Neeli Cherkovski

Our good friend Neeli Cherkovski, North Beach Beat aficionado and eminent poet and memoirist, turns 77 tomorrow [2024 update – remembering Neeli Cherkovski (1945-2024) R.I.P]

It’s Nice To Be With You AlwaysKyle Harvey‘s film portrait came out in 2020, premiering at the Omaha Film Festival

His two ground-breaking biographies, on Lawrence Ferlinghetti (1979) and  Charles Bukowski (1991) have both recently been re-released by David Godine 

In 2018. he published  his  Elegy For My Beat Generation

Recalling earlier work, the groundbreaking study of 12 Beat and/or Beat-related  poets,  1998’s Whitman’s Wild Children

Harold Norse is quoted on the dust-jacket – “I have watched Neeli Cherkovski’s development as a poet over the past twenty years. He has grown into a singularly gifted voice with an “ear” for rhythm and a gift for unique, original insight”

Indeed, as one commentator noted – “This book is brimming with anecdotes–dizzying, erudite espresso binges with Philip Lamantia, then there’s the tale of Allen Ginsberg trying to swat Cherkovski away from obstructing his sexual conquests – “I have a young friend I’d like you to meet. He’s straight, and he only makes it with me. Don’t try to go to bed with him.” There’s also the story of Harold Norse likening William S. Burroughs to “…a riverboat gambler”, and the list could go on. This is a deeply-undervalued book from someone who knew virtually all of the important West Coast Beats and learned from them firsthand–as such, it is integral for any Beat library.”

In 1996, Neeli published his book-length elegy for Bob Kaufman  (and was, of course, one of the triumvirate of editors for 2019’s essential The Collected Poems of Bob Kaufman)

Most recently from Neeli –  ABC’s (2021) from Spuyten Duyvil

“Neeli Cherkovski’s new poem (sic) bubbles with improvisatory acumen, sounds echoing sentiment – the intelligence of affect melts into the necessity for resonance—before turning around to shake your hand: comrade! friend! reader!”,  declares an enthusiastic Charles Bernstein .

The previous year, (2020) , Lithic Press published two of his books, Hang On To The Yangtze River,  a book of recent poems, and an extraordinary collaboration with Clark Coolidge Coolidge and Cherkovski in Conversation.  For the full conversation see – here
A new book of poems is upcoming from Lithic in 2023

More titles (and Neeli has been prolific) – there are plenty more titles – here

Videos of Neeli – more videos  (Neeli reading his poetry) – see here

Interviews – don’t miss this interview with  Scot Young from back in 2012 for Rusty Truck

“Three alte kackers on books and late work”. Neeli Cherkovski, Paul Vangelisti and Charles Bernstein in a Zoom gathering from July 2021

Art Beck, back in 2010, provides an insightful over-view of the early work

Here’s Neeli reading his elegy to fellow Lithic Press author Gregory Corso

Happy Birthday Neeli!

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