Source of the Glamor

Thirty-Fourth and Broadway (Herald Square), New York City c. 1939 – Photograph by Rudy Burckhardt

Student: What if you live on Broadway?

AG: Well broad/ way, you’ve got it, you got it made! If you live on Broadway, (you write)
“I went walking down Broadway”. The trouble is if you live on Twenty-Fourth Street!

Actually, I wrote a poem when I was twenty-two about living‚Ķ I came down from my furnished room on Fifteenth Street – a ballad – (which is in the correspondence – I never published it other than in the correspondence – with Neal Cassady – a book called As Ever But (And) the..second-line is, “Walking up Fifteen Street, musing, almost blind” (getting hit by cars, or something like that). So I did use “Fifteenth Street”. [Editorial note – the poem, “3456 W 15th Street” – “I came home from the movies with nothing on my mind,/Trudging up 8th Avenue to 15th almost blind/Waiting for a passenger/ship to go to sea/I lived in a roominghouse attic near the Port Authority‚Ķ“]

It’s the mindfulness and vividness with which you pay attention to your life, or your friends’ names, or your street names, when you place them in a poem, that gives it glamor, and you want the glamor. So the glamor comes from your own vivid mindfulness or the vividness in your own mind that comes from being really aware of it, and being aware of the humor of making use of your own symbols to put in place like building blocks in a poem. because maybe, only because maybe they are the names and images that rise in your only mind (they can’t rise in anybody else’s mind and be any good to you, but if they rise in your mind, and rise repeatedly, then those are the holy objects that you can write about).

[Audio for the above can be heard here beginning at approximately thirteen-and-three-quarter minutes in and concluding at approximately fifteen-and-a-half minutes in]

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