

Once, we stayed here, out of season,
arcades and the Magpie Café closed,
clouds massed like bulkheads in the northern sky
and around the municipal bandstand
only the melismatic cry of gulls.
Close by our feet, winter lay coiled like rope.
At night hope hung across the water like a child.
What is never shared cannot be lost.

It’s like the opening of a good film and it makes me want to know what comes next.

Paul Donnelly reviews BLUER THAN THIS , Tears in The Fence, Summer 1999

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Intimacy is one word I often associate with the poetry of John Harvey. The reader is invited to witness love with its attendant failures and successes, family and friends, both dead and living and the commonplace details that make a life. I’m not sure where fact and fiction blur at times. I’m not sure it matters either.
Look at ‘Slow’ with its twin dedication to Lee Harwood and Paul Evans.The poem gently connects the strands of their lives with Harvey’s and the presence of another, unnamed, character, a lost lover maybe.These meetings and memories, reconstructions of the past, merge with a present and compare scales of loss. Small, intimate glimpses that also show life continuing, as it must. This is also evident in ‘By The Numbers,’ a kind of diary of a day’s events with digressions and remembrances:

Art Pepper’s keening saxophone —
Leicester it was I saw him, eighty one or two…

He brings together music, food, writers he loves, family and friends:

How many friends
are living, how many have died.

Ray Carver rubs shoulders with Jimmy Stewart and the ‘girls I was in love with’. It’s a poem which celebrates in the face of mortality and vows to keep going because there are things to do. It isn’t just the past and present that matters but tomorrow and

all the days that come after —
infinite and uncountable.

I like the way the poem discloses a life and its links with so many others, the details that mesh so seamlessly and the openness — a word often used about Lee Harwood — that pulls you in. Of course, you can’t read John Harvey without coming across some of his preoccupations with music and painting. He celebrates Roland Kirk, Chet Baker and Charlie Parker, not for the first time. These, or versions of the poems, have featured in previous collections and on the cassette with jazz quartet Second Nature, Ghosts Of A Chance. Here he is also revisiting Lester Young in ‘Sometimes I’m Happy,’ a sort of synopsis of parts of his life and death. It doesn’t matter if you don’t know Young. It’s a sometimes tender and Iyrical portrait shot through with the harshness of his life. The presentation of his brilliant, flawed character is moving and honest. Paintings are present in the shape of Edward Hopper and Howard Hodgkin, both very different artists. Harvey makes use of the suggestive narrative possibilities of Hopper and responds to the light and intense colour of Hodgkin’s ‘After Corot.’ Both offer different aspects of the poet’s style and are equally compelling. I started off with intimacy as a keyword in Harvey’s work and I’d suggest that you read ‘Safeway,’ a poem that could make shopping worth it. In case you haven’t guessed I like this collection. There is more to it than I’ve mentioned. See for yourself.

BLUER THAN THIS is available in bookshops in both the UK and US. It is distributed in the UK by Signature Book Representation Ltd, (2 Little Peter St, Knott Mill, Manchester, tel 0161 834 8767/fax 0161 834 8656) and in the USA by Du Four Editions (PO Box 7, Chester Springs, Pennsylvania, 19425 – 0007, tel (00 1) 610 458 5005, fax (001) 610 458 7103).

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John Harvey with Second Nature, Derby Jazz Festival 2007. Photo: Garry Corbett

John Harvey was born in London in 1938 and, after living in Nottingham for a good number of years, has now returned to north London to live. After studying at Goldsmiths’ College, University of London, and at Hatfield Polytechnic, he took his Masters Degree in American Studies at the University of Nottingham, where he taught Film and Literature as a part-time lecturer between 1980 and 1986.

After teaching English and Drama in secondary schools for twelve years, stopping in 1975, Harvey has lived primarily by his writing. For years he was a regular tutor on residential writing courses run by the Arvon Foundation, and in 1995 he was on the teaching faculty of the Squaw Valley Community of Writers Fiction Workshop in Northern California. He has recently decided to do no further teaching, either in workshop or formal situations, but does continue to enjoy giving readings and talking about his work.

Initially a writer of paperbackfiction – both for adults and teenagers – John Harvey has over 90 published books to his credit. Now principally known as a writer of crime fiction, principally the Charlie Resnick novels, he continues to work on scripts for television and radio, where he has specialised in adapting the work of himself and others – his radio dramatisation of Graham Greene’s “The End of the Affair” gained the Silver award in the radio drama section of the 1999 Sony Radio Awards, he has also adapted novels or short stories by Arnold Bennett, A.S. Byatt, Richard Ford, Bobbie Ann Mason and Jayne Anne Phillips.

As a poet, his work has appeared in a large number of magazines and pamphlets, and “Ghosts of a Chance”, a selected poems, was published by Smith Doorstop Press (Huddersfield, England) in 1992. In 1995, he made a recording of the same title, reading his poems with the accompaniment of the Second Nature jazz group, one of two bands with which he performs whenever he gets the chance. A new collection, “Bluer Than This”, was published by Smith Doorstop in Autumn 1998 and reprinted in Autumn1999.

He ran Slow Dancer Press from 1977 to 1999, editing Slow Dancer magazine until 1993, and continuing since then to publish the work of both new poets and established writers such as Lee Harwood, Libby Houston and Barry MacSweeney. He was the first to publish a collection of Sharon Olds’ work in England,and, in 1998, follow edthis up by publishing Lucille Clifton for the first time in Britain in1998. From 1998, Slow Dancer Press published fiction as well as poetry, concentrating on crime fiction, short stories and writing concerned with jazz and blues.

He has two grown-up children, twins, Tom & Leanne Harvey, born to a marriage which ended in divorce in the mid-seventies; in 1998, 10th August to be precise, a third child, Molly Ernestine Boiling, was born in London, where he and Molly’s mother, Sarah, were then living. After living in Cornwall for a year from the summer of 2003, John, Sarah & Molly moved to Nottingham in 2004.





allen ginsberg | howl

8 10 2007

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Allen Ginsberg — as photographed by William S. Burroughs — on the rooftop of his Lower East Side apartment, between Avenues B and C, in the Fall of 1953.

Poetry Dispatch No. 196 | October 7, 2007

Special KEROUAC

Anniversary Edition, #3 In Celebration of the 50th Anniversary of ON THE ROAD

THE KEROUAC KONNECTION, 2007

On this day, October 7th, in 1955, poet Allen Ginsberg read his poem “Howl” for the first time at a poetry reading at Six Gallery in San Francisco. He had never given a public reading before, but he wanted to read the poem out loud before people read it in a book, so he organized a reading with five other poets at a converted auto-repair shop in downtown San Francisco called the Six Gallery. Ginsberg was the second-to-last reader. He was a little nervous, but after a few lines of the poem, he began to chant the words like a preacher, and the audience began to cheer at the end of every line. Kenneth Rexroth, the emcee of the event, was in tears by the end of the poem, and he later told Ginsberg, “This poem will make you famous from bridge to bridge.” Rexroth was right. Lawrence Ferlinghetti published HOWL and OTHER POEMS in 1956, and an obscenity trial made it a huge best-seller. [Source: The Writer’s Almanac]





allen ginsberg | I write poetry because

1 10 2007

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Poetry Dispatch No. 12 | Ocotber 8, 2005

“I WRITE POETRY BECAUSE…”

It was a small black chapbook, almost 5 inches across by 6. Black border on the white cover (front and back) with the title (large/bold), author’s name, and mention of the Introduction printed black on white.

It was Number Four in the new “Pocket Series” published on October 7 in l956 by Lawrence Ferlinghetti’s, small press, City Lights Books in San Francisco and sold for pennies. Fifty of them, as I recall.

This is the 50th anniversary of that book, of Allen Ginsberg’s HOWL and Other Poems (October 7, 2005). The poem that shook America. Ginsburg was 30 years old then. The Introduction was written by William Carlos Williams. I owned a first edition and remember reading “Howl” and hearing it, and the poet, discussed, endlessly through the years. It was one of those poems, and he was one of those poets who stopped time—for an instant. Grabbed hold of a nation, its people, and shouted his concerns in their face in plain, American lingo, hoping to be listened to. Everybody listened. Nobody listened. He was a queer poet, after all, unkempt, with long hair, just a beatnik babbling on and on. I’m holding the Nineteenth printing (l967) in my hand now. 146,000 copies in print at that time. There must be millions of copies in print today, in every language imaginable.

Ginsberg dedicated the book to Jack Kerouac “new Buddha of American prose”; William Burroughs “author of NAKED LUNCH, an endless novel which will drive everybody mad”; and Neal Cassidy “author of THE FIRST THIRD, an autobiography which enlightened Buddha.”

William Carlos Williams stated in his introduction: “Say what you will, he {Ginsberg] proves to us, in spite of the most debasing experiences that life can offer a man, the spirit of love survives to enoble our lives if we have the wit and the courage and the faith—and the art! to persist.”

HOWL, the poem, is dedicated to Carl Solomon, and the opening lines of the poem are some of the most quoted lines in all of American literature:

I saw the best minds of my generation destroyed by madness,
starving hysterical naked.
dragging themselves through the negro hipster streets at dawn looking for
an angry fix,
angelheaded hipsters burning for the ancient heavenly connection
to the starry dynamo in the machinery of night,…

The poem is divided into three parts and (in this edition) is 12 pages long followed by a page and a half entitled: “Footnote to Howl”. There are five other poems, including two poems almost equally well known: AMERICA and SUNFLOWER SUTRA.

AMERICA opens with these oft-quoted lines (and kick in the teeth):

America I’ve given you all and now I’m nothing.
America two dollars and twentyseven cents January 17, 1956.
America when will we end the human war?
Go fuck yourself with your atom bomb.

And ends with this equally well known line:

America I’m putting my queer shoulder to the wheel.

