Friday’s Weekly Round-Up – 498

Wang Ping‘s video reports and updates on the great Gary Snyder (see here, here, and here continue with this New Year’s update. Here’s Ping’s report:

“Enter 2023 with food, joy and poetry Rain, snow and thunder at Kitkitdizze, but Gary’s house is filled with joy, laughter, sounds of cooking. It’s a big gathering: Gary, Kai, Gen, Sharon, Bishop and his kids and me. I brought the food I got from 66 Ranch Market at Sacramento, pork, salmon, bokchoy, cabbage, mushrooms. Bishop brought his venison, and his kids brought joy. Kai and I have so much fun cooking together, as usual, while Gary and Bishop sip wine and talk about nothing and everything. The cooking is intense but lots of fun, like dancing. The food is prepared with love and joy, and comes out delicious, as usual. We eat, drink, toast, laugh, appreciate every second, minute and hour. I give the kids lassi, the red envelopes with gifts for the Chinese New Year, and kids squeal with delight. We all squeal with delight. And of course we have to end the feast with poetry, with Gary reading Jim Harrison’s poem. Poetry is in air, water, rain, wind, thunder, laughter, feast…”


Jack Kerouac’s Desolation Peak Simon Warner in his always-intriguing Substack  reviews Kerouac’s new (posthumous) collection – here

Jack Kerouac’s Desolation Peak notebook

and brings up, en passant, editor Charles Shuttleworth‘s conclusion, – “that the novelist did suffer from what we would now describe as bipolar disorder”. The classic symptoms – depression, manic happiness, irritability, negativity and even contemplation of suicide “, Shuttleworth believes, “are (all) present’.

Warner also publishes a note from Steven Taylor. who, tentatively, counters Shuttleworth’s suggestion

It seems to me that, given the certain diagnosis of alcoholism, one can’t reasonably separate out symptoms and argue for clinical depression. Before arriving at the latter diagnosis, one would have to get him off the booze for a reasonable period of time, then see what else is going on…..Of course, chronically depressed people do ‘self medicate’ (I had a drummer once who hated the prescribed depression meds, and could only function on careful, steady doses of Kentucky whiskey), but in Kerouac’s case a question remains as to which came first, or which is it – the booze or the specific condition of clinical depression.

As Allen’s cousin psychiatrist Oscar Janiger explained while Allen and I were with him in LA, clinical depression does not respond to changes of scene: ‘You can’t take a walk around the block or take a vacation and get over it.’ We were talking about Peter Orlovsky, who had been swinging between manic and semi-catatonic moods. Allen tended to attribute Peter’s condition to drink and drugs (which I thought was an avoidance of a psychiatric diagnosis due to Naomi Ginsberg’s having died in a madhouse). Oscar said, ‘Schizophrenia can be like a radio that’s too loud and stuck between stations. First you get the volume down, then you try to figure out what the hell they’re saying.’ Take away the booze and drugs, hold off on the prescribed meds, then introduce something to calm him down, and then find the right combination to tune him in.
Since Kerouac never really ‘dried out’, we’ll never know much more than that he was a lifelong drunk.”

Pulitzer-prize-winning poet Charles Simic passed away this week, aged 84

From his Paris Review Interview:

Interviewer (Mark Ford): I once interviewed Allen Ginsberg, and asked him why he wrote the way he did—to which he replied, “Just because I do!” Is there much more to be said by poets about why they write the way they do?

CS: Probably not. I write to annoy God, to make Death laugh. I write because I can’t get it right. I write because I want every woman in the world to fall in love with me. One can try to be clever like that, but in the end it comes down to what Ginsberg said.


Friday the 13th again – but don’t worry about it!

One comment

  1. A wonderful story of poem and poet recollections that warmed my coffee and stirred my soul a bit…thanks.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *