Studs Terkel Radio Interview – Part 7 (Conclusion)

Studs Terkel (1912-2008)

The Studs Terkel Ginsberg-Corso-Orlovsky interview (courtesy PennSound), that we’ve been serializing this week, concludes here

ST: Let’s get back to the comments you made. Is there any.. can we pin it down?.. people do communicate , you know.
AG: Yes, but I would say ‘No ideas but in things” , which is what (William Carlos) Williams also says. In other words, No.. let’s not deal in big abstract …
ST:  No let’s deal in specific things

AG:  …foolish generalizations

ST: Let’s deal with…
AG: Cases and points
ST: Cases and points
AG: Lets be big lawyers of the abstract.
ST: You are a young poet. You are a young poet from San Francisco.
AG: No, I’m from Paterson, New Jersey
ST:  From Paterson, but have moved to San Francisco.
AG: No, no, I was in San Francisco several years ago but I haven’t been there in years,
I’ve been in Europe all this time.
ST: But you are a young poet of..   How are you accepted in Europe?
AG: Oh, great
GC: As a white plague. As in San Franciso it was a white plague, so it was in Europe.
ST:  I see, so, you say “great”, you say ”a white plague” – You (Allen) say you’re inspired by suffering, You (Gregory) by God ?
GC: Now you’ve got the plague. You’ve got the plague in Chicago.
AG: He is more of a poet than I am actually. He said “the white plague” – and the plague is on now

GC: It’s on here, and you don’t know it. Look at your face, it’s changing. Since we’ve seen you, it’s a little changing…
ST: Well, I must admit I’m a bit paler and a bit older since you’ve entered.
GC: Yes!..
AG: Profoundly nervous!
GC: Yes, yes, profoundly nervous.
ST: I’m not nervous, so much as confused, I’m confused… I’m confused. I want to understand what you’re driving at..

AG: Have you ever read any of our work?
ST: I’ve read Howl. I must admit that Howl was the only thing I read which moved me, parts of it moved me very much (and parts of Gasoline and Other Poems – this morning
(I read) “I am 25”)..

AG (to GC): Oh read him the poem about Chicago.
GC: I’ve got a great poem about Chicago.

AG: Oh he’s got a great poem about Chicago in here [in Gasoline].

ST  Wait.. “I am..”..  Before you talk about Chicago, “I am 25” – Do you want to read this? You wrote it  (or don’t you care for this poem?)

GC: I care for everything I write, but Chicago’s better.. See that’s just journalistic, that kind of a poem, because… (whereas) “The Last Gangster
ST: No that.. I wasn’t thinking about the poetic quality, I was thinking..
GC: This is much more beautiful for Chicago. Don’t you think so?
AG: Let’s do Chicago.
ST: Okay. Sure, let’s do Chicago.
AG: Why not.

GC:  (Chicago) – “The Last Gangster” – Alright, this is about a great feeling, about a man who’s in a very desperate situation but when he was in it, he says “Good god, I wish I was – when? maybe in fifty years from now – somewhere else”[At approximately thirty-one-and-a-quarter minutes in, Gregory Corso reads his brief poem  “The Last Gangster” in its entirety  (“Waiting by the window,/ my feet enwrapped with the dead bootleggers of Chicago…” …”I’ve watched them grow old/ ….guns rusting in their arthritic hands”)]

GC:  That’s the death of Chicago really.
AG: That’s all
GC: You know, it’s death.
ST: Gee, if  I could.. What I’m trying.. See, what I’m trying to do…
GC  I have to… You’re trying because that’s like a (straightforward poem).
ST: Try, no, I shouldn’t try to do anything with you, except avoid a sort of  preoccupation with death that I feel here, see..
GC: Was there death? That’s not death.
ST: I’ve a feeling that you are preoccupied. This is the point (you say you’re not “anti-life” but..)

AG: We nearly got killed on the highway here coming over. My god! We went on an awful skid…
GC: We sleep with our doors locked now, don’t walk under ladders, and when we see black cats we walk away, and beware of the ace of spades

Al Capone 1899-1947)

ST: Since you’re opposed to form? You know what I’d suggest? You know when we came on talking about Howard Johnsons. I imagine, Miller [sic], who’s in the control room, if you could just gently fade us out, I’ll try and find, if I can, a sort of credo from each of you. Is that possible? Not a credo, but a feeling about your work..
ST …as a poet and as a human being..what you want to say..
AG: I have my credo prepared and ready.
ST: Allen Ginsberg
AG: “Death is a letter that was never sent”
ST: Alright  Paul..Peter Orlovsky
PO: Miaow!
ST: Okay
PO: “I walk over a bridge of flowers”.
ST: Gregory Corso
GC: “Fried shoes.”
ST: Fried shoes. So – Fried shoes, Death is a letter that was never sent, I walk over a bridge of flowers, and miaow – in a sense..
AG: Yes. That’s life!
GC: That is life.
ST: I said “in a sense” – What do you think?
AG: Well it all makes sense, you know. It all makes a great deal of sense.
GC: When you’re an old man and you sit all alone on a sofa by yourself in your living-room, you’re going to be thinking about your life, man. You’re going to be thinking about how you spent it, you know the end is coming, it’s there.
ST: Ah!
GC: That’s what life is . It’s the risk of being so natural… as to say “Fried Shoes” or “Death is a letter that was never sent”

ST: I must say I feel pretty helpless at the moment and a bit inarticulate…
GC: I think you’re lovely.. He looks a bit..

ST: …But I think I can say that you’re going to be, safely say, that tonight at the…Sherman (House) Hotel, you’ll participate in a panel.
AG: Tonight?
GC: Is it tonight?
ST: No, this is taped, this is taped for tomorrow, but this is Thursday, let us assume, and you’ll be at the Sherman (House) Hotel. See how we get confused too with night and day
AG: And Mention Big Table, That’s why we’re..
GC: Big Table
ST:  Oh, The Big Table
AG: We came here to sell Big Table actually. We’re involved in life. We came here to help Big Table 
ST: So you are involved in something specific.. The Big Table is a publication edited by Paul Carroll of Chicago that will bring out the works, I believe, that were not put out in the recent issue of the Chicago Review and that will be published, so listeners should look for that
AG It will be a crazy magazine

ST It will be a crazy magazine. But tonight (at the Sherman (House) hotel), and, I believe Sunday from three to five at the Gate of Horn,  you will offer poetry readings and what-not (and I imagine “what-not” is probably very…
AG: Mostly poetry, we hope
ST: Mostly poetry.
AG: The more poetry the better.
ST: The more poetry the better.
AG: And the less bull..
ST: My credo is a very simple one –  “Take it easy, but take it”
AG: Oh great, yes.
PO: Hey, that’s good!

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