“America when will we end the human war?
Go fuck yourself with your atom bomb.
I don’t feel good don’t bother me.
I won’t write my poem till I’m in my right mind.
America when will you be angelic?
When will you take off your clothes?
When will you look at yourself through the grave?
When will you be worthy of your million Trotskyites?..”
(from America by Allen Ginsberg, Berkeley, January 17, 1956)
The “human war”, the war against the human. It is shameful what is happening in America, when, more than ever, there should be human sympathy, and unity, and compassion.
“I don’t like the government where I live!/I don’t like dictatorship of the Rich”
(from Capitol Air by Allen Ginsberg, Frankfurt-New York, December 15, 1980)
What more need be said? – Plenty!
The Brooklyn Rail is running an on-going remarkable series of “Lunchtime Conversations” archived and available on-line – “The New Social Environment” – do check them out.
We especially recommend this one – #37 – Steve Silberman and Raymond Foye in conversation
Here, from Lunchtime Conversation #41, is Anne Waldman
AW: “..We are in emergency mode in terms of holding onto what we have in our humanity. But I think because poets are part of the rhizome, they’re more fluid, they can flip, they’re more trickster-like, they can work with the shifting of minds, points of view, imagination, language, other languages, you know, rally, in this way that’s.. where what’s…
You know that, it’s interesting, the masks, you know, how you’re speaking, of course, how you’re speaking through the masks, speaking your poetry through a mask. I think about that all the time.It used to be the gaze how are we seeing things, what is the, you know, the gaze, you know, that’s… and when somebody dies.. I’m seeing things the way Michael McClure might, you know, seeing the.. listening to the lion’s roar…”
“…I think it’s going to take more alliances. I think it’s going to take real commitment.. I mean, it (New York City’s Poetry Project) was a community project, and I think The Poetry Project still is. There’s interns and volunteers, you know, to build that, to build that internationally more. I think that will be important. I know Kyle (Dacuyan, executive director of the Poetry Project), has a lot of extraordinary ideas about things – how to be in the world, you know, as a citizen of poetry..”
“..I understand.. there’s some, you know, disappointment. I feel it myself. I feel powerless a lot of the time. I feel like that, you know. the body is.. does have its limitations. I want to be.. and suddenly I’m thinking about ageism, because you’re over seventy, and suddenly you’re put… you know..”
“Alice Notley has to go out, you know, she has to have the papers, you know, to go out, in Paris, to.. to go do an errand! You have to prove, show who you are, have essential reasons to exist – (and then meanwhile all these bodies piling up in the nursing homes are expendable?).. ”
“And so the value of life and what is this, what does it all mean?. So if you’re a poet you’ve got to be thinking about this. And you’ve got.. But also getting inside, which you offer, you offer, you know. You share your mind, your consciousness, your ideas, your visions – you’re tentacular, you’re connecting with all these power places., And that would be the other thing – to connect with the power and the capital that’s out there and try to bring another… I don’t think we can overturn the capitalist scene/world, but we’ve got to get healthcare, you know, (in America), and people have to pick their battles with that, and we have a difficult time with this election…”
Another great “Lunchtime Conversation” – Hettie Jones interviewed by Bob Holman
regarding “the militaristic and wartime language that’s being used to describe covid 19 right now” how can poetry “help mediate communication”?
HJ: Well, first of all the.. the virus doesn’t come from a war, the virus doesn’t come from failure. The virus is a.. It’s something that develops in the natural world, and it doesn’t deserve to be fought on that, it deserves to be treated, and that is a whole different approach, that’s a medical approach. If you have appendicitis, nobody says, what, will you have to fight that?, if you have a broken leg, nobody says we have to fight that. This is just something that has developed, and we breathed in. You know, there have been pandemics that.. There have been viruses prior, and the only thing that’s different now is that now we know what it is, and we have a name for it. Prior to that, I mean the world that.. that.. in 1918 (they) didn’t know very much about these things (although they had always existed), and they didn’t know how to isolate people, or how people caught things, so the fact that we have so many more avenues for communication, and so many ways to learn things, and so many ways to protect ourselves now, that, that’s a good thing, you know. You know, television and radio and everything that we use to connect (and, even the very telephone on which I am speaking you now! (sic)) is a way that we can learn from each other. And I think that’s.. that’s why everybody knows about this virus now. Because we are watching out for one another. I think that’s really the secret of it all..”
A fifteen-minute excerpt from Eiko & Koma‘s 1981 performance of “Nurse’s Song” performed in New York City at The Kitchen (words by William Blake, music by Allen, realized by Bob Carroll and The Dirt Band, danced while “dizzy with love for Bob and Allen”)
is currently up now on their web-site. It will remain up through June 12
“Mundane celebrity encounters” – and in the spirit of Andy Warhol – “star power”! – random encounters with Allen – (from a gathering of Twitter responses elicited the other week):