Ira Cohen (1935-2011)

Ira Cohen 2003, photo taken by Georg Gatsas

“Working at the Buddha factory, I dreamt one day I would be free”. Poet, publisher, photographer, film-maker, legendary “Beat” presence, Ira Cohen died last night in Manhattan. He was 76. For more on his considerable life-time achievement see here. For videos of him reading his poetry see here,  here, and here. Nina Zivancevic’s interview with him for Jacket magazine may be read here. R.I.P. Ira.

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  1. Ira Cohen–In Memoriam
    by Valery Oisteanu

    What’s next? whispers Ira and becomes invisible
    Scream no more, from unquenched fate
    We’ll see you on the other side
    A Jewish Shaman walks away
    While the big flutes are silent,
    The extinct cactus remains still
    The bells are thunderstruck
    Our holy man of the straw mats
    Melts benignly into the molecular earth
    After an endless battle with himself
    A distorted shadow in search of Ganesh Baba
    From Chelsea all the way to Kathmandu
    365 steps up to the Temple Swayambhu
    Kumbha Mella traveler overran by sadhus
    Blowing a dijiridou, jazz convulsions
    With potent magic mushrooms
    Psychedelic carnal lovers evaporating
    Disappearing on the magic carpet to the Kasbah
    Lamenting in the sub-ground Ethiopian churches
    Following the holy wind into the dessert
    Eating majoon, riding the sunset
    Tormented musicians of joujouka
    Helter-skelter from Tangier to Crete
    What’s next boychick? What’s hip?
    Poetry shrunk down to tiny crumbs
    Farfetched nightmares no more!
    An avalanche of absurd nothingness
    Yisgadal v’yiskadash sh’may rabo
    Sufi in Ira’s coffee, Shiva in Ira’s tea
    Buddha in his wine, Yahweh in his tap water!
    Last chillum for trans-hypnosis
    The king of Thunderbolt goes to sleep!

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