Paul Blackburn – Anniversary

Paul Blackburn (1926-1971), Provence, France, Summer, 1968

It’s the 50th anniversary today [2021] of the death of the remarkable (but curiously forgotten and occluded) American poet and translator, Paul Blackburn.  See, first, (& essential), our collection of links and information on him included in our posting back in 2012 on The Allen Ginsberg Project.

Anniversaries? – well, it’s a reason or excuse.  St Marks Poetry Project (for which Blackburn was a crucial founding figure, “the subtle father”, “the pre-spirit”, as one commentator, has thus described him), celebrated its 50th, in 2016, with a special reading to honor him –  introduced by then-director, , with, as she puts it, “a giant roster of readers..”.

Said readers being, as follows:
Stacy herself, George Economou (who also reads for Robert Kelly, Rochelle Owens, Martha King, Ammiel Alcalay, Joan Blackburn (his widow), Marcella Durand, Basil King, Simone White, Anne Waldman, Bob Holman, Greg Weatherby, Patricia Spears Jones, Kim Lyons, Mark Weiss, Brenda Coultas, Carlos Blackburn (his son), David Henderson, and the evening concluding with an audio of Blackburn himself reading.

Here, by the way, is more Blackburn reading a, nearly-two-hour, presentation at Bard on December 6, 1968 – see also here, here, and here (an audio treasure).

Two days previous to the St Marks event, there had been a second (related) event which took place at the CUNY Center for the Humanities (introduced by Alisa Besher, Programs Manager at the Center, and Ammiel Alcalay, for CUNY and Lost and Found), chaired by Stacy, consisting of a round-table of readings and reminiscences – with presentations by Basil King, Simon Smith, Marcella Durand, George Economou, Robert Vas Dias, David Henderson and Carolee Schneeman (followed by a brief Q & A with the audience)

Paul Blackburn & Julio Cortazar‘s  Querido Pablito”/”Julissimo Querido” – Selected Correspondence 1958-1971, one of Lost and Found’s seventh series of pamphlets, was officially published on that occasion.

Here’s Edie Jarolim’s introduction to the Collected Poems of Paul Blackburn
Here’s poet & friend Jerry Rothenberg on Paul Blackburn
Here’s a recent analysis of Blackburn’s poems (not entirely forgotten!)

Happy to report that the remarkable Provencal translations, Proensa, originally published by the University of California Press, is now published by New York Review of Books editions and is readily available

And his legendary trove of audio recordings (recordings of others) reel-to-reel tapes now digitalized and available at UCSD Special Collections  (where also reside the bulk of his papers)

If you’ve not discovered Paul Blackburn, it’s time to discover him. If you’re familiar with his work, re-discover him

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