I thought there would be more recognition of Ginsburg and HOWL on the 50th anniversary. Oh, there were a few celebrations I was aware of, in Chicago and San Francisco. Then again, these are the times Ginsberg seemed to foresee, and no one, no country, enjoys looking in the mirror all that much. No country wants to be asked, reminded: “…when will we end the human war?” or be told to …”go fuck yourself with your atom bomb.” This poet’s a long way from someday appearing on a U.S. postage stamp.

Ginsburg died on December 21, 2002. Aside from students and writers, I suspect, like many serious writers, his audience remains relatively small, the effect of his poems and thoughts upon America, ‘the people’, minimal. For that reason, instead of reprinting HOWL in its entirety on this 50th anniversary, it might be more appropriate for readers, writers, and students to re-consider the poet’s calling, another Ginsberg poem that seeks to answer the question that writers, political/ a-political, face every day: Why do you do it?

Norbert Blei

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Improvisation in Beijing by Allen Ginsberg

I write poetry because the English word Inspiration comes from Latin Spiritus, breath, and I want to breathe freely.
I write poetry because Walt Whitman gave world permission to speak with candor.
I write poetry because Walt Whitman opened up poetry’s verse-line for unobstructed breath.
I write poetry because Ezra Pound saw an ivory tower, bet on one wrong horse, gave poets permission to write spoken vernacular idiom.
I write poetry because Pound pointed young Western poets to look at Chinese writing word pictures.
I write poetry because W.C. Williams living in Rutherford wrote New Jerseyesque “I kick yuh eye,” asking, how measure that in iambic pentameter?
I write poetry because my father was a poet my mother from Russia spoke Communist, died in a mad house.
I write poetry because young friend Gary Snyder sat to look at his thoughts as part of external phenomenal world just like a 1984 conference table.
I write poetry because I suffer, born to die, kidneystones and high blood pressure, everybody suffers.
I write poetry because I suffer confusion not knowing what other people think.
I write because poetry can reveal my thoughts, cure my paranoia also other people’s paranoia.
I write poetry because my mind wanders subject to sex politics Buddhadharma meditation.
I write poetry to make accurate picture my own mind.
I write poetry because I took Bodhisattva’s Four Vows: Sentient creatures to liberate are numberless in the universe, my own greed anger ignorance to cut thru’s infinite, situations I find myself in are countless as the sky okay, while awakened mind path’s endless.
I write poetry because this morning I woke trembling with fear what could I say in China?
I write poetry because Russian poets Mayakovsky and Yesenin committed suicide, somebody else has to talk.
I write poetry because my father reciting Shelley English poet & Vachel Lindsay American poet out loud gave example – big wind inspiration breath.
I write poetry because writing sexual matters was censored in United States.
I write poetry because millionaires East and West ride Rolls-Royce limousines, poor people don’t have enough money to fix their teeth.
I write poetry because my genes and chromosomes fall in love with young men not young women.
I write poetry because I have no dogmatic responsibility one day to the next.
I write poetry because I want to be alone and want to talk to people.
I write poetry to talk back to Whitman, young people in ten years, talk to old aunts and uncles still living near Newark, New Jersey.
I write poetry because I listened to black Blues on 1939 radio, Leadbelly and Ma Rainey.
I write poetry inspired by youthful cheerful Beatles’ songs grown old.
I write poetry because Chuang-tzu couldn’t tell whether he was butterfly or man, Lao-tzu said water flows downhill, Counfucius said honor elders, I wanted to honor Whitman.
I write poetry because overgrazing sheep and cattle Mongolia to U.S. Wild West destroys new grass & erosion creates deserts.
I write poetry wearing animal shoes.
I write poetry “First thought, best thought” always.
I write poetry because no ideas are comprehensible except as manifested in minute particulars: “No ideas but in things.”
I write poetry because the Tibetan Lama guru says, “Things are symbols of themselves.”
I write poetry because newspapers headline a black hole at our galaxy-center, we’re free to notice it.
I write poetry because World War I, World War II, nuclear bomb, and World War III if we want it, I don’t need it.
I write poetry because first poem Howl not meant to be published was prosecuted by the police.
I write poetry because my second long poem Kaddish honored my mother’s parinivana in mental hospital.
I write poetry because Hitler killed six million Jews, I’m Jewish.
I write poetry because Moscow said Stalin exiled 20 million Jews and intellectuals to Siberia, 15 million never came back to the Stray Dog Café, St. Petersburg.
I write poetry because I sing when I’m lonesome.
I write poetry because Walt Whitman said, “Do I contradict myself? Very well then I contradict myself (I am large, I contain multitudes.)”
I write poetry because my mind contradicts itself, one minute in New York, next minute the Dinaric Alps.
I write poetry because my head contains 10,000 thoughts.
I write poetry because no reason no because.
I write poetry because it’s the best way to say everything in mind within 6 minutes or a lifetime.

October 21, 1984

Allen Ginsberg - sings Father Death Blues

Allen Ginsberg & Paul McCartney

The Ballad of the Skeletons – Live at the Royal Albert Hall, October 16, 1995.

Allen Ginsberg & Neal Cassady








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